The Lad Bible’s marketing director has warned of the dangers of publishers becoming too reliant on newspapers and not switching to digital quickly enough, a timely warning in light of the recent announcement that the Independent is closing its print editions.
Speaking to The Drum on the day The Independent announced it would be the first national newspaper to go digital-only, Mimi Turner, marketing director at the Lad Bible, outlined the problems with publishers putting too much value on physical newspapers in response to what she thought were the pain points affecting the future of the UK’s media industry.
"We are witnessing a transition in printed media, with the recent announcement about the Independent titles and the closure of magazines like FHM and Loaded. Print is a very tough place because product and distribution costs are fixed and paid circulation is overwhelmingly in decline," she said.
While not speaking directly about the Independent, Turner’s comments were extremely fitting given the news of the closure of all its print editions. It follows on from the recent closure of magazines FHM and Loaded, as well as more magazines moving to free models as paid print revenues suffer, such as NME.
"The bet that a publisher makes – that a newspaper is the best value you can get for half an hour of your time – simply doesn’t stack up in a world that you can curate yourself from lots of different sources and see the world through a personalised feed. For a social and mobile audience, the value exchange simply isn’t there," she said.
Hope is not lost for print, however, with some publishers responding to the decline in print revenues early by better appropriating their content. Turner cites The New York Times' chief executive Mark Thompson taking "bold steps" to open up audience scale and take the business into a social and mobile environment as an example of a publisher keeping print, social and mobile working cohesively: "I think the New York Times shows that a mix of platforms can be very positive," she added.
It is not just the shift from print to digital that should concern publishers, Turner observed, noting that what readers choose to do on their smartphones will define what all media companies decide to do strategically, since the global mobile audience is about 10 times the size of a desktop base.
She said: "From my perspective, I think that the shift from desktop to mobile is a huge one. Our audience is a youth audience who are about 85 per cent mobile, so we’ve not had to deal with that transition. But, for media businesses which have relied on desktop as the basis for their traffic and revenue models, the recognition that the mobile experience has to become the default is a huge shift – but an inevitable one."