by Mike Masnick

How Not To Get Kids To Read Magazines

from the focus-groups? dept

We've noted some odd ideas by magazines lately as they try to embrace the online generation. It seems like they're still struggling to figure out how this online thing works. The NY Times has an article about a bunch of magazines who think they've figured out how to attract college-aged readers. They're going to start emailing them free issues of magazines. Of course, this comes as the very generation they're targeting is becoming less reliant on email, preferring things like "sitemail," instant messaging and text messaging as modes of communication. Going to email seems like a strategy from a decade ago. These days, college students are focused on communities: things like MySpace and Facebook. That is, they want to interact with their content, not just have it delivered. On top of that, to see the magazine, the kids will have to install some special software. No one wants to install special software just to see your content these days. The reason they have to install special software is so that the magazine looks like a traditional paper magazine, basically taking away just about all of the benefit for the magazine to go online. Readers can't show others the content, or discuss the content. It basically blocks the magazine off -- not just by adding hurdles to actually read it (even though it's supposed to be free!), but by making it difficult to actually use it. The web works fine as a publishing mechanism, using old delivery mechanisms and additional software that isn't needed isn't going to attract younger readers. It's going to make them wonder why they should bother.

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  • identicon
    J. Marcus Xavier, 7 Sep 2006 @ 5:35pm

    Tunnel Vision

    They just don't get it. You can't blame these folks so much for silliness like this, they've been dealing with print for all their lives. But seriously, everything you point out here is right. It's just plain DUMB to think that this will work. If you want to get a lot of people reading your content, you make it as *easy* to access, trade, forward, rehash, and move around as you possibly can. You don’t put barriers up to preserve your outdated notions of what a magazine should be, you transform your content and take it to your audience--wherever and *however* they are comfortable with it.

    Well, they'll either figure it out or go out of business. I'm not losing any sleep over it; I get more than enough information and articles online, and I can talk to the authors of that content, to boot.

    ~ J. Marcus Xavier
    Executive Producer of the Silent Universe Podcast

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Sep 2006 @ 7:06pm

    A good example

    Granted, it's not a traditional print magazine, but a good example (to me) of a "online magazine" is here:

    It has the "look" of a magazine, but is easy to navigate, has ads (although they don't use them badly), and most importantly, is pretty standard html type pages.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gavin, 7 Sep 2006 @ 11:15pm


    Magazines exist so you can read them on the crapper. Who wants to take their laptop in there? Certainly no me...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      dislikes geek squad, 8 Sep 2006 @ 8:52am

      Re: Blargh

      if i had a lap top with wifi I would take it to the crapper in a heart beat, hell my best idea's happen in there.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Benji, 7 Sep 2006 @ 11:43pm

    Maybe ask a college student.

    Sometimes I think that industry execs should just ask. They seem to spend tons of money on research and surveys that apperently arnt working. We want information that me can interact with. We want a magazine that we can have on our comuter and phone and heven forbid, if it's really good, beam it to our friends phone. We want it available on all the devices. Making it harder by having special software is only gonna fly one way. It's gotta be so awsome that everyone has to have it. Obviously this is not content that we must have. So if it's content that we'd like to have, make it easy to get and easy to share. Sharing is so key to my use of content. If I like a page I send links to my friends. If something is clever or cool looking, I pass it on. But if it's hard to get at... I don't even see it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    reality checker, 8 Sep 2006 @ 6:46am


    could they be stupider?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ebrke, 8 Sep 2006 @ 7:55am

    It's more than just thinking outside the box

    Magazines' whole presentation is geared to people like me, I think, readers (probably middle-aged, sorry kids) who really read. We have print in front of us, we read it, we may go back and reread a paragraph in a long article to be sure we understood a particular point, etc. For reasons like this, I find myself impatient with the increasing amount of video reporting on websites--I don't want to be talked at, I want to READ.

    Okay, I know this puts me hopelessly behind where communications seems to be going, but I think it's also the place where magazine publishers are stuck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ConceptJunkie (profile), 8 Sep 2006 @ 10:24am

      Re: It's more than just thinking outside the box

      Similarly, the move to online content somehow translates into shorter and shorter articles. These days, a typical Web news article is little more than a summary.

      I think I fall in the same category as you... I want to _READ_ something. Pictures are great... and very important for many topics. However, the meat, the content, is in the copy.

      I guess we are a vanishing breed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    My Hot or Not, 8 Sep 2006 @ 9:14am


    They should go after the college kids directly through MySpace.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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