The Changing Role of Magazines from Product to Service

By Samantha Wood

A recent study conducted by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland examined the role that magazines must assume in order to continuously be successful in this ever-changing world of technology and the internet.

According to VTT, it all starts with understanding the consumer, which will dictate how the product or service must be tailored and presented. When trying to reach a younger audience, which the study calls “digital natives,” magazines must take into account that this demographic has grown up with the internet as the main source of information and entertainment. Trends show that consumers spend more and more of their leisure time on digital media, but printed magazines are still used as a relaxing and “slow” media. Thus, magazines must be available through multiple platforms, including online or mobile forms, as well as hybrids using elements that enable seamless shifting between print and digital content. Already magazines are using technologies such as 2D barcodes and augmented reality to provide interactivity for readers.

The study states that the magazine and newspaper business is set to change dramatically over the next decade. “Not only will the publishers of printed products meet increasing competition from other media (including user generated content), the demand to target content at specific reader groups and to offer advertisers a better reach to their customers will also force publishers to develop their products continuously.”

VTT’s study sites a 2011 report on the changing media market by Kalle Snellman, Senior Strategist at Idean Enterprises, who summarizes the development of the publishing sector in the near future.

  • Major proportion of the revenue will still come from traditional print products.
  • The diminishing trend of print product circulations will continue.
  • Mobile use of news content and other media services will surpass content viewing from PC screens.
  • Collaboration among the value chain and with new players will increase, especially in the case of digital business.
  • Advertising in print products will decrease.
  • Large data masses and open data will become an essential part of the competition and provides new service possibilities.
  • Tablet versions of newspapers and magazines may bring an important source of income for the publishers.

The VTT study emphasizes that consumer interaction is imperative to the success of a magazine. Not only must content be accessible to readers in multiple forms for their convenience, but they also must become co-creators of content. The readers must feel that their opinion counts and that they are part of a community. The publisher acts as the coordinator of that community. The magazines of the future – the successful ones – will move from a product as they are today, to a service provided to create personal, tailored experiences for consumers.