Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Magazines that just work

Adweek has a nice piece on how the magazine BusinessWeek appears to be thriving. It has changed its name to Bloomberg Businessweek (is that really better?) and has a newly invigorated editorial and design approach.

So far, the Bloomberg money has bought signs of life. Businessweek has bulked up to an average of 66 well-designed editorial pages that offer a level of global business coverage not found among other weeklies. Ad pages are up 21 percent year-on-year for January through July, the rate base will soon be raised from 900,000 to 980,000 (approaching Forbes’ 1,020,000), and subscriptions are up 12 percent. The magazine now loses, according to Adweek sources, between $20 million to $30 million a year. (Josh Tyrangiel Means Business -- Adweek)

Bloomberg bought the magazine from the McGraw Hill company for $1 in October 2009.

The magazine also has a respectable app for the iPad, though I suspect that its not (yet) a key part of the revived magazine's business strategy. I find their app clever, but a bit too fiddly and confusing and its not on Apple's Newsstand which suggests that Bloomberg have not yet worked out whether they see it as an integral part of a digital magazine strategy or more of a trial balloon. But the resuscitation of the core magazine is a good story for the magazine business. A new owner has been bold enough to take a fresh look at the editorial mission, has seen the need for investment in editorial content and design quality, and the magazine is a lot better than it was 2 or 3 years ago. This week it has a tremendous article on Apple's extraordinary strength in supply chain management, investment and logistics. Now that they have the core magazine working really well, they can consider how to make it a digital success.

It could be that there are a good many magazines out in the market which are suffering from tired ownership (McGraw Hill had no real rationale for owning a consumer-facing business magazine). There are some excellent editorial and content propositions that could be revived by fresh investment and owners committed to developing subscription audiences. This will become a positive story for the magazine industry in the near future as publishers realise that digital magazine audiences can be very large and can be reached very efficiently through the iPad and other web devices.

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