Today the US Magazine Publishers Association (MPA) announced the aggregated traffic figures for their member’s websites.

Again they showed accelerating growth.

If anyone had any doubts about the importance of content on the internet and the potential of the traditional publishers to build a strong online businesses take note of these figures.

"Consumer magazine websites averaged 67.5 million unique monthly visitors during the fourth quarter of 2007, it was announced today by Nina Link, President and Chief Executive Officer, Magazine Publishers of America (MPA). That marks an 8.1% increase over the same period in 2006, when 62.5 million unique visitors logged onto magazine websites.  The increase is more than three times the rate of growth for the overall U.S. Internet audience, which rose 2.4% in the fourth quarter. The information, compiled for the first time, is based on a MPA analysis of Nielsen Online-supplied data from 320 consumer magazine brands online.

"The analysis also showed that the average fourth quarter monthly reach for magazine websites grew to 41.9% of the total U.S. Internet population, posting a 7.1% gain over fourth quarter 2006. Magazine website users accounted for an average of more than 434.3 million sessions per month during the fourth quarter, a 12.3% improvement over the same period last year, in which an average of 386.6 million sessions were recorded. In addition, visitors to magazine websites spent an average of more than 1.78 billion minutes per month during the fourth quarter, resulting in a 5.5% increase versus the same three-month period in 2006"

Finally the traditional publishers are starting to get to grips with the internet and how they can use their expertise and resources to build traffic. They still have a long way to go before they start making significant revenues, but hey, one step at time.

Lessons for All Online Publishers

All online publishers can learn a few things from these growth figures:

  • The move of print content onto the web is accelerating
  • The traditional print publishers are finally getting their act together. This is an opportunity and a threat to smaller niche content website owners
  • Opportunity 1: the large publishers are likely to expand online through acquisition. Established niche sites will be target buys
  • Opportunity 2: the large publishers will create audiences for broad content, but struggle to focus on the niches within their broad areas. For example Marketing Weekly will broadly cover all marketing topics, but individual websites will be able to specialize in search engine marketing, social media marketing, blog marketing, etc
  • Threat 1: The big guys will increase the cost of marketing and advertising for the niche publisher
  • Threat 2: If they get their act together the big publishers will realize the money is in the niche markets and they will formulate plans to launch networks of hundreds of specialist websites

There has never been a better time for niche publishers to go online, but the window of opportunity is closing as the large traditional publishers start to find their way. There are thousands of niche subject areas that are unexploited, but the longer you wait the more competitors there will be.

Don't wait until it is too late!