Friday, June 01, 2007

Has Kent Brownridge Finally Nabbed Dennis?

"All maxims have their antagonist maxims; proverbs should be sold in pairs, a single one being but a half truth"

William Mathews

Has Kent Brownridge Finally Nabbed Dennis?
Grapevine Declares Quadrangle the Winner, but No Official Word Yet
By Nat Ives

NEW YORK ( -- Magazine pros inside and outside of Dennis Publishing hear that the auction for the company seems to be complete, with winner Quadrangle Group down to crossing t's and dotting i's on a deal.
Maxim will be the biggest prize for the Quadrangle-Brownridge team.

There is no official word, even for the Dennis insiders, but the smoke suggesting a Quadrangle win has thickened to the point that observers are convinced of fire. Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Cos. is believed to have also bid on Dennis -- publisher of Maxim, Blender and Stuff -- in the final round last week. One narrative making the rounds has Dennis delaying any announcement about Quadrangle in the hopes that the Burkle team could be persuaded, even this late in the process, to top the Quadrangle bid.

Brownridge vs. Wenner?
If Quadrangle does close on Dennis -- and barring any last-minute change of heart from Dennis founder Felix Dennis -- it will return former Wenner Media No. 2 Kent Brownridge to the industry at last. It will, moreover, put him in competition with his old boss Jann Wenner. Blender and Rolling Stone compete in the music category while Maxim and Men's Journal have some overlap among men.

Maxim will be the biggest prize for the Quadrangle-Brownridge team. The lad craze may have cooled but it hasn't cratered; Maxim's paid and verified print circulation has found a plateau around 2.5 million. Ad pages are off 2.58% in the first half, per Media Industry Newsletter, but its digital and licensing operations are substantial -- with probably plenty more potential. Blender is still finding its way but has grown steadily since its introduction in 2001.

What to do with Stuff?
The biggest question for the new owner will be Stuff. The title's original role was defensive, complicating an effort by eMap to play the lad game in the U.S. with an edition of FHM here. But eMap killed the U.S. FHM last December, so Stuff's preventative role is essentially gone. That could free the brand for improvement and even redefinition, or give the new owners cover to close it and fill its subscriptions with Maxim. Its most recent paid and verified circulation report showed a 4.8% decline, while its 2007 ad pages through June are 5.68% lower than in the first half of last year, according to MIN.

Mr. Dennis hired Allen & Co. to explore a sale of his titles in early 2006, although company executives and their spokesman declined to comment on "rumors" to that effect until February 2007, when they finally confirmed the poorly kept secret.

Observers said the Dennis portfolio may go for somewhere in the range of $220 million to $250 million. If a deal gets done, Mr. Dennis will retain ownership of The Week, his growing current-events weekly.

Defying slump by pursuing the rich

"I would rather earn 1% off a 100 people's efforts than 100% of my own efforts."
John D. Rockefeller

Defying slump by pursuing the rich
By Alana Semuels, Times Staff Writer,1,4995781.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

The rich are different, and so is what they're reading.

Which is why the quest for wealthy eyeballs is booming despite a soft print market.

That trend will be underscored today with the expected announcement that investor Roy E. Disney's Shamrock Capital Advisors has sold Los Angeles-based Modern Luxury Media for nearly $250 million.

Local private equity player Clarity Partners is buying a controlling interest, winning an auction involving about 30 parties.

Modern Luxury publishes such upscale city magazines as San Francisco, Angeleno and Riviera, which has Orange County and San Diego editions. The acquisition of the company comes as other print publications are struggling to attract advertisers and keep up circulation.

"Luxury magazines have been spreading like wildfire," said Peter Kreisky, president of Kreisky Media Consultancy.

The growth has been fueled by controlled circulation, in which companies send free magazines to people living in affluent ZIP Codes.

Luxury magazines appeal to advertisers and investors because they can reach a specific type of consumer in a way that general circulation publications can't. According to Modern Luxury, the median household income of Angeleno readers is $305,000.

"In today's world, advertisers are looking to target their advertising and be more efficient," said Steve Royer, managing director of Burbank-based Shamrock Capital Advisors.

