New Time CEO May Be Bellwether for Mag Biz

Jack Griffin's Departure From Meredith Reflects Growing Importance of Marketing Services

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NEW YORK ( -- The latest and most significant leadership change in the magazine business -- the anticipated arrival of former Meredith executive Jack Griffin to succeed Ann More as CEO of Time Inc., the storied publisher of titles from Time to People -- suggests that magazines are about to veer further from their old brief of simply selling ad pages and into offering more marketing services.

Under their longstanding model, magazines get most of their profits from selling ad pages. But as audiences fragment, thanks to exploding digital media and other competitors, marketers are increasingly seeking media partners that can act as one-stop shops, offering a range of tools to find and persuade those scattered audiences. Couple that with the fact that print ad pages proved highly exposed to the ups and downs of the economy, as the recession and resulting brutal ad downturn reminded everyone, and many major publishers are reimagining their business.

Meredith Corp., publisher of titles including Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle, is perhaps the best example of a consumer-magazine publisher cutting a new path in the marketing-services space. It has spent the past four years building out its integrated-marketing capabilities, acquiring agencies O' Grady Myers, a digital customer-relationship shop, in 2006; Genex, another online-relationship specialist; and New Media Strategies, a word-of-mouth and social-marketing company, in January 2007; Directive, a database-strategy firm, in October 2007; Big Communications, a health-care marketing agency, in 2008; and Hyperfactory, a mobile marketing firm, just last month.

Other publishers are moving in that direction as well. Hearst, for example, just bought iCrossing, the digital-marketing agency. And Condé Nast's new president, Bob Sauerberg, is charged with moving Condé into a business model that relies less on selling print.

On Aug. 4, The New York Post was the first to report that Mr. Griffin is headed to Time Inc.'s CEO spot. Time Inc. and Time Warner declined to comment.

At Time Inc., marketers and analysts will be looking for Mr. Griffin to do the same. He won't be able to dispel rumors that Time Warner might one day spin off the magazine division, which investors don't view as warmly as other areas, but his leadership will benefit Time Inc. either way, according to Fred Moran, a media analyst who covers Time Warner for Benchmark.

Magazines' leadership changes in 2010

The magazine business has suddenly seen a lot of movement in its upper echelons, suggesting changes in strategy could follow for some of the country's biggest publishers.

DAVID CAREY Named president of Hearst Magazines on June 28. He had been a group president at Condé Nast, where he was responsible for titles including The New Yorker, Wired and Golf Digest.

CATHLEEN BLACK Named chairman of Hearst Magazines on June 28. She had been Hearst Magazines president for 15 years.

ROBERT SAUERBERG Promoted to president of Condé Nast on July 23 as part of changes Condé said would help it adopt a "new business model" and "move beyond the magazine." He had been Conde's group president for consumer marketing.

CHARLES TOWNSEND Gave up title of Condé Nast president July 23 but continues as CEO.

TOM HARTY Promoted to president of the National Media Group on Aug. 2, succeeding Mr. Griffin. Mr. Harty had been consumer-magazines president since 2009.

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