Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

11/07/2011

‘The Week Magazine’ Proves Print Power Still Exists


Print Magazine Success!

When most print magazines have been devoting more and more effort to digital operations to save their very skins … The Week magazine has been growing print subscriptions and advertising sales like it was the glory days of the 1960’s. 

How are they doing this, you ask? 

I asked too … and found this incisive article by Matt Kinsman, Executive Editor of FOLIO magazine

Print Power

How The Week continues to grow print revenue (and profits) in a dotcom world.

Mobile content and community brands dominated the media category of the 2011 Inc. 5000, which recognizes the 5,000 fastest-growing privately-held companies in the U.S. (The number one company in the media category: GoLive! Mobile, which “creates and packages content, including videos, games, and social media, for consumers to access on their mobile phones”, as well as offers consulting services to companies that want to create their own mobile content.)

But “traditional” publishers made the list as well, including two Felix Dennis-owned publications: Mental Floss, ranked #50 in the media category with three-year revenue growth of 52 percent to $3.1 million in 2010, and The Week at #51 in media with three-year growth of 49 percent to $38.4 million in 2010. Unlike many of the other publishers on the list, The Week continues to flourish as a print enterprise.

Here, president Steve Kotok talks to FOLIO: about how The Week continues to boost print revenue and profit, why readers are the brand’s best way of gaining new subscribers and why The Week is waiting until 2012 to finally jump into the app race.

FOLIO: The Week recently made the Inc. 5000 as one of fastest growing media brands. Where is the growth coming from?

Steve Kotok: I would say the growth is coming equally from subscription and advertising. The subscription growth is coming from our ability to raise price, that’s the biggest thing. According to ABC, our price is up 40 percent, and as measured by us as net-net it’s doubled.

On the ad side, it’s going from selling print ad pages to engaging with these larger brands. The number of ad packages we’ve sold at $500,00 or more since 2008 went from one to three to 10, this year it should be 15. The vast majority are combining print, digital, and events. We wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, it’s coming from print ads or digital ads.’ It’s coming from our ability to offer larger packages to the advertising brands and serve them if they want to make a splash in D.C., to serve them digitally, to serve them in multiple ways.

There is stuff we put in buckets for accounting, but when really looking at our biggest sales, we may say $600,000 of this goes to print, $400,000 goes to digital, and $50,000 goes to an event fee. We wouldn’t be able to sell any of it without the other.

FOLIO: Are packages coming from existing advertisers or new advertisers?

Kotok: It’s a combination. Every year you start new, some are existing advertisers, a lot of them are new…it’s definitely breaking a lot of new business but that’s not really a distinguishing factor. Every year we make our best shot at them.

FOLIO: Please talk about current revenue ratios (print versus digital versus other channels). What is it today and how has that changed in recent years? What does it need to be going forward?

Kotok:
Subscriptions and print advertising are more or less equal with Web ads being 15 to 18 percent of the revenue generated by print ads. However, print and Web ads combined exceed subscription revenue.

FOLIO: Do you see that changing going forward?

Kotok: I don’t now if we will see a huge change. A few years ago we may have thought that ads were going to grow faster than subscriptions but our ability to grow subscription revenue and keep it growing has surprised us. I don’t think we’ll start doing more digital advertising than print advertising.

We’re going on the Kindle, Nook and iPad in January and that’s all circulation revenue. I don’t see the mix radically changing, although we still see our print subscriptions and our print ads growing. Web ads are growing faster but at 15 percent of print revenue, it’s not a massive shift—we may go 80/20, 75/25, print to digital in the future. We have a good business. We’re aware of the trends. Even before digital, there were trends to follow. We’re not embarrassed of print.

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06/30/2011

The State of Magazine Publishing in 2011


Plum Hamptons magazine

What does the periodical publishing picture look like in the current economy thus far in 2011? Not too damn bad! (I have posted on the magazine comeback in previous posts). There have been 138 new launches versus 74 folds in 2011 according to online periodical database MediaFinder.

Most old, favorite mags were pulled from the jaws of extinction by their scramble to and gained expertise in digital production … including complex content and multi-media platforms … AND, believe it or not, the rapid popularity in the mags new online presentations has led to a rebirth of the print issues as well, including ad revenues … At least that’s my understanding of the smoke signals.

