Magazines look for worldwide reach

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The worldwide rush to extend successful magazines into new countries continues even as publishers increasingly focus on using the Internet to customize magazine brands to keep them relevant to readers and advertisers.

At last week's International Federation of the Periodical Press congress in New York, China and India were frequently cited by media owners as the two countries that will see the most magazine launches in the next few years. Of course, the enthusiasm was tempered with caution.

"India is having a media boom fuelled by new advertisers who want to reach new middle-class consumers," Harold (Terry) McGraw III, chairman and president-CEO of McGraw-Hill Cos. said. "Ad spending in print is expected to grow 5% this year."

But Mr. McGraw sounded frustrated as he described his company's situation in India. Business Week has 7,000 subscribers in India to its pan-Asian edition, and would like to produce a local edition. Yet, "the Indian government won't give us a license to do so," he said. "I understand more than 100 magazines are in the queue for a license."

In one of the most entertaining speeches at the congress, Jonathan Newhouse, chairman, Conde Nast International, discussed why leading international titles flop. At his own company, French Glamour (1988-1995) failed because it didn't follow the Glamour sex-and-relationship formula. Then Korean Glamour (1997-1998) closed because it followed the U.S. concept too closely, ignoring the local licensee's advice that Korean women were different.

And then there are surprises, like the runaway success of four-month-old Madison in Australia's overcrowded women's monthly category. Launched in March by Hearst Magazines International with local partner ACP Publishing, Madison is already profitable, said George Green, president-CEO of Hearst Magazines International.

A `MY MEDIA' WORLD

Renetta McCann, CEO of Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, warned print media owners to focus on adapting content for delivery. Magazines need to be able to digitally deliver titles that can be adapted and reconfigured by consumers. "Ours is a `my media' world," she said. (Read more: AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq60h.)

Offering some hope that digital and print can co-exist, William Lauder, president-CEO, Estee Lauder Cos., said, "My daughters ... Google, they TiVo, they IM, and they love their magazines: Teen Vogue, Star and Cosmo Girl."

contributing: claire atkinson

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