Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A youthful online Readers Digest?

I reckon the Readers Digest must have had more press coverage in the past month than for last couple of years. First the company sought bankruptcy protection, then sold its list of members and now is looking to revamp its global online activities to, in the words of the FT: “to attract a younger audience to a brand suffering from its associations with doctors’ waiting rooms and elderly readers.”

Why does this send a shudder down my spine? I can smell the work consultants a mile away.

“We were the Google News of the 1920s. We were the original aggregator,” said, the newly promoted general manager of I can just see that phrase: the Google News of the 1920s, on a PowerPoint slide, stimulating a lot of nodding heads from the RD audience.

The FT goes on to say:
Starting with the Netherlands and China, where a redesigned website goes live this week, the group is planning to replace a patchwork of international sites, each designed separately by local teams and carrying a different selection of content, with a single, coherent platform.
I sort of understand why it is launching in Netherlands because of the very successful Yours magazine that is targeted at the older market. Why China?

How is the business going to make money? Advertising and sales of books and CDs – NO charging for content - that's what they say.

Can you believe it, there is even work going on for an application for Apple’s iPhone. More sensibly there will also be a version for Amazon’s Kindle.

I totally agree with the comments about this venture in BrandChannel

RD's biggest hurdle is the brand's staid reputation. While its brand equity shouldn't be discounted -- they maintain mass audience appeal and name recognition -- it may take more than nifty customization tools to give the aging publisher its Fountain of Youth.
It is a pity that RD only decided to drag its web presence into today’s world when the magazine failed. Methinks there were internal battles between the online and print. Let’s hope they haven’t left it too late.

Above are the today’s US and UK web sites. As you can see, totally different. I bet they use different content management technologies and construction technologies. Dick Stroud

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