Parade Magazine Tries to Improve Appeal to Digital Readers
Parade magazine is introducing a new logo this Sunday for the first time in more than 30 years, adopting a look reminiscent of Parade in the 1950s.
But the retro look is just part of a series of changes the 72-year-old Sunday newspaper insert is pursuing this year, with the bulk coming online and on mobile devices, in an effort partly meant to reach younger readers than it finds in print.
Only 20% of Sunday print readers are 18 to 34 years old, according to research firm Scarborough. And the percentage of readers who visit newspapers websites but don't read the Sunday paper is on a slow but steady trend upward.
"There is no question that they face challenges based on their distribution strategy," said Brenda White, senior VP-publishing activation director at Starcom USA. "But as long as they stay relevant and look for other areas to distribute their content, I think they do have a bright future."
Parade already had a mobile app but added its first mobile site in January. It followed with a tablet edition and a new desktop website in April. It considers all the new digital properties in beta but will remove that label the week of June 19.
"We're giving readers access to our content however they want it," said Wayne Powers, president and group publisher at Parade. "It starts in print on Sunday and continues throughout the week."
The clean new website focuses on four main areas of coverage important to Parade readers -- entertainment, food, health/living, and beauty -- with content from the print product as well as stories exclusive to the web.
Borrowing a tactic from some fast-growing websites, Parade.com has begun posting stories from a contributor network the magazine is building called Parade of Voices. "We publish a magazine on a small island off the continental U.S. for the rest of America," said Maggie Murphy, editorial director at Parade. "Parade of Voices is our way of making sure different voices are represented."
Parade is distributed in 670 Sunday newspaper editions nationwide, which may seem like a precarious business model as the industry's print circulation drops. But Sundays haven't been hit as hard as weekdays; Sunday circulation has declined by an average of 1.7% in each of the last five years, according to the Newspaper Association of America. And executives at Parade have carefully navigated the shifting fortunes of their hosts, adding 181 newspaper partners in the last three years as it lost 28.
In late 2010, Parade also began publishing Dash, a monthly supplement focused on food -- and capturing food advertising -- that appears in 149 newspapers on Wednesdays or Thursdays.
In some ways its host papers' struggles may even make Parade more valuable to publishers and readers, because the magazine can help fill gaps in food, entertainment and lifestyle coverage that can occur as newsroom staffs shrink. "The least of our worries is the declining newspaper circulation," said Jack Haire, CEO at Parade, which is part of Conde Nast parent Advance Publications.
Across its print and digital platforms, Parade reaches 116.5 million people each month, according to a 2012 report from comScore/GfK MRi Media.
But a primary focus now is expanding the digital piece of that reach, where the demographics are better. Parade.com attracted 871,000 U.S. unique visitors to Parade.com in April, up 1% from April 2012, according to ComScore. (Parade's internal figures are higher.)
The magazine's next step is broadening its social media presence, according to Ms. Murphy. "The goal is to do it right," she said. "A lot of the time people come in and try to do everything at once and fail miserably. What we've done is rather strategic. We have a stronger Parade brand in print today than we did three years ago, and we have a stronger digital platform today."