When magazines go under, sales reps tell members of Empower MediaMarketing’s Media Buying and Buying team that the titles are “going digital.” Despite publishers’ highest hopes, if the content doesn’t work in the printed form, it most likely won’t work online.
Condé Nast folded its beloved property Gourmet in 2009 due to advertising page declines. Soon after the presses shut down, Condé Nast began promoting and selling “Gourmet Live,” an iPad and iPhone app. “Gourmet Live” promised to keep the brand alive with extensive recipes, comprehensive how-to videos, chef and restaurant profiles, and travel information. Today, the app still exists but hasn’t been updated with any new content since November 2012.
Teen People launched in 1998 as a teen-targeted version of People. After eight successful years, Time Inc. closed the magazine due to declining circulation numbers. The publisher explained that many teens were migrating online for teen-related celebrity stories and gossip. Going digital didn’t help the struggling title, and the only remnants of the publication live on People.com.
The moral of the story: If a magazine isn’t resonating with consumers or advertisers, it isn’t going to succeed as a digital-only property. The most important thing a magazine needs to succeed is a connection to readers. Without that, it will land in the magazine graveyard.