This week, our web publishing roll-up focuses on smaller, niche magazines that seek independence from the main audit bureau, as well as the younger generation of digital media users.

Magazines Abandon the ABC

Dismal sales and projections for the months to come have magazines looking to change things up, including business practices. For many niche and regional magazines, letting go of their membership to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) is the first step.

ABC is a forum of the world's leading magazine and newspaper publishers, advertisers and advertising agencies to which it provides credible, verified information essential to the media buying and selling process. Among its 750 consumer magazine members, nearly 100 have been lost because their magazines have folded.

Of those that remain, many are either switching to smaller audit firms or deciding not to be counted at all, citing financial reasons, namely the bureau’s US $10,000 annual fee.

Because smaller and regional publications are less likely to receive national advertising, continuing with the ABC audit gives little payoff or incentive. As well, magazines dependent upon local advertising can usually tell who it’s reaching and how effective the advertising is. It’s a wonder that many of them were ABC members at all.

Digital Media Grows Among 8-18 Year Olds

While digital media consumption is growing among 8-18 year-olds, grades are dropping. That’s according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, which surveyed 2,002 third-twelve-grade students ages 8-18 between October 2008 and May 2009. It found that “amount of time young people spend with media has grown to where it's even more than a full-time work week” with heavy media users earning lower grades than light media users.

While parents may not be thrilled about this, it’s good news for the mobile industry, whose services saw a rise in the amount of time young Americans spend on entertainment media through cell phones, MP3 players, and other mobile devices to an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day.

Those who own mobile devices also increased since the last time the survey was conducted in 2004, from 39% to 66% for mobile phones and from 18% to 76% for MP3 players.

Though a cause-and-effect relationship between media use and grades wasn’t officially established by the study, the mobile industry might be best served by not mentioning the affect that its devices have on the younger population’s grades.

The Rise of the Innovation Generation

In a related study, psychologists, sociologists and generational, and media experts who study adolescents have found that their digital gear sets this new unnamed group apart, from their tech-savvy Millennial elders. Experts say that they desire to be constantly connected and available in a way that other generations have not been. While seemingly slight, it’s a sign that they may have developed an all-encompassing sensibility that some say marks the dawning of a new generation.

In his new book, Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn, Larry Rosen of California State University-Dominguez Hills identifies 13 distinct iGeneration traits, including:

  • Early introduction to technology
  • Adeptness at multitasking
  • Desire for immediacy
  • Ability to use technology to create a vast array of "content"

Because the iGeneration believes anything is possible, according to Rosen, they expect innovation. As a result, this generation may present themselves as the best tool to web publishers and media marketers. If they can find ways to deliver information and news in a portable and innovative platform, they may gain the attention of a new generation of users.