By Dylan Stableford
It was a wild and wooly year for magazines in 2005;though, really, when is it not? The M&A market was hot, magazine metrics were not, e-media emerged, one Stewart returned;the other skewered ;and the requisite launches, relaunches and folds reverberated throughout the industry.
We asked everybody we know to give us predictions for ’06, and got back a dizzying array of responses from nearly every nook and cranny of the magazine world, from heavy-hitting CEOs to bathrobe prophetizing bloggers .
Here they are, in raw and almost-unedited form:
Either Time Inc. will be spun off from Time Warner or Ann Moore will lose her job.
1. Disappointing top line growth (because most companies are under-investing in people and products) for most companies.
2. Reed will exit b-to-b in the US.
3. Vertical search will have the same impact as Vertical Net;none.
1. Business will be strong.
2. E-mail saturation will drive circulators back to telemarketing.
3. Web seminars will begin to saturate;pricing pressure will increase.
4. Following so many other fabulous Internet revolutions that don’t make any money for anyone: blogs.
5. Publishers will restructure sales staffs to reflect where the revenue is, i.e. online salespeople versus print salespeople.
6. CMP will buy Tech Target.
BZ Media LLC
1. The M&A environment will be stable, probably less active than 2005 with fewer “blockbuster” type deals being announced or completed. Interest rates might move up a bit but bank lending terms should remain about the same.
2. B-to-B industry growth, as it did this year will swing widely by market sector and net low, single digit growth for the total B2B industry as currently measured.
3. The online component of b-to-b revenue streams (consistent with recently reported studies on the subject) will continue to increase as marketers improve their understanding of the leveraged value of a print/online communications package and as b-to-b sales people continue to improve in selling an integrated media package.
1. At least two of the celebrity/gossip books will fold.
2. At least one publisher will learn how to monetize digitized content on multiple platforms.
3. Time Inc. will create at least one new high volume source of subscriptions for itself and the rest of the industry.
Marketers have known for years that Hispanic youths are an important market to target, but 2006 will be the year that they figure out how to reach this demographic. More resources will be allocated to reaching this segment through culturally engrained and popular traditions. Quince Girl, of course, will be these marketers vehicle of choice.
President and Publisher
After seeing the success of products such as Scion and Mass Appeal columnist Mr. Cartoon’s limited edition T-mobiles Side Kick, corporations and media agencies will realize that a sizable segment of the 18-34 male demo has a disposable income, are NOT ﾑfrat boys,’ and strive to emulate an edgy urban lifestyle.
1. The “world is flat” & the BRIC countries will invite more & more interest from the established b-to-b publishers.
2. Online advertising growth, fueled by search, particularly vertical search will drive significant growth.
3. Private equity firms will continue to re-engineer the b-to-b industry.
Reed Business Information
I think more magazine publishers will consider outsourcing their accounts receivable function. I think bad debt percentages will remain low overall as magazine publishers continue to maintain tight credit policies. I will continue to be amazed at the number of niche titles that will launch in 2006.
Dean A. Churack
Executive Vice President
Media Receivable Management, Inc.
The magazine business will continue to go through a revolution. The industry will move from the traditional circ model and increasingly look at magazines as full-blown media properties. The playing field for small circ and large circ magazines will be more level than ever. The titles with the most relevant and targeted content that can correctly build their brands horizontally into multi-media platforms will thrive. It is crucial that the business learn from the mistakes of other aspects of media (the music business, network television and the movie industry). The industry must embrace new technology and take more chances.
1. More journalists will recognize there is much to learn from the citizen-journalism movement and will adopt the most compelling features of the blogging culture. Feedback functions will appear on numerous sites. Agnostic linking;pointing to items produced by competitors;will become more common.
At the same time, at least a handful of knuckleheads will do the exact opposite;launching magazine-branded blogs that don’t have external links and don’t give readers the ability to post comments.
2. At least one major journalism school will announce an end to track education.
Students will study reporting and storytelling in a media-neutral environment. The idea of obtaining a degree limited to broadcast journalism or print journalism will seem increasingly silly.
Increased ad sales solidifies marginal titles (especially consumer) controlled or nonrequest circulation grows as subscribers are less inclined to pay or respond (there are too many choices for the number of eyeballs). Data mining and overlay becomes more important to controlled lists due to declining demo response.
Very strong first quarter results in b-to-b. “Engagement” metrics gain traction in Consumer Magazine marketplace. Both SI and ESPN report that NY Yankees are 2006 World Series Champs.
