5 Magazines and Their Creative Approaches to Gaining Revenue

August 24th, 2009

Courtesy once again of the indefatigable Bob Sacks, a link to a very interesting article in Advertising Age. The article leads off with a clear lede:

It wasn’t so long ago that almost every magazine chased ever larger circulation, even if it meant losing money in the process. It worked because print-ad sales paid the bills — and then some.

Now that magazines seem unlikely to recapture the print-ad revenue they enjoyed before this recession, however, their other revenue sources are taking on new importance. Happily for the industry, it’s getting easier to find publishers that have built or begun real businesses beyond selling ad pages. Unhappily, however, it’s still not easy.

Ad Age surveyed five magazine brands, big and small, whose revenue mixes suggest models that may become much more common.

Print ad revenue ranges from as little as 3% for O’Reilley’s Make magazine, to a high of 45% at Fader.

When circulation revenue is added to print ad revenue, Make is still the winner, with only 36% of it’s revenue coming from these two key traditional sources.


The loser, if that term is really applicable, is The Atlantic, with combined circulation and ad revenues at 76% of its total. The good news is that 10% of its revenues come from digital advertising (in part because it hosts some of the finest blogs on the Web) and 14% from events. (According to the article, the magazine is having, relatively speaking, a very good year.)

All -in-all, an inspiring article.