Yesterday, market research firm InsightExpress released the results of their latest survey revealing that (in the words of the Company's COO Lee Smith) "publishers would be better served to cut their losses when it comes to online publications and focus on their readers' overwhelming preference, high quality paper magazines. And any hopes of growing revenue with online magazines seem to be misguided as most readers expect online content to be free."
Other publications covering content have begun to pick up this story with varying degrees of alarm. Here's a cautionary note from moi -- I called InsightExpress and learned something the press release didn't mention. The results bandied about in their release, such as only 32% of Internet users read any magazines online, were based on surveying just 500 people. So, I don't know how statistically relevant they are to the industry as a whole.
Many of the results, though, were good common sense. These 500 people still prefer to read long magazine articles in the bathroom or in bed or on the train while they commute. Well, duh.
However, this doesn't mean there's no way magazines can profit online. You can sell ads against, or sell subscriptions to, many things that make zero sense to read in the bathroom -- such as back issue archives, instant messaged or emailed content too newsy to wait until the next printed issue, or audio/video supplements. Or heck, you can use your lovely Web site to gather new paid subscribers for your print edition (very handy now that direct mail costs are rising precipitously.)http://WWW.INSIGHTEXPRESS.COM/PRESSROOM/RELEASE_042202.ASP
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