1. Unless publishers adopt the internet as the new publishing paradigm and understand the power of building readership and circulation across the offline and online media platforms, there will continue to be lagging sales, revenues, profits and continued layoffs.
2. The idea that the new interactive devices do not port well to the “bedroom, bathroom and beach” (recently stated by Dick Parsons as reasoning for the continued strength of print publishing) will be debunked by astute publishers and editors who understand that their younger and more affluent audience continue to embrace these new distribution channels as the new “magazine newsstand.”
3. Publishers will need to overhaul their sales organizations and conduct massive retraining and recruiting efforts to create teams that can sell the new multichannel audience base. Selling the internet and email newsletters and sponsorships like print ad selling is going the way of the dinosaur. In the new world…there must be a relationship between dollars spent and trackable return on investment. Sales teams need to educate their customers on this new and powerful connection between editorial content and the publication audience irrespective of the channel selected.
4. Publishers will come to realize that continuing to pump up sagging print circulation figures thru all kinds of measures in light of the audience shift to the internet is a fool’s errand. Better to build multichannel audience relationships thru a new emphasis on reaching and connecting with the audience irrespective of the channel ﾅ OR WILL THEY?
1. Publishers will learn to optimize their positions as leading content providers in the markets that they serve to effectively compete with online information services and capture a greater percentage of online revenues.
2. Publishing executives will become brand managers and will invest resources to build stronger franchises and extend their brands beyond the print world. (Not just talk about brand extensions, but commit resources to developing new products.)
3. Events will play a stronger role in the overall marketing mix of our customers and magazine publishers will begin to learn how to leverage their brands in the event world.
Georgiann Taylor DeCenzo
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
1. What’s the difference between a three week old puppy and a b-to-b magazine publisher? In a month the puppy will stop whining. The entrepreneurs and low cost operators will continue to publish since their salary and benefits are sufficiently rewarding personal compensation without producing a profit.
2. If you can’t borrow $15-20 million dollars in 2006, you will be declared a “girlie man.” No lender will loan money to small magazine publishers in 2006 except Murray’s Pawn Shop.
3. Tom Kemp will leave VSA to launch his own public (pink sheets) multi-media/publishing company based in Milwaukee.
Alan M. Douglas
1. Further migration to digital products being offered by print publishers, (Vertical Search taking off).
2. More consolidation as market continues to mature. A big year for M&A.
3. Restructuring of staff as publishers reinvent themselves (we saw this in the newspaper business in 2004-05 and Time Inc. is just the beginning for magazine publishers).
4. There is massive opportunity for magazines if they look at their core competencies and leverage them, that is, the dissemination of information.
1. B-to-B will continue to catch up with the economy (a lagging indicator) and revenues will continue to grow – both advertising and conference/trade show – faster than for consumer pubs.
2. More CEO’s will demand accuracy in circulation numbers leading to more reductions in rate bases for consumer mags and to more pressure on ad dollars, a short term negative to permit a longer range opportunity. [Is this wishful hoping?]
Founder & Managing Director
AdMedia Partners, Inc.
1. No longer a sleeper category, we predict business magazines in 2006 should closely match the excitement and buzz generated by celebrity publications in 2005. We have seen, and continue to see, new entrants in the business category with many large business magazines spinning off small business editions, and even high-profile companies entering the mix.
2. Given the new management, new senior level hires (we predict both magazines will be up 50 percent in our sales, marketing and research staff by first quarter), and renewed sense of excitement among the staff at Mansueto Ventures, Inc. and Fast Company are better positioned than ever to satisfy this new hunger for business ingenuity.
3. We also predict that private, entrepreneurial companies and small- to medium-sized businesses will continue to add jobs to the American economy at a rapid pace while maintaining their fervor in purchasing goods and services. As such, enterprise wide technology companies and other verticals are taking notice as they look for influence and affluence in their media buys. This is acknowledged as Inc. and Fast Company start their first two issues strong in 2006 with several new advertisers; while Inc. is already up in PIB numbers in that same period. We also predict that far more ad agencies and clients will either be creating budgets for or inquiring how to fund events and conferences in 2006 to enrich the brand experience and return on investment. We are hearing this from advertising clients ranging from technology (software, hardware), to financial/insurance, to consumer electronics, to telecommunications and automotive, and others. We predict a second Inc. 500 Conference in 2006 both offline and online celebrating the 25th anniversary of this very conference.
