Evolution Shift
A Future Look at Today
October 21st, 2009

Magazine Publishers Find They No Longer Live in Kansas.

To many, the absolute collapse of the magazine industry in 2009 may seem stunning.  What is stunning to me is that the industry didn’t see it coming and take steps to avert this collapse.  Once again, another industry can only see a year ahead and thinks that a down year – 2008 – would be followed by a flat or up year. Historically in the advertising business that has been the career experience of the senior executives, so why not look to the past for reassurance?

The Big Three auto companies had an insular culture that didn’t pay attention to outside forces.  They only focused on the fact that they could make $1,500-2,000 profit per SUV and pick-up trucks, so they just kept making them hoping – not thinking that is for sure – it would all continue.  We know where that led.

Conde Nast took pride in its’ high level extravagant culture.  Bright and shiny and expensive always worked in the past, so hey, we’ll be ok in the future.   Whoops! It looks like we have to shut down some new and iconic titles as they are no longer viable businesses.

Business Week, one of the iconic business publications of the last half century was sold for $5 million.  Sounds like what was a good revenue week three years ago.  Who bought them?  The well diversified, global, multi-media, multi-revenue stream Bloomberg.  Just think about an on-line and video, global weekly news and feature product called Business Week, served up on consoles and computers around the world.

The Land of OZ is the reality, Kansas is gone.

It has been more than a year since I first wrote that the current recession would be a reorganizational recession for the media and advertising industry.  I forecast that it would last for at least two years and that when the single digit “recovery” occurred, many familiar faces would be gone.

In the current Shift Age Trend Report [see end of this column for how to get a free download of this Volume 1] I wrote:

“The current ‘reorganizational recession’ continues to eviscerate media properties with many magazines, newspapers and even radio and TV stations closing their doors.

and

“The media and advertising businesses of the 20th century are disintegrating and dissolving in this recession. The 21st century versions of both are soon to be formed. That is why this is a historic, reorganizational advertising recession.”

That is an easy metaphor to understand what is going on.  There was the 20th century media business and there will be the 21st century media business.  The people who have been running the media companies that thrived in the 20th century did not see that the new century is and will be different.  They clearly didn’t see the end of the Information Age and the beginning of the Shift Age.  Why is it called the Shift Age?  Because everything is in a state of shift

In this same Trend Report, I wrote:

“We are in an age of great transformation. It is often not enough just to “reengineer”,“search for excellence” or try to be “good to great”.  Those terms are either motivational or mechanical. We are not only moving into new century, we are moving into a new age. The Shift Age is and will be a time of greattransformation. This means that many companies, to succeed, grow and prosper inthe 21st century, must under go a transformation to face forward in this new age.”

The top executives running all media companies need to realize that if they are not in a state of transformation, they may not survive.

To the publishers of magazines that have ceased to exist I ask the question:

Dorothy knew she was no longer in Kansas, why didn’t you?

[To obtain a free download of Volume 1 of the Shift Age Trend Report, quoted above, please go to the pass word protected web site: www.theshiftagetrendreport.com and type in Username: DavidHoule and Password: ShiftAge [no space, case sensitive].  In the top of the download is a promotional code allowing readers of this column to get a $50 subscription discount.]

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In times of global uncertainty and disruption it takes a futurist to provide context and understanding.

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