Monday, January 12, 2009

Haymarket moves Marketing Direct online

Below is the text of a story for OhmyNews. Not yet edited or published.

Dissonance issues emerge for editor brands

Haymarket have announced that from February the magazine Marketing Direct will only be published online. Haymarket publish a range of media business magazines and started in print over fifty years ago. Editor Noelle McElhatton wrote in an editorial that "As online is the present and the future for direct marketing, so too it is for publishing." The decision comes at a time of continuing decline in many print circulations and discussion about the future of news organisations. Haymarket is deeply involved in the UK printing industry as publisher of Printweek and Printing World. Tensions in the new balance between print and online can surface in discussion around the range of Haymarket titles.

Direct Marketing has traditionally covered direct mail, print sent through the post. The claim to be direct assumes that the message is on target, uniquely sent to people who will benefit. The perception of "junk mail" is a consequence of sending out too much print and over time has reduced the effectiveness of this form of promotion. However the anxiety around "spam" emails is on another level and there is not yet an industry around preventing print from reaching a letterbox.

The final print version of Marketing Direct includes a report on a discussion about the branding of direct marketing. The expectation has already moved beyond just print in the mail. Gail Dudleston from twentysix quoted a definition from the Wikipedia - "sending messages to consumers using direct mail, telemarketing, email, faxing, couponing and DRTV." She claims this view needs an update and describes the "heavy end of digital marketing- site build, web optimisation and the rest - that DM agencies are not percieved to be doing well at". DRTV is an extension of TV with targeting through subscription information.

The move online will contribute to a change in the branding of direct marketing. The final issue came with an insert for courses from the Institute of Direct Marketing. This outlines the knowledge around database marketing - data quality, statistics and testing etc, - that transfers fairly directly to the management of a website.

Haymarket started as Cornmarket in 1957 with a hardback Directory of Opportunities for Graduates. The name changed to include "Hay" in 1964 with an investment from the print group Hazell Watson & Viney. Since buying Printing World and changing the publication to a monthly, Haymarket now publish in Printweek the only UK print news on a weekly basis. Recently this too has added blogs to the website and in December offered the first webcast on the topic of web-to-print, ordering print from a website.

The differences in opinion around print are clearer in Printing World. The January printed version features a report that print is "more engaging" than other media. Print scored well for "seriousness", dependability and quality of information. Online scored worse for credibility and trust. However in an editorial Alison Carter announced that Printing world will no longer include news as this can be found on ansd there is an intention to move Printbuyer content online in the near future. This used to be a distinct publication but was recently merged with Printing World. Carter writes that the move to a website will "allow the media-buying fraternity to enjoy the benefits of an online community".

The term "editor brand" comes from The Guardian as explained on their website about sponsorship-

Faced with an increasing choice of what media to consume editor brands become increasingly important, as they are brands that consumers feel loyal to and choose to consume regularly. An easy way to identify Editor brands is to see if they pass the ‘I am a…’ test. I am a Radio 4 viewer, I am a Guardian reader and so on. They succeed in spite of and perhaps because of, the increasing volumes of media.

However in my opinion there is a problem when editors allow conflicting streams of messaging. Most people in the printing industry and related media recognise that they read Printweek and expect comprehensive information on print technology. It is reassuring to expect some support for print in general but then the online coverage can be confusing, especially as Haymarket is seen to move their own operations. The website brandrepublic has elements from each of their magazines so may eventually demonstrate a coherent view. Currently there appears to be some dissonance in Haymarket as an editor brand.

The Guardian has similar problems in reporting the situation of newspapers and news organisations. The printed Media Section this week had a headline claim that "Circulation slide has not yet become a freefall." All the numbers were about print sales without any information on the newspaper websites. A 5.6% drop in newspaper sales for the year to December was presented as if this might be better than expected. Jim Bilton concluded that "gloom and unpredictability do not mean doom. There is still quite a bit of life left in printed news." However on another page Jeff Jarvis reported that Russ Stanton, editor of the Los Angeles Times has stated in an email that "the paper's online advertising revenue is now sufficient to cover the Times's entire editorial payroll, print and online."

Jarvis blogs at Buzzmachine and is positive about the transition for news organisations towords the Web.

In the LA Times revelation, I see hope: the possibility that online revenue could support digital journalism for a city. The enterprise will be smaller, but it could well be more profitable than its print forebears today and - here's the real news - it would grow from there. Imagine that: news as a growth industry again.

This contrasts with claims that journalism is under threat from amateurs and bloggers. The Guardian still often features a comical take on citizen journalism that may be comforting for some print journalists but I find it lacking in balance given that there is almost no informed coverage of citizen journalism except on the technology pages. The dissonance for the Guardian editor brand is around the absence of information on how they are actually moving online and the variety of takes on user contributions.

Here again Jarvis has a view I find unusual in the Guardian when he describes how a news organisation could develop with less print -

It could operate more efficiently by working in collaborative networks with the community.

Later this year HarperCollins will publish a book by Jarvis titled "What Would Google Do?". Newspapers is only one aspect of this but the topic may be enough to alarm some literary critics. Andrew Keen's book about the "Cult of the Amateur" has been widely reviewed in the UK but there has been almost nothing about "Everything is Miscellaneous" by David Weinberger. I have yet to see anything in the Guardian for example. A possible explanation is that this was only published in New York though it is available through Amazon UK. The dissonance issue could get more intense if the printed book review section continues to ignore issues in a way that contrasts with claims on the Guardian website.


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