Magazines published by the company are filled with ads from national luxury brands such as Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Cartier and Louis Vuitton, said Chief Executive Michael Kong.

"A great deal of what has propelled our growth is the explosion of luxury goods worldwide," Kong said.

But some believe that regional luxury magazines may be near saturation, said Seija Goldstein, a New York-based consultant to regional publications.

When Shamrock bought a controlling stake in Modern Luxury in November 2004, the company published three magazines, in Chicago, Los Angeles and Orange County, with total revenue of $18 million a year.

Since then, it has expanded into nine more markets and increased revenue to $70 million. The company now reaches 645,000 households and 3.5 million readers a month.

Shamrock is selling its stake for nearly five times what it paid in 2004, according to those familiar with the deal.

Beverly Hills-based Clarity, which manages $1 billion in assets, was attracted by the controlled circulation and the potential for growth in new markets, general partner Joshua Gutfreund said via e-mail.

Kong says Modern Luxury and Clarity plan to continue to grow by branching out into new markets nationally and internationally, and by acquiring other regional magazines.

Modern Luxury has come under fire in some cities. Its acquisition of the magazine San Francisco in November 2005 was disparaged by the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran a story questioning whether the magazine would "lose its edge."

The Chronicle then alleged that a January 2006 story was pulled from the magazine because Modern Luxury didn't want to offend an advertiser.

Kong said the incident was "blown out of proportion," but said the magazines generally contain articles on lifestyle, fashion, arts and culture, rather than investigative journalism.

"As a general industry statement," he said, "it's very hard to make your living in the news and information area as a monthly magazine."

Time Inc. Waves to Gossip Sites on Its Way to the Bank

"While gossip among women is universally ridiculed as low and trivial, gossip among men, especially if it is about women, is called theory, or idea, or fact."

Andrea Dworkin

Time Inc. Waves to Gossip Sites on Its Way to the Bank
Ann Moore heads one of the most traditional, sprawling, old-school magazine publishing companies - and says she's not at all worried about scrappy upstart gossip Web sites.

"Smaller gossip sites think they are big and powerfull . . . but get out of the way. The People editors are coming," said Ms. Moore, the chairman and CEO of Time Inc., another Time Warner property, may currently attract the most unique monthly visitors, she said, but brands like People are more valuable from a business stand point. And that translates to fierce loyalty when readers go online: She said the average reader of views 71 pages during a visit. "You don't see that on any other celebrity site."

While sites like TMZ and are famous for their snarky comments, Ms. Moore said taking the high road - or at least a slightly higher road - is better for business. "We still fact check, we are not mean spirited and we are accurate," she said. "You can't make as much money in the mean-spirited arena. I'll leave that to someone else." Ms. Moore said advertisers want to buy celebrity news that is "safe."

"It is definitely not too late for the big [print] brands to establish their brands on the Internet," Ms. Moore said, noting that People waited until last year to shift from a subscription model to a free, ad-based site. She waited to make the change until there was enough online advertising to support the business, a shift that occurred in 2006.

And she said the move has paid off: got some 17.5 million page views when it reported Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were expecting a baby, 25 million when Baby Shiloh was born, 28 million following the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and a whopping 51.7 million page views following the Oscars.

And in case those numbers didn't convey her point, Ms. Moore summed up: "People is the most powerful magazine, and the most profitable magazine, on the planet."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Merger Frenzy Explained

"A budget is just a method of worrying before you spend money, as well as afterward."


The Merger Frenzy Explained
By Jon Fine

This is how the market views media right now: It loves video assets when they're in the hands of a well-regarded conglomerate like News Corp. or Walt Disney. It likes companies with data that people will pay serious money for, like financial-information providers Thomson and Reuters . It also likes players with a commanding presence in one media space and an Internet strategy that's considered smart, like cable giant Comcast and broadcaster CBS. It doesn't like companies owning content and distribution perceived to be commoditized, like newspapers and radio. And when Wall Street hates a company that is admired in other quarters for its holdings, that company becomes deal bait.

