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As with last week's Association of National Advertisers annual meeting, talk about the rebound in ad spending surely will permeate this week's American Magazine Conference.

At the ANA gathering, projections radiated like a San Diego sunrise-with many executives looking toward 6% and 7% increases in consumer ad expenditures. As members of Magazine Publishers of America meet, they'll bask in the glow of a September that showed such numbers as an ad page jump of 6.3% and ad revenue leap of 14.3%.

It's apparently a record gathering at MPA. As our Special Report in this issue heralds: "Reviving economy lifts magazine spirits; early '90s doldrums appear to be history."

Are things back to normal? No, and probably never will be. (What's normal, anyway?) Off-rate card negotiations became a way of life during the past few years, as did the selling of value-added packages. And whether publishers like it or not, the business won't revert to the old way.

Gruner & Jahr, in taking over Family Circle and McCall's, hoped to take a tough stance on rates but soon realized, as a company executive told AA, "You can't go into a field and go contrary to the way business is done." And negotiation is now a part of magazine selling, just as in TV selling.

But the industry also knows how win-win negotiating is done, offering positionings, added value and access to extensive databases of readers. Those can make the magazine a more effective selling medium. According to Time Inc. President-CEO Don Logan, 10% to 15% of his company's advertisers now utilize its lists. (That leaves plenty of room for growth.)

Yes, there are healthy signs for magazines. But only for those that embrace the new realities of how magazines-in fact, all media-are being sold today: Smarter, as a full marketing partner of the advertiser, in sync with their changing needs.

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