Discover why people love longform print media

Submitted by: Jess Taylor 18/11/2016

In a media world dominated by 140-character copy and quick bursts of content, there’s a new-found love of long-form journalism and marketing. We travel to Berlin, Paris, London and New York to discover why the media world likes to go long.
Who has time to read these days? In an age when we are bombarded with up to 5,000 commercial messages in a typical day, when 7,094 tweets are sent every second and we spend so much time on our smartphones we now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish!

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The long and short of it

In many ways, the revival of long form journalism and marketing is a return to traditional media. In the 1960s, when Esquire magazine published all 13,781 words of Norman Mailer’s story on JFK, long form was the norm. Yet as TV snatched a greater share of ad spend, publishing budgets shrank and space for such editorial marathons became scarce.

No limits journalism
In Germany in 2000, when print was deemed to have a viable future and long reads had not fallen out of fashion, two football supporters Philipp Köster and Reinaldo Coddou launched a fanzine called 11 Freunde (11 Friends), with a circulation of 3,000 copies. From research, they knew that their readers like to spend time with the magazine; it’s about entering the 11 Freunde world - that’s why there is no maximum word count.

The French Connection
A similarly enthusiastic vibe inspired the launch of So Foot in France in 2003. Franck Annese accepted the challenge, creating a magazine that was extremely successful; So Press and 11 Freunde are not alone, convinced there are riches in niches.

What’s in it for Brands
Dan Hagen, chief strategy officer at Carat UK, “I like the idea of something that gives you a chance to step back," he says, "because we’re so programmed into thinking about now.” Hagen also believes that advertisers could also benefit from ‘brand rub’, where the context, content and feel of a long form magazine rubs off on the ads within it, reinforcing their message by association with the publication.

The value of long form
Some of these publications don’t accept adverts, but for Hagen, this could be a blessing in disguise. “We need to move beyond a legacy mindset where adverts are part of the price the consumer pays to watch TV or buy a magazine to something more dynamic." Longform may always remain a niche, but Hagen can see a role for it in the marketing mix. Michael Brunt, chief marketing officer of The Economist, believes that: “People will keep valuing the experience of holding a print magazine in their hands. In the next few years, print publications will become increasingly identified as affordable luxury items.” If Brunt is right, long form journalism could help the best publications stand out as desirable and affordable luxuries.