Understanding all of that helps explain May's flurry of big potential hookups. (In brief: News Corp.-Dow Jones, Microsoft merging all or some of its media operations with Yahoo!'s , Thomson-Reuters, the speculation that Gannett might or should pursue help-wanted giant And understanding why, beyond simple earnings growth, the Street likes or dislikes a media company offers insights into the next deal or merger targets.

Considering the billions of dollars squandered in past deals that chased a mirage of synergy, it pains me to write the following sentence: The performances of News Corp. (stock up about 40% in the past two years) and Disney (up 34%) show that the markets like big, multi-platform combinations of content and distribution better than almost anything in media, especially when they're paired with a new-media story (hello, MySpace!) the Street prefers. That fact, and News Corp.'s $5 billion-plus in cash reserves, enabled Murdoch to offer a 66% premium for Dow Jones.

SO DID THIS: Dow Jones traffics in premium information-consider the nearly 1 million subscribers claimed by, The Wall Street Journal's online arm, plus the Factiva database service. But Dow Jones' stock isn't being valued like that of data players Thomson and Reuters, both of which were up over 25% in the past two years even before merger talks were made public. Dow Jones, whose stock had gone sideways for years before Murdoch's bid, is being treated like a newspaper company. If Dow Jones had had a couple of years of Reuters and Thomson-esque gains-and, um, decent profits-it would have been much harder for Murdoch to offer such a premium. And while Reuters' and Thomson's gains are fine, they don't match those of another key data player. The McGraw-Hill Companies, which owns such data assets as Standard & Poor's and consumer ratings service J.D. Power & Associates (as well as BusinessWeek), has outperformed the stocks of even News Corp. and Disney in the past two years. Don't think this escaped the notice of Thomson's and Reuters' management.

Yahoo, another underperformer, has familiar ills-management missteps, coupled with the misfortune of facing direct comparisons with Google. That is making its stock lag behind where it should be. (As a dominant online player, Yahoo at least qualifies for being liked, if not to the lofty status of being loved, by Wall Street.) Hence the talks with Microsoft, the theory being that a combo or partnership would allow them to compete with Google. Similarly, those suggesting that Gannett hook up with Monster may remember how key Web acquisitions-comparison-shopping sites Shopzilla and uSwitch -helped newspaper-and-cable conglomerate E.W. Scripps outperform its newspaper brethren, at least until those properties came up short.

Based on the current lay of the land, there is one company to watch: Viacom. It owns top-tier content, including Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures, yet its stock has badly trailed market indexes since it was uncoupled from CBS in January, 2006. Taking the day's dynamic to a logical extreme leads you to Viacom and Yahoo linking up. You'd get near-matchless Web distribution paired with content perfect for slicing and dicing online. You'd also get, I would bet, a corporate culture clash that would make your hair curl. But in moments like these, who knows? Of course, deal flurries often end badly. Just ask AOL Time Warner, whose stock took five years to begin its long climb back.

For Jon Fine's blog on media and advertising, go to

Korean Publisher Leads Way for Magazines to Flourish in Digital Age

Korean Publisher Leads Way for Magazines to Flourish in Digital Age
The Key Is Delivering Content Through Diverse Channels Anytime, Anywhere
By Rance Crain

If you want a scary look at how magazine ad volume in the U.S. will hold up to new digital media, go to Korea.

JoongAng M&B's is a portal that combines material from all seven of the Korean group's magazines, plus shopping tips and media and marketing trends.

New-media advertising grew 21% in Korea last year vs. 1.2% for magazine ads -- and new media outpaces magazine ad volume $840 million to $495 million.

Jeong-Woo Kil, president-CEO of JoongAng M&B, a privately owned publisher of seven magazines, told the International Federation of the Periodical Press conference in Beijing this month how his company was responding.

JoongAng M&B, which has interests in newspapers, broadcasting and book publishing, created JMNet to provide broader platforms of content, including not only material from its own media but also from Time Inc., Hearst, the Washington Post Group, The New York Times Co. and Nikkei in Japan.

