Why shifts in global media consumption favour the Internet

A Zenith Optimedia report shows that the time spent reading print worldwide fell by 25 per cent between 2010 and 2014 while that of online readership is growing dramatically.

The media agency shows a clear picture of more readers going online other than buying hard copy and points out that the Internet is the big winner of the change in media consumption.

Many print publications have folded due to dwindling sales of magazines, opting to chase readers (and aertisers) who have shifted to consuming their news from the online space.

Pregnant magazine, which offers information on pregnancy and what women should expect during this period, is an example of a local publication that has evolved with the times.

Integral Media, which started publishing the magazine in 2011, took it fully digital just two years later under the Baby Love Network due to dwindling revenues from the hard copy version.

“We soon realised that our audiences were spending lot of time online on their smart phones, tablets or computers while increasingly less copies of our publication was moving from the shelves,” said Brenda Wangwe, the editor of Baby Love, another online magazine publication under Integral Media

The Edition, a career and culture magazine, has suffered a similar fate.

Mid last year owners of the magazine stopped publishing the print edition, explaining that the high costs of producing a quality publication were not matched by returns.

Distribution hiccups also contributed to their strategy shift.

“Most of the printing for a good quality magazine is done out of the country which is quite costly to manage,” Lucy Mwangi, the publication editor at The Edition, told Digital Business.

“One can access previous publications on the website. This is part of our plan since more people are now consuming information digitally.” In the international space, the Company Magazine (a UK monthly magazine aimed at young women) permanently stopped the presses last September after 36 years.

The monthly’s print circulation consistently dropped for 10 years from 332,603 in the second half of 2004 to 90,116 in the second half of 2013.

“As a standalone digital brand, Company is well placed to provide a unique and dedicated service to this dynamic 16-24 old female demographic,” said Anna Jones, chief executive of Hearst Magazines UK, the publishers of Company Magazine.

Newsweek, an 82-year-old American weekly publication, in 2012 shocked the world by announcing that it was going digital only after its subscription numbers halved to 1.5 million.

The magazine, which has since been revived as a print edition, exemplified the effects of and increasingly digitalised audience even on publications of global repute.

Other current affairs magazines that went all-digital were US News and World Report. Both made the move in 2010.

Most of their peers who are still printing hard copy publication, concurrently run websites which place most of their premium content behind paywalls.

One of the aantages of online publications is their global reach as well as the ability to get their information on the hands of millions of customers a short time after production.

This also allows publishers to gauge which articles their readers are most interested in, a form of market survey which is much harder to do with print copies.

Print is also termed prohibitive since content is restricted by the limited space available. An online space allows for inclusion of multimedia content like video and photo slides.

imukumu@ke.nationmedia.com