I wrote a while back about Nation Media and dwindling advertising revenues. And if the occurrences this week are anything to go by, then the death of print media has just been fast tracked and the body count has started.
This week, it was revealed that East Africa Magazines (EAM), the people behind most of the magazines published in Kenya like True Love and Drum have just killed two of their publications, Adam and Twende. I am allowed to be nostalgic about this because the first and only cheque I have ever received for writing was courtesy of EAM. Though it was a paltry KES 3000, the emotional impact of getting paid for my writing was priceless. Anyway, EAM has announced that it has closed down the two publications with the main reason behind this move – at least what was given as the reason in the news – was the dwindling advertisement revenues.
In my previous article on Nation Media which is currently in the process of advertising that it is an advertiser, I mentioned that loss of revenue from advertisement was only a matter of time and the suspension of the two EAM publications is just the beginning of this dawning reality. According to the Synovate Group Managing Director, only a meager 2% of advertising budget is allocated to print media and this is bound to only get smaller. And it is just the usual suspects behind dwindling advertisement revenue in print media namely the advent of social media and the dwindling circulation which has been circumvented by increased internet penetration levels meaning people now access news via internet (and mobile internet access has had a big role in this). Print Media is therefore being rendered virtually useless and companies have in recognition of this reality cut off advertisement budgets allocated to print media.
I am currently looking for research data that breaks down the advertisement budgets by Kenyan Business based on the various advertisement channels at their disposal.
For print media outlets where advertisement has been their sole gateway for generating income, they will more and more face a hard time in an ever more digital Kenya. For instance, taking into consideration that the demography that the likes of Drum and True Love mostly appealed to, it is the same demography that is internet savvy and which has now taken to digital content consumption abandoning print media in their wake. And even newspapers which still enjoy a wide circulation are not spared either as internet penetration levels increase. This was acknowledged during the release of the Standard Group’s results where Mr. Mcfie, a director at Standard Group attributed the dwindling Profits to among others lower advertisement revenues.
So what is the way forward for print media you ask?
Adapt and Change
The great thing about Kenya and the developing world in general is that we have so many case studies to borrow lessons from as far as the death of print media goes. Borrowing from the case studies of organizations that have survived so far from the digital and especially social media onslaught, EAM and similar print media businesses would stand a better a chance of reinventing themselves and remaining profitable. The reality now is that the print media outlets will need to be smart and follow their readers online. They have to adapt and go online because their content is probably just as juicy but delivered through the wrong channels.
The way forward for businesses such as EAM is for them is to cut their losses with print media and get reborn online; a makeover of sorts. This rebirth will have to come with a lot of surgical changes to the old way of doing things and embrace the reality of online media that is today defined almost in totality by social media. Through RSS, Email, and Newsletter subscriptions, these magazines can once again rebuild their readership online and use their subscription numbers as evidence enough to warrant advertisement revenue once again. They can also redefine their revenue streams by providing content on a freemium basis or if they are confident enough, follow Rupert Murdoch with the Wall Street Journal.
What are your thoughts?