Mr. Kil said delivering magazine content through diverse channels anytime, anywhere is the key to competing in the digital age. A digital-content archive, he said, is the "centerpiece" for traffic control of digitized content including text, images and videos. Cooperation doesn't take place only on the digital front; his magazines provide content for his flagship newspaper.

As in the U.S., Korean portals -- not content providers -- are so far the digital winners. Google, Yahoo and Korea's indigenous portals, such as Naver, outperform media portals. Naver notches 10 million visitors per day and takes 30% of online-content users in Korea.

But Korean publishers are fighting back. Mr. Kil cited publisher Design House, which is digitizing its own magazine content and cooperating with Korean magazine companies to build a comprehensive hub or digital library.

Design House also developed Simon Search to help users navigate digitized magazine content. I've long felt that the big search engines are vulnerable when it comes to specialized content, and Design House is making relevant material easier to find. You can take a look at the right-hand-side images, and when you find a piece from the digital archives, you can retrieve exactly the same page view of the magazine.

JoongAng M&B's portal site,, combines material from all seven of the group's magazines, plus shopping tips and media and marketing trends.

Mr. Kil said creating and producing video clips for TV, Web TV and mobile phones is "now a must, and not an option." His editors not only select items for videos but also participate in production. He showed a video clip shot as his magazine reporters worked on print and video content at the same time.

For the company's Friday travel magazine, readers share their experiences on blogs and the magazine develops travel packages based on the blogs. This, Mr. Kil said, is "a constructive cycle of sharing content and services" to raise revenue.

Even though Mr. Kil appears to me to be way ahead of us, he told FIPP he had "to confess that I face more questions than answers."

He, like us, is concerned about developing profit models and how to harmonize selling content to diverse devices and portals without cannibalizing content.

The key, it seems to me, is following Mr. Kil's pattern: Combining in one portal as much diverse information you can get your hands on. That creates a whole new product and brings to it a whole new group of readers.

The problem is that both the advertising and media industries in the U.S. don't seem very good at breaking down silos we've constructed to protect individual properties. The Asian view of looking many years ahead for success is more compatible with the digital world's reward for combining material across myriad evolving platforms. We think vertically; they think horizontally.

One Japanese publisher said his company views the digital world in the same way as any other fleeting development: "No matter how time passes ... our expectation for love and beauty, care and tenderness, never loses."

Magazines feeling postal pinch

Magazines feeling postal pinch
High-circulation periodicals enjoy discounted rates, while smaller publications get hit with steep rate hikes.
By Teresa Stack and Jack Fowler,
TERESA STACK is president of the Nation.
JACK FOWLER is publisher of the National Review.,1,5257005.story?ctrack=2&cset=true

THE COST OF getting magazines into your mailbox will shoot up July 15. How much? It depends.

Magazine publishers are facing a radical postage rate restructuring that favors those with large circulations and transfers costs to small- and mid-circulation publications.

Past increases to periodical postage were applied fairly equally across all publications. But this time, things are drastically different - and potentially damaging to the diversity of voices that our founders strove to foster when they created the national postal system.

Our respective magazines - the Nation and the National Review - sit on opposite ends of the political spectrum and disagree on nearly every issue. But we concur on this: These proposed postal rate hikes are deeply unfair.

It is not simply that we want to avoid a massive increase in our mailing costs, though that is a factor. More important to us is that we believe in a vibrant marketplace of ideas (where we each think our ideas will prevail). We are not afraid of intellectual competition; we welcome it.

For this latest round of rate hikes, the U.S. Postal Service proposed a 12% increase that would have affected magazines more or less equitably. Then, in an unprecedented move, that plan was rejected by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the body responsible for setting rates. Instead, it approved a complicated pricing system based on a proposal by Time Warner Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the country. Rather than base rates on total weight and total number of pieces mailed, the new, complex formula is full of incentives that take into account packaging, shape, distance traveled and more.

It adds up to this: discounts for some periodicals; as far as we can see, mostly the huge-circulation titles associated with firms like Time Warner. At smaller magazines like ours, rates will go up 15% to 25%. Research by McGraw-Hill Cos. concludes that the rate increases for some small-circulation publications could hit 30%.

