Oil, Gas and Shipping magazine hopes to cover a very broad market, with many advertorials
By Ryan Skinner (email)
A colleague brought a new entry in the marine media market to my attention. It's called Oil, Gas and Shipping Magazine, and it's the latest new glossy print mag that has appeared on the shipping and offshore scene.
What's this magazine got going for it? Well, it's got a pretty slick design from a UK outfit called Hype Design. Secondly, it's jam-packed with articles and advertisements. This would seem to be a no-brainer for a magazine, but you'd be surprised. And it's got a broad market from which to pull advertisers.
What's this magazine got going against it? Well, just about everything else. Readers may be the biggest issue. At a time when magazine readership is plummeting and many are folding, it's odd to see a new entry without any really unique take on the business. Much of the magazine seems to be advertorials (or paid-for editorial coverage).
One gets the impression that every article in the magazine is an advertisement because there's no clear delineation between editorial that's paid for, and that which isn't. Many articles about specific companies sit shoulder-to-shoulder with, or catty-corner to, advertisements for those same companies. ("I'll bet they wrote those pieces on spec, then called up the company to buy ad space," said my colleague.)
Now, Oil, Gas and Shipping isn't alone in this business of peddling ad space and editorial space like two fruit from the same tree. The practice is rife in this business. And, though some magazines manage to make a living of it, many come, then go.
What's bad about the practice is that we create an "Emperor's New Clothes"-press. Publishers trot out the titles, advertisers buy glossy ad space, magazines are printed and sent off in many directions and stuffed in hands at trade shows. Everyone's kind of happy. Then someone comes along and says: "But who reads these magazines?" And suddenly everyone looks kind of naked. At the end of the day, buyers have a funny taste in their mouth.
This is not a tragedy; it happens. No media market is perfect. But, for those publications who sweat and struggle for readers so that advertisers see real results from their advertising bucks, it has to be frustrating. And for those of us who want to prove the value of PR and advertising, it is just as frustrating.
Here are some things to think about when you're weighing your ad spend:
- Does the publication do an independent audit of its circulation figures?
- Does the publication sell editorial space when it sells advertising space (or not long after)?
- Does the publication call you for advertisement because it has written about your company?
- Are most, if not all, of the publication's subscribers paying subscribers?
- Does the online publication provide click-through and impression statistics?
I wish the publishers and editors of Oil, Gas and Shipping luck. Who knows? Maybe they've nailed the perfect marine publishing recipe. Maybe I'll be desperately pitching them stories in the near future. It doesn't look like it so far, but I'm no clairvoyant.