Commentary

How Merger Of 'Variety,' 'Hollywood Reporter' Will Affect Advertising

Penske Media's merger with MRC brings together the publishers of competing entertainment industry magazines Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, leaving The Wrap as the only independent trade publication left in Hollywood.

The merger is likely to change the dynamic of how PMRC, as the merged company is called, will market the publications to advertisers and readers.

With press reports suggesting their editorial operations will remain mostly intact, its sales teams will have multiple publications to sell individually or in package deals.

It's important that each brand maintains a distinct identity to give advertisers a reason to commit the media dollars to more than one publication. Even if PMRC offers package deals on its collective ad inventory, it's crucial for marketing to demonstrate the value of placing ads in multiple publications to reach different audience segments.

PMRC faces the same presumably short-term challenges that confront the entertainment industry. Awards season is typically a significant period for the publications as studios blanket the trades with "for your consideration" ads.

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However, the coronavirus pandemic that's kept movie theaters closed or operating at a diminished capacity is likely to mean less promotional efforts for months to come. Studios have pushed back releases until next year, hampered from filling the pipelines with new productions.

PMRC also has an opportunity to boost reader revenue with stronger paywalls on its websites and the marketing of premium editorial products. Variety this year introduced digital subscription offering called Variety Intelligence Platform, but Variety.com is still wide open, as is The Hollywood Reporter's website.

As a trade publisher that reaches a targeted group of professionals, PMRC can monetize a highly engaged audience.

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