Q&A: Nina Link

  • by October 20, 2003

Nina Link is the president of the Magazine Publishers of America. Her organization will be holding its annual American Magazine Conference from October 19 - 21 in Palm Springs, California. The theme is how the magazine industry can drive home the impact of "Magazines Make a Difference" with advertisers, the media, and consumers who haven't experienced the strengths of magazines. On the agenda will be the findings of a survey on consumer attitudes toward magazines, which is being conducted by the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

MEDIA: It's been a tough year for the magazine industry. How do you see it finishing 2003 and what's the outlook for 2004?
Link:As you know, we don't predict. However, if you look at PIB [Publishers Information Bureau] for the past few months, revenue has been tracking up each month, so we have every reason to be cautiously optimistic.

MEDIA: A lot of big advertisers look to TV first and then the rest of the media next. How can TV stand out among advertisers?
Link: You've probably seen our ad campaign, "Magazines Make a Difference," which has become an industry slogan. In fact, it's the title of this year's AMC. We're working together as an industry to be sure everyone remembers that it's all about the reader and how magazines make a passionate difference in their lives. Because people are passionate about magazines, it stands to reason that there is no doubt about (and research study after research study bears out) the positive impact of advertising in magazines both as part of the mix and as a separate medium. Other activities, which support MPA's industry-wide effort, include the new comprehensive Kelly Award program, the tongue-in-cheek TiVo sweepstakes that pokes good-natured fun at television, and the first-ever advertorial in Ad Age by the magazine industry. There are a couple of issues that make the buying and selling of television and magazines different - namely inventory and immediacy. We are aggressively addressing the immediacy issue to shorten the lag time of buying space in magazines. In fact, many publishers have already shortened that ad selling cycle, which definitely helps magazines stand out among advertisers.

MEDIA: The rate base changes have caused controversy about the way calculations are made, the mixed message it sends regarding downward revisions, and the quality of subscribers. What's the MPA's position on this?
Link:Publishing companies have different strategies, and advertisers have different benchmarks. There are also many unrecognized factors that may affect rate base changes (i.e., USPS rate hikes). The ABC rules have changed for the first time in decades. Naturally, when change occurs, there are bound to be glitches, but all parties involved are working together to resolve outstanding issues.

MEDIA: Advertorials seem to be getting more attention these days. How can publishers protect their brand and franchises, while still helping advertisers?
Link: Advertorials are an effective way for advertisers to get more from their advertising dollars. As long as the advertorial is clearly marked so as to maintain reader trust and credibility, and the advertorial integrates well with the content of the magazine, the results could be very positive.

MEDIA: Any advance word on your new study on the effectiveness of magazines?
Link: The new study will be the first time the passion of readers will be examined. It's pretty exciting stuff. You'll have to come to AMC to find out!

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