Web-Sourced Magazine Subs Continue to Rise
MPA member survey says 22 percent of new biz to come from online this year.
The MPA yesterday announced the
results of a survey conducted among member publishers that continue a
3-year growth trend of magazine subscription sales sourced online.
"We think the news is exciting," said Ken Godshall, MPA’s EVP
consumer marketing, "and definitely indicates that the Internet has
become a large source across the industry for print subscriptions. For
several magazines and several companies it may be number one pretty
Surveys were conducted in 2008 and 2009, covering Internet-sourced
subscriptions—DTP and agent, new business and renewals—with 55 magazine
titles reporting in. According to the survey, 2009 figures are
forecasted from four months’ worth of data.
Interestingly, new DTP business is faring much better than renewals.
In 2006, new online subscriptions were 13 percent of gross, while
online renewals only managed 1 percent. Fast-forward to 2009, and
respondents report new business at 22 percent of gross and renewals at
This discrepancy may eventually event out, but for now it reflects
how subscribers renew according to where they originally bought their
subscription. "People tend to renew in the same manner that they were
originally sold," said Bob Cohn, consumer marketing director for Bonnier Corp.
"Also, to promote for renewal online, the magazine would have to have
the person’s email address, and the number of subscribers from
traditional sources who provide their email addresses is small."
Godshall adds that publishers may sell the subscription online, but will go back to that reader with an offline renewal offer.
The real star, however, is agent-sold subscriptions, which grew from
2 percent in 2006 to 17 percent of gross in 2009. The steepest jump
occurred between 2007 and 2008, when online agent business jumped from
3 percent to 14 percent. "Agent orders are growing," said Godshall.
"The big picture is subscription agents are moving to the Web and
following the publishers. My recollection is agent orders are about 50
percent of total orders, generallly. They’re just catching up with the
According to the survey, publishers are forecasting 2009 to be flat
year for online sourced subs, with agent subs seeing the only real
growth, but, notes Godshall, 2009 results are based on only four months
of numbers, and circulators are historically conservative forecasters.