Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Teen market withers

The teen market is the future in many ways. It's where marketers and publishers see a lot of trends developing and the biggest trend of all is magazines being closed (today ElleGirl) and publishers investing in digital media.

What has started out as a trickle is turning into a bit of a flood.

Hachette Filipacchi has said it is to cease publishing the US print edition of ElleGirl magazine in favour of investing in digital media versions of the teen mag. Hachette has already closed ElleGirl in the UK and the decision to close it in the US I so it can effectively reach the market by investing "in the media where they spend most of their time".

It's the same reason why Emap closed Smash Hits magazine after 28 years because its readers deserted the title to spend time online and their money on mobile phone content.

And again, the reason why IPC Media sold Mizz magazine to Italian publishing group Panini and why the teen entertainment sector overall has been hit by an across-the-board decline in sales of over 18%.

The BBC's Top of the Pops magazine was down 31% over six months to 96,576 in the latest ABC figures, with the BBC gearing up to launch more websites out of its magazine brands this year, with Top of the Pops in the frame for online investment.

The Top of the Pops brand already has a website under the bbc.co.uk umbrella, offering the chance to see clips from the show as well as music videos, news, interviews and downloads.

The teen market is at the sharp end, witnessing the closures of titles in the face of online growth, but its all sectors of the market are being hit, which is why in recent weeks you've had Guardian editor Alan Rushbridger pondering whether newspapers even have a future:

"Some people think it's an even more fundamental question than that: whether newspapers have a future. And wrapped up in all that is whether newspapers deserve to have a future. And if they do have a future, as what?"

The future is no doubt digital and properties such the classified advertising site Craigslist.com, which is starting to hit the US market hard (worrying execs at the New York Times a lot) with its business model that is free to both sides of the equation, will play a big part in that.

A business model that offers free classified advertising is as Rushbridger said "an unusual business model" and "a difficult business model to beat".

While it's a bit of a stretch to say today it's ElleGirl, tomorrow it's the New York Times, possibly not as big a stretch as it once was.

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