Archaeology Digs Into Mainstream, Targets Top Print Advertisers
She says this several times over the course of a single phone conversation, as if the idea of a magazine about archaeology for archaeologists is pure folly. "Don't picture a person laboring in the hot sun--that's not us," she warns. "Many of our readers have studied it or gone on digs, but they aren't archaeologists."
Given the mag's gradual evolution from a scholarly tone to one that is considerably more mainstream, Segel's emphasis is understandable. About two years ago, Archaeology shifted gears strategically, choosing to target the general public and general advertising community for the first time. So even though the publication hasn't yet lured the non-endemic marketers it covets--the March/April issue boasts only a smattering of non-travel advertisers, most in the direct-response category--its editorial mix is now as likely to appeal to doctors and attorneys as to Indiana Jones.
And that's the way Segel and her team have been presenting the book to the media community. To be sure, there are still frustrations ("we continually have to talk about the broadening of the magazine," she notes), but Archaeology's emphasis on research has netted more than a few converts. Hoping to sate the media community's appetite for accountability, it recently became one of the first magazines to have its subscriber study audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
"So many of the big players were saying that unless a study was audited, they really wouldn't take it seriously," Segel recalls. "It was put-up-or-shut-up time. We put up."
It's easy to understand why Archaeology would do whatever it takes to ensure that its numbers are given as much consideration as possible. The mag's readership is split 50-50 between men and women; although they're a bit older than most marketers would like (median age of 58.5), they boast a median household income of $70,800 and index highly for domestic and foreign travel, ownership of luxury vehicles, and adoption of technologies like digital cameras and laptops. And did we mention that they aren't archaeologists? Less than 3 percent of the mag's readers are card- carrying members of the Archaeological Institute of America.
"They are not armchair readers," Segel notes. "Even when nobody was traveling, they were traveling. They're activists--they get involved with environmental causes and write letters to the editor. They travel off the beaten path."
in addition, as opposed to readers of Archaeology's competitive set, they seem to be willing to pay for the magazine. Archaeology costs $4.99 per copy on the newsstand and $3.14 per copy via subscription. By comparison, Natural History's subscription price per copy is $2.03 and Smithsonian's is $1.52. "This isn't a rip on anybody else, but I think that number says something about how much readers want this magazine," Segel notes.
Whether this will eventually translate into a broader palette of advertisers, of course, is anyone's guess. Although Segel is encouraged by the growing pile of RFPs on her desk, she acknowledges that substantial work remains to be done. Given its focus on the environment, Toyota remains a top target among the automakers with whom the mag is talking. "The Toyota with the hybrid technology is perfect for us. Archaeological and cultural preservation are the same stories as environmental preservation," she explains. Financial services companies (AIG, Merrill Lynch, American Century) and what Segel calls "the techno-people" (Nikon) sit high on the magazine's list as well.
"We're taking a pillar approach," she continues. "Once you get one major auto company and one major financial one, everybody else within those categories starts taking you that much more seriously."
In the months ahead, look for Archaeology to explore a television tie-in ("advertisers want a range of touch points, so adding that to our Web presence could be interesting") and possibly boost its circulation beyond the current 215,000. "I'd love to see it at 500,000, but we're growing it organically," Segel says, emphasizing that the magazine is not interested in lowering its subscription price to get more readers. A jump into the 300,000-350,000 range seems the most likely eventuality.