Ad Age's 2015 Magazine A-List: See All the Winners

Our Annual Picks of the Titles Pushing Publishing Forward

By Published on .

Credit: Magazine still life photographs by Nathan Skid

1. Pick your teamwork analogy of choice -- a star quarterback who has the full backing of the offensive coordinator, a mayor in sync with the state governor, or, perhaps most appropriately, a head chef who works seamlessly with a restaurant's general manager -- and it probably works to describe the relationship between BON APPÉTIT Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport and Pamela Drucker Mann, who serves as publisher and chief revenue officer both for the magazine and digital property Epicurious. Read the full profile here.

2. In 2015, its 90th anniversary year, THE NEW YORKER went on a brand-building tear, kicking off [email protected] at The New Yorker Festival, debuting "The New Yorker Radio Hour" on iTunes and WNYC, and expanding in conjunction with the launch of a metered paywall that's helped bring in record reader revenue. Under Editor-in-Chief David Remnick, the magazine continued to tackle difficult topics (see National Magazine Award-winning "The Really Big One," about the coming Pacific Northwest earthquake) while producing iconic illustrated covers that prompted laughter (Barry Blitt's illustration of Donald Trump belly-flopping into the GOP swimming pool) and tears (Ana Juan's "Solidarité" in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre).

3. ESSENCE spent 2015 leveraging its powerful cross-platform brand, bringing the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards to OWN while growing online video programming with Walmart-sponsored "Essence Eats" and Toyota-sponsored dating show "Essence Love Squad." Essence Editor-in-Chief Vanessa De Luca joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House for Celebrating Women of the Movement, an event honoring women who played pivotal roles in the civil rights movement. And the 21st annual Essence Festival continued to dazzle (among the 80 artists taking the stage: Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott and Kendrick Lamar), drawing nearly half a million attendees to the four-day July event in New Orleans.

4. Under Editor-in-Chief Nathan Lump, an editorial (The New York Times, Condé Nast) and agency (J. Walter Thompson, Hill Holliday) veteran appointed Aug. 2014, TRAVEL+LEISURE spent 2015 remodeling. A handsome redesign of the print edition debuted in May and a massive overhaul of the website -- including a more nimble publishing system that has helped nearly double its output of original content -- launched at the same time. That tricky one-two punch has been paying off, with print ad pages and digital revenue both up year-over-year.

5. Just last week, NEW YORK took home four National Magazine Awards -- more than any other publication -- and it's no wonder why. The venerable glossy is more of a must-read than ever, with Editor-in-Chief Adam Moss finding smartly provocative ways to lead the cultural conversation (e.g., the July 27 cover story about Bill Cosby's accusers). The biweekly continues to innovate digitally, too, with new podcasts, pop-up blogs at, an Apple News partnership and new video series, including "This Is Your Brain on Advertising," sponsored by Adobe.

6. Last week at the National Magazine Awards ceremony, THE ATLANTIC was named Magazine of the Year. The 159-year-old American literary and journalistic institution did indeed have a phenomenal 2015, growing revenue 20% across platforms and breaking traffic records at, while Editor-in-Chief James Bennet made the print edition feel more urgent than ever, with cover stories including Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration" and Graeme Wood's "What ISIS Really Wants."

7. In a historic year for gay rights, OUT rose to the occasion. The 24-year-old magazine relaunched its website with a sleek, responsive design that's drawn record traffic. It's attracted A-list advertisers across digital and print with innovative content programs (e.g., to promote its engagement ring collection, Tiffany & Co. sponsored Out's Love Channel). And in another historic moment, President Barack Obama sat for a shoot by Out contributing photographer Ryan Pfluger and an interview by Out Editor-in-Chief Aaron Hicklin at the White House; the magazine named Mr. Obama Ally of the Year.

8. Jake Silverstein, editor-in-chief of THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE since mid-2014, spent 2015 making it his own, with a comprehensive redesign and relaunch of both the print edition and website. It remains, exhilaratingly, a work in progress (e.g., Mr. Silverstein thought better of his experiment of converting "The Ethicist" column to a three-person podcast-centric beast; as of October it's back to being a solo act), making for an editorial package that consistently surprises and evolves. Ad pages and digital revenue are both up, and the magazine has become the home of Virtual Reality storytelling at the Times -- a natural fit for a magazine entirely unafraid to take risks.

9. W continues to grow its print business -- revenue was up 5% in 2015 with an assist from W Art, a twice-yearly sibling title that counts Saks Fifth Avenue as its lead sponsor -- but digital really took off. The magazine's new-media experiments -- including fashion shoots specifically for Instagram, partnering with the Bitmoji avatar app and having Editor-in-Chief Stefano Tonchi host a live Tumblr Answer Time Q&A -- have created an aura of digital cool around W that helped drive traffic to, bring in new advertisers and push digital revenue up 58%.

10. The flagship U.S. edition of COSMOPOLITAN, Hearst's most global brand -- it has 62 international editions -- feels fresher and more vital than ever under Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, Ad Age's Editor of the Year. Read the full profile here.

Most Popular