Thursday, October 20, 2011

Morning Brief: Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi died of his wounds; Stephen Alexander named chairman of Immediate Media Co., the new publisher of the former BBC Magazines; new survey on digital reading habits

Reuters has just broken the news that former Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi has died of wounds suffered when he was captured.

"He was also hit in his head," an official representing the National Transitional Council said. "There was a lot of firing against his group and he died."

Exponent, the private equity company that is the new owner of the 33 former BBC Magazines divested, has announced that Stephen Alexander will be the head of the new company formed to manage the titles, Immediate Media Co. Alexander was formerly chairman of EMI and Odeon cinemas.

The magazines that form the new publishing firm include such titles as Radio Times and Top Gear.

According to a report this morning in The Guardian, Immediate Media will have its headquarters in west London and will have a staff of around 450.

Readex, the magazine readership survey company, has released an interesting press release yesterday. John Gruber would probably save it as "claim chowder" for later amusement.

Titled Readex Research Survey Finds Professionals Not Replacing Print With Digital, the press release talks about a survey that Readex conducted that asked professionals which media they regularly use at work.

The survey results not surprisingly said search engines were number one at 77 percent, while print magazines and e-newsletters came in second at 74 percent each. Web sites, digital editions of print magazines and other forms of media trailed at between 55 percent and 36 percent.

"The results help publishers prove to advertisers -- whose ideas regarding usage may be terribly wrong -- that professionals haven't replaced one media form with another," Steve Blom, Director of Sales and Marketing at Readex said in the press release.

The survey was conducted between September 2010 and May 2011.

Now let's forget about the fact that Readex, a company that conducts surveys for print magazines might be pushing a line that is meant to help their business. Instead let's actually take these results seriously.

First, e-newsletters came in at 74 percent – have you ever seen an e-newsletter that wasn't digital?

Second, the survey asked about work reading habits – tablets and eReaders are most often used at leisure time, to read a tablet edition at work the professional would have ad to replace their computer with an iPad (and remember, the survey was conducted between September 2010 and May 2011, how many iPads were in the market at that time?).

To me, Readex's own results tell a story that is the opposite of their own headline: the migration to digital platforms is happening very quickly. The fact that five months ago 54 percent of those surveyed were already telling Readex that they regularly looked at digital editions of print magazines is an amazing statistic.

In the end, even Readex admits that what the survey really says is that their is media fragmentation occurring and that advertisers will need to take the new digital platforms into account when constructing marketing plans.

"These results maintain that marketers need to gain exposure over a variety of media, and that focusing on a single medium neglects a portion of the market," Blom said.