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Vanessa Voltolina

Can a Style-Infusion Save WSJ’s Magazine?

Vanessa Voltolina Consumer - 03/05/2009-11:56 AM

This week, WWD online reported that the Wall Street Journal’s glossy “WSJ.” saw its number of ad pages slip to 27 (out of 92 total pages) for its national March issue.

This fashion-themed issue, featuring an interview with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chief Bernard Arnault, dropped almost 50 percent compared to September’s premiere, which had 51 ad pages (out of 104 total).

Until now, “WSJ.” has made a conscious effort to stay away from fashion in favor of news, lifestyle and glossy photography.

Now, the magazine has decided to move in the direction of a more “style-oriented” product, according to editor Tina Gaudoin.

Of course, titles getting hit hard on the ad sales front is almost a given in the current climate. But does this warrant the “WSJ.” to morph into yet another of the failing fashion/style glossies that can’t get advertisers because of less spending in the luxury market?

There’s proof is in the numbers. Fashion, home décor and accessories have continued to slide, with the Publishers Information Bureau reporting apparel and accessories down 8.2 percent in ad pages, and retail down 7.1 percent in 2008 compared to 2007.

As the March issue’s cover line asks—“Is the luxury goods guru recession proof?”—WSJ may soon have to ask itself the same thing.

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Vanessa Voltolina

How Magazines in the Rest of the World are Doing

Vanessa Voltolina Consumer - 02/26/2009-16:44 PM

With over 50 American magazines having already folded this year, and organizations like the Magazine Publishers of America and American Business Media canceling conferences and events, it’s worth taking a look at how the rest of the world’s magazine publishers are doing.

In a recent release from the International Federation of Periodical Press (FIPP), the organization reported “business as usual” for its planned events, with its flagship World Magazine Congress slated for London in early May. Current sign-ups are at 500 and growing, according to an event spokesperson, with big name American publishers like ex-Playboy CEO Christie Hefner, Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black and IDG CEO Robert Carrigan scheduled to speak at the event.

Ad Growth in Europe, Flattening in India

FIPP’s World Magazine Trends report forecasts Western Europe’s ad market will shrink by one percent this year—with growth rates expected to rebound when the economy is out of crisis. Central and Eastern Europe, it said, would see double-digit growth in 2010, and Western Europe would experience 3.2 percent growth next year.

In the U.K. alone, ad expenditure could grow by as much as 52 percent over a 10-year period, according to the World Advertising Research Center. Including the recession, ad spend in the U.K. is forecasted to grow between 11 and 32 percent from 2007-2020.

Spending on online advertising in Hong Kong also peaked in 2008 at $208 million in the fourth quarter—about 26.8 million U.S. dollars—a 33 percent increase from the third quarter. The number of advertising campaigns increasing by four percent during this period.

Ad growth in India, however, is slowing down considerably. After a double-digit growth for over a decade, WARC projected only two percent ad growth in India compared with 17 percent last year.

U.K. Circ Growth

According to the U.K. Audit Bureau of Circulations, overall circulation increased 3.7 during the second half of 2008. (However, as a site called Creative Match notes, these figures “are mainly due to the growth of free magazines and customer titles.”) There were a number of categories that managed to perform well: hobbies, soap operas and personal finance. Hachette’s All About Soap increased paid circulation 13.4 percent, while the Economist rose by 3.1 percent year-over-year. Dennis’ The Week grew 6.4 percent.

Circulation of women’s monthly lifestyle and fashion magazines remained relatively stable in the U.K., with circulation increasing 1.8 percent in the past six months; however, women’s special interest magazines in health and beauty have shown a decline. While Bauer’s celebrity weekly titles may be crashing in the U.S. market, its flagship UK publication, Bella, saw 16.9 percent growth.

The decline of shelter publications, however, is ubiquitous worldwide; just like it is in the U.S., home and décor magazines experienced sharp circulation declines abroad.

Condé Nast’s Heavy ‘Love’

The global recession hasn’t stopped publishers from launching new magazines overseas. Recent international launches include Bauer Consumer Media’s fashion and beauty title Grazia in Hong Kong, G&J’s Geo, now published in Brazil, and an India edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Axel Springer España also launched Auto Bild Classic, with Future launching Triathlon Plus.