The M&A markets will remain strong and especially for those publishers who have developed a strong e-news and on-line presence. Business people will continue to embrace e-news and on-line medium for their news. More and more will expect industry news delivered to their e-mail boxes, at least once a day. Those companies that can gather, analyze and disseminate proprietary news and information on a daily basis will rise to the top. B-to-B, in paper form, and across many industries will continue its disappearance act. Advertisers will continue to pound on ROI. The magazine industry will have taken notice but will continue to struggle to develop products that actually drive sales to their advertisers. Certain publishers will figure it out, will effectively deliver their industry decision makers, and will quickly become important conduits in the sale process. More and more companies will look to create on-line directories and product sales vehicles tools that will move products for their advertisers.
W.B. Grimes & Company
1. Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail, scheduled to be published in June, will not only be the best-selling business book published during the year, but it will help articulate and explain the economic significance of smaller publishers in the magazine industry.
2. There will be a significant transaction marking the beginning of the long-predicted consolidation in the custom publishing arena (and no, this is not based on any inside information or juicy rumors).
3. By the end of 2006, nearly every magazine website will have one or many weblogs, but during 2006, they will be named something like “Reporter’s Journal” or “Editor’s Comments” or “Breaking News File.” In 2007, they will be renamed “weblog” so readers will understand what they are.
1. In the consumer arena, more publishers will adjust paid rate bases, and shift circulation marketing techniques and the composition of their files to include more controlled circulation–subscribers whose qualification as prospects can be documented to guarantee advertisers that their target audiences are being reached. With the proper controls, and marketing efforts, advertisers and media buyers will recognize the true value of this circulation. Circulation data reporting will remain critical to the evaluation of consumer magazines, as it is fundamental to fulfilling on the promise to deliver an audience. More timely circulation reporting will be complemented with new evaluative metrics, whose specific nature will need to be determined through a consensus-building process between buyers and sellers.
2. In the b-to-b sector, the quest for accountability of ad spend in interactive media will create increasing demand for a standard Web measurement tool. This same quest will push event measurement to new heights. These, in turn, will further spur the marketing of truly integrated media solutions–that is, branded content delivered across consumer-agnostic platforms.
Glenn J. Hansen
President and CEO
1. Bloodbath for consumer magazines due to one-two punch from dropping circulation and advertising. On the other hand, those smart or lucky enough to survive have a lot to look forward to.
2. Increased ownership consolidation. It’s getting tougher for the small guy (or gal) to compete with the bigger players. Unless, that is, you can identify a niche big enough to support you, but too small for the bigger players to bother with.
3. Publishers will realize the Internet is not as big a threat as feared. We will figure out more ways to use this tool to our advantage.
1. We will see at least one major strategic company exit/sell their magazine group/properties.
2. Ad page revenues will continue to be under pressure, in spite of BIN numbers that really count ad pages, not actual ad revenues. (Continued migration of print ad budgets to lead generation/on-line marketing.)
3. M&A pricing/multiples will come back down to earth as debt service costs continue to rise (LIBOR up at least 200 basis points in last several months), and smart buyers will be reluctant to overpay for modest growth of most magazine businesses. Fewer quality deals in the market.
4. Continued turnover of magazine company CEO’s as owners/investors seek improved performance. However, it is the markets that have the greatest impact on company performance, not management. (This is similar to the drama of owners of NFL or Major League teams firing and hiring new coaches/managers each year.
Thomas L. Kemp
Veronis Suhler Stevenson
1. Google mania will subside. Search advertising works, but not for everything, and traditional print advertising will be viewed as more important than last year, but not as important as it once was.
2. Ad agencies will start to notice digital distribution of magazines, like it, and maybe even start using rich media with it.
3. Trade shows will experience a revival.
President and CEO
1. Continued robust M&A activity (at slightly lower multiples).
2. Flat to low growth in print advertising pages (more growth from yield
3. Emergence of hedge funds as acquirers of media businesses.
4. The above three predictions and $5.00 will get you a small coffee at Starbucks.
The Pareto Group
1. Consumer magazines will increase advertising revenue share.
2. There will be a dramatic rise in ad dollars from magazine branded digital platforms.
3. A postal reform bill will be passed.
Magazine Publishers of America
1. Continued consolidations (big companies splitting off and mid size companies purchasing
2. Revenue Growth everywhere, including in advertising, but not focused on traditional pages. We are smarter and continue to expand our products from conventional advertising pages and towards well though out and creative marketing solutions.
3. Postal Reform passes
Jean M. Maddalon
Chief Financial Officer
American Business Media
1. Continued excitement for launches with narrowly targeted audiences.
2. Increased recasting of content to new distribution channels.
3. Pain and suffering with increased postal and paper costs.
1. Digital will grow at an impressive pace (for all magazines) though not as fast as some would like.
2. Smaller magazines will close shop, [including] new service-oriented women’s books, independents in the men’s/lad market and music-related mags.
