Publishing Predictions & Observations For The New Year


14By John K. Lawo, Jr., President
(901) 634-9347
[email protected]

Predictions have little merit unless there is a clear understanding of the particulars involved. It has always been interesting to me how generalized many predictions are. In the course of this New Year, magazine publishers of consumer brands will have different concerns from B2Bs and large corporate publishers quite different from smaller ones. Then, too, markets differ greatly, and publishers must be in tune with their demographics and the wants and needs of their audience—no matter whether from print or digital—to hone their brands.

My predictions and observations are based on what I foresee for consumer magazine publishers of small (10,000) to medium-sized (250,000) print circulations. As an industry, I see the continuation of an unsettled and anxious mood.


  • Prevailing concerns, in discussions and for consideration at least, will continue to revolve around print and digital: how much time, effort and money to devote to each and what kind of balance to establish.
  • Many publishers will become increasingly frustrated with failed efforts to satisfactorily monetize digital and will reduce or even abandon their efforts unless their market demands it in some form. That being the case, they will have to more closely examine their financial structure and make adjustments, facing a disproportionate increase in digital expenses to digital revenues.
  • The search for more productive revenue streams will continue as publishers find those sources that best fit their markets and serve their needs.
  • New and more highly-defined software systems will emerge.
  • More strategic partnerships will be sought.
  • Outsourcing (involving interns, part-time personnel, consultants, others) will continue to grow.
  • Many veterans will have to add to their skill sets to stay relevant as new technology continues to emerge.

Advertising & Marketing

  • Many small publishers with limited assets (i.e. non-competitive audience numbers) will find themselves increasingly providing marketing services to make up for lost advertising sales. • Use of all social media will increase and become more sophisticated.
  • Advertising market share remains a critical factor as advertisers continue to diversify their buys, and publishers on the short end see revenues dwindle.
  • Ad sales continue to be more sophisticated as publishers learn more about their audiences and sharpen their editorial focus through data mining, developing important sales tools.
  • Sales training for all platforms becomes more critical than ever.
  • Digital performance will contribute to a small increase in overall revenue for smaller publishers but not sufficiently to account for losses from print.
  • More publishers will develop branded apps.


  • Editorial will become more targeted and more creative in content and graphics.
  • Publishers will work more efficiently and develop leverage for their assets through Content Management Systems (CMS).
  • Writers and editors will have to adapt to content preparation for digital devices.
  • Editorial staff will have to develop and embrace new skills beyond the industry’s traditionally basic ones.
  • Traditional editorial staffs per se will be reduced.

Circulation/Audience Development

  • Print circulation and revenue will continue to decline.
  • Mobile will continue to capture readers.
  • Preferred metrics for websites will remain in flux.
  • Print circulations will be reduced to more efficient levels.
  • Highly-targeted circulation remains a critical factor.
  • Audience development will encompass more aspects of social media.
  • Digital edition readers will continue to be younger and more educated than the average adult.
  • Overall percent of digital adult readers will continue to increase as it has for the last several years.

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John Lawo

John K. Lawo, Jr is an independent consultant specializing in media/publishing strategies and business development and management. In his career of more than 35 years, Lawo has been instrumental in the founding, development and operation of numerous publishing businesses in local, national and international markets (U.S., Canada, Western Europe, and Asia). These range in subject matter and markets from architecture, city, construction and design to home furnishings, fashion & beauty, general interest, sports, real estate, transportation and travel.

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