Mag Bag: After Cutting Junk Circ, Discover Flourishes

Inflated circulation figures are a perennial and growing complaint of consumer magazine media buyers. But over the last year, some pubs have begun moving decisively to trim "junk" circulation, thus presenting a more convincing picture of ad reach. The strategy is paying off for Discover magazine, whose new management took an axe to junk circ after buying the title from Disney in fall 2005. In the first quarter of 2007, its ad pages jumped 26.8% and rate card revenue rose 14.6%, according to the latest figures from the Publisher's Information Bureau.

In a symbolic measure of the turnaround, its June issue will have more ad pages than any issue since December 2004 -- a year before management attacked junk circ -I ncluding four new advertisers: Shell, Olympus Camera, POM and Celestron Telescopes.

According to Henry Donahue, Discover Media's CFO, "Part of the investment thesis was that the rate base was inflated," to the tune of "100,000-150,000 copies delivered to doctors' waiting rooms each month." When added to paid subscription and newsstand sales, it totaled about 850,000, which helped Disney keep the magazine's total circulation around a million. Significantly, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations' report from June 2005, newsstand sales and subs were both declining in that period, and Disney "was doing heavy, heavy discounting against the rate base," Donahue said. There were few display advertisers, as direct response ads proliferated.



"By cutting out the junk circ entirely," Donahue said, the magazine's new owner, Bob Guccione, Jr., "calculated we would be able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars on production and distribution, with no appreciable loss on the advertising side." With a reduced rate base of 700,000, mostly subscribers paying up to $25 a year, the magazine can go to advertisers with solid claims of an engaged readership.

Apparently, three makes a trend. Time and TV Guide both slashed their rate bases in 2006 in hopes of producing a more plausible and transparent ad sales pitch. Time reduced its rate base from 4 million to 3.25 million, as it also began offering media execs the option of buying a total audience basis derived from MediaMark Resarch's new "issue specific" magazine measure. TV Guide's cut was far more dramatic, from 9 million to 3.2 million, and was accompanied by a move to regular magazine format.

Kena Launches for Hispanic Women

A new lifestyle magazine called Kena is set to launch on April 23, targeting Hispanic women in the U.S. with bimonthly distribution, via the eight largest Hispanic newspapers: La Opinion in Los Angeles, El DiarioLa Prensa in New York, La Raza in Chicago, El Nuevo Herald in Miami, Al Dia in Dallas, La Voz in Houston, Fronteras in the San Francisco Bay Area, and La Voz in Phoenix. With content including beauty, fashion, cooking, money, décor, family and parenting, the magazine will debut with a circulation of 600,000 per issue.

Kelly Appointed Editor Of U.S. News & World Report

Brian Kelly was promoted from executive editor to editor of U.S. News &World Report this week, according to the magazine's management. In his previous role, Kelly supervised the magazine's Web site, and now joins a growing group of editors ascending from Web roles to overall magazine management. Before joining U.S. News in 1998, Kelly was an editor and reporter for The Washington Post, where he helped establish the newspaper's Internet presence.

Playboy Hires Hagopian For Digital

Playboy Enterprises, Inc., announced it has hired Tom Hagopian as a division executive vice-president and general manager for digital media. In this role, Hagopian will lead the development and management of the company's online and mobile businesses, both in the U.S. and abroad. Based in New York, he will report to executive vice-president and president of media, Bob Meyers.

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