Over on the Custom Media Craft blog on Hammock.com, I just posted some highlights from the annual survey conducted by the Custom Publishing Council called â€œCharacteristics Study: A Look at the Volume and Type of Custom Publications in Americaâ€. (Note: Hammock Inc. was one of the founding members of the Custom Publishing Council). According to the survey, in 2007 a record number of marketers used custom media to promote their products and brands. Personally, I believe the numbers are still conservative as there are lots of online “content marketing” activities taking place that fall through the cracks of this research. For instance, most of the digital startups that have content creation for marketers (i.e., video distributed online) as part of their business model should probably be covered in this research — but aren’t.
One thing this survey underscores is a statistic that doesn’t click with many of my friends in the magazine and media industry who think of the magazine format as being, exclusively, a business model (i.e., consumer of B2B magazines). The magazine format is not just a business-model, it supports and serves other business models. I typically use university alumni or association magazines as examples here, but think of all the institutions and, now, companies, who use magazines and other media they create as platforms for fostering long term relationships with their constituencies (customers, alumni, members, supporters, etc.). While there are probably (and I’m guessing here) less than 20,000 magazines that have advertising and circulation-revenue as the focus of their business models, this survey indicates there are 143,173 magazines in America. Even if my number is low and their’s is high, the truth of magazine publishing is this: Most magazines in America “support” a business model — they aren’t a business model.
This is an important fact to consider when thinking about the “business model” of another media: blogging. Today — and forevermore — there will be only a small fraction of blogs that are, themselves, a business. The vast majority — as in 99% or more — of business-related blogs will support a business model (or a cause or institution or campaign), not be a business model.
Another thing: I confess: As much as I enjoy publishing — indeed everything about — magazines, I’m also very-much a new-media guy. I believe content-marketing, custom media, social media, conversational media — whatever you want to call it — should be front and center in any company or institution’s marketing effort (our company works with clients in doing just that). I see no “competition” or “conflict” or “irony” in me advocating new media while still championing the magazine format as the most compelling engagement media available.