Are Magazines Too Stubborn? Is it Time To Diversify?

selfmagazinedecSelf magazine’s December 2009 issue

With elite magazines faring worse for wear as advertisers pull out of magazine, was it possible to prevent the loss of jobs? And from within this decrepit state, who is winning?

The problem is unlike the journalism argument, despite a downward trend in the journalism industry (for the moment), journalists will not cease to exist – proof in the Kindle vs. Book dilemma. But despite a shortage of jobs, there are those who walk into their offices boasting confidence in their job security.

With decreased advertisement revenue for many publishing houses, December 2009’s ad-page numbers (submitted by publishers) gives us a general idea of the winners and losers.

How so? The New York Times writes, “In general, it is not the elite titles that are faring better. Meredith, the Des Moines-based publisher of magazines like Family Circle, had several magazines that did better this year than last year. InStyle and Glamour, which carry a wider range of advertisements than some of their higher-end competitors, posted ad-page increases in their December issues, as did Real Simple, Southern Living and Cooking Light.”

Diversifying is the answer. Elite titles like Vogue and Elle are understandably picky in their choice of advertisement to save face for their elite editorial integrity, but their stance doesn’t change the fact that the revenue of such publications will see competitors from magazines willing to adapt.

Take Self magazine for example. Ignore the Kelly Clarkson controversy and try to maintain an objective mind. It’s January issue boasts the most ad pages for the month in twenty years. What’s changed? According to WWD‘s interview with Self vice-president and publisher, Kim Kelleher, “Beauty remains strong; auto advertising has returned, with six pages from Chevrolet alone, and new clients including Alamo Rent-a-Car have entered the fray. An eight-page insert from Wal-Mart also has helped to boost business.”

You shouldn’t think of their strategy as selling out or selling low. What’s better? Your favorite magazine taking the axe, or allowing Target to advertise its Rodarte diffusion line?

On a further note, via The New York Times:

Condé Nast, which also publishes Vogue and Vanity Fair, declined to release its numbers as a whole. Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., which publishes Elle and Car and Driver, also declined to release information.

Hearst declined to give specific numbers, but the publishing director, Michael Clinton, estimated that through the end of the year, its magazines would be down compared with last year. Six Hearst magazines had ad-page increases in December, he said: Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Country Living, Cosmopolitan and O, the Oprah Magazine.


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