6 magazine CEOs, 4 strategies: How to survive and thrive in 2018

The magazine industry is consolidating in the face of multiple challenges.

Rather than the newsstand, competition is coming from social platforms. Marketers want the performance advertising sold by key digital players. And as print circulation declines, magazines struggle to maintain the steady revenue from their direct-to-consumer subscription businesses.

The CEOs and presidents of Condé Nast, Meredith, Hearst, Bonnier, Active Interest Media (AIM) and New York Media spoke on Tuesday at the American Magazine Media Conference in New York City about how they are addressing these challenges.

1. Evolving to serve performance advertisers

Magazines are struggling to prove their value to marketers who know and love their content but need to prove ROI in a more concrete, logical way.

“Gone are the days of leading with how iconic or old your brands are in today’s performance-based environment,” said Bonnier CEO Eric Zinczenko.

The magazine CEOs said they were focusing on building first-party data assets and using this data to diversify their own businesses or help advertisers.

Condé Nast CEO Robert Sauerberg Jr said, “We are in a world where whether we like it or not, more money is being spent on performance-based advertising,” he said. “We built a database business 25 years ago. We have been doing this forever. One of the things this industry can do is to use our first-party data to create some targeting.”

2. Paid content

As revenue from print advertisers declines, magazines want to boost subscription revenue.

At Condé Nast, The New Yorker is a standout example.

“Our culture is about getting these stories right,” Sauerberg said. “Creating really great premium content that consumers will pay for its very expensive, hard and time-consuming.”

But such efforts are paying off, even online: “We have one of the most successful paywalls in the world, and (at the New Yorker) it’s growing 40% a year,” Sauerberg said.

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