Quality Print Design Could Help Publishers Succeed Online

The backlash is upon us. Publishers who have misjudged the online market will have more problems in the coming months if they don’t figure out a way to trade useless scale for more targeted reach, because the flight to quality continues for advertisers. While that means more niche and less reach, it provides an amazing opportunity for quality publishers with great design who might not have mattered in the past. It also provides the utmost in brand safety. Publishers aimed at Millennials, who are the biggest users of ad blockers, have begun to try new approaches toward reaching their audiences.

This week we got a look at a new publication launched through crowdfunding. It’s called Racquet, and it appeals to the tennis industry. You don’t have to be a tennis player, just someone who likes the tennis lifestyle.

Here’s what the media kit says:

With a target age range of 25-50, Racquet is a lifestyle brand primed to attract an engaged readership who wants quality in all their lifestyle choices—travel, entertainment, food & drink, accessories, design and more. These are influencers, who move and think globally, value the experiential and carefully curate their consumption—from what’s in their Netflix queue to what’s on their coffee table. Our readers might never pick up a tennis racquet, but they love the style and culture of the sport, and look to us to guide them towards what will make them more cultured, stylish and informed.

At the front of the first issue is a list of “founders,” who contributed to getting the magazine off the ground. This in itself is different. Also different is the look of the print copy. The design is stunning. Each issue is designed to be a collectible.There are perhaps a half dozen ads in the entire print copy. And the print run is 5000, distributed worldwide. That’s not many, so if this company plans to monetize, they’ll have to go beyond print.

Online, the main revenue stream is merchandise for now. Here’s where the unique combination of online-offline becomes more interesting. As an advertiser, you might want to sponsor a podcast, or add your brand to an issue of the magazine that is actually printed, but sold online afterward as a printed copy. Back issues of Racquet, for example are $15.00. This is a different and exciting cross-channel promotion opportunity, and we see it as having great potential for luxury brands.

The ad formats will have to be different from what is usually sold through programmatic, although we predict that eventually the magazine’s site will itself have a limited number of appropriate ads. If it is going to scale, it must. But doing it slowly and carefully, and keeping the product special, may prove to be a differentiator.