We had Madonna, Morrissey and the new MTV, Live Aid, Jacko and Prince – 1985 was a great year to launch a teenage magazine.
I was launch editor of Mizz magazine back then and IPC launched her on a huge tide of teenage marketing, buoyed up by Just Seventeen, Smash Hits and 19. Everyone wanted a slice of the teen market.
Our launch made the news reports. Editors of teen mags spoke at marketing conferences. Mizz cleared 160,000 copies every fortnight, but Smash Hits was way ahead, selling a million copies by 1989. In 1994, the market peaked. But where are those titles now?
Just Seventeen (or J17 as they renamed it) closed in 2004, the same day as The Face. Even Smash Hits is gone. Mizz, recently sold to Panini, keeps going with around 60,000 sales. So where have the teenagers gone? Why aren’t they reading magazines any more?
A clue lies with my 17-year-old teenage daughter. She doesn’t buy girls'(or women’s) magazines at all. There is simply nothing out there to interest her. But a paradigm insight to this market occurred two weeks ago when she had an early 18th birthday party.
It was a great night: 50 teenagers in fancy dress (and no, they didn’t trash the house). But by the time her 15 sleep-over guests woke the next morning – say 11am – other guests had already loaded more than 100 photos from her party onto Facebook.
As other sleepy guests gently roused themselves, the day was spent with more and more pictures being uploaded, gangs of teens gathering online to talk about them, comparing costumes, stolen moments and drunken antics.
Teens live on the net. It’s where all their friends are, where they find their music and fashion, movie trailers, celebrity gossip and occasionally information for homework.
So I asked my daughter to look at Jellyfish, Natmags’ new digital magazine for teenagers, edited by Celia Duncan using Ceros technology. My teen had never heard of it – nor had her mates. But when she and her boyfriend explored the site, they loved it.
Personally, I thought it strange that Jellyfish’s format was that of a traditional paper magazine, but that was seen by the youngsters as a good thing.
Jellyfish is all about ‘click it – have it”. Click here to sample latest music releases and download them direct. Like that handbag? Click and its yours. Want to laugh at stupid celebs? Click and giggle.
Jellyfish is a window on their world. It’s not like in my day, with an angsty reader in her bedroom worrying about periods, breast size or how to kiss boys. And thank god there are no diets on Jellyfish either.
Criticisms? Some of the sites to click through wouldn’t download. Some of the auctions on Ebay had finished (we were both curious about the Chanel earrings).
And there is nothing to read – but, to my daughter, that was half the appeal. That and the ‘see it now – have it now’access.
So did she sign up to receive Jellyfish every Tuesday as an email? Sure she did. And – sorry about your reader profile, Natmags – so did I.
Lori Miles is editor-in-chief of Cedar Communications which works with Reactive to produce new online magazines. Cedar’s fortytwodegrees, the Bank of Scotland corporate e-zine, and Tesco magazine online have just been shortlisted for this year’s APA Awards..