Slate’s Big Money: Magazines Gloss Over the Web

Slate’s Big Money Web site today ponders why magazines, particularly the big names in the Condé Nast stable, don’t “get” the Web. This, after the company laid off more than three dozen online staffers from its “CondéNet” division, which oversees sites like Epicurious.com and Style.com.

Many magazine editors seem to believe that digital is the future but are grappling with how to make it viable in the present. The burning question: How can crown-jewel publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair be made as profitable online as they were as peak-performing print publications?

The predominant—and unhappy—answer is that it’s probably not possible, at least not right away. While advertisers are increasingly interested in online platforms, an Internet-ad dollar is still not the same as a print-ad dollar. The price of advertising is measured in CPM, or cost per thousand readers; one media expert estimates that online CPM is worth between one-seventh and one-tenth of a print CPM.

This means that swapping out online-for-print publication right now literally amounts to trading in dollars for pennies—which is hardly an alluring prospect for publishing companies used to commanding lavish ad revenues.

More on the trap magazines find themselves in here.

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