Heads Of Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith And Time Inc. Talk Data In Age Of Disruption

future-of-mediaTraditional magazine companies believe they have weathered the storm of disruption over their business. They’re now ready to look ahead and use their subscription data to drive results for advertisers.

“I think the businesses that got disrupted first are in a good position,” David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, said Wednesday during a panel at the American Magazine Media Conference in New York.

The heads of Conde Nast, Meredith, Time Inc. and Rodale said they already see opportunity as the wave of disruption hits the next set of old media.

“You are watching the wheels come off the TV model,” Carey added. Magazines have an advantage in retaining paying subscribers, with averages around 60% after a trial subscription and 70% after the first year. “That’s better than any OTT service,” he said.

The group emphasized working together to bolster the print magazine business, instead of tearing down each other’s publications. And Time Inc. CEO Rich Battista addressed the news that Meredith was looking at Time’s books with an eye to acquire.

“I’m not surprised that there could be interest in our company,” Battista said, noting analysts predict that Time Inc. (which hasn’t yet reported Q4 earnings) could post half a billion in digital revenue in 2016. “We now have tremendous data targeting and a unique, differentiated set of platforms.”

Meredith CEO Steve Lacy listened while Battista rattled off stats about its strength in the food and health and wellness categories, which complement Meredith’s female-focused media approach.

Lacy seemed on board with Time Inc.’s people-based marketing approach. “The real transformation has been the ability to append [magazine subscriber data] in the digital world, whether that be social, mobile, desktop,” he said.

And magazines want to get more into direct response – an area where Facebook and other digital platforms excel.

“We are having more and more conversations about the desire to do things that work, and that’s at the bottom of the purchase funnel,” Lacy said.

When consumers check AllRecipes while buying ingredients at the store, for example, that offers an opportunity for food companies to suggest their product in a way that’s helpful for the consumer.

Condé Nast CEO Bob Sauerberg touted its data platform, noting that a focus on data is somewhat of a departure for the company.

“I told our team that Facebook knows everything about individuals in terms of who they say they are,” Sauerberg said. “And I want to know about what the most influential consumers are doing with our content and how I can connect that to advertisers.”

Print brands not only allow these publishers to activate their offline subscriber data, they also create a halo effect that carries into digital, Carey said.

“We carry higher CPMs for our brands that are first in print and then go to digital versus those that are only digital,” Hearst’s Carey said. “The print product makes it more premium in digital.”

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