Business Magazine Faceoff

Business magazine roundtable at the Business Media conference.

David Carey, publisher, Portfolio
Susan Clark, marketing direct and publisher (continental Europe, Middle East, Africa) The Economist
Keith Fox, president, BusinessWeek Group
John Koten, CEO Mansueto Ventures (Inc, Fast Company)

Rafat likes Portfolio, doesn’t like BusinessWeek makeover. Keith Fox explains that makeover is supposed to emulate or reference the way that people consume information on the Web. When will Web revenue ever make up for loses in print? “Eventually”. [Actually, never.  It will be interesting to see when business magazines finally begin to acknowledge this]…

Some magazines–Economist, Fast Company, and Inc–are actually seeing revenue increases. What accounts for that?

Susan Clark:
Economist isn’t really a business magazine. So that helps. 85% of subs have copies delivered at home, read on weekend. It’s a “ritual pleasure”. Open bottle of wine on Saturday afternoon and spend two hours on it. Content is same worldwide (though Brit version has a few more pages). Hong Kong reader gets same version as Americans.

John Koten:
We’ll be up around 30% this year. In part that’s because we were in lousy shape a couple years ago (when owned by Gruhner+Jahr). So our success not dependent on macro business mag trends, because we don’t have huge audience to begin with. We’re in better position than BusinessWeek, Forbes, Fortune, etc because we don’t have to be all things to all people.

A softball question for David Carey, so he whacks it: Portfolio is doing fine, has 150 employees, about 8 have left. We expected the scrutiny. Advertising and circulation are “exactly where we want”. We’re looking at a 10-year time frame for success. Conde Nast likes the magazine business, which makes us a rarity.

Business magazines overtaken by lifestyle category. What can you do to create new opportunities? Digital, digital. Keith Fox – we have as many podcast downloads as print subscribers. [Maybe so, but podcasts are free].  John Koten: Business and lifestyle are actually blending, and that’s not a bad thing. David Carey: Hear, hear!

Why does Economist keep archives (older than one-year) behind a pay wall? Susan Clark: We want to add value for subscribers. We don’t worry about cannibalization from Web — no one’s going to read Economist cover to cover online. David Carey: Same thought re: Portfolio. Website now has 1M monthly uniques.

All agree: Web’s important. No longer throwing in Web as “value add” for magazine advertisers. David Carey: Website will generate return for us before magazine does. Keith Fox: Haven’t done that much with Web video yet. It’s not core to what we do. A little sceptical. We’ve got a user generated video initiative coming out soon. Really? Yes, but I can’t talk about it. News w/in six weeks.

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