Digital Publishing since its widespread recognition in 2010 has had a formidable effect on the magazine industry and due to this, in the UK the circulation of print magazines has fallen by 4% in the last half of 2015.
Print magazines such as Company, Instyle UK and Computer World have shifted to a digital-only format. Ryan Jones notes that ‘Other industries are beginning to recognize the advantages of entering the digital magazine publication realm — namely the ease with which they are able to distribute content and capture a unique set of data.’ Jones is correct in his statement, many publications have been using multi-platform publishing to distribute and market its content and brand. It is an efficient way of getting content out into the public sphere in a matter of seconds. If magazines do not invest in multi-platform publishing, it could be costly in terms of future subscription revenues and affect the longevity of the industry.
Challenges of fashion magazines
An area of magazine publishing that has seen further challenges are fashion magazines; this is the result in rise of ‘fashion bloggers’ such as Susie Bubble and Leandra Medine. Magazines such as Vogue, InStyle, Allure and Elle are now not the only source of fashion related content for consumers. Consumers find fashion bloggers ‘more relatable’ than a high-end establishment such as Elle and because bloggers release content through their own website or Instagram and YouTube and is far more easily accessible. Readers are more likely to take the free option than pay £3.99 per monthly issue.
A magazine that has suffered considerably is InStyle UK which ‘saw its circulation fall by almost 18% in the first six months of 2016 to 121,000 copies a month’ and as of October 2016, is now cutting print and focusing on digital. InStyle UK’s Editor Charlotte Moore states ‘the fashion world is changing dramatically, the way our audience interacts with it is changing and we have to change to meet that challenge. With a focus on delivering the InStyle experience across all digital platforms’. Though it seems fashion magazines have struggled to keep print circulation in par with the ever-growing reach of digital publishing and more specifically fashion bloggers, magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar have been able to withstand the pressure to shift to digital-only publishing due to advertorials and their use of multi-platform publishing.
Vogue’s use of multi-platform publishing
Vogue magazine in particular has consolidated its status with its use of multi-platform publishing. Vogue, published by Conde Nast is an iconic high-end fashion and lifestyle magazine and is considered ‘fashion bible’ by readers. It was first published in the US in 1892 and has over 20 worldwide print editions. Its demographic is women (87%) and men (13%), specifically upper middle-class and those can regularly afford designer pieces. According to Conde Nast, Vogue has approximately a print audience of 11.9 million with an average total of 1,267,754 print circulations each month. Vogue has another magazine Teen Vogue that was launched in 2004. It attracts a younger audience than the original Vogue but allows them to target younger audiences who will most likely be interested in investing in Vogue material as a result of growing up with Teen Vogue.
Vogue’s editor Anna Wintour understands the importance of digital publishing and the need to invest in it. During Cannes Lions Festival, Wintour noted in her speech that ‘It would be ridiculous to ignore the speed and possibilities of the digital landscape — you absolutely need to have fast-moving news online, but if you want to build a large audience over time, you absolutely have to take a risk on the big challenging stuff.’ In conversation with Vogue Australia, Wintour speaks of the main advantage of digital ‘we have more access than ever to the people we are trying to reach thanks to social media and mobile technology, and more information than we know what to do with.’ We must discover how Vogue has used the digital landscape and what publications can learn from them.
Vogue has invested in multi-platform publishing in order to enhance its audience reach and brand that allow readers to capture or access Vogue material any time and place without the need to pick up its print issue. The ability to share content from different platforms, allows Vogue to have widespread, continuous exposure. They use social media and digital platforms such as Facebook (8+ million likes), Twitter (11.8M followers), Instagram (12.7m Followers), YouTube (800,000+ Subscribers), its newest platform is Snapchat and most coveted is its website – Vogue.com which launched in 2010. The Financial Times states ‘Vogue.com is today a vast adjunct of the print edition it represents. And it’s a mighty proposition. Since its relaunch last August it has grown its audience figures by 80 per cent.’ Since the re-launch of the website, it is evident that websites are key in attracting readers due to ease of access and ability to distribute content quickly. According to Vogue’s media kit, it has a monthly online audience of 8.5 million and 5 Billion press ‘impressions’ each month. Vogue has also created app extensions of its magazine for Apple iPad, Android phone and tablet and the Nook using Adobe AEM– allowing digital copies of the print issue to be viewed at the touch of a button.
