“Magazines back on track after net panic”

PPA conference: has lined up top speakers

Magazine publishers are beginning to breathe again after years of panic, intimidation and misinformation caused by the impact of the internet, according to Paul Beatty, president of US-based Business Technology Communications.

At the PPA Magazines & B2B 2001 conference next week, Beatty will tell delegates that publishers are almost back on track.

He will say: "Publishers were intimidated by fear, stimulated by greed, invaded by a new culture which took control of their readers, advertisers and content.

"Major investments were made into the new world of the web. Publishers were boldly told this was the future. Many believed it and panic was the norm of the day. We attended print industry conventions and seminars where the word ‘print’ was rarely mentioned."

Sales people were sent out to sell products they did not understand, he says, and the power of the print and its value to the advertiser was no longer the guts of the print sales presentation.

Beatty claims the web proved a "big plus" in terms of its value for subscription, newsletters and reader service. He says that readership is more powerful than ever – up 42 per cent, having risen by 125 per cent over the past five years.

But he claims the readership and response success was pushed aside by the hype of the web and he accuses publishers of failing to look at the core business and recognise that the combination of web and print would give print more power.

In his speech, Beatty says print publishers made a major mistake by not taking the credit for print driving more buyers to seller websites than any other medium.

Publishers were convinced they should be driving readers to the website and as a result of the new culture they continued to believe readership and response was down when in fact it was up, he says.

"Publishers were not tracking readers going from the printed page to websites. They blew a great opportunity. Today it is the most important marketing tool available to sell more print ads."

Other speakers at the conference next Tuesday and Wednesday, at the Grosvenor Hotel, London, will be: writer and academic Germaine Greer, Emap chief executive Kevin Hand, Hello! editor-in-chief Phil Hall, Conde Nast managing director Nicholas Coleridge, National Magazine Company managing director Terry Mansfield and VNU managing director Brin Bucknor.

by Ruth Addicott

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