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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Washington Publishing Bloodbath 

Catch the Buzz: 3 New Magazines on the Way (washingtonpost.com)

As I've noted before, we in Washington are about the welcome three new magazines serving our apparently insatiable desire for luxury goods, service journalism, and voyeurism. They'll be joining current incumbents like Washingtonian and The Washington Post, among many others in this distinctive niche.

In the WaPo article linked above, Samir Husni, Rex Hammock's favorite magazine guru, weighs in with: "It's happening all over the country. Celebrity is the sex of the 21st century as we become a more voyeuristic society," said Husni, chairman of the university's journalism department. "And where is there a better place to be a voyeur than in D.C.?"

I'll put my binoculars aside for a moment, and note the following prediction: total ad pages in this segment will increase for while, then the market will winnow out the losers, and total ad pages will decline, but the remaining magazines will see an increase in their individual pages. Pundits will moan about the drop in total ad pages as a sign of the failure of magazines in the Internet world. But total ad pages in this niche will be higher than they are today.

That's the danger of looking at advertising box scores for broad trends. Whether a market segment's ad pages are up or down matters much less than how an individual magazine is doing.

Competition usually aways increases a total market's size, but that increased size doesn't necessarily bring prosperity to all players. And declines in total ad pages don't necessarily serve as harbingers of doom for advertising in general. Unless you're tring to prove a point.

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