Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


U.S. News & World Report Exiting Print

A sign of the times for many magazines: moving away from print and jumping headlong into digital editions.

Digital has also received a booster shot in the arm by mobile gadgets, the current fad and choice of the “new” avant-garde.

Anyway, I’ve always been a big fan of U.S. News (and their neato “best of” lists) and am glad they will not die an untimely death…as others have.

This report from the staff of U.S. News:

Responding to changing habits in the media marketplace, U.S. News Media Group announced that it will discontinue its subscription-based monthly print magazine, going to newsstand and targeted-distribution print publishing while expanding its array of successful digital products.

In 2011, U.S. News will publish eight newsstand print publications focused on single topics, including its Best Colleges and Best Hospitals rankings franchises. Subscribers to the monthly print magazine will have the remainder of their subscriptions filled by other publications.

“This allows us to continue to grow our online business and position ourselves to take advantage of the emerging platforms for distributing information,” says company president Bill Holiber.

The website,, now averages more than 9 million monthly unique visitors. The site emphasizes U.S. News’s traditional strength as a provider of journalism and useful consumer information including a growing range of rankings and research content. In addition to the well-known college and hospital rankings, hosts data and tools that allow consumers to evaluate mutual funds, high schools, cars, online education, health plans, and more. A ranking of Best Law Firms launched in September and a travel site based on finding the best vacation options is in the beta phase. Congress Tracker, an extensive data base allowing citizens to examine the records of every member of Congress, is part of an expanding group of public policy tools.

U.S. News Weekly is a digital magazine that debuted in 2009 and is being adapted for iPad and other tablet devices.

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Vogue’s Ad-Pages Increase Significantly

Consumer print magazines are indeed climbing out of a big downturn…Conde Nast and it’s harem of luxury magazines are just one example, other magazines are also reporting increases in ad pages and revenues (see my 12 July post).

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I am of the opinion that much of the rebirth of magazines (and newspapers) print popularity is due to online digital exposure…much of it free. Now if they can just get the online digital monetization and paywall thing solved…a new publishing business model might be in our presence!

Read this from Matthew Flamm of Crain’s New York Business:

Luxury magazines, like the economy, are making a slow comeback. On Monday, Vogue magazine will announce ad-pages results for its all-important September issue, and industry insiders say that the fashion monthly will show a spike of 100 advertising pages, or 23% over a year ago, for a total of 529.

The relatively improved economic climate has been boosting numbers for Vogue’s sister titles at Condé Nast, the most luxury-oriented of the major magazine publishers and the one that was hardest hit by the downturn. But even 23% growth for the September issue—in which designers and fashion companies display their next season’s lineups—barely puts Vogue back in the league it was in a few years ago.

In 2007, the magazine carried a record 727 ad pages—and weighed in at four pounds nine ounces. In 2008, Vogue dropped 7% of its ad-weight, coming in at 674 pages.

Condé Nast will release the September issue information at 6 p.m. on Monday. Vogue Publisher Susan Plagemann declined through a spokeswoman to comment.

Once known for sticking closely to its rate card pricing and only offering discounts to advertisers making large corporate deals, Condé Nast has become more flexible in its negotiations over the past year, according to media buyers and executives at rival publishers.

Insiders say that Vogue has not been an exception, and that some of the increase in paging is the result of deals in which digital advertising inventory was essentially given away.

Others point out, however, that Condé Nast still markets its titles at a premium and that Vogue’s latest numbers show a marked improvement from the devastation of a year ago, when pages plunged 36%.

“Condé Nast is perhaps bending a little on what we call ‘added value,’ but I don’t think you can attribute a 100-page increase just to that,” said Roberta Garfinkle, director of print strategy at media buying agency TargetCast tcm.


Magazines Have an Advertising Perception Problem, Not a Consumer Problem

Some big players in the consumer magazine publishing industry are kicking off a campaign called Magazines, The Power of Print to remind people AND advertisers that print is still very much in demand despite new media choices.

This blogger thinks it’s about time some insightful publishing executives did this very astute “management thing.” The print industry is a shrinking medium but not a disappearing medium. And when the hoopla surrounding all the new digital gadgets becomes absorbed fully and all publishing mediums seek their natural levels, like water, print will still be a player and will probably even grow a little more due to new print technology such as e-ink and e-paper.

Anyway, Jason Fell of FOLIO magazine presented an excellent view from Michael Clinton (Hearst Magazine Publishing) on The Power of Print campaign:

Some of the biggest players in consumer magazine publishing kicked up a lot of buzz earlier this week when they announced the launch of “Magazines, The Power of Print.” The seven-month campaign is expected to roll out with the May issues (April 5 for weeklies) of nearly 100 print magazines and their Web sites. The purpose? To remind readers, and especially advertisers, that the print magazine medium is still very much alive, and kicking.

Since posting our news story about the campaign, I’ve heard a number of valid questions asked about it. First off, why now? To some, this sounds like an attempt (a few say a desperate one) to cling to a shrinking medium.

That’s not so, says Hearst Corp. executive vice president and publishing director Michael Clinton. In addition to Hearst, the campagin was formed jointly by Time Inc., Condé Nast, Meredith Corp. and Wenner Media. “It is a misperception that print is a shrinking medium,” Clinton told me this morning. “It is a growing medium—audiences are growing, subscriptions are growing, etc. The magazine business, collectively, has said that we have this incredibly dynamic medium that consumers love and spend money on, and we need to tell that story in a bigger way.

“The magazine world doesn’t have a consumer problem,” he added, “it has an advertising perception problem, among some advertisers.”

It’s hard to argue with that. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, advertising pages were down 25.6 percent in 2009, marking the 10th reported quarterly decline out of 11 since PIB began reporting on a quarterly basis in mid-2007. Shockingly, a mere 18 titles posted ad page gains in 2009.

Another problem some people I spoke with had about the “Power of Print” campaign was its seeming negative take on online/digital. In one ad, featuring Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, the page exclaims: “Magazines embrace you. The Internet is fleeting.” Clinton says the word “fleeting” is being misinterpreted. The campaign, he said, isn’t taking a shot at digital while propping up print.

“We’ll continue to spend millions of dollars on Web sites, and mobile and e-readers. It’s important that our magazine content be everywhere,” said Clinton. “The purpose of this campaign is to punctuate the vibrancy of our print products while we continue to expand on other platforms.”

For instance, he said, retailers “continue to invest millions in e-commerce and Web, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t opening new stores or that physical stores aren’t important to them anymore. It’s the same with magazines. Some people have said that the print product has lost its luster with consumers. The exact opposite is true.

“At the end of the day,” Clinton continued, “we want to listen to where the consumer is. Everyone says the consumer is online, and they are, but they are also fully engaged in print magazines.”

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