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Low-risk online magazine launches in Q2

Although the future of magazines in today’s increasingly digital age is as uncertain as the rest of the media industry’s fate, print magazines still topped digital launches in the second quarter of 2013, with 14 print and four online launches. Three of the four online launches, however, were considered low-risk.

These online endeavors were backed by major companies with well-known brands and previous digital success. Atlantic Media launched Defense One after a profitable Quartz.com launch the previous year, while Clique Media, the publisher of Who What Wear, debuted Domaine.com. Meanwhile, the Financial Times started Financial Advisor IQ. Additionally, The Verge reported that the New York Times is set to launch Need to Know, a digital-only product meant to highlight important stories.

With new sites popping up and more major magazines delving into the online market, is it safe to say that print launches will eventually be phased out? Tayne Kim, managing editor of magazine content at Vocus Media Research Group, doesn’t think so. Online launches don’t “speak to a decline in print,” he said.

Kim believes that magazines with already-established brands, like the New York Times and the Financial Times, are simply supplementing their print content with online sites. “Adding online niche publications doesn’t take away from print, but rather strengthens their brand as a whole.”

“Unlike a news organization like NBC, where people go to their site to find specific news content, magazines represent an [inherent] brand, where their content is their brand,” noted Kim. “Magazines use that collateral to drive traffic to their digital and print channels.”

Kim pointed out that online launches are cheaper and easier than print, but that’s because they usually use similar editors, journalists and resources as their parent print publications. “Low risk means it costs less to build off of an existing brand platform. It’s cheaper to have an online presence,” he said. But that’s typically the case with online supplements. Less ink does not necessarily mean more profit when it comes to online magazines. People are still reading print.

But with the world going increasingly digital, it won’t be surprising to see more magazine titles add to their already-established brands by launching digital properties.

-Cara Gavin

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