On Twitter and Facebook, Vogue shares articles from Vogue.com with a direct link to the webpage – easily directing traffic to the website. Vogue’s digital audience is far bigger than its print audience, with an average of 11,058,165 monthly visitors and over 357 million page views each month. The YouTube channel offers one-on-one interviews with models and famous celebrities in its well-known series ’73 Questions’, sneak peaks at fashion weeks and events such as the Met Gala.
Vogue’s Instagram is a fresher, more modern approach to marketing its brand and magazine. Traditionally Vogue’s average print issue’s demographic is women aged 35+ but its social media platforms such as Instagram opens up larger reach to young adult and teenage audiences. Its Instagram focuses on behind-the-scene material in video and image and editorial photo-shoots. Vogue has several instagram accounts such as Vogue, Vogue Runway and in November 2016 launched an account dedicated to beauty.
In September 2016, Vogue magazine joined the ‘Snapchat discover’ platform; which allows them to take users behind-the-scenes of runways, fashion events and interviews with models and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian. Vogue began by documenting 2016 New York Fashion Week, where users were able to access Vogue’s posts within seconds of it being uploaded – allowing users to feel as though they are ‘in the know’ of current fashion trends and as if they were themselves sitting front row at fashion week. Vogue also has its own Snapchat account (Voguemagazine) and release similar content as ‘Vogue discover’.
Advertorials in Vogue
Vogue’s print circulation has decreased from 2015 – 2016 but Vogue has been able to withstand the movement of print to digital due to the advertisement placements and sponsorships or otherwise known as ‘advertorials’ in the print issues by high-end fashion brands such as Prada, Lancôme, Chanel and Jimmy Choo to name a few. The decrease of print sales does not affect Vogue as much as it would affect a smaller fashion magazine brand such as Grazia. ‘Vogue aim to target an audience, who have the purchasing means to buy the products mentioned, thus making it a gold mine for brands wishing to advertise within.’ Vogue’s coveted September issue tends to have the largest advertisement investments by brands. 2016’s September issues of over 800 pages, approximately 600 pages were advertisements.
Why has Vogue been successful in multi-platform publishing?
According to The Guardian, British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman ‘believes Vogue’s longevity has hinged on staying “very clear about the core values while being open to adaptation and innovation.”’ It’s obvious to state that Vogue’s key success in remaining prevalent in print and digital is in its ability to remain recognizable in terms of brand, its content being consistent and high-quality value across all platforms.
Business of Fashion believe that ‘Realistically, unless you’ve got a very strong brand, then it can be hard to make money online.’ There is no denying that Vogue has stayed true to its print audience with keeping the material of high-end luxury brands and it’s print style, more specifically its cover design. GQ’s publisher Howard Mittman states ‘The print market is shifting and changing at a dramatic rate, but the one constant that remains is consumers still understand and appreciate quality.’ Vogue’s success at digital is incomparable, its consistency of editorial style and in addition targeting several age brackets through different social media platforms and with keeping each platform producing valued content allow Vogue to keep its status in the fashion industry elevated. Vogue’s print issue won’t be leaving the newsstand anytime soon. Readers still enjoy print magazines rather than solely digital, like readers still enjoy physical books rather than e-books. They like to hold something, have a physical copy of something they have parted their money with for – Vogue is tangible and collectable.
Stephen Quinn, Publishing Director of British Vogue states;
“Don’t turn your back on print. Embrace social but don’t build your house on it. Invest in quality content that excites your readers. Focus on the reader and not the sales pitch and remember, you can build a brand on content – just be definitively good at one thing.”
Many publications can learn from Vogue’s digital and print strategy – don’t put all your eggs into one basket. Embrace all platforms and ensure that both digital and print formats are valuable in their own right to create a brand that is undeniably recognizable, reliable and timeless with the reader in focus.
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Feature Image: © Vogue Magazine