Contributing Monkie G Monkie
Published on January 30, 2009
The media business is taking a pounding as advertisers hold back spending on marketing. The effect for the Broadcast Networks, will be less spending on scripted shows and more directed at the cheap reality type show. But for those in the magazine business the sudden advertising black hole, is much more dire and is sending many of them into a death spiral.
But since we all know the future of this planet must be a green one, the magazines and media covering it, must be booming, right? Sadley the truth is green media is bleeding red. Fresh new comers such as Plenty Magazine, Organic Style Magazine and Hybrids like Conde Nast’s Domino Magazine are feeling the effects of high over head and a thin advertising base.
Publishing giant Rodale closed the doors on their stylish green living magazine Organic Style back in 2005. The magazine first started publishing with a staff of 38 back in 2001. Launching a large scale green publication so early in this new green movement proved to be unwise. Their closing seemed to be a warning about timing. Spending too big and too early means publishers would get little support from traditional advertisers and the new wave of green companies didn’t have the deep pockets to fill in the gaps.
Another interesting development, is that even the green companies didn’t focus their budgets on green publications. Most companies with a greenish product focus their budgets on established magazines, like Vogue and Elle. The thinking is that if they expose green products to the average consumer, they will drive more demand. And the already green minded readers of the green publications, also read the main stream publications. So they too will be exposed. Which may or may not be valid.
Plenty Magazine, a glossy magazine focused on the positive side of green living, seemed to be in the right place at the right time. They not only talk the talk but walked the walk by printing on 100% recycled paper from day one. The magazine was also able to get in front of mass green audience by scoring prominent placement at the checkout counters of Whole Foods, the largest organic grocery store in the world. But running a magazine is very expensive and it seems even with a circulation of 200,000 Plenty was not making a profit. Their last issue is the December/January 2009.
O at Home
One of Oprah’s spin off magazines is also closing it’s doors. We are talking about it because Oprah is becoming a giant in the green world and she bleeds in green stories into her very popular tv show and publications often. Her O at Home magazine which is published by Hearst Magazines, has shut down. The magazine was started in 2003 and the last issue was Winter 2008, even though the magazine has a quarterly paid circulation of over 700,000.
Domino Magazine, which is a stylish home design focused magazine has also announced they are ending publication in March 2009. This magazine had many issues devoted to green living, including an early issue which featured a partnership with Treehugger.com The magazine was started by Conde Nast, which is the publisher of Vogue (the largest magazine in the world) in 2005. “Although readership and advertising response was encouraging in the early years,” Conde Nast president-CEO Charles Townsend said upon closing the title, “we have concluded that this economic market will not support our business expectations.” Domino’s ad pages fell only 4.5% but that was enough to shut them down.
The National Geographic Magazine, Green Guide ended publishing only 9 months after it started. The original green guide started as a news letter in 1994 and expanded online in 2002. The company was acquired by National Geographic in March 2007 which would seem to be a good idea at the time.
The companies is continuing with the online version and made this statement. “The Green Guide is a tremendous franchise and we will continue to focus our energies on our robust website of green-living tips at thegreenguide.com.” National Geographic magazine itself eliminated jobs for 18 editorial employees in November.
So does this mean green media is dead? Is there no audience for a purely green focused lifestyle media company? Well, I guesses time will tell, but I personally don’t believe that. I believe in the near future green will become the dominating space, not unlike how the internet became the dominating way media is consumed. But can a purely green minded media company lead the space is another question. Main stream players have many advantages by having established audiences, advertisers and seasoned staff members. Which leave start-up companies like G Living scrambling to raise fund, find advertisers and establish revenues now, instead of some time in the distant future. If pure green media is to survive, it will need to re-think what it means to be in the publishing business.