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Rolling Stone Rocks On
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While advertising dollars continue to migrate on-line, a space that is dominated by only a few players, most magazines have been forced to make some necessary changes. Long-ago, these publications began grappling with having to develop and maintain both print and on-line formats with a market lack of success. Advertising revenue must come from both places, and what would be considered a sustainable model for revenue generation has yet to be achieved. But Rolling Stone won't be accused of sitting around and gathering moss. Marketers there have a new strategy.

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The new ownership has an eye on reducing costs while enhancing quality, which sounds like a very tall order indeed. The magazine is reducing its circulation by over half from 1.4 million to 650,000, which will almost certainly result in a reduction of advertising prices, at least temporarily. Marketers have been concerned that far too many copies were over-promoted or simply just given away, and so they are now looking for "an authentic audience, readers who are buying our magazine. "

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It is an interesting strategy for sure. The company believes that setting itself up for long-term success does not involve creating "a fake audience for your magazine and buying traffic online". Indeed. The cover price will almost double to $9.99, and one would expect that the publication will make efforts to help advertisers develop relationships with the smaller, but higher quality reader base. These advertisers might also pay a premium to reach a more defined and engaged audience. In an effort to improve product quality, the magazine has also increased its editorial staff by 30% during a time when most publishers are downsizing staff. This is a bold move, but Rolling Stone has never been one to shy away from risk-taking; and it is also a refreshing departure from the status quo, as most magazines struggle to attract enough digital readership (and advertising) to compensate for the loss of traditional readers. Perhaps these marketers have found something in providing a higher quality, more targeted product, that other publishers can emulate.

 

Discussion: Do you think these efforts will pay off? Why or why not? What are your specific prescriptions for the marketers at Rolling Stone?

 

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