Condé Nast launched perhaps the thickest magazine of them all—a 336-page biannual called Love, in Paris. The debut issue contains 136 ad pages.

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Vanessa Voltolina

‘Octo-Mom’ Gives Birth to Newsstand Bump

Vanessa Voltolina Audience Development - 02/24/2009-17:05 PM

Bauer and Wenner Media titles are seeing high newsstand sales from an unlikely cover personality.

Nadya Suleman—the tabloid-sensation mom of octuplets (along with six other children)—is helping celebrity newsweeklies get back on their feet—even if only for one issue.

Celebrity titles took a beating during the second half last year—Bauer and Wenner’s in particular. Bauer’s In Touch dropped 32 percent in single copy sales, Life & Style down 31.3 percent and Wenner’s Us Weekly 20.7 percent.
 
But MSNBC.com reports that sales of Life & Style went through the roof when the magazine put the “octo-mom” on the cover. Us Weekly also stands to up newsstand sales thanks to a photo exclusive with the “octo-mom.”

A Bauer spokesperson declined to comment on the exact sales number, but said the company was “extremely pleased with this cover, and we not only met, but exceeded our rate base.”

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Vanessa Voltolina

Economic Stress Leads Runner’s World to Fast Start at Newsstand

Vanessa Voltolina Consumer - 02/20/2009-13:56 PM

With positive newsstand stories few and far between during the second half of 2008, Rodale said yesterday that Runner’s World delivered double-digit newsstand growth with its January 2009 issue.

This issue saw an increase of 13.3 percent in single copy sales versus January of last year, the company said.

“In difficult economic times, people turn to exercise, and more specifically running, as an outlet to manage stress and uncertainty,” group VP Chris Lambiase explained in a release.

This could also be the cyclical, post-New Year’s resolution-effect, when people renew their vows to “get fit” and join gyms and health clubs in the first few weeks or months after the ball drops, only to lose steam in March or April. During the second half of 2008, single copy sales for Runner’s World slid about 4 percent.
 
Other Rodale titles, though, experienced significant circulation growth: Organic Gardening saw its total paid circ increase 35.3 percent in the second half; Women’s Health saw a 31 percent increase in the same category.

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Vanessa Voltolina

Laid Off Portfolio Editors Launch Recession Site

Vanessa Voltolina emedia and Technology - 02/11/2009-10:10 AM

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that two editors recently laid off from Condé Nast Portfolio are launching a recession-themed Web site, Recessionwire.com.

Laura Rich and Sara Clemence, Portfolio.com's former assistant managing and lifestyle editors, respectively, teamed up with Lynn Parramore, an author and academic, to create a “user’s guide to the recession.”

While the site’s concept may be unique, the idea of former editors going it alone online is not. Late last year, former Elle editors began the e-newsletter, I Heart Daily, to fill the void of shuttered CosmoGirl! and Teen People in the teen girl market. In September, former editor of the San Francisco Giants magazine, Erica Boeke, launched sports site GoGameFace for female sports fans.

Unlike its counterparts, Recessionwire.com is not long for this world. A “pop-up site,” similar to pop-up retailers that set up shop temporarily in storefronts, “When the recession is over, the site will go away,” said Rich. But “just in case,” Clemence said, she recently bought the domain name depressionwire.com.

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Vanessa Voltolina

The Unlucky 47

Vanessa Voltolina Consumer - 02/09/2009-16:36 PM

According to online database Mediafinder, 47 magazine titles have folded so far in 2009. Here, the full list (likely to change at any minute):

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Ascent Magazine
  • Asian Week
  • Bank Advisor Magazine
  • Book World
  • Chiropractic Products
  • Cigar Report Magazine
  • Comic Foundry
  • Corporate Leader
  • Country Home
  • Criticas
  • Dealmaker
  • Digital Graphics
  • Domino
  • Electrical Contracting Products
  • Florida Designers Review
  • ForbesLife Mountain Time
  • Furniture Style
  • The Good Life
  • Green Business
  • IndyCar Series
  • Ignite Your Faith
  • Metal Edge
  • Metal Maniacs
  • Network Cabling
  • JPG Magazine
  • Locus Suspectus
  • Longboard Magazine
  • New York Look
  • NWA WorldTraveler
  • Pacific Magazine
  • Players Club, The
  • Private Air
  • Realms of Fantasy
  • Redmond Developer News
  • Relix Magazine
  • Scrye
  • Sign Tech
  • Simple Scrapbooks
  • Smart
  • Teen
  • Timber Homes Illustrated
  • Trader Monthly
  • Traffic World
  • Wondertime
  • Workplace
  • Wraps
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Vanessa Voltolina