This from FOLIO Magazine by Stefanie Botelho:

As the publishing industry continues to recover from the economic recession, 138 magazines launched in the first half of 2011, according to online periodical database MediaFinder.

In the first half of 2010, only 90 new titles came to fruition.

The food and regional interest sectors boast the most launches, category-wise, in the first half of 2011, with new titles like Plum Hamptons hitting the market.

Some good news for b-to-b: 34 new titles launched in the first half, including Progressive Cattleman and Converting Quarterly, compared to 13 titles that folded, including Industrial Wastewater and Texas Construction.

Seventy-four titles closed in the top half of 2011, down from 86 closures in the same period in 2010. Although tied with the food sector for the most number of launches, the regional interest segment also saw the most magazine closures, including the closure of regional “luxe” 944 Media magazines in June.

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02/28/2011

Printed Magazines: Young Adult Readership Up & 90% Prefer Ink Format!


Pundits predicting the extinction of printed mags are wrong! In fact, printed mag readership (especially among the under 35 group with digital exposure) has steadily risen over the past 5 years, even through the recession…as reported by David McDonald (bio at ‘Read and learn more’ link below) in FOLIO magazine.

Now, I don’t know if the ad revenue has matched the same performance of the ‘readership’ stats (from what I’ve read, it hasn’t)…but, if the ad revenue is indeed down, this non-expert wonders why? It would not be logical on the surface. If the advertisers are just pulling the ad money from print to concentrate on the new digital formats, it would appear they are missing a growing opportunity, huh?    

On to David McDonald’s article:

Teach Your Children Well

Is the training of tomorrow’s magazine and media professionals keeping up?

While many media pundits purport that magazine readership is dropping or that printed magazines are soon to be extinct, the truth emerges that year after year magazine readership continues to grow. In fact, magazine readership has increased for the past five years—right through the recession—according to MPA, which found that four out of five U.S. adults read magazines. Another 2010 survey from MRI discovered that young adults (those under 35) read the most, despite the abundance of new media alternatives. A recent CMO Council survey of 1,000 consumers with digital exposure indicated that 90 percent of magazine subscribers prefer the printed format to the new e-reader apps.

Consumers continue to engage magazines in the printed form, but they are also looking beyond print and accessing magazine content in very personal ways—Web sites, e-media, mobile and rich media, and various other content platforms are increasingly more relevant to today’s magazine and media consumer. This emerging diversity in how we encounter magazine content speaks to the complexity of how consumers engage the content they want—on their terms, in many formats and across multiple platforms—and again, only the content they want. So we better serve it up the way they want it, right?

Educating the Next Generation

Today’s magazine and media companies—as well as the staff of journalists and designers who package content for consumers—are working within a new world order. The rules of journalism are changing and Media Ethics are not immune from this evolution. Ethics, while important, are often irrelevant to a media transaction. Many publishers believe that those who drive the formation of ethical opinion will continue to refine their perspective within the larger media landscape and come to terms with the ideals of branded and custom content and the demands of what I call Transcendent Media platforms.

Do ethics, as we know them today, have a place in media? Yes, in some instances… but not all. The ideals of church and state that have for so long driven the philosophies, perspectives, and opinions of media must and will change to embrace the new world order of Transcendent Media. And this is an important fact to the universities teaching tomorrow’s magazine professionals.

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02/12/2011

Time, Inc. Tells Apple iPad: ‘Screw You!’


SI - Just one of Time, Inc.'s stable of mags

Did you realize that Time magazine, Inc. is the world’s largest mag company? I didn’t. But it does mean that they have some horsepower to go to war with Apple over iPad access mis-management (outrageous fees, controlling subscribers info, etc) for their own products as well as on behalf of  other magazine publishers.

Apple iPad might soon find their only mag & newspaper client is Rupert Murdoch’s new Daily…and readers can only read that on the iPad to the exclusion of all other eReaders…and there are MANY with more to come…what a trashing of customer base!

Please read my other posts RE Apple iPad access and apps on Writers Welcome Blog for more background on this sticky publishing intrigue. I have conveniently listed them consecutively here.

Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.com has the latest on Time magazine’s blow-by-blow with Apple:

Time, Inc. Strikes Blows for Publishers in Standoff with Apple

For Time Inc., the world’s biggest magazine company, the quickest way to get it titles onto iPad screens may be getting them onto other tablets first.

