Running a profitable, mass-market magazine whose revenue is overwhelmingly driven by print advertising is — to put things mildly — a much riskier proposition in 2017 than it was a decade ago. And even with an audience that is among the most affluent, loyal, and worldly of any weekly magazine, The Economist is no exception.
Michael Brunt, the magazine’s London-based CMO and managing director of circulation, puts things a bit more succinctly. “The Economist is not immune to recent declines in advertising revenue.”
While pullbacks in print ad spending have certainly been felt across the industry, one needs to look no further than the demise of Meredith’s More to see that there has been an acute effect on both the luxury space and the European market — a kind of perfect storm that seems to make Brunt’s explicit goal, achieving circulation profitability for The Economist through paid subscriptions, all the more pressing.
“There’s a strong demand for quality journalism,” adds Brunt. “And people are willing to pay for it.”
By “people,” Brunt here means “Americans.” The Economist may enjoy a high degree of recognition on America’s coasts (particularly in the supposedly élite media bubbles of New York and D.C.), but Brunt says North America remains a wildly untapped market for the brand.