Striking the Right Print/Online Balance


This week technology media juggernaut TechTarget announced that it's launching CIO Decisions, a new print magazine with a circulation of 60,000, targeted at senior-level information technology executives in mid-market companies.This will be the third print magazine published by TechTarget, which started life as a Web-based publisher serving information technology professionals, a group that by now you would think would want to receive all information digitally.

Also this week, the British Computer Society , another large group of information technology professionals. released the results of an extensive survey of its membership that found that members preferred to receive the Society's magazine, Computer Bulletin, in print format.What's noteworthy is that an audience so comfortable with technology still has an appetite for print, and that publishers are still willing if not eager to support that appetite. Perhaps it's a reaction on both sides to the problem of noise.

For subscribers, so much is flying by them so quickly in electronic form that it's difficult to keep up. The print format allows them to read where and when they choose, when they can best focus. For content that isn't time-sensitive, this makes a lot of sense.For publishers, launching a new Web-based publication means immediate competition with large numbers of competing Web sites, blogs and email newsletters. In print, the number of competitors is dramatically reduced, and with the reduced amount of postal mail being sent, a print publication can make a big impact fast.The British Computer Society study also found that members did want to receive certain things electronically, such as breaking news and job-critical articles, and they looked to the Society's Web site as a reference archive and member bulletin board.All this suggests that publishing in both print and online formats can actually offer competitive advantages, provided that publishers recognize that the optimal mix of formats will continue to change, and be ready to react quickly. It also suggests how dangerous it can be to ever assume we know what our customers want.

Comment