Canadian Magazine Industry News
17 November 2009,     TORONTO
Hearst president Cathie Black talks about the future of magazines
At day two of Marketing Week, president of Hearst Magazines Cathie Black was the luncheon speaker with a talk entitled “Innovation: The Future of Magazines.” In a half-hour that recognized the industry’s hardships while looking to the future, Black painted a picture that was not as bleak as many might have expected despite Hearst having folded “one or two” magazines in the past year.

Black stated total subscriptions for Hearst’s titles, which include Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping and Popular Mechanics along with 11 other
Hearst Magazine president Cathie Black
Hearst Magazine president Cathie Black
U.S. titles and nearly 200 international editions are up over last year and total circulation is about even. She seemed Hearst optimistic about the future of the company and print in general. “Print as we know it today will be around for a very long time,” she said, noting that magazines have three revenue streams, newsstand sales, subscriptions and advertising while digital and television models don’t.

She believes people are still passionate about magazines, going through them at a leisurely pace and that advertising is an integral part to that experience not just for the company but for the consumer. “People want advertising in magazines,” she says. “They look at the ads, tear them out, go to the websites, the stores and buy the products.”

Although she placed an emphasis on print, Black says there is a need for “great brands” to have multi-media platforms to reach consumers. “Companies need to be selling a brand, not just content,” she said. “Eighty percent of Hearst Magazines profits come from companies that didn’t exist 15 years ago.”

She said it is important to offer the consumer a “360-degree experience”. Using the example of Cosmopolitan, she said this means offering liquid content by using print, web, mobile and television to get the brand to the audience. Admitting not every brand will be able to do this on the scale of Cosmo, she said it is more about offering the experience to the consumer.

Black said digital technology has meant magazines create products that are “more Google Earth than gas station.” An example of Hearst expanding with new technology is the December issue of Esquire which features Robert Downey Jr. perched on top of a augmented reality box like the one that appeared on the last issue of Toronto-based Strategy. She said this initiative is important to Hearst, not just because it’s cool but because it opens a dialogue with advertisers. “We want to be able to say talk to us,” she said. “There are a lot of ideas going on in the print business and we can maximize the experience your advertiser wants.”

The second annual edition of Marketing Week was held Nov. 11-12 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. It is organized by the Canadian Marketing Association and Marketing magazine.

— Val Maloney
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