Disclaimer: The writer worked at Time Inc. on three different occasions. He was the first Marketing Director for People Magazine, Ad Manager at the launch of Money Magazine, first manager of special sections for Time Magazine and sad to say the Director of MSO Sales for TV Cable Week.
Why has Time Inc. failed to monetize digitally some of the strongest media brands in the business? And ignore two of the largest ad revenue pots that exist?
Time Inc. has silos within silos at its magazines and predicates its current business on a business model that no longer works. Imagine a magazine having different sales staffs for each category of business, or worse yet having totally independent editorially staffs producing different editorial sections. This would not only be unprofitable but diminish and confuse the power of the brand.
Until there is but one sales staff selling every digital, print, special event, etc. advertising opportunity the cost to do business will be prohibitive. The current structure does not work for several reasons beyond overhead. Advertisers no longer buy advertising. They look to solve business objectives through marketing partnerships. These marketing partnerships often include multiple platforms such as print, digital, special events, promotion and even co-op. An ad sales rep needs to be a marketing solutions partner.
Time Inc. needs to give the power back to its brands. Rather than a corporate custom publishing division each magazine can offer this opportunity to advertisers. Promotional budgets far exceed advertising budgets and often create the theme that drives an ad campaign. Hundreds of promotional agencies exist, yet few if any Time Inc. sales reps or executives call on them? Why ignore the real power behind all ad campaigns? The reason is because Time Inc. is still locked in the tradition of just calling on ad agencies and ignoring promotional ones. The irony is that Time Inc. brands offer phenomenal promotional capabilities that can be sold to clients and promotional agencies. Unfortunately, in many cases these assets become free added value for a traditional ad agency that has no promotional budget.
Co-op where a retailer, dealer, etc. gets advertising support is a huge six billion dollar opportunity. Most co-op ad dollars never get spent because the local retailer has far greater leverage with their local media than any national advertiser. Plus they receive a local rate versus the higher national one. Because the local dealer has to pay for part of their local co-op ad they usually select local newspapers or TV stations. Back in the 70's, while at Time Magazine I sold mult-milliondollar co-op ad programs that ran for several years. Local accounts wanted the prestige of being in a Time Magazine but could not afford it. By using print like TV, we created a program where the same ad could run in as many as a hundred plus markets and with a simple patch change be localized. Because the local advertiser had no production costs and the national advertiser achieved maximum frequency discounts; this program was extremely attractive.
Time Inc. rate bases make no sense! If magazines want to continue to offer give-away sub offers that lose money and cheapen the brands image; then do so with a digital subscription versus a costly print one.
While Time Magazine still has significant prestige its future may be solely as a digital medium.The same may be true for Money, Fortune and others. Can Time Inc. be saved? Yes it can, but only if real change occurs, the silos disappear, the business model changes and the power and responsibility for being profitable shifts totally back to each brand. If a brand no longer has relevance then either reinvent it or shut it down.
Steve's most recent book You Can't Fall Off The Floor - The Insiders' Guide to Re-Inventing Yourself and Your Career chronicles his 50 year career working for over 25 different companies with 189 lessons learned and insider tips from Gayle King, Cathie Black, Chuck Townsend and 28 others; Blacker is still going strong today as a partner in Frankfurt & Blacker Solutions, LLC. His web site is blacker-reinventions.com and e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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