3. A new crop of young female stars will make us forget Britney, Ashley and Jessica, and Christina Aguilera.
Advertising pages will only rise in markets with very strong served market growth through 2006. Otherwise page volumes will remain fairly flat. Magazine revenue growth will continue to be driven by establishing a strong position as part of an integrated marketing program. Great editorial and innovative circulation development will drive marke share movements more than price competition for the first time in years.
1. Display advertising will continue to be challenged as advertisers increasingly seek online media placement with measurable ROI. This will continue to put pressure on the magazine industry to innovate and experiment with new integrated media models.
2. Magazine publishers will increasingly be willing to experiment with reductions in rate bases to decrease their dependence on agent subscription sources.
3. Consolidation will continue among the large consumer publishing companies.
The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc.
1. Ink on paper magazine publishing will show amazing resilience because it is the most effective “push” medium available to publishers. If you consider it as a technology, its advantages are compelling and its liabilities very limited. It requires no training to learn a user interface because we all learned that user interface in elementary school. It requires no energy source other than ambient lighting. The environments in which it can be easily used are almost limitless. It is easily transportable by the end user. It is self-archiving, and has an exceptionally long shelf-life if future reference to the content is desirable. And I could go on and on.
2. Circulations will continue to decline as magazine publishers continue to learn that creating a community of interest in their readership delivers an incredibly valuable audience to advertisers who want to deliver ever more targeted messages. That trend will drive an increasing number of new launches, many of them focusing on segments of the baby boomer generation that is about to retire in waves with increasing discretionary time and more discretionary income during retirement than any prior generation.
3. Advertising sales will begin to focus much more on the quality of audience delivered rather than the size. With rate-base exaggeration diminishing and audit scrutiny increasing, publishers will gather more and more information about their readers, particularly as they begin sharing information back and forth with direct response catalog merchants who are marketing highly segmented offerings to narrow audiences of knowledgeable buyers. The quality of the readership for highly-focused titles will warrant the investment of advertising dollars much more than merely the size of the rate base.
Wayne M. Peterson
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
United Litho Inc.
As an industry, we just experienced the best year in magazine M&A since 2000, which was the best year ever. Next year will be as good, and possibly better. Why? Because, as my firm predicted at the beginning of last year (in our annual Magazine M&A report), strategic buyers returned to the M&A market with more enthusiasm than at any time in the past four years. And, now that they’re back, we can expect a particularly robust 2006.
DeSilva & Phillips
1. Big news out of Penton Media.
2. A continued hot M&A market.
3. The beginning of a renaissance for print media.
Carl S. Pugh
M&A activity continues to be strong, but multiples drop a bit following the feeding frenzy of 2005. Publishers continue to drive more business to the web, but realize that the rumors of print’s death are greatly exaggerated. Google, Yahoo and other internet companies make us sweat as they continue to push into a business that we thought was ours.
Chief Publishing Officer
Society for Human Resource Management
2006: The Year of the Dodo. That would the year that it became clear to even the most reluctant members of the media food chain that digital information distribution is not going to meltdown and fizzle. That would be the year that print circulation accountability reaches the watershed moment of inevitable clarity … produce actual verifiable numbers or be extinct. 2006 will be the year of actual e-paper’s first primitive introduction to commercial market. 2006 will be the year of the true acceptance of a parallel universe, of dead trees and electrons living happily side by side in a profitable pond together.
Precision Media Group
1. The paper market continues to be of concern to me. There are more acquisitions, mill closures and paper machine shutdowns taking place. Printers and publishers have reason to be a bit nervous about this. There is going to continue to be at least steady demand, if not increased demand, for coated paper. So machine shut downs (even short term ones) coupled with mill closures and mill consolidation will certainly result in rising paper prices. How much? Who knows? Just one more thing for printers and publishes to have to deal with.
2. There will be continued pressure to find ways to offset the postal increase. Small publishers and short run printers will need to get creative to find ways to create the volume necessary to have co-mailing make sense for them. Ultimately some unconventional sources will step to the plate and get into the magazine co-mailing business. Those might be freight companies or delivery services (like UPS or Fed Ex).
3. One of Dr. Deming’s 14 Obligations of Management is “End the Practice of Awarding Business on the Basis of Price Tag.” I think we are finally beginning to see a trend on the part of publishers to place equal or more value on relationship and service. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking on my part but I think this trend will continue in 2006.
