OPINION: Print media is dying, so how long until it expires? | Mobile Development | Mobile Entertainment

OPINION: Print media is dying, so how long until it expires?

OPINION: Print media is dying, so how long until it expires?
Zen Terrelonge


Development / AR / July 5th 2013 at 3:28PM

It remains to be seen whether augmented reality or digital-only futures are solutions.

Auto Trader sent a copy of its last ever print issue to the Mobile Entertainment HQ this week, following the recent announcement that it was throwing the idea of print onto the scrap heap in favour of digital publishing.

It's a big step to take, one that ME took three years ago in order to keep readers updated with content as it happens.

However, it doesn't work for everyone.

1937-released comic The Dandy once saw print sales of two million weekly copies in the 50s, but sales sat at around 8,000 last year.

The steep decline brought about the cancellation of print and a digital-only launch of the comic for mobiles and tablets. Sadly, technology didn't pay off, and the digital Dandy has also been binned for good, with last week's issue marking the last.

But back to Auto Trader.

The final limited edition of its print title came laced with mobile goodness. The iPhone-esque digital screen found on the cover plays a video that showcases the car company's 36-year history, including its notable mobile marketing moves.

Auto Trader's print edition declined from a circulation of 368,000 in 2000 to just 27,000 in March 2013. Comparatively, mobile reading has risen 67 per cent year-on-year, tablet by 130 per cent, and desktop by 130 per cent.

It seems like Auto Trader saw the end in sight, as it launched a digital publication – don't call it a magazine – in November last year, announcing plans to generate revenues from in-app ads and a premium price tag.

The future looks to be a shiny one for the motor magazine, but there's no telling what will happen, and The Dandy is a fine example of that.

But what of existing print titles without a digital footprint?

Earlier this week an IAB study showed that 90 per cent of consumers would recommend social media-savvy brands. It means that the public wants technology to enhance their experiences, but the content has to be right.

Once such enhancement has come in the form of augmented reality, something laced throughout Auto Trader's closing issue via Blippar.

ShortList also adopted AR and saw the tech used by ten per cent of readers, while The Independent added the solution to editorial content. It promisied to go above and beyond with the experimentation of the tech, which is also in partnership with Blippar.

What makes you read a print title, the editorial or the pretty pictures? Maybe you want an AR element added to offer videos and other extras?

Or perhaps you hate print media and the risk of paper cuts, preferring to consume all of your news through your smartphones and tablets in real-time.

Either way, Auto Trader and The Dandy are just two big names that have suffered and revamped, which suggests they're not the only ones to be working on a revival plan behind the scenes.

For me, The Dandy, which I read as a youth, failed to grab audiences now that the world is an incredibly different place. I'm only 26, but as a child I was always playing outside and reading books and comics.

It seems like today's youngsters are more interested in social media, mobiles and virtual games. So with that in mind, The Dandy's content would have meant very little to kids nowadays.

Materials and marketing are all key and a brand must be forward-thinking if it wants to survive, rather than waiting for a problem to arise before it looks ahead.

Auto Trader and The Dandy have both made their moves. Who's next?