A 125-Year-Old Magazine Relaunches its ‘Voice’

Vanessa Voltolina Consumer - 01/27/2009-10:39 AM

Today, Ladies’ Home Journal announced a “dramatic” redesign (isn’t it funny how all magazine redesigns are called “dramatic”?) and, in a somewhat unusual move, said the magazine will have a “bold new voice” and editorial philosophy.

Ladies Home Journal will now be “modern, clean, approachable and uplifting,” says new editor Sally Lee. (A statement like that makes you wonder what, exactly, the magazine was before—“medieval, dirty, unapproachable and depressing”?)

It’s the second redesign in roughly a year for LHJ, the last one coming under former editor Diane Salvatore in 2008.

Lee, who was appointed editor by Meredith in July, has repositioned the 3.8 million circulation LHJ with new sections and columns to promote a “look good, do good and feel great” philosophy. Coverlines “will convey positive messages and the photography will be fresh and relatable.”

While some of these editorial refreshers may be welcome—like a new technology section and a modern “Answer Lady” column—some of the new editorial “franchises,” like “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman” and “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” seem pretty dated, particularly for a magazine that was founded 1883.

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Vanessa Voltolina

The Source Gets So Fresh, So Clean

Vanessa Voltolina Consumer - 01/21/2009-16:24 PM

In what amounts to a risky move in the hip-hop industry, L. Londell McMillan, the co-publisher of the Source, told the New York Times recently that the magazine will no longer accept booty ads.

The ads, predominately for pornographic films, Web sites or escort services, will disappear, despite the fact that they are a mainstay for the publication—more than half the ads in the magazine at times, McMillan said.

While the publisher recognizes the risk of cutting any advertisers loose at a time when ad sales are hemorrhaging, McMillan thinks he can entice advertisers that have cringed at the amount of adult-only ads in the past—namely, financial services, travel and corporate consumers.

Maxim made the move to a more adult look and feel in order to attract higher end advertising, including luxury advertisers, particularly from the high fashion and auto sectors. And New York magazine dodged a threatened boycott by a women’s group in 2007 when it pulled all of its back-of-the-book ads for escort services.

It seems to be as much of a moral issue as a business one. “We don’t want to just glorify the lowest-hanging fruit,” McMillan told the Times. “There’s a lot of people that want hip-hop but don’t want some of the filth that some of the business carries with it.”

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Vanessa Voltolina

Fashion Magazines’ New Target Audience: ‘Recessionistas’

Vanessa Voltolina Editorial - 01/19/2009-11:41 AM

While purchasing a pair of Louboutins seems like a faraway dream for readers of fashion and luxury living magazines, these glossies are put in a tough position.

Already faced with huge ad hit at newsstands, companies like Time, Hachette and Hearst must tweak their editorial message from “fashionista” to “every once-fashionista is now a recessionista”—without straying too far from the prestige, placement and context that (remaining) advertisers require.

Salon.com’s Rebecca Traister looked at how glossies are scrambling to downplay the luxury-living message prevalent in years past. Judging from their January to February coverlines, style glossies can be seen making editorial changes. Here are a few examples:

Vogue

January issue headlines: “Change! Yes You Can” with the message of “dress cheap and chic” in the text under this headline…

… in February, the cover bears a top banner reading "Simple Luxuries: Balancing Your Clothing and Beauty.”


Lucky

January issue headlines: “Free shopping sprees and discounts galore!” and “Mix and Match Special”…

… in February, coverlines read: "624 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Look" and "Super Affordable Glamour: Look Polished No Matter What Your Budget."


Elle

January issue headlines: “Fashion: Change Your Look” and “210+ Ideas” [you’ll want at every price]…

… in February: “Style for Less: The Best Under $50!”