4. The Red Sox will need to find a lead-off hitter, a center fielder, a shortstop and a left-handed hitting first baseman before Spring Training. Of course the real test of my abilities would be if I could actually predict who will fill those roles. If I could then I’d be doing this interview for the publisher of The Sporting News and not FOLIO: magazine, right?
VP Sales & Marketing
Dartmouth Printing Co.
Aerospace is going to be a hot topic next year, not just in Air & Space magazine. With Airbus bringing its new 850-seater into operation, NASA heading back to the moon and millionaires buying rides into space, there will plenty for all of us to write and read about. And since lines at airports won’t disappear next year, there will be plenty of time to read.
Air & Space magazine
Magazines will realize that a dynamic web presence needs to include more than a cover shot and an unlinked Table of Contents … I think we’ll see a lot of web-only mag content in the coming year, including – dare I say – blogs (the magazine blogs I can’t wait to see: Vogue (though it would never deign to call itself a blog); Vanity Fair (rich in potential, despite Graydon’s insistence that humor is not the purview of magazines) and Men’s Health (preferably a photo blog!). Radar showed how a magazine could create a dynamic and evolving web identity that complemented the print version – I predict that magazines will borrow a page from that playbook and make a strong showing on the web in 2006.
I predict several new magazines will launch in 2006:
Paris:A real-time journal of the life and loves of Ms. Hilton
Husni: This publication breaks all new-magazine sell-through records when it ranks number one on Samir Husni’s “Best New Magazines” list.
Po Mo: The magazine about how the editors raised the money to launch the magazine, and later, what a day in the life of an editor is like.
O2 (“O Squared”): The Magazine about O: The Oprah Magazine.
Finally, in a bid to broaden its audience, I predict that AARP will break ground with three new titles: Teen AARP, AARP Pets, and AARP Baby.
AARP The Magazine
Highly targeted magazines will thrive at the expense of broad-based publications. TechTarget’s 50 percent year-over-year growth in magazine revenue proves that targeting is in for 2006.
In 2006, the clash between Google and Microsoft will come to a head. With the recent beta launch of Windows Live , Microsoft has created an advertising supported platform to distribute its business software for free. With this move, Microsoft is turning its fundamental business model on its head. As their free offerings become richer throughout the year, Microsoft will have a powerful tool to insert itself into the fast growing b-to-b market that Google has been dominating with search. Google will soon counter with its own set of free software but there’s no way to tell yet how good their offerings will be, and whether the lucrative business market will take to Google’s free software as enthusiastically as it has to Google search. The very good news for online B2B publishers like Inc.com and FastCompany.com : our excellent service content will become more deeply ingrained in business software as these titans of freeware look for every edge possible to hook business users. Look for significant revenue share and traffic driving deals with B2B publishers as the year progresses.
SVP,Online Publishing and Business Development
1. More and more revenue will come from online sources – and other sources will decline.
2. Several big content-licensing deals will be announced, providing magazine content to established online media.
3. One of the big newsweeklies will fold.
1. B-to-B move digital, away from paper, for delivery, faster rate.
2. Move to online proofing from printers, faster turn-around on press resulting, w/InSite and systems like it (I forget a couple of other names I’ve heard that allow same thing.)
3. Increased pressure by advertisers to influence content and continued giving in by editors/publishers;a shame.
Danita Allen Wood
Missouri Life magazine
1. The magazine industry will begin to feel the pinch when the oldest baby boomers begin retiring next year. Those who will not be hurt as quickly include the companies that did not thin the ranks of their most experienced people during the last recession and who have nurtured their young.
2. Magazines will continue to be the medium of choice for most Americans to learn about their specific areas of interest, personal or professional. Why do Americans love their magazines? Unlike television, magazines do not require either a remote control to turn the page or TiVo to record and watch later. And, like high speed Internet, magazines are always “on” and can take you quickly to what you want or need to read.
3. And, as always, the general economy will continue to dictate the economic heath of magazine publishing. Magazines both lead and lag economic times, but I see an increase in ad dollars in several sectors directed at magazines based on certain current economic indicators, such as increasing corporate profits.
Primedia Prism Business Media
We expect magazines will create new and interesting ways to build reader loyalty and trust, including rewards programs. With magazine titles becoming more niche and fragmented, loyalty programs will really help readers and magazines stay connected. We base this on the success we’ve had with our recently launched program;the first of its kind in the magazine industry;that rewards people for getting their friends to subscribe.
J. Mignonne Wright
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
Chicken Soup for the Soul