Trade A Plane Departs The Print World

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Trade A Plane Departs The Print World

Opinion Editorial written by Jason J. Baker — Not many actively flying aviators of any age-group remember a time without a yellow-colored paper copy of Trade A Plane flying around on the table at the FBO. At least those old farts who are capable to raise their eyes from their smart device for long enough to notice anything (or anyone) beyond their Facebook feed, will likely agree that copies of the large format magazine where once found everywhere, where Bernoulli had any say, influence or impact.

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Screenshot of Trade-A-Plane.com Website

TAP however, just decided to cease any and all print publications, converting entirely to digital after 82 years of continuous print service. By doing so, TAP is – in this amateurs opinion – succumbing to the pressure created by digital media platforms which are independent of printers and distribution networks and offer advertising to a largely distracted audience at much lower prices. Time will tell if that was such a smart decision.

Are Prices Going To Spiral Downward?

Competing among the big sharks is difficult in today’s online world and largely determined by price. Extremely well established platforms like Controller.com and Barnstormers.com along with some ~ 5.000 other sites who offer their users the opportunity to present their aircraft to potential buyers, will eventually cause a pricing spiral that no longer allows humans to be involved.

These websites are chuck full of advertising from companies measuring ad- success not by website hits or conversion rates, but by how much saleable data can be collected and how many leads are generated. An array of cookie and tracking notices is the norm in today’s day and age, social media giants like Facebook actively listen to their users and actively tailor ads according to what is spoken about. Its safe to assume that prices for offering aviation classifieds will eventually bottom out. Remember, we once offered free seaplane classifieds here on Seaplanemagazine.com and people didn’t quite jump on it, even though we still reach more people per month than any other seaplane specific publication, both in print and online.

TAP Is Giving Its Uniqueness Away

I am not a friend of print and certainly share a fairly cynical attitude about print advertising with my readers, friends and colleagues. Sure, there are nostalgic people in marketing departments who lovingly open every single print magazine they receive, just to quickly locate and drool over their companies expensive appearance – however, its the darn sales department, which brings all of these salaries in. Revenue depends on successfully closed sales, not appearances. The online world generalizes and standardizes everything. Even though I was not recently in the market for an aircraft, I would never skip the opportunity to spend significant time with a printed TAP edition. It may be the first time ever, that you see me type this: The demise of print is visible and pretty much inevitable, however in the case of Trade A Plane, I am willing to shed a big tear. I wonder what kind of discussions the management of the Cosby Harrison Company must have had to arrive in such a cold and dark place. It all started on a kitchen table, after all.

Jason Baker is the owner and managing editor of Seaplanemagazine.com. He works as a self employed marketing and public relations consultant, primarily for companies who have already figured out that social media appearance and fake- popularity is not a basis for sustainable business. The dual citizen speaks English and German and also offers translation services. Jason holds a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating for single and multi engine aircraft and is further a ground instructor. Jason is available for overseas assignments. To get in touch, please reach out via [email protected]