BtoB recently spoke with Mike Winkleman, chairman of the Custom Publishing Council and president of custom publishing firm Leverage Media based in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. about the latest trends in custom publishing.
BtoB: Why are we seeing such an increase in custom publishing even as spending for other print publications is being cut?
Mike Winkleman: If we think about publishing vehicles like newspapers and magazines, you realize quickly that custom publishing is marketing—not publishing. It's a marketing vehicle that's not a standard vehicle like a brochure or direct marketing piece that's strictly about the company because it's reader-driven.
To answer the question: People are backing out of advertising in conventional pubs because they are finding secondary and tertiary buys are not worth the expense. They are saying there is a lot of clutter and no control over the editorial environment. Meanwhile, custom publishing has become more acceptable to readers; they are saying [custom publications] are full of good, valuable informative stuff, it has value to it. The sponsors, meanwhile, are saying here's a way to control the editorial environment, and control the spend because, yes, someone is making money but the overhead is not as high. And we know what kind of return we're getting because publishers are really good at providing ROI metrics. Plus, since sponsors control who is getting [the publications] they're not wasting any money on circulation.
Combine that with the fact that it's being well-received and custom becomes a place where people can put their marketing dollars.
BtoB: What are some of the biggest trends in the custom publishing market?
Winkleman: While print custom publishing will always have a place, I think we're seeing a good deal more experimentation with other publishing media. A lot of electronic work is being done, including e-newsletters and webzines. You're also seeing [custom publishing] showing up in social networks, blogs, sponsored podcasts and Webcasts—even text messaging. Marketers are willing to be more experimental, and the custom publishers are feeling more conversant in those areas.
BtoB: With online components taking on such importance, should marketers automatically forgo custom print publications?
Winkleman: No, I'd never say that's the way to go. Not only is print not dead, but it's not dying. It's evolving. It's important, though, for marketers to pay attention to all the different channels and think about ways that they can integrate them so you're always hitting audiences in the way they want to be contacted. I've got a 19-year-old son. Yes, he doesn't read newspapers, but he's got a DJ business and, when Sound & Vision Magazine arrives, he drops everything to read it. What this proves is that print still has a place—even with his generation.