Magazine web sites do well; print pages no so

The Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) reported an 11.9 percent rise in unique visitors to magazine websites in Q1 2008. The research summary continued on to say that:

This gain reflects more than three times the rate of growth for the overall U.S. Internet audience, which rose 3.7% in the first quarter.

What is going right? MPA chief executive Nina Link says:

Magazine brands online are getting ‘stickier’ with web audiences . . . Publishers are increasingly employing the latest digital innovations to broaden their reach and appeal to an audience that has a clear hunger for magazine online content and communities.

For summaries of publicly announced new media experiments by magazines visit the Magazine Digital Initiative.

I looked at magazine pages for Q1 08 versus the same period in 07. Overall pages were down 6.4 percent but there were big winners, like Wired, the trendy tech book, which printed 13.4 percent more pages during this year’s study period compared to its 2007 showing.

My thoughts: Perhaps the web audience has simply moved toward what a magazine web site offers — a niche subject in which the visitor has a recurring interest. The web gives the magazine that which it had lacked — a way to stay in touch with the audience in between monthly (or occasionally weekly) print editions. Not clear from any of these figures are how this shift in attention, from print pages to web pages, affects magazine finances.