Magazine Executive Roundtable Explores Shift in Business Models
Samir "Mr. Magazine" Husni wrapped up the Magazine Executive Roundtable at the Publishing Business Conference & Expo by asking about the "future glass"—the level of optimism panelists felt about the future of their business. For Frank Anton, CEO of B-to-B publisher Hanley Wood, the glass was three-quarters full. For Don Hawk, president of online enterprise IT publisher TechTarget, it was 80 percent. Hugh Wiley, publisher of Bloomberg Businessweek, put it at 100 percent.
In some ways, though, Anton was the most optimistic, as his assessment seemed to augur a dramatic turnaround from what has been an extremely challenging couple of years for Hanley Wood.
Since the housing downturn, Hanley Wood, which mainly serves the construction market, has been hit hardest where it counts. At their mid-2000s height they enjoyed profit margins of 45 percent for ad pages and 75 percent for exhibit space, both of which have shrunk considerably.
Trade shows have been great business since time immemorial, Anton said, but exhibitors today are no longer sure of ROI. "As these two businesses are threatened by secular forces I wonder if Hanley Wood can ever get back to the glory days," he said.
Additional pressure comes from traditional buyers investing more of their advertising spend in their own websites. Anton sees opportunity, however, in the lead nurturing business, as companies struggle with their own efforts to generate ROI from data about customers. "The [new] media landscape," he said, "is changing the way we do absolutely everything."
Wiley was more bullish. A year after a major redesign and new international focus enabled by Businessweek's incorporation into the Bloomberg media empire, the magazine has leveraged new journalistic resources to enhance its frequency and reach. Businessweek, for its part, brought 4.5 million worldwide readers to the deal, and the kind of brand prestige that leads to interviews with sitting U.S. presidents.