When You Think “Add” Also Think “Reduce”

Something dramatic happened in 2009. Something that might not surprise you today but would have been unthinkable back when I walked the carpeted hallways of Hachette, Hearst or Conde Nast Magazines just a few years ago. Internet advertising revenue surpassed magazine advertising revenue.

Based on ZenithOptimedia estimates, magazine revenues fell from $24 billion in 2008 to $19 billion in 2009, and Internet revenues grew from $18 billion to $20 billion – despite a decrease in total ad revenue across all categories. The line in the sand has officially been crossed, and I can not imagine that it will be reversed. (In fact, Zenith estimates an increased gap in 2010.) While magazines may experience a partial rebirth with the birth of the iPad, their role as a top 3 medium is no longer.

Now, while TV and Newspapers seem to be holding their own, this stability does beg a question for me as follows: Are the interactive ad revenues associated with newspaper websites and tv websites included in the newspaper/tv bucket or the interactive bucket? My most recent perusal of a Veronis Suhler report revealed that these calculations are far more complicated than they may seem. As integrated advertising and media offerings have become more real, bookkeeping has become more surreal. In fact, the strength of TV and newspaper revenues reflects, in part, the strength of their digital offerings, particularly in comparison to the somewhat late-to-the-table magazine industry.

Last night, I sponsored a talk by Bob Seelert, Worldwide Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, author of the book “Start with the Answer” and creator of a short article featuring a list of the “10 Things To Do When Leading In Tough Times.” #9 on the list reads as follows: “When you think ‘add;’ also think ‘reduce.’ When you think ‘create;’ also think ‘eliminate.'”

Unfortunately, as advertising agencies seek to enhance their digital capabilities, they find a reduced need for those with print expertise. A smart organization will see the need to make this tradeoff, and a long-time print professional had better see the need to stay a step ahead – or at least catch up!

On July 10, 2007, I wrote my very third blog entry. It was entitled, “Don’t Do It” and strongly counseled a colleague to diversify out of print and into digital. I hope she heeded my advice:

“Don’t do it,” I told her. A colleague from my magazine days took me to breakfast to ask for career advice. She has 11 years of magazine experience and is reentering the work force after a maternity leave and a quick detour into non-profit. “Don’t go back into pure play print,” I told her. If you do return to magazines, make sure you have digital responsibility and interaction.”

My colleague didn’t think she had enough online knowledge to enter that world. “I don’t know about search and all that,” she said. But my feeling is that she needs to get up to speed on the lingo, the players and the trends. I suggested that she attend some industry breakfasts such as iBreakfast and NY:MIEG and directed her to paidcontent.org and eMarketer. She has more digital experience than she thinks as she oversees the redesign of her non-profit’s website. I like to think that I earned my pancakes.

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