Duncan Edwards, chief executive of NatMags told Brand Republic that he couldn’t see a sustainable business model in the magazine. Live for 20 weeks, the mag recently shifted its focus from 13-19 year-olds to 18-25s.
Despite being received well as a product, NatMags managing director Jessica Burley said that distribution and marketing challenges were too significant.
What? As in the cost of hosting? Email marketing management? Is it the terms of the deal with Ceros, the virtual magazine application it sits on?
Well, no – according to PaidContent, Jellyfish had problems with its email newsletter and spam filters/firewalls.
A comment posted on the Brand Republic story asks if it’s a matter of time before Dennis Publishing’s similar virtual magazine Monkeymag.co.uk goes the same way. He also questions the choice of the virtual magazine application, given focuses on technology, saying that it’s ‘not very widely adopted’ software. Given that it loads in your normal browser, I doubt this is an accessibility issue.
I don’t think this is a debate about the end of ‘virtual magazines’. Nor is about email marketing and firewalls (I’m still stunned this was such a problem in this day and age).
It’s more about targeted content. Boys / males veer towards the (inexpensive) aggregation of existing content (e.g. cheap and widely available bone curnching videos of skateboarding dogs jumping through hoops of fire), while girls may favour the more crafted (and expensive) fashion tips, features and celeb pic content (not so available and ‘aggregatable’ on the web to use a non-existant word).
I’d say Monkeymag still has legs (it’s doing well with display ads, which Jellyfish wasn’t doing much of according to PaidContent).
A minor point – does anyone know the terms of a Ceros licence? Are publishers charged per user accessing the site for example? Let me know.
Replicating the print magazine online is lazy. But it’s probably got a lot to do with maintaining advertising revenues. ‘Virtual paper’ magazines have been doing the rounds for years and have never really worked.
Publishers don’t really understand how the web works (or rather, how to make money on the web), so try to replicate the offline magazine experience online because print ads are the only approach they understand. It’s just a coincidence that the recipe seems to work for the likes of Monkeymag.co.uk or NatMags’ jellyfishmag.com – they’re essentially offering a print mag which has pages that come alive…and they get to run the same style of print ads.
Then there’s the linear surfing issue. Do users really prefer to be forced to read content in a left to right, magazine page way? This might be handy for older users who are familiar with old media ie print magazines, newspapers, but teens have grown up with content served up in ‘surf in any order’ web pages.
These virtual mags are popular, but they can be read in 10 mins. They don’t offer deep content. Users can get lost in an archive of web pages and read for hours. Search doesn’t seem to lend itself well to virtual magazines, each of which is ringfenced and positioned as a standalone package of content.
I’d love to see the results of any user testing…