In the last week I’ve been sent information about Elektronik’s ARM special and discussed the custom publishing projects that IML has recently completed. Although the magazine industry is still surrounded by clouds of doom and gloom, this highly unscientific sample makes me wonder whether how important custom publishing will be to the European electronics media. (I know that the Elektronik ARM special isn’t technically custom publishing, but I think it is a good example of the growth of vendor-specific publications).

With the availability of tools that mean anyone can self-publish a magazine, perhaps the media companies offer something that is really valuable – [relatively] independent journalists. When coupled with the publishers database that let them reach huge number of potential readers, this gives publishers a real opportunity to generate significant business from custom publishing.

Although custom publishing can be an excellent marketing vehicle, with ARM possibly offering the best example of a company that depends upon a vibrant ecosystem for its success, I do wonder whether it’s all good news.

Marketers have no problems making sweeping statements, such as “print is dead”, despite new launches providing clear contrary evidence. Personally I think that the marketing industry is increasingly looking for the “magic silver bullet” that will achieve great ROI and clear measurement, whilst requiring minimum effort. Perhaps some of the enthusiasm for custom publishing is a result of people searching for the “one big thing” that will really make a difference?

It will be interesting to see whether custom publishing does grow in our industry. I definitely do believe that there is a place for it – the ARM special is clearly a great move for vendor, partners and publishers. However, I hope marketing managers don’t lose sight of the importance of frequency and simple hard work that will generate the most sustained returns in the long term.