AMC Cover Story: 'What, We Worry?'

FAJARDO, PUERTO RICO--There's a lot of stormy weather surrounding old media these days, but not the magazine business. Ad pages are up, readership is up, and the future looks bright. At least that's the view of magazine industry executives attending the American Magazine Conference here, which opened Monday on a buoyant note.

Thomas Ryder, chairman and chief executive of the Reader's Digest Association, said the magazine industry will benefit greatly from shifts toward a more accountable, digital future. Ryder said magazines will benefit from the decline of TV in particular, which is now in "deep trouble," because "the cost of advertising is rising too fast, and the product is truly dreadful."

Ryder said that magazines will be the most efficient place for advertisers to build brands, and that wireless technology will mark the end of postage costs and give publishers the opportunity to personalize content for readers.

Newly promoted MPA Chief Jack Kliger noted that changes need to be made in the areas of readership and distribution measurement, as well as postal reform. Kliger called circulation measurement "the ill in the system," noting that other media are measured based on consumption. "Why should advertisers care if a magazine is paid or unpaid?"



Earlier this month, the Newspaper Association of America took steps forward in achieving this by measuring so-called pass-along readers--or those who consume newspapers without paying for them--instead of merely subscription and newsstand sales.

Kliger added that investment in ROI measurement will help magazines prove their value to advertisers. "We must market the medium as never before," he said, pushing the notion that magazines hold the "key currency" for advertisers: consumer engagement. He noted that product placement directly assaults this core value.

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