Earlier this year I was casually following the #cimcig hashtag on Twitter during the ‘Communicating with the construction industry’ seminar. A tweet caught my attention: research from Competitive Advantage seemed to suggest 51% of architects no longer read hard copy magazines. And apparently it isn’t because they now read news and articles online. According to the research, over half don’t read anything at all.
At BDB this got us thinking – if these statistics are a fair representation of the architectural market, can the same be said for other media in the construction industry and built environment? And if so, what does this lack of engagement and take-up mean for the future of the industry press?
There’s no doubt that trade magazines play a vital role in informing readers with breaking news, exclusive interviews and interesting features – and we certainly don’t believe that will suddenly come to an unexpected halt. But since the start of the recession there’s been a lot of change in the construction press – the introduction of subscriber-only content behind ‘paywalls’ when once it was freely available, closure of sector magazines and the impact of social media which gives people greater choice and control over where they find the content that’s relevant for them.
Some publishers, although not all, have invested in developing their print and online offer to entice readers (and advertisers) and maintain an active readership and subscriber base. Yet dwindling advertising budgets remain the Achilles heel for many titles – reduced income ultimately means less investment in editorial content and personnel. And that’s without the continued existence of colour separations and paid-for ‘editorial’ that’s attempted to plug the gap.
Many businesses in the construction industry have embraced technology and new ways of marketing their products and services to complex, technical audiences. The evolution of digital content in the construction media (videos, podcasts, webinars and social media) shows that the industry is more advanced than it gives itself credit for and audiences have taken well to these advances.
The recession, along with a need to actively target and influence specific audience groups and directly encourage sales, have put marketing budgets under a magnifying glass. Many construction marketers now have to consider value and return on investment more than ever before.
So the million dollar question is…can the construction media still be considered as the place to find the most interesting and relevant content, and target an audience that’s present and accounted for? Or do changes in reader engagement and take-up present an opportunity for publishers to re-shape and do things differently?
At a time when budgets are heavily scrutinised and construction marketers are developing more interesting and relevant content that they can take directly to their customers and audiences, there may be more change ahead yet for the media in the construction and built environment.
What do you think? Talk to us about how you can get the most from your construction marketing budget.
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