MAG.NET Failure: A case of bad management and marketing of a magazine
We once heard of a magazine called MAG. NET. It comprised a young editorial team, led admirably by Ashish Mullick, the dynamic ex media editor of the Times of India. We heard that the magazine was based on a concept which was novel, at least at that point of time when it was launched in 2000, giving its readers advisory content on the Internet.
Says Mullick, “MAG.NET was a monthly, and was essentially a net surfer’s guide, priced at Rs.50/month. The content of MAG.NET was unparalleled in quality.”
But the magazine was shelved in April this year. What happened? Despite the excellent content, the dynamic team and an editor like Mullick, why was the publication closed down? Before we delve into the intricacies of the failure, a brief-look at the magazine’s background.
MAG.NET made a quite entry into the Indian media scene. From the little known New Delhi based Media 2 Media group, the magazine managed to attain a circulation of 25,000 copies nationally in the first 6 months, and managed quite a few ads as well. The group then made a further foray into the media scene, by launching three other magazines- India Auto Biz, another auto magazine in the already crowded auto publications segment, Zing, a very average fashion lifestyle, and E-Com India, an e-commerce magazine. Later, with the idea of re-launching the well-known CHIP magazine in India, M2M entered into a contract with Vogul, the Germany based publishing giant.
Yet, the scenario seems dismal for M2M now. In spite of making a fair beginning, today M2M is on the brink of closure. Its flagship brand MAG.NET has already been shelved. Except for Zing, which is still being published, the other magazines closed down even before MAG.NET. The CHIP venture too was shelved some time back.
It happened in both the editorial and marketing departments at regular intervals. The exit of Amardeep Singh, Vice President-Marketing few hours before the launch of Zing magazine and sudden exit of Ashish Mullick, Editor of MAG.NET, Zing and E-Com India played havoc on M2M. Even Prabal Bannerjee, the Editor of India AutoBiz left in the same fashion last year! What was it that cased the sudden exodus and the grim present situation?
The company cites the poor market conditions as the main reason behind its downfall. However, the viewpoints of some of the ex-professionals associated with the company differ.
They feel that the management’s inexperience in the media business was quite apparent in its lack of vision and patience to run M2M on professional lines. The MD and Editor and Publisher of the both MAG.NET and Zing, Anita Dham, was cited to be inexperienced. Says Mullick, “From a housewife, she had graduated to becoming the MD, Editor and Publisher of the magazines. She was raw and ill versed with the media culture. This coupled with the fact that the management never trusted the employees fully, resulted in frequent frictions, discomfort and the obvious downfall in employee morals.”
But according to Mullick, this was not exactly what had caused the failure of the company. He believes that this is precisely what happens to a company that has too many expensive ideas and no marketing efforts at all. Despite the good content and the high price, the company made huge losses. Absolutely no marketing effort on the company’s part is what is to be blamed for the failure.”
Horrifying as it may sound, all the ads that MAG.NET carried were free. Comments Mullick, “The marketing team believed that free ads for at least six months would could revive the magazine, not recognizing that it would lead to the opposite.”
So what’s there in store for M2M now? The company is already facing a huge financial crunch as payments and salaries have piled-up and the dues of a number of ex-employees have not been cleared! It seems that it’s only a matter of time before M2M folds up Zing also.
Our typical marketing budget is usually 10 per cent of the topline spend