Tina Brown is not the “saviour ” Newsweek needs, according to a story in AdWeek.The article paints a picture of a publication that is hemorrhaging cash, losing subscribers, and struggling to inspire advertisers.
In short, the merger between magazine and The Daily Beast is a failure.
Undeniably, Brown has her work cut out, but it’s not a complete failure. At least not yet.
For one, web traffic is strong.
While AdWeek reports unique visitors to the combined Newsweek.com/TDB site were down to 2.6 million in September, internal Omniture figures viewed by Business Insider show 10.4 million uniques in August, up from 8.4 million the previous month.
And while, yes, advertising is down on the year, new president Rob Gregory claims it is turning around. He admits that there was a “wait and see” attitude when Brown took over in February, but thinks that is ending.
“The Request for Proposals are coming in at almost double the rate they were the last 60 days a year ago,” he said. “I had to hire three 1099 people just to come in to handle the volume of RFPs. Advertisers are shifting to a ‘How can we work together?’ mode.”
He also called a report of 70% discounts on rate cards “inaccurate.”
There’s obviously spin in both of those statements. “Inaccurate” is a broad term. (A discount of 69% could technically be called “inaccurate.”) And receiving RFPs — the first step toward signing an ad deal — does not mean anything in terms of real business. But the statements do show Newsweek is making some progress.
Brown, who started in March, has been creating some buzzy covers. There was the Steve Jobs cover, the Michele Bachman one, and others that have been drawing attention. And she has plenty of talented staffers — every person that leaves is replaced by another big name — to help her produce compelling content.
Newsweek/TDB is not out of the woods by any stretch. Gregory would not comment on reports that the property could lose around $20 million in 2011, only saying that the metrics were pointing in the right direction. IAC and Sidney Harman’s estate will take a hit this year by printing the publication. Costs will likely have to be cut and revenues increased.
But to say the publication still needs a saviour is premature.
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