Thursday, January 10, 2008
Memo Pad: Numbers, Please...
By Stephanie D. Smith
NUMBERS, PLEASE: Portfolio has published six issues since its debut in April, but so far, the jury remains out on whether consumers are reading the Condé Nast business title. Sources close to the magazine and with access to circulation figures say the title has collected around 300,000 subscriptions and, on average, sold 85,000 newsstand copies an issue. They also estimate Portfolio's single-copy sell-through percentage is between 15 and 18 percent (a Portfolio spokeswoman declined to comment on the numbers). The magazine has attempted to pop at newsstand by using more abstract cover images, but in recent issues has moved toward a single image - the January cover was the first to feature a close-up of a human.
A new magazine's sell through percentage is naturally lower than that of an established title, since most publishers tend to blanket newsstands with issues for maximum visibility while assessing where the magazine sells best. John Harrington, editor of magazine industry newsletter The New Single Copy, believed Condé Nast would be satisfied if Portfolio's sell-through were in the mid-20 percent range. As a new title matures, a successful one should increase that number to around the 30 percent range or higher. "Fifteen percent certainly wouldn't make them happy," said Harrington.
Portfolio's circulation, as with most business magazines, is based largely on subscriptions, so its newsstand performance is not the only judge of the magazine's circulation strength. "It's somewhere in between a business and a men's or lifestyle magazine, in terms of how they're positioning it. So it's a little harder to judge than normal," added Harrington. "Because it's a unique editorial package, I would think the company would be prepared to give it more time and would not apply normal expectations to it."
It may be too early to tell if Portfolio will meets its circulation targets - or what those targets could be for the future - but publisher David Carey already has his advertising goals in place for 2008. After posting 655 ad pages for all of 2007, the goal is to snag 900 pages this year, when Portfolio will publish 12 issues. Of course, Carey has more on his mind now than Portfolio - on Monday he was given responsibility of Wired Media and The Golf Digest Publications, which previously reported to outgoing group president Mitchell Fox