As Silicon Roundabout plays host to an increasing number of business models that aim to change our future behaviour including the consumption of news, Rupert Turnbull explains why the ‘Reports of the death of Magazines are exaggerated’.
I often find myself sympathising with Mark Twain because just like his own demise, the reports of the death of magazines are greatly exaggerated. It is of course true that just like all media industries the perfect storm of mobile internet and recession have turned the magazine business on its head or – to use the vernacular – it has been thoroughly disrupted. Although I’m not sure I like the word disruption because that sounds negative and implies something unwelcome when in fact we at Conde Nast are excited about the future for our business. Far from being a storm that has left devastation in it’s wake – this has been a cleansing storm that has cleared the stagnant air and left one of opportunity and optimism. Don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate my enviable and unusual position – working for a privately owned publishing company with money to invest, a long-term approach and that great combination of fleet-footed innovation without compromising the quality of output. What’s more, it is a further privilege to be working on WIRED – the start-up within – because we are being used in the UK as the canary in the mine. We are experimenting with a brand new way of publishing and bringing our findings back to base.
So what do we know, what have we discovered? Well, a lot of our conclusions are yet to be fully drawn but some findings are beginning to emerge:
1. The early adopter community are beginning to get used to the idea of consuming an entire magazine in digital form. The established format of a considered, edited collection of articles curated into a monthly periodical with a narrative arc is still valid in the digital age. BUT they also expect their favourite magazine to distribute content in various forms – and this of course throws up multiple opportunities.
2. There is an expectation that if they are consuming a magazine on a digital platform it will take advantage of that platform’s applications. This does not, however, mean that they want a web experience with no boundaries or that they want a feature film version – but just clever enhancements when it’s relevant to the story.
3. We initially believed that we would use the 3 inch screen for bite-sized content and tool-type apps and that consumers would not want to read a whole magazine on a phone. Besides we could not see how to deliver a “magazine experience” on that screen size without severely compromising our design standards. It turns out that consumers understand that they will not get the full technicolour experience on their phone and they would not judge us because it means that they can get their fix of WIRED when they are on a crowded tube/bus. This concept of a design fidelity spectrum has changed our thinking and we have been working on a new way to deliver our content to multiple screen dimensions which we are calling Liquid Layout. For the first attempt at this check out the New Yorker app for iPhone.
It should also be said that while digital and more specifically mobile digital is creating the majority of new opportunities, we are no more a digital company than we are a print and ink company. We are a content company – a storyteller and in fact in 2011 , the biggest new brand extension we created was a live event: WIRED2011. We brought the magazine to life with 2 days of mind-blowing, inspiring, tear-jerking and fascinating storytelling. The 2012 version is not far off (25/26 Oct), the agenda is coming together and it promises to be equally as enthralling, if not more so. To book your spot go to: wiredevent.co.uk.
So welcome to Magazine 2.0, featuring web, events, consulting, education, retail, hospitality, mobile apps, podcasts etc as well as the flagship full-monty monthly edition.
Thank you Rupert.
To find out more about Wired 2012 visit their website at www.wiredevent.co.uk.
Alternatively, to find out more about available office property in the Silicon Roundabout area contact Kushner at www.kushnerproperty.com