Magazine A-List 2007

Digital Delivers for (Some) Publishers

For Average Consumer Mag, Internet Accounts For 3% of Total Revenue

By Published on .

So maybe magazines are worth more than the paper they're printed on. Consumer magazines responding to an Advertising Age survey reported generating a median 3% of revenue from the internet. That's not a lot, but every digital dollar counts given the dismal long-term outlook for print.
Magazine 300, 2007 Edition Index

Averages only tell part of the story. What's more intriguing is the range of digital revenue. Among magazines that reported figures, the web's contribution to revenue varied from 33.3% (Entrepreneur, the top magazine) to 0.1% (Smithsonian and Flying).

The figures come from Ad Age's Magazine 300 survey, which asked magazines for digital's share of the publication's overall revenue (print ads, circulation, events, digital, other). Of 48 consumer, business-to-business and tech magazines that disclosed figures, the median percentage was 5%; the average (mean) was 9%.

Seven magazines reported digital at less than 1% of revenue; 19 periodicals said digital accounted for at least 10% of revenue.

Tech pubs high on digital
The figures were skewed by high percentages for tech and business-to-business titles. Digital's median share of revenue was 24% for tech and 9.8% for B-to-B publications.

Among 29 consumer magazines providing data, digital's median share of revenue was 3%. That actually may be a bit higher than the average for the universe of consumer magazines; several major publishing companies privately say the internet is kicking in a mere 1% to 2% of revenue.

Some publishers are ahead of the game.'s gross ad revenue last year exceeded the actual gross ad revenue of its sibling magazine even as the magazine recorded its second-best year, said Ryan Shea, VP-corporate publisher. (The magazine's revenue exceeded online when circulation revenue is included.)

Consumers Union, too, is surging online, with generating 33% of '06 revenue, ranking it second on the digital-leaders list. Web subscriptions next month likely will pass 3 million, and the not-for-profit product tester envisions a day when online subscriptions will surpass print circulation (4.5 million).

CNNMoney rakes it in
Time Inc., the top magazine publisher, is seeing internet gains. Time Inc. said business and personal-finance site CNNMoney -- the web home of Money, Fortune and Fortune Small Business -- brought in 12.5% of revenue for those magazines in 2006, double 2005's 6%.

Trade titles also are pressing ahead online, crucial to their continued relevancy. One of the most web-centric Magazine 300 titles is one of the oldest: McGraw-Hill Cos.' ENR (Engineering News-Record), which dates to 1874, generated 22.4% of its 2006 revenue from the web.

Not surprisingly, tech publishers are among the most reliant on digital revenue. They have no choice: Tech advertisers and tech users have moved online, and the ad trend will accelerate in 2008 as Intel Corp. prods PC marketers to spend "Intel inside" co-op money on the internet.

A look ahead
For a glimpse into the future, look at International Data Group. Online accounted for 33% of IDG Communications' U.S. revenue (print, online, events) in the year ended September 2007, up from 27% a year earlier, said Colin Crawford, IDG Communications' exec VP-online.

Mr. Crawford said dollar growth in U.S. online revenue exceeded print revenue's decrease in 2006, allowing IDG Communications' U.S. media revenue to grow despite a drop-off in print.

"Online revenues continue to power IDG's revenue and profit growth," he said. The tipping point is near: Mr. Crawford expects IDG's U.S. online revenue to surpass print revenue in 2009.
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