Editorial: Mags push ahead

These are potentially paralyzing times for people in marketing, media and advertising. The changing nature of choice, and the pending explosion of new media options and technological innovation are all dizzying thoughts.The always slightly befuddled talk at conferences these days, and...

These are potentially paralyzing times for people in marketing, media and advertising. The changing nature of choice, and the pending explosion of new media options and technological innovation are all dizzying thoughts.

The always slightly befuddled talk at conferences these days, and the endless stories in the press on the potential impact of the approaching information highway are only contributing to the collective vertigo.

But, while many people are feeling understandably numbed, that does not mean everyone has been standing still.

Our special report on magazines that begins on page 21 of this issue shows a number of ways in which the magazine industry is pushing ahead.

Maclean’s magazine, for instance, is about to launch its first cd-rom issue, a pilot project slated for next year and built around its university issue. The cd-rom, which will be sent into the more technologically advanced and, arguably, more new media-hip university crowd, will have an interactive capability as users will be able to find out more about prospective university choices through the cd-rom experience.

Maclean’s Publisher Brian Segal puts the experiment into perspective and probably speaks on behalf of all magazine publishers when he observes that Maclean’s is now an ‘editorial software company and magazine.’

In another move, which is further indicative of the way magazines are broadening the way they define themselves – and, in the process, creating new spin-off opportunities for their advertisers – Harrowsmith Country Life is putting its country living message onto the television airwaves.

Harrowsmith has already been involved in about 70 related books over the past 15 years. Now, the venerable magazine title is moving out of the publishing realm and into the specialty services segment of the television market as the flagship program for the Life Network.

Today’s Parent, which, interestingly, prefers to describe itself as a marketing company rather than simply a magazine company, has become involved in an ambitious sampling program to extend its reach and to provide its advertisers with a tangible added-value opportunity. Today’s Parent, like Harrowsmith and many other magazine titles, is also expanding into television as a complementary rather than a competitive media property.

Today’s Parent President Beverly Topping says quite simply her company’s initiatives are a direct reflection of marketers’ desire today to exercise their craft in an integrated way. Within that context, Today’s Parent is helping establish an integrated media vehicle within a very vertical niche. ‘We talk to a group of people who are not masses,’ Topping says.

Barriers are continuing to break down.

Today, once distant and disparate media competitors are becoming allies in search of innovative opportunities, and, therefore, creative answers to client needs.

The pavement along the information highway has not quite hardened yet. And, as people wait for that to happen, a lot of other new roads are being built.