Ziff-Davis recently launched its own cable station, ZDTV. Time Inc. has partnered with CNN to create a program called "CNN Newsstand," which consists of nightly segments that use material from the pages of Time, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune and Sports Illustrated. The New York Times Co. Magazine Group, which publishes Golf Digest and Golf World, opened the Golf Digest Driving Range & Learning Center this year in New Jersey.
Many top-grossing titles have come to realize the benefits of flanker products, not only in fueling brand awareness, but in contributing to bottom lines.
BROKE FROM TIME
Perhaps it's telling that Martha Stewart christened her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia when she broke from the Time Publishing Ventures nesting ground last year.
The magazine has helped popularize the multimedia approach with a slew of products: the book line which started it all, the "Martha Stewart Living" syndicated TV show, the "AskMartha" syndicated newspaper column and radio show, the Martha by Mail catalog company, partnerships with Kmart Corp., Sherwin-Williams Co. and Sears, Roebuck & Co. Most recently, she launched an Internet site (www.marthastewart.com), which sells merchandise on top of content.
Ancillary pursuits outside the main print operation have become almost a foregone conclusion, not just for established publications but for new launches as well.
"From an advertiser standpoint it's attractive because the magazine can say, `I'm one stop shopping. Spend your money with me,"' says Lauren Rich Fine, an equity analyst at Merrill Lynch.
Martha Stewart's marketing might has inspired others to follow suit. Looking to scale another prepackaged brand like it did with Martha Stewart Living, Time Publishing Ventures launched This Old House in May 1995 with plans for extensions already in the works.
`THIS OLD HOUSE' DEAL
Created out of a licensing agreement with Boston's WGBH public TV station, which owns the rights to the popular 20-year-old show, the magazine's circulation has grown from an initial 200,000 to 525,000 this year. This increase is due in no small part to the power of the parent show, whose 28 million monthly viewers see a tag about the magazine at the end of every episode.
Between its airings on PBS and cable channel HGTV, plus over-the-air TV stations via syndication deals, the show attracts 500 new subscriptions a week and millions of dollars from advertisers, says Tom Ott, VP-publisher. Those same sponsors have the added incentive of buying pages in the book, contributing to its soaring ad revenues.
For example, dollars in the first quarter of 1998 for the magazine version were up 69.7% over the same period last year, to $6.2 million, according to Publishers Information Bureau.
Though he foresees the magazine's circulation breaking the one million mark eventually, Eric Thorkilsen, president of Time Publishing Venture's This Old House division -- who worked on Martha Stewart Living -- refrains from looking at it or the TV show as the "core product."
BOOKS SELLING FAST
The magazine's first book, "This Old House Sourcebook," has sold 70,000 units since it was introduced at the end of 1996, and he anticipates growing returns from the three to four more titles the company will release this year.
Mr. Thorkilsen has similar expectations for a video line and an Internet site to be launched in the near future. The key to keeping the machine running, he says, is to not think of any one part as the engine.
"It's really the brand sensibilities and direction that's more important," he says. "This way, from a business point of view you don't put all your eggs in one basket. You're able to build a business and smooth out any cyclical peaks and valleys in any one business by the performance of the others."
SHARING THE SEAL
While more established players are keeping their investment headed toward the core print product, many have sought to capitalize on their brand elsewhere.
Last December, Hearst Corp.'s Good Housekeeping began a relationship with "PrimeTime Live" to produce "The PrimeTime Live Good Housekeeping Report," monthly consumer awareness segments that have promotion value.
In addition to radio spots on the CBS Radio Network, a weekly newspaper column carried by King Features Syndicate that features similar material and a presence on Hearst's Homearts site (www.homearts.com), next year's 100th anniversary of the Good Housekeeping Institute marks a time when the magazine gets serious about leveraging its venerable Good Housekeeping Seal, progenitor of a large revenue stream at the magazine.
Through a recent promotional campaign, the magazine has increased Seal holders from around 80 to 110, upping new income associated with seal usage this year at just under $3 million. The magazine also has partnered with Home Shopping Network to produce "The Good Housekeeping Show," which first aired June 4 to sell products that carry the seal.
helped newsstand sales
Pat Haegele, senior VP-publisher, says these promotions contributed to the publication's 11% increase in newsstand sales last year and 10.4% ad dollar increase to $69.3 million for the first quarter of 1998.
She says the magazine's name is powerful enough to attract the attention of readers and non-readers (men) alike, and plans to capitalize on this by developing partnerships to create product lines with seal-worthy retailers.
"We think there's a way to bring in all aspects of the marketplace just based on the fact that the No. 1 value that people place in Good Housekeeping is trust, and the No. 1 problem people have in the marketplace with buying products is trusting them," she says.
For Net products especially, publishing companies may have several brands they could use. The one they choose can be crucial. Time Inc. New Media's World Cup site (www.time.com/worldcup), which launched its "first ever truly global online project" to cover the popular soccer event, placed the site under the Time Inc. moniker because it has more international cachet than its companywide Pathfinder site.
TURNS A PROFIT
Whether or not this has made a difference, Graham Cannon, director of strategy and communications, says the site has already turned a profit in advertiser sponsorships. Nokia Corp., Hewlett-Packard Corp., Philips Electronics and Brazilian airline Varig have invested a combined $500,000 in the project.
While flanker products have been profitable to some, other publishers have stuck to the tried-and-true ways of print to make money.
Ms. Fine says she doesn't think new magazine launches need to blitz all media so much as they should focus on finding a good niche.
"There've been a lot of successful magazine launches that have had nothing to do with TV or anything," she says. "Ultimately, it comes down to coming up with an underserved demographic."
MORE PRINT OPTIONS
Anne Moore, president of People, shares that philosophy. Though the three or so books the magazine produces each year generate "significant millions in profit," and its co-branded "Dateline NBC" stories and free ad-supported "People Daily" e-mail newsletter aid in promotions, she still sees more opportunity in print.
The magazine spun off People Espanol and Teen People in February 1998, and until they break even, she says she doesn't plan to pursue new flanker products.
Even when that happens, she says they could very well be new magazines anyway.
"You're talking to a print person," she says. "People say the magazine market is mature, but we have not had any shortage of finding really big holes in the marketplace . . . I'd rather be doing fewer things better."