This is the time of year where hope and best intentions no longer count. For publishers and owners and revenue producers of all varieties, it’s coming down to the wire, and you find yourself re-crunching the numbers you re-crunched yesterday.
You’ve almost certainly got only a handful of revenue events left;in the case of a monthly like Folio:, there is one: The December issue. You may also have some shows, and some Web advertising, and some newsletter revenue and revenue from other sources, but now, for sure, you know where you’re going to finish. You’ve had 10 months to take the measure of the market: Who’s going to advertise? Which accounts are likely to do late-year one-offs? Which accounts will respond to a special opportunity? Which advertisers always store some funds for that crucial end-of-year push?
At this point, there are no significant opportunities to make a big impact in ways that you haven’t thought of yet. So you go through the forecasts and spreadsheets. And add them up. Once. Twice. Three times. Ad sales, by month? Check. Classified section? Check. Event revenue? Check. E-media? Check.
If you’re having a good year, you repeat the counting to reassure yourself. If you’re off your number, you search for the mistake or some overlooked source of revenue.
Either way, you can pretty accurately say how you are going to end the year. (Unless you’re a division head or a CEO or a president, and then you’re dependent on the reporting being done by your P&L managers. You’re only as good as they’ve been accurate.)
As an industry, it looks like it’s been a pretty good year, overall. Check out the Magazine Health Watch Web site (http://mhw-us.ims.ca ) for an extremely comprehensive and up-to-date look at the b-to-b side. According to this searchable, customizable source, published by the ad-tracking service IMS, ad revenue through September is up by 5 percent, while pages are up by 3 percent. The hottest category so far for 2005, by revenue? Surgical supplies, up 66 percent. The coldest? Recreational vehicles and trailers, down 32 percent.
On the consumer side, the PIB magazines are up by nearly 8 percent in dollars so far and by a scant 1 percent in actual ad pages. And neither of these metrics include e-media, where a lot of advertising spending is migrating.
The great philosopher and football coach Bill Parcells once said you’re only as good as your record says you are, and in the publishing business, this is the time of reckoning. Except for one thing. You also get to set your sights on 2006, and focus on accomplishing next year all the things you didn’t finish this year.