Time Warner and the Postal Regulatory Commission say this scheme rewards efficiency. But the rates appear to have been adopted with little research into their effect on publishers and with no meaningful public input.

How will small magazines that operate on the economic margins - yet have an outsized effect on public discourse - accommodate $500,000 (in the case of the Nation and the National Review) in additional postage expense? Will we be forced to cut back on reporting, raise our prices, reduce our staffs or our number of pages to stay afloat? For some titles, the change may prove fatal. It certainly will make it more difficult to start a new magazine, and publishing will be less competitive as a result.

Time Warner and the postal commission seem to have little understanding of the crucial role the Postal Service has played in establishing an open marketplace of ideas. It has always been a central policy of the Postal Service to use its pricing mechanism to encourage smaller publications and competition.

Since the time of James Madison and the founders in the 1790s, it has been understood that low rates for small publications make it possible to have the rich, open and diverse media that a self-governing people require. This is what is at stake today. And because so much of the material online originates in print magazines, these postal rates could have the unintended effect of shrinking the digital marketplace of ideas as well.

We urge the relevant congressional committees to hold a hearing to investigate this coming crisis before it is too late. The last 215 years of postal policy were instrumental in the creation of the extraordinary free press we have in the U.S. today. We should not begin to overturn this magnificent tradition.

Magazine companies start doing the work of advertising agencies

Magazine companies start doing the work of advertising agencies
By Louise Story

NEW YORK: Like executives at advertising agencies, Richard Beckman and his team talk to managers at consumer brand companies about the customers they want to reach. Four to six weeks later, they present a marketing and advertising plan.
But Beckman does not run an advertising agency. He is president of Condé Nast Media Group, a division of the magazine company that publishes titles like Vogue, Wired and The New Yorker. Over the past five years, Beckman has developed an agency-like business within Condé Nast's ad sales unit, generating new revenue by planning events for advertisers and creating advertisements that help sell more magazine pages.

Customarily, magazine companies have made money by selling ad space in their magazines or, more recently, on their Web sites. Now some of them have set up what amount to internal mini-agencies that work with clients to design campaigns for the media company's pages. Sometimes this work spills out into other forums, like radio and television ads.

Like Condé Nast, Meredith, which publishes such titles as Family Circle, More and Ladies' Home Journal, is now handling some creative work for its advertisers, and so is even Surface, a small, independent magazine dedicated to fashion and design. The trend poses a challenge to traditional agencies and has created some unusual partnerships (think of Vogue designing ads for Wal-Mart).

Condé Nast Media Group has been developing sweepstakes, television specials, radio ads, in-store events and, of course, magazine ads for companies like Dillard's, Kohl's, Grey Goose and Lexus. The unit, which relies on a panel of more than 100,000 consumers to evaluate advertising, generated about $200 million of revenue last year.

Beckman's group has drawn the most attention for Fashion Rocks, a concert and television special about music and the fashion industry. The event, now in its fourth year, ties in several large advertisers (like Chevrolet, Citigroup, L'Oréal and Cingular) and was featured last year in a custom magazine sent to Condé Nast subscribers.

This year, Condé Nast is planning another large event to sell to advertisers, Movies Rock. Produced by Beckman and some Hollywood heavyweights, it will feature music that has been influential in movies.

The idea behind both programs is to create major television events that showcase each advertiser. During the Fashion Rocks event last year, for example, Elton John performed a private show the night before that was streamed only onto Cingular Wireless cellphones. (AT&T, which now owns Cingular, has since started eliminating the Cingular brand name.)

Andrew McLean, president and chief client officer of Mediaedge:cia, the ad-buying agency that represented Cingular Wireless when it worked with Fashion Rocks, said that his client's work with Condé Nast had moved from "just buying bits of paper in a magazine to a much more multifaceted relationship." Mediaedge:cia is part of the WPP Group.

Beckman's unit also has access to relationships with celebrities who would not often work directly with advertisers. For example, Condé Nast arranged for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to appear in an ad for Lexus that also showcased the Waterkeeper Alliance, a water protection group that Kennedy heads.

