There’s a new research study out from the Pew Research Center For People & The Press that found 44% of Americans get news through one or more Internet or mobile digital sources. The study also found that Americans aren’t necessarily replacing traditional news delivery platforms like TV, radio and newspapers, but are shifting their news consumption to incorporate new technology. In fact, the minutes each person spent consuming news hasn’t decreased in the past decade as one might expect.
In my most recent Twitpoll, I found (via the non-scientific means of a Twiiter poll) that 50% of you get your AV news from online sources, with another 29% getting your AV news from the web sites of print magazines. (See graphic.) Many of you are going online, and yet, many AV trade publications keeps printing 12 issues a year and sending them to our homes and offices. Why?
Although the AV industry often lags traditional mainstream media, here is one aspect where we need to catch up. AV magazine salespeople who are trying to sell ads still see the printed full-page ad as the “big win” when it comes to sales. Selling an online ad isn’t as sexy as a full-page printed ad to most folks in publishing and online ads aren’t priced by the same model. Eyeballs and clicks? Jibberish.
And not to rag on the salespeople, the entire AV trade mag publishing model is rooted in print. Advert sales have a direct correlation to editorial budget; in essence, it pays for the magazine contents. The editor has a few bucks each month to hire some freelance writers to write some articles. Manufacturer press releases fill in the rest of the pages and, ta-dah, you have yourself a trade magazine. Given the immediacy of today’s tech and the want for faster news delivery, that model is myopic, at best.
The next evolution has been the digital editions of the print magazines. It solves the printing issue and shaves some time off of the print-ship model. But the content is still something that was written a month or two ago and the digital edition is still laid out (and sold) like a traditional print magazine. So it doesn’t kill trees anymore, but is it immediate news delivery? Not really.
So who are/ will be the winners in AV news? It’s those who have invested in their online infrastructure and who understand that the consumption of AV news is becoming “What are you covering today?” and not “What are you covering this month?”
My list of strong online contenders are:
ProSoundWeb.com – ProSoundWeb is an online only pro audio source that offers a news stream, blogs, and hosts the legendary Live Audio Board (LAB) forums. PSW is online only and always has been since its founding over a decade ago. Editorial for PSW is run by Keith Clark, a veteran journalist and audio geek who knows the industry and who understands the news business.
rAVe Pubs – (Full disclosure: I am a former columnist for rAVe.) rAVe Pubs is a product of Kayye Consulting (founded 1998) whose first electronic issue was published in 2003. rAVe gives AV info using a variety of media, from e-newsletter columns and blogs to videos, breaking news tweets, and live chats. They get that news consumption is immediate, and that it isn’t always in the form of the long-form article.
PRO AV Connect – PRO AV is a traditional printed magazine that has made a big investment into creating a community for their readers. (Another full disclosure: I’ve written for PRO AV for many years – back when it was called Presenting AV.) PRO AV Connect is a user-driven content platform that also folds in forums, webinars, videos, as well as access to the digital version of the printed magazine. Connect is still in the early stages but I think this is a move in the right direction for any traditional magazine looking for the next stage of life online.
Briefing Room on Sound & Video Contractor – The Briefing Room is my go-to place to find nearly any press release from an AV manufacturer. It’s a simple site, powered by WordPress, that bills itself as a virtual press conference. I’m not sure how this service is monetized (notice that there aren’t any adverts) but it’s a genius idea on the part of S&VC to drive traffic to their site and to keep them top of mind.
So, did I miss any strong online contenders? Who do you think will still be standing once print magazines go the way of the typewriter? Let me know by leaving a comment on this blog post.