Recently the folks over at Johnson Publishing Company have pulled out the Hail Mary play in an attempt to stem the tide of rapidly sagging circulation on the print side. As sales of Ebony and Jet continued to decline, we watched JPC go through a reorganization, layoffs, and an ill-fated deal to sell to former Laker turned businessman Magic Johnson. In an attempt to change its murky future, JPC is refocusing its attention on the digital media space.
Johnson Publishing’s digital properties have undergone a rebirth and an identity shift. EbonyJet.com, which was the hub site for the online editions of both Ebony and Jet magazines is now divided into two separate web properties. Ebony remains housed at EbonyJet.com while Jet can be found at MyJet247.com. The most notable change at EbonyJet.com is a return to the original Ebony logo in the header. We’d know that logo anywhere. The content, though sparse, is pretty much the same. However, MyJet247.com is definitely ramping up to enter the increasingly crowded new media space, leading us to offer this humble diagnostic.
Taking a look at MyJet247.com, it’s pretty easy on the eyes design-wise. Good sized vibrant pictures and it’s doesn’t overstimulate with busyness and it’s low on flash. Thank God.
The glaring exception to the design ebb and flow is definitely that oppressive Starbucks ad caressing the site’s content in a blatant capitalism sandwich. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that it was Starbucks’ site and Jet was the extra whipped cream on one of the company’s overly complicated coffee drinks. Yet, there is some good news even in that aesthetic faux pas: the site is sponsored.
As for the content at MyJet247.com… Well – It’s basically the same as what’s in the magazine with some exceptions. You’ve still got your centerfolds beauties. The brothers at the barbershop don’t have to fight over dogeared paper issues of Jet to view the beauty of the week. Now they can access the site from their smartphones.
Digital will make it easier for Jet to update content that was at one time dated in the magazine. We don’t have to wait for news. Yea!
In addition to the wedding and anniversary announcements as well as announcements of promotions, a notice on the site states that it will also feature engagement announcements. Will they charge for that service in the custom of online editions of newspapers? We’re not sure, because there is no media kit on the site to check rates.
There is a section containing branded video content that would be best served on the home page. And the site will contain a beauty and fashion section that could, perhaps be better identified with and served on EbonyJet.com.
There are some old elements missing that would invite more traffic to the site and drive its niche marketing objectives. They should replicate Jet’s focus on the activity of black organizations, who apart from black newspapers, have few media (old or new) outlets to send their news. And they need to recreate that last page of the magazine listing media (broadcast and cable) appearances by black notables, entertainers, celebrities and politicians. Frankly, that could be the money move for MyJet247.com, which leads us to…
The Business Model
Without question the site seeks to attract a younger reader to the Jet brand. Brand recognition and loyalty, alone, will drive people to the site. Marketing will bring them there and keep them occupied. Content – great content – will undeniably do wonders for the flailing brand. But the question remains: Will the site save the magazine?
Older, established media brands such as Ebony and Jet take one thing for granted, and that’s the presence and power of newer, smaller new media outlets. Can MyJet247.com survive against the competition (yep, I said com-pet-ti-tion) of niche sites that have been steadily rising in traffic, loyalty and profit?
In all honesty, a redesign is not enough. Throwing up a website is not an answer and a website isn’t naturally qualified to be considered a formidable new media property.
Please stay tuned as we continue to monitor MyJet247.com’s progress along with other prominent web properties.