Bauer has, after all, spent a few years talking up the way it uses a European business model here in the States, emphasizing newsstand sales and downplaying the reliance on ad sales -- and the fact that 90% or more of its revenue came from single-copy sales.
Bulking up sales staff
Quietly, however, it has increased its ad sales staff from 29 in 2003 to 52 today -- and in the process has steadily taken increasing ad pages for itself.
Company-wide pages, for example, grew 37.8% in 2005, while Time Inc. lost 4.2%, according to an Advertising Age analysis of data from the Publishers Information Bureau. At 1,337 pages in the first half of this year, Bauer's ad sales remain smaller than most competitors' -- like Wenner Media, which moved 2,038 pages. But Bauer's first-half pages grew 17.5% from the first half of 2005, while Wenner's slipped 2.8%. And for the first time, Bauer passed Dennis Publishing's total ad pages in the half.
Ian Scott, president-CEO, Bauer Advertising Sales, said newsstand reliance paves a road into advertisers' budgets. "You want to build the right audience first," he said. In Touch, by way of example, reported average newsstand sales of 1.1 million and subscriptions of just 38,392 for the second half of last year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
"Advertisers know with Bauer where 90% of our copies are being bought at newsstand. They know the consumer is making a real conscious choice to buy the magazine," Mr. Scott said.
Rules of engagement
At Hearst Magazines' Cosmpolitan, where single-copy sales outnumber subscribers by about two to one, advertisers are told newsstand sales demonstrate engagement, the watchword of ad sales these days. "Newsstand is the greatest indicator of a brand's connectivity to a reader," said Donna Kalajian Lagani, senior VP-publishing director, the Cosmopolitan Group.
The circulation scandals at some magazines in recent years has also reminded advertisers that subscriber numbers can be finessed any number of ways, Ms. Lagani said. "They understand that subscriptions can be manipulated and newsstand can't be."
But one media buyer said newsstand has advantages, just not overwhelming ones. "I don't think there's been any real conclusion that newsstand vs. subscriptions has more value," said Eric Blankfein, senior VP-director of communication channel planning, Horizon Media. Not only that, but subscriptions obviously provide a more predictable audience level for media-planning purposes, he noted.