Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Please be gentle, I'm still learning // Search is a still a big problem with printed media

Published by Mr. C

Earlier today I had a bit of a rant about how physical paper makes it very hard to share content amongst friends, especially when all your friends are online. The replacement of print material with its digital counterpart is a large subject and not all of it can be pointed in the direction of Formula 1, but there are a couple of further aspects I wanted to briefly cover.

Advertising space

Many, many moons ago we took out an advertisment in the weekly magazine, Autosport. It was reasonably priced, located near the back, and ran for 12 weeks or so. Creating the initial advert wasn't hugely complicated, but we chose not to take out a second run of banners because we had absolutely no idea if, or how well, the promotion worked. Herein lies the second major problem with print.

We actually still regularly pay Haymarket money in return for promotion, we pay them a small amount every month to advertise on Autosport.com, using Google AdWords. As it's an online solution, we only pay for individual clicks and we can see if the clickthough has led to more page views or if the person took one look and went elsewhere. It's very simple to see what worked and what didn't because you have solid metrics to back you up.

Do some keywords fare better than others? Which headlines provided the most interest? Everything is completely transparent, it's quick and easy to tailor things on the fly and straightforward to vary advertisements according to budget. We have, in the past, run an advertising campaign purely for the live commenting of races. At most that means running ads for a maximum of four hours before closing them again. Try doing that in print.

Admittedly online marketing isn't perfect, many web users block banners completely for instance, but by and large paying for an appearance on Autosport.com is preferable to paying for something similar in the paper magazine. Once you've compared online versus offline, there really is no going back.

Seek and you shall find

Talking of going back, have you ever tried to find anything in a back issue of print magazine? You may have a vague idea of what you're looking for, and can possibly take a guess at when it occurred, but where do you start looking?

We frequently have this problem, and no matter which solution we've tried, the only thing that works is spreading a couple of years worth of content across the floor and turning pages. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Predictably digital search is much easier and we've discussed the convenience of having issue of the very searchable Grand Prix+ on your desktop several times in the past (incidentally GP+ doesn't have usable links this side of the paywall, and that's something of a pain when sharing). Autosport.com also has a useful search service that can scan the restricted content which is invisible to regular search engines.

It's still too hard to find content online, requiring multiple searches across many services, but I'll take that over flipping pages on the living room floor any day.

One thing to think about is the idea of putting back issues of magazines online. Would you be interested in searching old copies of F1 Racing right back to the first issue. I know I would and I'd be happy to pay for that too. Is it remotely possible? I have no idea but it is something to aim for.

Me and page 22

It would be remiss of me not to mention me and page 22. Earlier this year we had a huge amount of fun after Sidepodpictures appeared in copies of F1 Racing and Racecar Engineering. I won't deny we were ecstatic to see them there. You could also argue that people photographing themselves with physical magazines is far more interesting than if they'd appeared online.

I would say that as the two magazines are published monthly there's much less emphasis on timely news stories and therefore they become obsolete less quickly. I suspect though that one day the monthly magazine's time will eventually come, and the inability to search, link, and share may mean we eventually rethink how we consume those too.

Where might we be in a year's time?