Special Report: Publishing Business Conference and Expo
"My great worry was that the relentless negative coverage of newspapers today would bleed on to magazines," said Black. But where newspapers have a readership problem as many migrate to the Internet for primary news gathering, Black sees the magazine industry's problems as more an extension of advertiser skittishness. Although she said it was unlikely for the industry to see another "2007" in ad revenue, she also pointed out that Hearst anchor publication Cosmopolitan's cover price went up over the year, with even more ads. Much of Hearst's growth came from outside the U.S., where readers still are heavily drawn to print—20 percent of 2008 revenues came from overseas.
Black stressed that magazine publishing is not an either/or business, but an "and" business, where people will prefer to read in different mediums, including e-readers, tablets and on the Web. However, she said, "The great problem we're all dealing with is that today digital advertising is still pennies to the dollar," compared to print. Digital revenue was actually up 20 percent for Hearst, but that represented only a fraction of print revenue.
So, like Forbes, Hearst has become more active in working with advertisers to customize multimedia campaigns, rather than just selling ads. "We have become an advertising agency," said Black. "When we are talking to an advertiser about a program, it has 70 or so bells and whistles associated with it."
Editor's Note: Audio and video downloads of sessions from the 2010 Publishing Business Conference & Expo, including the Forbes/Granger Keynote address and the special event with Cathie Black and Jane Friedman, are available for purchase at Napco.webcredenza.com. You can buy individual sessions or bundles to get more sessions for a greater value.