Blog: Niche Is The New Normal

The days of big commercial publications are withering away. Instead, niche magazines have begun taking their place. Whether it’s about fishing in the north-east, Canadian carpentry, astronomy, or comic book news, or local sports… there’s a small magazine out there that caters to your interests. Even though the remaining big publications seems to always be in our face (every grocery store check out is still peppered with them), it’s the smaller, niche publications that are actually growing their audience. And since they’re not trying to appeal to everything, they can reach the people who really care, for a lot less money.

There’s a love for niche magazines that has been lost for the big publications. One of the biggest reasons for this is that the people writing these magazines are also the people reading them. They’re not working at a fashion magazine until they can land their dream job writing about politics for Vanity Fair. The writers behind niche magazine love the topics they write about, and their passion shows through in their writing.

Another reason is that they can have more creative flexibility. Instead of designing their covers to match every other magazine on the grocery store shelf, they can design covers that appeal directly to their readers. They can be kitschy, funny, odd, original, crazy… In other words: niche.

Founder and CEO of Private Media, Eric Beecher, said:

“Specialist publications are always much closer to that audience. In my view, that is circumventing a lot of the structural challenges that the rest of media is facing. It doesn’t matter what size audience you have, it’s hard to monetize. So, it’s not about size of audience, it’s about quality of audience.”

Niche magazines are also finding it easier to attract more, though smaller, advertisers. Why? Well, there are a few reasons.

  1. A dedicated market. It’s one thing to get your product in front of your target market, a group of people who are likely to be interested in it, but it is an entirely different thing to get your product in front of a dedicated market. That’s what niche magazines offer that broad-scope magazines can’t: a group of people with a passion for that topic. A company advertising anti-malware software is likely to spend their ad dollars a lot more efficiently if they advertise in a small tech magazine than in People Magazine.
  2. Your ad will stand out! One benefit of people continually claiming that print is dead is that many advertisers have believed it. They’ve focused most of their ad dollars on digital channels, which has made it very easy for print advertisers to gain attention without the need to compete with similar print ads.
  3. Actual attention is paid. Online ads come and go. They pop up and people click them off, or completely ignore them. But print ads have real lasting power. Think about a niche magazine that lives in a doctor’s office. How many people pick up that magazine per month? Even a year later that magazine may still be sitting in that waiting room. Who knew you could gain a new customer or two from an ad you placed a year ago!

While general interest magazines are having a hard time surviving in today’s digital landscape, niche magazines are actually thriving. Some small publications like Yachting Magazine and MotorCrave can actually charge more for advertising space than the big boys, even though they have much smaller readership numbers. It’s all about the content, and who you’re appealing to.

So in this particular battle of David vs Goliath, our bets are on David.

-James Somerton

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