Many people assume trade publications are a dying breed. It is true that about 15 years ago, it seemed that one trade publication after another was either going out of business, merging with another publication house to survive, or scaling back dramatically, most often moving from print to online-only versions.
However, there appears to have been a rebound in the past few years, which has gotten very little attention. In 2018, a research organization called Mequoda conducted a survey of 3,358 U.S. adults with Internet access.
One of their key findings was that 42.2 percent of respondents reported reading at least one digital magazine in the past 30 days.
That’s a 15 percent increase from 2015.
While online trade publication reading is up, print magazine reading is down—but not by all that much. In the 2018 survey, just over 6 in 10 respondents (63 percent) reported reading print trade publications. This is a decrease of just 10 percent. The 15 percent increase in online reading is likely the result of younger readers, who prefer to get their information online rather than in print.
The study also pointed out that those surveyed over the age of 55 tend to read print publications, while those younger than 55 preferred the online versions. Either way, the good news is they are reading trade publications.
Other highlights of the Mequoda study include the following:
- Twenty-six percent of respondents have paid for digital magazine subscriptions along with print copies of those publications.
- About 3 in 10 adults have paid for premium print or digital publications, which offer more information and insight than the traditional subscription format.
- Trade publication websites are the most popular form of digital magazine media among all readers.
- Readers report they are slightly more likely to value web editions of trade publications (45.3 percent) than print (42.7 percent), which is a shift from 2016 when most in the survey reported they valued the print editions of trade publications.
This last point highlights what was discussed earlier. As younger people enter the business world, they are expected to prefer online versions of trade publications.
Aware of this, most trade publications are updating their websites so that they are more appealing, inviting, and organized, allowing readers to find the information they are seeking quickly and easily.
Although many trade publications have undergone a digital transformation, they are once again a powerful source of information that is trending upward.
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