Agency Finds Big Disparity Among Magazine Reach, Revenues

by , Jun 29, 2005, 7:00 AM
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Anyone involved in the magazine business knows that Time Inc. is the biggest publisher by almost any measure: number of titles, advertising sales, circulation--and, of course, audience reach. As it turns out, Time Inc.'s magazines are also the most valuable magazine properties among the major magazine publishers, according to a surprising piece of research compiled by Carat Insights, the research division of Carat.

In a report being sent to Carat's clients, the media agency shows there is a significant disparity between the audience reach of some of America's biggest publishers and the advertising and circulation revenues they reap as a result of the readers they reach.

While it's not surprising that Time Inc.'s magazines reach 51 percent of the U.S. adult population, or even that they garner $4.514 billion annually from advertising and circulation sales, dividing those two data points reveals that Time Inc. also generates far more revenue per reader reached than any other publisher measured. At $88.5 million per annual reach point, Time Inc.'s titles are even more valuable than Conde Nast Publications--a publisher known for extracting a great deal of value from both advertisers and readers for titles like The New Yorker, GQ and Vanity Fair. However, while Conde Nast ranks a distant third behind Hearst Magazines in terms of audience reach (see table below), it actually generates more revenues and a considerably higher revenue per reach point delivered.

And while Hearst generates the third most revenues among the top publishers, it actually ranks fourth behind Primedia in terms of audience yield. That's remarkable, because Primedia ranks eighth in terms of audience reach.

"Although Primedia is eight in terms of adult reach, it ranks fourth in revenue," writes Carat Senior Vice President-Research Rob Frydlewicz, adding: "Hearst is a solid second in terms of reach, but Conde Nast is second in terms of revenue."

In fact, other factors are at play besides pure audience reach, including the value of the type of readers, and specific audience demographics' magazine reach, as well as perceptions of the quality of their editorial content, and the degree to which their readers are involved with the magazine's editorial and advertising content.

That may explain why Primedia, unlike bigger publishers like Hearst, Meredith, or Hachette, has no high-profile titles. What it does have is an array of special interest titles that attract incredibly loyal and involved readers. Primedia has labeled these readers "enthusiasts," and has pitched Madison Avenue that they are worth more than general interest magazine readers. Apparently, the ad community agrees.

Interestingly, the lowest advertising yield per reader reached goes to Hachette, followed by Walt Disney Co.

  
Audience Reach* Revenue (millions)** $/Reach Point
Time Inc. 51% $4,514 $88.5 million
Hearst 32% $1,900 $59.4 million
Conde Nast 25% $2,197 $87.9 million
Meredith 25% $808 $32.3 million
Hachette 21% $531 $25.3 million
Reader's Digest 21% $835 $39.8 million
Gruner + Jahr 18% $788 $43.8 million
Primedia 17% $1,079 $63.5 million
American Media 15% $516 $34.4 million
Walt Disney Co. 10% $298 $29.8 million
Rodale 10% $355 $35.5 million
Wenner 8% $315 $39.4 million

Source: Carat Insights analysis of data from Mediamark Research Inc., Advertising Age, and internal agency estimates. *U.S. adults. **Advertising and circulation revenues in millions.

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