Monday, 18 January 2010

Media landscape transformed

HERE is an article that illustrates perfectly how the Internet has led to seismic changes to the media landscape and why traditional television, radio, magazine and newspaper companies are struggling to maintain their previous monopolies.
A former finance adviser, with no experience of publishing, has set up a magazine aimed at people aged 65 years or more.
Over65 Magazine was launched this month (January 2010) on-line. But the publisher, Paul Rodman, intends to roll it out as a printed version when it has become established.
Mr Rodman, aged 49, of Heron Hill, Kendal, Cumbria, says that he saw the opportunity while in his previous roles of financial adviser and will-maker.
“I dealt a lot with older people and got an understanding for their requirements. It struck me that there wasn’t a lot out there on the world-wide web for them.
“There are organisations that target the over 50s, but for some reason they seem frightened to target the older age group, which is surprising as they are increasingly computer literate.
“It is more than likely that they will have worked with computers at work, and are likely have a home PC as well.”
The web-site is deliberately designed to look like a traditional printed magazine, with single PDF pages.
This makes it easier to read and follow on screen and also easy to print out and read like a traditional paper product.
“There is a lot of information on the Internet, but it is often designed for the Internet generation and older people can quickly get turned off by the dazzling displays,” said Mr Rodman.
“I wanted to create a publishable environment with attractive photographs and interesting articles which are easy to follow.”
“Older people have more time on their hands and it is great if they can access items that help pass the time and stimulate them.”
Among the subjects the monthly magazine plans to cover are health and welfare, finances, food, pets, holidays, nostalgia, motoring and travel, all aimed at the target market.
“Its tone will be ethical and wholesome, although I won’t be afraid of a bit of controversy,” said Mr Rodman, who plans plenty of surveys, feedback and other user generated content.
Mr Rodman is disarmingly honest about his lack of publishing background and is open about his dependence on support from professionals in the field.
Among the experts he has recruited are Robin Pritchard from Kirkby Lonsdale for graphic design, Julian Healey a business consultant from Morecambe and yours truoly, Mike Glover of Milnthorpe for campaigns, content and marketing.
Although all these people are based in the North West of England, the magazine is deliberately national in tone and content.
Despite his lack of experience, Mr Rodman has hit upon a business model that would have been unthinkable before the Internet.
Magazines traditionally depend on two sources of revenue: cover price and advertisements.
Over65magazine is totally free to the user, although there will be a charge for subscriptions to the printed version if the demand is there. This is possible because there is no printing and paper costs, no distribution network and no commission for retailers.
As for advertisements the magazine relies on an Internet-specific service, where 800 leading companies put linked banners out there on the web for use by anyone, in exchange for a commission for business they generate.
The internet means that all data is traceable, so the companies can tell from whose sites business comes, and pay a commission.
Over65magazine will, however, ask readers for name and e-mail address only to avoid fears of their personal details being passed on.
The technology also means that all copies and articles can be archived for search by subject. This also has a benefit for advertisers who know that readers may explore purchase options weeks, months or even years after they feature in the publication and still seek out the relevant information.
“This is a really exciting project and I am confident that if enough people look at the site they are going to like it and come back in enough numbers to make the business viable,” said Mr Rodman.

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