Hearst Magazines president David Carey addressed the past year and what’s next for the publisher in a letter to employees sent out this morning. According to Carey, Hearst’s aggressive growth in 2011 (including the acquisition of Lagardere and Hachette Fillappacci; the launch of HGTV Magazine; the debut of brand supplement Marie Claire @Work; and purchases of Red Aril and PayDQ) will continue in 2012.
Now claiming 400,000 digital edition sales a month (the publisher hit 300,000 in late September), Carey reiterates Hearst’s goal to tip one million monthly paid digital subscriptions in the new year. He seems to have found the recipe for instant media attention: call out a projected audience number, and watch as web buzz booms.
Other digital initiatives include the continued transition of Hearst’s magazine sites to HTML5. Good Housekeeping’s website (which was once included among the worst magazine websites on the ‘net) was the first to get the HTML5 treatment in 2011.
Though digital may be considered the sexier playing field in the publishing industry, Hearst’s print portfolio will not be neglected in 2012. Aside from the forthcoming semiannual Cosmopolitan Latina, Harper’s Bazaar print presence will launch a revamped look; an increased trim size will debut in February.
Carey highlights streamlined production through the Hachette merger as another benefit of the deal (a less obvious coup than titles like Elle magazine), “[We] are able to realize significant cost synergies through the…work of our service departments, particularly our production, IT and consumer marketing teams.”
As a result of these cross-company initiatives, Carey says, “…roughly 40 percent of our revenues are U.S. print and digital, 40 percent international print and digital, and 20 percent are services (iCrossing and CDS Global).”
Hearst’s growth is impressive, but lends little actionable strategy to publishers of smaller scale and lesser resources. With its new YouTube channels, large acquisitions and flashy media partnerships (Hearst took a 50 percent stake in reality television company Mark Burnett Productions in April), Hearst continues to perpetuate one of the most pervasive trends in the magazine industry as of late: publishers doing a lot of business besides publishing.