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Industry Insight

BoSacks Speaks Out: Declining Ad Pages

There was a fascinating article written by Lucia Moses a few days ago, titled Hearst Launches Pro-Magazine Readership Campaign, and it is filled with important informational magazine tidbits.

By Bob Sacks
Published: July 19, 2010

There was a fascinating article written by Lucia Moses a few days ago, titled Hearst Launches Pro-Magazine Readership Campaign, and it is filled with important informational magazine tidbits.  The first is that the Food Network Magazine is evidence of the print industry's strength.  I am the first to agree that it is a damn terrific title and a very successful print magazine.  I wish there were hundreds or thousands of magazines just as successful. There aren't and most of the reasons are evident in my tongue and check  posting here at Print CEO last week titled, The new simple, easy, fool-proof method for any Magazine's Success.

Another interesting concept posted here is:

"GfK MRI's latest audience survey showed that adult print readership rose nearly 1 percent in spring 2010 versus spring 2009 and nearly 0.5 percent since MRI's fall report."

I don't want to rain on anybody's parade but the entire country was bankrupt in the spring of 2009.  A positive data point like this, although it is at first is very pleasant to read,  is actually meaningless as the country's prosperity is finally in the recovery mode. A more important trend is a five year analysis. If that is as optimistic as the 2009 retrospective to 2010, then they are on to something important. If not, then it is more damned smoke and mirrors, and I have had enough of that. And so has the advertising community as pointed out by one of the buyers interviewed in the article who said, "Fischer called on magazines to show how they're evolving to address changing consumer behavior and getting closer to a proof-of-performance measurement for advertisers."

The article goes on to state :

"But those numbers are undermined by the continued drumbeat of sharply declining ad pages and magazine closures."

And that fact, my friends, is truly at the very heart of the matter. What are we going to do with the continued trend of declining ad pages?  If the plan of attack to the advertising community is that everything is OK now, and nothing has really changed and you should come back to us in magazine land, we are doomed.  The business and the methodology of our business has changed forever.  I don't apologize for the brutality of my message.  It is important to our success that we understand that things are not as they were, and they never will be again.  We need new strategies and new media mixes for the revenue success that I know we can and will have.

Finally, it is the magazine publishers that have to listen to the advertising community and not the other way around.

"I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell."

Harry S Truman (American 33rd President of the United States, 1884-1972)



By Don on Jul 19, 2010

"...as the country’s prosperity is finally in the recovery mode."

Since nearly 2 million are discouraged from looking for work and that takes a 'statistic' down a point or two, believing that the economy is no the mend is simply wishful thinking.

I have seen no sign of any kind of recovery in any sector... and I refuse to think that the 2 million who are now not counted will simply STAY uncounted when and if the economy starts to grow. With nearly 8 - 12 million people out of work, and another 10 million UnderEmployed, there will be scant interest in magazines.


By BoSacks on Jul 21, 2010

Dear Don:

Here are two of dozens and dozens of articles attesting to the aforementioned advertising recovery. These come from today's ADAGE. www.adage.com

Global and North American Ad Recovery Strengthening

M&A for Media, Marketing to Heat up in Second Half

All your points are accurate to a point, but the advertising industry is strongly in a recovery mode. Now that recovery does not include ALL sectors. But there is a recovery going on.

And I would add that with all the things I said in the article the least important was whether or not there is a recovery. Actually my point was about truth in talking to advertisers. They want it, they expect it, and like it or not they are going to get it.


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