It's clear that the business of magazines is under pressure, but they continue to exert an outsized influence on culture, food, politics and more. Despite the business challenges, they're still sexy. Articles become movies and editors become celebrities. A short blurb turns a product into a sensation. Making a magazine's best-of list fills restaurants' reservations. And if a magazines gets a big story wrong, the ripples can quickly become a tidal wave.
Meanwhile, many of the world's biggest brands want to see their ads in print, where advertising actually enhances the overall experience. That's unlike TV or digital media, where in many cases consumers are doing everything they can -- even paying extra money -- to avoid advertisements.
In 2002, Ad Age introduced its Magazine A-List to honor this singular form of media. Since then the magazine world has changed dramatically as advertisers, still their primary source of revenue, began shifting budgets to digital media. Magazines are now moving quickly to adapt. And they're poised to emerge from the economic shadow as more than just ink on paper products -- sometimes much more. Magazines are brands, and the successful ones will figure out what that means in a post-print world.
This year's list recognizes magazines for their traditional achievements in 2014 -- print ad pages, subscriptions, newsstand sales -- but puts a premium on how the titles are adapting to this new order. It honors titles, for example, that excelled online, sold ancillary products like branded neighborhoods(!) or spread throughout other media from their springboard in print. And yet for many honorees, the magazine that started it all remains a very lucrative business, not to mention the soul of the brand.
Here is Ad Age's 2014 Magazine A List: