Compete with Content - by Vision Publishing, Inc.

The Trouble with Trade Print Articles and Advertising?Nobody Reads Anymore

Trade publications ? the traditional carriers of valuable content and advertisers? perception-enhancing messages to groups of homogenous decision-makers?can no longer hold the interest of decision-makers.

Why? Because nobody reads anymore. At best, they scan. Busy professionals experience information overload, develop tunnel vision, and focus only on information related to their immediate tasks and needs. This has become an economy of scanning decision-makers whose attention is diverted daily by hundreds of promotional messages.

Today, qualified readers scan tables-of-contents bookmarking a few articles to be read later if there is time. Increasingly for these busy people, Web agents and search engines reduce the need to scan and bookmark print publications for future reading. A Yankelovich Partners survey finds that 90 percent of senior executives believe the Internet will be their primary source of news by 2005.

There are several other reasons why decision-makers don?t read trade publications anymore:
  • The information explosion has led to increased specialization, which in turn has fragmented market segments into niches. Most of those niches are too small to be meaningfully covered by a traditional trade publication. Hence, articles appear to be too general and do not get read.
  • Readers have greater expectations ? they expect that their information needs be understood, that a publication?s content be tailored, even customized, to those needs, and they want that content immediately, not as soon as possible.
  • Everything from reduced ad buys to leverage buyouts is forcing publishers to cut costs and hire younger, less experienced staff with little industry expertise to meet the new challenges of reader fragmentation.
  • The repetitive, formulaic nature of trade media content isn?t working anymore--case histories, profiles, round-ups, a few pages of nicely packaged factoids for short attention spans, and the same article a year later with a new angle. Trade publications serve their advertisers, not their readers. For that reason, their scope of content is limited, as is their relevancy to readers. Critical readers successfully coping with the information explosion have come to realize trade media content is more or less insignificant to achieving their goals.

    If nobody is reading anymore, what does that do to the premise of advertising, the basis of the trade print business model? How does a scanner find your ad . . . in the table of contents? What about media-buyer recommendations? In your newly fragmented market segments, how many of that vertical publication?s readers are actually prospects for your product or service?

    And what about media relations . . . "free" p.r? If the average professional is challenged by the information explosion, then what of the daily tsunami cascading over editors? For some reason flooding the media is no longer a no-no for many public relations practitioners. And unfortunately, all but a few splashes of the information flood are aimed at market niches too narrow for the editor to consider. Also, the traditional exchange between editor and publicist? a chance for increased perceived credibility traded for the loss of control over timing and content?becomes less and less of a good deal for the publicist?s client in a fast moving economy.

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