Yes, you read that headline correctly. Today, Advertising Age reports that Ladies Home Journal is leveraging the crowdsourcing trend to create content, but the magazine is going about the process in the opposite way that every other brand and company is doing it.
Instead of just leveraging the crowd to create content on the Ladies Home Journal website, the magazine will republish content in its print magazine that visitors originally publish on its website. The goal of the new strategy is being hyped as an effort to attract a younger audience to a print magazine that’s in a very mature market and has a reputation of being for an older audience.
The new strategy will debut with the March 2012 issue of Ladies Home Journal when the magazine’s editors will curate most of the publication’s content from the posts that visitors publish on DivineCaroline.com (a website owned by the same company that owns Ladies Home Journal, Meredith Corp.). Customer stories from that site, the Ladies Home Journal website, the Ladies Home Journal Facebook page, and “other digital channels” will make up the bulk of the print magazine’s content going forward.
The leadership team behind Ladies Home Journal is confident that the reverse crowdsourcing for content model will be a success, and predicts that other print magazines will follow with similar strategies. However, there is growing speculation outside the walls of the Ladies Home Journal offices about how effective this strategy will actually be. For example, how will the content in the magazine be selected? Is it misleading to say the magazine is written by readers if the editors still choose that content in order to fit their agendas (i.e., selling more subscriptions and attracting advertisers)?
Of course, it’s a business first, so naturally, making money comes first. However, there’s a better argument against the reverse crowdsourcing for content model that the Ladies Home Journal is pursuing. What’s the benefit of buying a magazine with content that’s already been published, discussed, and shared online? What added value does republishing reader content from the website in the magazine deliver to customers who purchase the print magazine?
Only time will tell if this business model holds works. Desperate times often call for desperate measures, and the print media industry is certainly desperate. Let’s wait and see a year from now if the Ladies Home Journal strategy to attract a younger audience to its print publication works or ends up going down in media history as a desperate effort that failed. What do you predict?
Image: Manoj Jacob