"They have the cachet and the credibility for top-tier celebrities to want to partner with them," said Robin Steinberg, senior vice president and director of print investment and activation for MediaVest, an agency that buys media in the Publicis Groupe.

Condé Nast's internal agency evolved organically, but Meredith took a different approach. Last summer the company established Meredith 360, an advertising consulting group that operates as a business unit separate from the publishing group. Meredith has purchased three advertising agencies in the past year, allowing it to offer a broad spectrum of services.

"A lot of our different divisions do what a lot of different agencies do," said Nancy Weber, Meredith's chief marketing officer.

Meredith 360 charges for its services, while Condé Nast charges only for costs when it creates custom programs for advertisers, Beckman said. (Condé Nast also makes a profit from such events as Fashion Rocks.) The rate structure means that Condé Nast can often beat ad agencies on prices, Beckman said.

"We don't have to make money from our creative, because we make money from our media," he said.

Some advertisers think that's the way it should be. Condé Nast is currently working with CIT, the financial services company, on a series of interviews with people like the fashion designer Marc Ecko. The interviews are featured online, and Condé Nast will produce live events and magazine sections over the next several months for CIT.

Kelley Gipson, director of brand marketing and communications for CIT, said she did not expect to pay Condé Nast anything more than the cost of the advertising pages her company purchases.

"I look at it as part of the value chain for media," Gipson said. "We don't charge for it when we're working with our customers. We look at the opportunity to provide sort of intellectual capital as the glue in the relationship, so we challenge our media partners to think about it the same way."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Case for Print Media Advertising in the Internet Age

The Case for Print Media Advertising in the Internet Age
Document #PICRM-2006-02
Research Area:

Abstract: Executive Summary

The current landscape of audience fragmentation, Internet advertising, and required accountability for advertising expenditures is exerting great pressure on the ability of main-stream, ad-supported media to survive. How can established media such as printed magazines, newspapers, and printed inserts survive? We start our examination of the topic by reviewing the media usage patterns of U.S. adults and advertising expenditure data from 2004. The average American adult over the age of 18 consumed a total of 9 hours, 35 minutes of media per day (Lindsay, 2006): 44.5% of media time was spent with TV; 27.8% with radio; 5% each with Internet, newspaper and recorded music; and 6% with magazines and books combined.

The amount of advertising dollars spent on newspapers, consumer magazines, and business papers ads (including business magazines) accounts for approximately 40% of all media advertising expenditures in 2004 (Veronis Suhler Stevenson, 2004). Broadcast and cable TV and radio represent an additional 44% of the media advertising dollars spent. Although the Internet advertising category (including search and display advertising) was significantly smaller, it grew at a faster rate than all other media.

The desire for advertising accountability starts with this question: Does advertising affect consumer buying behavior? The impact of advertising has been measured on a variety of outcome measures such as aggregate sales for a brand, individual brand choice behavior, and the intermediate effects of awareness, beliefs and attitudes towards the advertised brand. The relatively few research studies that have examined the impact of advertising in different media show that print advertising performs well compared with other media. For example:

In a study of the top 100 advertisers, higher correlations were found between a firm's sales and the amount of print advertising it bought vs. sales and the amount it spent on broadcast advertising.

Magazine advertising was more effective than network TV advertising for promoting SUV brands over a 10-year period.
People who were exposed to printed newspaper advertising had a higher recognition of ad content than those who received an online version of the same advertising message.

For a food franchiser, the best sales resulted from advertising media spent concurrently on primary direct mail and national TV advertising.
In a Doubleclick study, the most influential sources of information affecting purchase decisions, overall, were word-of-mouth and salesperson sources. For individual product categories, printed advertising was the most influential source of information for consumers who purchased personal care / home care products, and the second most influential source for those purchasing consumer electronics and home improvement products.

