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Premium nature of magazine media presents diversification opportunities

Linda Thomas Brooks, MPA ()

Magazine media equals premium content from premium brands for premium audiences - something that is of particular relevance in a world where quality and trust matters more than ever before and forms a bedrock for diversified business models.

This was one of the key messages at the MPA’s American Magazine Media Conference (AMMC), held in New York on 8 February.

Linda Thomas Brooks (photo), President and CEO, of the MPA set the tone early in the day, saying the world has come to realise that not all:

  • Audiences are equal
  • Media voices are equal
  • Impressions are equal

Quality and trust matter more than ever before, and with magazine media presenting “carefully researched, well written, and masterfully edited and curated content”, publishers are in a strong position to voice their differentiation in the marketplace and capture opportunities available, she said.

Referring to independent research, Thomas Brooks said, “Magazines are welcomed in reader’s homes, and advertisers are plus one. No other channel provides the same acceptance of advertising as part of the overall brand experience. [Ads in magazines are] more likely to be viewed, comprehended and remembered.”

The nature of the relationship between magazine media brands and their audiences also allows for the development of diversified business models. This includes charging a premium for tapping those relationships.

In a panel discussion with the top execs from Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Rodale and Time Inc., David Carey, President of Hearst Magazines, referred to the several millions of subscribers print magazines attract and retain as an example of the premium quality of such brands.

This transcends to digital environments, where the CPMs are higher for brands that are in print and digital rather than digital alone. His advice to publishers was to consider this premium in their pricing strategies. “Stand tall and proud: this is premium content for premium audiences.”

In the same panel discussion, Stephen M. Lacy, Chairman and CEO of Meredith Corporation, referred to the depth, loyalty and longevity of relationships customers develop with magazine media brands. “That’s what allows us to evolve and transcend into other areas.”

Earlier in the day, in a panel on “the how and the why” magazines work, Pam Wasserstein, CEO of New York Media, highlighted the difference in advertising proposition between magazine media and online platforms. “It’s (magazines) a different experience, it’s premium. Facebook is good at targeting, but it’s not necessarily a premium experience.”

Marvin R. Shanken, Founder and Chairman of M. Shanken Communications, said advertising, while a tough market, was up year-on-year at the company. However, rather than relying on advertising alone the business is diversified, with the events component “exploding”.

Bonnie Kintzer, President and CEO of Trusted Media Brands Inc., said digital as well as print advertising is up for the company, but “for us it is about integrated packages including shows to touch the consumer in different ways. It was my mission to build things out – stabilise the core and build it out from there. [We’ve] gone past the point of stabilisation and now it is all about digital growth and new products.”

Andrew Clurman, President and CEO of Active Interest Media, said the company has gone from “90 per cent print to 55 per cent events.” According to Clurman, he believes “the ad model business isn’t really the way forward when up against giants [like Google and Facebook].”

The company re-engineered the business by asking what its audience will appreciate. It decided to build audience not only for subscriptions and advertising but also “everything around the perimeter”.

Declan Moore, CEO of National Geographic Partners, acknowledged the company has an advantage with TV as part of the advertising portfolio, but advertisers also want to reach different audiences interested in particular causes. “Sometimes print is important to it, but then there are (also) real events that we bring to life for in-depth experiences.”

Moore emphasised the importance of the relationship of trust between media brand and audience. “While we need to be commercial, you can never undermine that trust with your reader.” Furthermore, it’s not only about transactional relationships, but also tapping “into the emotional side of things”. That emotional bond is what truly unlocks value.

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