Catalog and Publication Outlook : Moving Forward CautiouslyDecember 2010 By Julie Greenbaum
While many magazine and catalog printers have reported some improvement in their sectors since 2009, economic and industry uncertainty still carried its weight into 2010. Reduction in advertising pages, a migration to digital alternatives, and the rising cost of postage and paper have remained key issues.
But there has been some reprieve, as publishers reported fewer magazine title closures, a drop in online magazine title conversions and less erosion of total circulations. Catalogers also saw some stabilization with retail conditions improving, as well as fewer consolidations and bankruptcies.
During the past year, there was some good news as ad spending for certain magazines increased slightly. According to Rick Marcoux, president of RR Donnelley Magazine and Commercial Services, reported ad spending in consumer magazines rebounded some, especially in previously impacted categories such as automotive, financial, real estate and technology.
B2B publications remained challenged through 2010, however, as reported ad spending declines continued. In 2011, some analysts predict that total U.S. ad spending will continue to grow, as well as digital ad revenues for consumer magazines.
Focus on Multi-Channel
Improving upon existing multi-channel marketing strategies continued to be the main emphasis for many publishers and catalogers in 2010. For example, RR Donnelley has continued to work with clients on how to effectively incorporate the use of QR (Quick Response) codes, generalized URL and personalized URL (PURL) solutions into their existing printing portfolios. RR Donnelley also offers its clients digital solutions such as DigiMag, which converts existing magazine PDF files into media-rich, online digital editions.
Through a series of acquisitions, Saint-Laurent, Quebec-based Transcontinental Inc. has also enhanced its existing capabilities by adding custom publishing services, e-mail marketing, digital editions and database marketing services to circulation departments.
"Our acquisition of Conversys, a leading digital publishing solutions provider, gives us the ability to offer magazine publishers digital editions at several different sophistication levels, and to optimize those editions for mobile use," explains Bruce Jensen, group vice president of sales for Transcontinental's Magazine, Book and Catalog Group.
The companies that comprise Houston-based Consolidated Graphics (CGX) are also offering clients new services to deliver product differentiation, such as UV spot coating on covers to help enhance the look and feel, as well as digital printing capabilities that provide publishers with print-on-demand options—and personalization when appropriate.
"Many of our clients have also pursued other opportunities to increase revenue, such as selling online subscriptions for electronic versions of their titles and sending out personalized e-mails," notes Steve Brown, president of CDS Publications, a CGX company in Medford, OR.