Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Now Read This

This has been a plague year for magazines. Several periodicals have closed: Conde Nast Portfolio, Domino, Blender. McGraw-Hill has put BusinessWeekup for sale. As we speak, McKinsey & Co. consultants are prowling the halls of glossy and glamorous high-brow publisher Conde Nast (Vogue, Vanity Fair, TheNew Yorker) in search of cost cuts. Early targets include newspaper subscriptions and chauffeured cars. The remaining magazines have gone on a diet. Among the 243 magazines tracked by the Publishers Information Bureau, ad pages plunged 28 percent in the first half of 2009 from the first half of 2008. This week, industry forecaster Veronis Suhler Stevenson predicted the magazine industry's revenues will decline at a 6.6 percent for the years 2008 through 2013.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom. According to PIB, 12 magazines managed to attract more ad pages in this year's first six months than they did in the first half of 2008. Which publications are among the fortunate dozen? And how did they manage to do it?

Among the titles worth noting: Fitness, Cooking With Paula Deen, The Week, OK!, Family Circle, Scholastic Parent & Child, Organic Gardening, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Country Weekly, and Muscle & Fitness. Generally, as the Magazine Publishers of America has pointed out, some merely benefited from ad categories, or "sub-categories," in which marketers, well, advertised—food and seasonings and ingredients, household cleaning products, and hair and hygiene. So a few nesting, fitness, and celebrity magazines enjoyed a windfall. (On background, more than a few grumpy ad-hungry rival magazines alleged that some of the gainers had cut their rates to lure ads.) Apart from those reasons, a bunch of factors explain the ad surge at the lucky dozen: recent redesigns, new editors, smart implementation of multiplatform sales, quirks, and old-fashioned stunts.

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