In a study of newspaper readers, 78% reported that they used newspaper inserts to plan shopping, and 76% said that inserts helped them save money.
Dimensional mail yielded a 5.4% lead generation rate (vs. email at 3.27%), and co-op shared mail produced a 5.47% direct order rate vs. 4.16% for Internet banner ads.
While these research studies show the effectiveness of printed advertising, more robust methodologies must be developed in this new era of accountability. Two new audience response metrics are discussed that may deliver on this promise: single source databases and experimental designs. Single source databases such as the Apollo Project provide precise data to advertisers about the impact of exposure to a variety of advertising media on a participant's response of buying certain products and brands. An example of an experimental design methodology is presented in the book "What Sticks" by Briggs and Stuart (2006). The process begins with the specification of communication objectives at the outset of a campaign to define the use of appropriate metrics. The media mix optimization can be assessed when the outcome data (e.g., change in awareness) are gauged against the cost per response (CPR) for each ad medium. The Briggs and Stuart method may be a good model for all print media owners, publishers, and print services providers who need to prove, with every campaign, that print advertising delivers an acceptable return on the advertiser's investment.

Mag Sag: Readership Growing Older

"The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been."


Mag Sag: Readership Growing Older
by Erik Sass

THE MEDIAN AGE OF MAGAZINE readers continued to creep upward in the last five years, according to annual surveys from Mediamark Research Inc. On average, a collection of more than 90 popular magazines in a variety of categories saw the median age of their readers increase two years, from 39.8 to 41.8, between spring 2002 and 2007.
Catering to an ad industry that is often focused on youth, magazine publishers might counter that two years isn't a big deal. What's more, median figures aren't "averages" in the traditional sense, but simply the midpoint of a group of data points. However, the two-year figure did outpace the population at large, where the median age increased 1.3 years from 43.4 to 44.7.

And while the trend isn't universal, it does affect many of the leading titles when it comes to targeting certain ad sectors. It also accounts for the baby-boomer population, especially the younger end, heading into their mid- to-late 40s.

MRI presents median-age data broken down by gender, as well as overall totals, allowing a more meaningful analysis of magazines with gender-specific appeal. For example, the median age of Consumer Reports' male audience--representing about 70% of its 4.3 million readers--rose three years from 46.1 in spring 2003 to 49.1 in spring 2007. Meanwhile, the median age of Men's Health's male audience rose 2.2 from 2002-2007, from 35.8 to 38, as Men's Journal rose 5.7 years from 33.8 to 39.5. Golf Digest's median male age rose 4.3 years to 48.5, as Esquire's jumped five years to 43.

These magazines are indicative of a broader trend that also saw the median age of male readership rise one to two years at Rolling Stone, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Outside, Outdoor Life, and Men's Fitness. Auto enthusiast titles, which generally target men, also experienced gains--with Automobile jumping 4.1 years, Car and Driver 3.3 years, Hot Rod 2.1 years, Motor Trend 3.8 years, and Road & Track 3.4 years.

Titles on the other side of the gender divide have also experienced an upward trend, including fashion and lifestyle books. From spring 2002 to spring 2007, the median age of female readers increased 2.1 years at Allure (to 30), three years at Bride's (to 32.9), 1.8 years at Glamour (to 33.4), three years at Harper's Bazaar (to 41.3), 2.4 years at Redbook (to 45.4), 4.3 years at Self (to 38.2), and 2.1 years at Woman's Day (to 49.8).

Shelter and lifestyle titles also rose by varying degrees. The median age of female readers increased 3.4 years at Better Homes & Gardens (to 48.8), 2.9 years at Country Living (to 49.8), 3.8 years at Family Circle (to 52), 2.8 years at Good Housekeeping (to 50.1), 3.5 years at House & Garden (to 51.8), five years at Ladies' Home Journal (to 53.2), and five years at Martha Stewart Living (to 46.6).

General interest titles, including newsweeklies, also experienced overall median age increases from 2002-2007. Here, Time rose two years to 45.8, U.S. News & World Report rose 4.4 years to 50.3, and Vanity Fair jumped 5 years to 41.7. Smithsonian is up 3.6 years to 54. The median age rose 3.7 years at Barron's, to 49.5, and 2.8 years at BusinessWeek, to 46.4.