It appears that Vogue—Vogue!—is recognizing the need for simplistic living, while not going overboard and appealing to readers under the guise of “cheap.” Lucky’s position as a mag-a-log makes these coverlines risky, as the magazine may be deterring higher-end advertisers and missing the boat when it comes to introducing readers to must-buy brands. And while Elle certainly redirects its editorial message from “change” to “save” from January to February, it remains to be seen whether touting “styles under $50” is an appropriate angle for Elle.

The trick is to tone down luxury-centric editorial, not redefine its audience.

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Vanessa Voltolina

Vibe to Introduce ‘Vammys’—Without Live Event

Vanessa Voltolina Consumer - 01/12/2009-15:19 PM

In Vibe’s February issue, writer Sean Fennessey writes about how to “save” the Grammy Awards, a show he says omits key categories ("Best Ringtone," "Best Hook," "Best Hook Artist," among others) and doles out awards to artists not on the top of most true hip-hop lovers' lists.

Piggybacking on this concept, the magazine has planned the first annual Vammy Awards during this year’s Grammys season.

While in, uh, headier economic times Vibe might’ve considered making the Vammys a full-blown live music event (music, celebrities and awards are generally a winning formula for a successful live event) it looks like the first annual Vammys will be done online.

Vammy winners will be determined by tallying the artists who garner the most votes in a nationwide sweepstakes (launching January 12) on their Web site. (The magazine is also giving voters an incentive by entering them into an all-expense paid trip to a Vibe photo shoot.)

While the Vammys has the potential to be a dynamic live event, playing it safe with only an online (and print) presence may mute the magazine’s anticipated hype—as well as audience response. We’ll wait and see how online serves Vibe for this lofty claim of “saving” the Grammys.

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Vanessa Voltolina

Time Inc.'s Person, Sportsman of the Year Franchises Score Big on Web

Vanessa Voltolina Consumer - 01/08/2009-09:07 AM

At a Time Inc. digital showcase in December, EVP John Squires said that the company achieved “significant” growth online. Here are some numbers just released by Time Inc. that appear to back up his claim:

Time.com had roughly 30 million page views in mid-December, after Barack Obama was announced Time’s 2008 Person of the Year. (More than 1.2 million votes were cast in the online poll deciding the winner.)

People.com reported 46 percent year-over-year growth (compared with the industry average of about 10 percent), including an average of 8.6 million monthly uniques, a 36 percent increase year-over-year.

Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year—Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps—helped  SI.com gain exposure on hundreds of Web sites. (Time was unable to provide a figure for how many uniques SI.com received.)

CNN/Money's mobile site was the number one mobile site in the business/finance category in October, according to Nielsen, with a 53 percent growth in unique users month-over-month, placing it ahead of Yahoo! Finance, CNBC.com and the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, Time Inc. isn't releasing its “insignicant” growth figures. But for a company that has seen its print side slide—and plenty of layoffs, too—this is something positive.

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Vanessa Voltolina

Despite Cuts, Adweek Still Gets Freaky

Vanessa Voltolina B2B - 01/06/2009-15:51 PM

Late last year, Nielsen Business Media announced an editorial reorganization of its Adweek Media Group that combined content development and distribution for Adweek, Brandweek and Mediaweek magazines under one editorial organization (and, of course, included a number of layoffs).

Now Brandweek is launching a new blog, BrandFreak, based on Adweek’s popular AdFreak and edited by AdFreak’s editor, Tim Nudd. (It will feature contributions from Brandweek writers.)

That a company would launch a spin-off of any editorial product now is notable, considering how many have scaled back their brand extensions (Outside’s Go, O at Home, etc.) to focus on their core products.

“This was started as a naked grab at Web traffic,” Brandweek editor Todd Wasserman wrote in an e-mail to FOLIO:. “We noticed AdFreak has been pulling in a lot of readers and thought there might be an audience out there for a BrandFreak.”

However, Wasserman said there will be no duplication of content. “While we’ll both write about advertising, BrandFreak will also cover guerrilla marketing, shopper marketing, new product launches, marketing trends—basically whatever Brandweek writes about, but in a more ‘bloggy’ manner … If an item appears on BrandFreak, it won’t run on AdFreak.”

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