The move marks a significant change for an industry that's
trying to shift the conversation away from its weaknesses.
Newsstand sales are down 12% through the first six months of
2014 and paid subscriptions are off 2%. With few exceptions,
advertising comprises the bulk of magazines' revenue, but many
marketers are redirecting their print-ad budgets to digital.
Although magazines' digital-ad sales have grown sharply, they
amount to a fraction of print revenue.
The August 360 score, which compiles numbers from all MPA
publishers, is nearly 1.5 billion, a 9.8% increase over last
August, driven by mobile and video. "It opens the eyes of marketers
and agencies who always try to look at a magazine in a vertical
way," said Michael Clinton, a Hearst Magazines exec and MPA
For decades, magazines have evaluated themselves partly on the
number of print advertising pages in each of their issues. The idea
was that the more ad pages a magazine runs, the more money it
receives from advertisers. But the industry has not posted an
annual increase in ad pages since 2005, according to the Publishers
Information Bureau. "If the ad page numbers were good, they
wouldn't be doing this," said Steve Cohn, editor-in-chief of Media
Ms. Berner said the MPA isn't trying to hide anything. "Paging
metrics in a world where 80% of magazine media advertisers invest
in other platforms in addition to print reflect only one format and
simply aren't comprehensive and therefore not accurate."
The magazine industry is the only medium that has measured
itself using advertising, said Mr. Clinton. TV looks at ratings;
digital-only companies track unique visitors. "We're the only
orange in a basket of apples."
Robin Steinberg, exec VP-director of publishing investment and
activation at MediaVest, commended the magazine industry
for showing the scale of its brands. "But it's also important to
understand the advertising marketplace demand and vitality for the
independent channels as it aids to inform strategic decisions and
outcomes," she said.