Apparently, I got Steve Heimoff’s dander up.
I don’t know if it was my calling Steve a curmudgeon or not, but we appreciate that he likely has a Google Alert set up for his name and checks it regularly. Good on ya, Steve!
I don’t believe I stated in the original post that the so-called “tipping point” for ad revenue was coming soon, even though I mentioned that the “transformation is fully underway”. While this may appear to some to be backpedaling the issue, let’s start by quoting the paragraph above the one he excerpted from the original post:
The ad dollars that originally went to print newspapers and subsequently into the paychecks of wine writers have been consistently (if slowly) moving toward wine blogs. Ad networks set up by online wine publishers such as Palate Press show a technique that bridges the old print world and the online world, one that advertisers can relate to and they reasonably understand. Friends, the transformation is fully underway.
I may be living in “lalaland” as Steve says, and there’s no reason to think that any individual wine blog will clean up in ad revenue. However, I specifically called out Palate Press, since it’s closer to a magazine model than an individual blog model. I was also happy to see that David Honig was kind enough to weigh in with his impressions in the comments section. I think online-only wine magazines have a real future, as do hybrid online/print vehicles (which of course Wine Enthusiast is a participant).
“We at VinTank believe in The Palate Press Advertising Network. As our wine social media report illustrated, the aggregate audience of wine bloggers is powerful but so fragmented that leveraging them for any marketing activities used to be too cost ineffective and virtually impossible. Palate Press has changed the game and aggregated key bloggers for a powerful and easy to use new marketing channel that targets wine enthusiasts. We intend to use this new market continually for our wine digital strategies.”
So it’s not just clueless radio gasbags such as myself that believe this is happening. People who have a track record of innovating the industry believe it too.
I don’t kid myself that we have a huge audience. Heck, I’m just thrilled we get interesting folks to come visit us or talk with us over the phone about the wine industry. I’m also not a relentless salesman capable of selling freezers to Eskimos. However, I do possess the ability to see trends, even ones that don’t appear obvious.
For example, I first saw the World Wide Web in 1993, looking at this thing called a browser running on X Windows written by students at the University of Illinois’ NCSA. I saw it and thought, “What the heck is this thing? Who would want to use this? How stupid!” and went back to playing in my text-only world. That was the last time I took for granted the small game-changing things that look insignificant at first glance.
Does this mean that I have facts and data to back up my supposition about where ad revenue is headed? None that I have cataloged tirelessly and have at hand to display as bona fides. I don’t know if it’s is a divination thing. All I know is, I have a feeling about this, and I trust my hunch.
Why My Point Isn’t Pointless
In an age where devices such as the Apple iPad are emerging (which, by the way, I believe will wipe the floor with the Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook when it comes to “e-Magazines”), why would anyone believe that print magazines have some compelling advantage? The means to produce an e-Magazine are basically in the hands of anyone with an Internet-connected computer, layout skills, and writing skills and a ton of determination and follow-through. Just because an incumbent possesses the experience of running a firm that can publish and layout and otherwise stuff the same content you’re used to seeing in a print magazine onto a screen such that it looks exactly like the print edition (in fact, it looks so similar, it fails to take advantage of the interactive capabilities of the new platform — do you hear me, PDF?) doesn’t mean that a determined and skillful entrepreneur won’t come along and do it better, and drink the incumbent’s milkshake. To believe anything less is, to be perfectly honest, just kidding yourself. Such is the coming change to the wine print media, and wine bloggers are a part of it.
So I’ll stick to my opinion that ad dollars are moving online. Sure, Wine Enthusiast may see their ad numbers increase again and folks can use that as the argument why my opinion is not valid. Or, it could be that due to the economy climbing out of recession, stalwart advertisers will once again resume their ad buys for magazines like WE, to which we congratulate Steve’s publication that they still make money at this. However, time will tell whether in five years we’ll still see print media puffing out their proverbial chests at the online upstarts that happen to possess really long straws.