While other publishers wrangle with Apple over the ins and outs of subscription sales in the iTunes store — How big a cut does Apple get to keep? Who gets control of the consumer’s information? Should the customer get to choose? — Time Inc. is moving ahead diagonally, making deals with the makers of other devices in hopes of gaining leverage in its negotiations with Apple.

Today, Sports Illustrated introduced an “All Access” subscription plan that will allow readers to pay one price to read the magazine in print, online, on Samsung Galaxy tablets and on Android phones. Although newspapers including The Wall Street Journal already offer such an option, SI is the first magazine to do so, according to managing editor Terry McDonell. The news comes just in time for the magazine’s swimsuit issue, its biggest annual seller.

“This is an important and fulfilling day because it marks the end of a very long march for us,” he said at a press conference. A combined print/digital subscription will cost $48 for one year or $4.99 a month; existing print subscribers will have free digital access for the remainder of their terms.

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12/04/2010

Mag Publishers Branching Out


In order to save money, and also seek new revenue in non-traditional functions, magazine publishers are taking on related tasks usually contracted out to vendors. Actually they are strengthening their own vertical (business model) in-house capability.

These tasks include such things as launching all kinds of media products, from Web sites to custom publishing, virtual events, databases, books, supplements and spinoffs…Afterall, if you’re going to branch out you might as well stick to your core business and who knows what a publisher needs more than a publisher?

This magazine publishing branch-out (or in-house vertical strengthening, as I like to call it) kind of reminds me of what writers (novel writers as well as others) have had to do to break loose from traditional publishing “slush piles” and non-action by learning and taking on more of the tasks performed by publishing houses in the past…This all was made more possible and easier through the new digital technology. Let’s all drink a scotch on the rocks to that!

Tony Silber and Matt Kinsman, reporting for FOLIO magazine, analyze it this way:

When Publishers Become Vendors

Dave Schankweiler, CEO and publisher of Journal Publications Inc., a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania regional publisher, remembers the day he became not just a publisher, but a vendor to publishers too.

Back in 2004, the company, which publishes the Central Penn Business Journal, Central Penn Parent, and NJ Biz, launched a new survey, called Best Companies in Pennsylvania. It used an outside survey firm to do the first report. The night the winners were presented was a huge success. “That night,” Schankweiler remembers, “it was loud, and there was a countdown and a lot of excitement. And that’s exactly when we decided to change the company, because we were coming down from the high of the event. We said, ‘Why don’t we take this out into the market and do it as a service to other publishing companies?’ ”

Magazine publishers are by nature entrepreneurial types. They like to tinker with their businesses. They’re incessantly launching all kinds of media products, from Web sites to custom publishing, events, databases, books, supplements, spinoffs. But there aren’t a lot like Dave Schankweiler. Most media companies tend to stick to their knitting and limit their creative impulses to media products.

Some companies, though, are transforming themselves into a different kind of hybrid, media companies that have branched out into businesses traditionally occupied by publishing-industry vendors. Gulfstream Media, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based regional publisher is one. Gulfstream is the parent company of Magazine Manager, a popular ad-sales management software. UBM’s TechWeb is another. TechWeb created UBM Studios, which develops in-house virtual events for tech publisher UBM as well as for external clients.

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11/29/2010

The Magazine Publishing Research and Market Arena


Why are some magazines going bust and others are struggling just to stay alive AND STILL others are prospering?

Understanding the current industry trends and marketing to them (besides the obvious of possessing great content) could provide the answer…Which brings me to the purpose of this post: to introduce those of you who may not be aware of their existence to Research and Markets dot com.

Presented here is a sample of one of their reports:

2010 Magazine Publishing Industry Report

It’s no secret that the magazine publishing sector has been hit hard over the past couple of years. However, while some magazines have folded and some continue to limp along, others have prospered!

In this exclusive report, the first of its kind, the DirectMarketingIQ research team presents never-seen-before data and trend analysis about the magazine publishing industry acquisition and retention customer campaigns from the first half of 2010, 2009 and before.

The report highlights more than 120 magazines using direct mail intelligence gathered from the Who’s Mailing What Archive, the largest library of direct mail samples in the world. Detailed analysis on email magazine promotions was taken from the Email Campaign Archive – an online library tracking thousands of promotional emails every month.

Here are just a few of the takeaways you’ll learn:

The dominant magazine publishers – by market based on their direct mail and email volume

Read and learn more

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