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Magazine Media Conference Opens With Plenty of Optimism

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The well-attended Magazine Media Conference (formerly, the American Magazine Conference) in New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel this morning (Oct. 4) had the feel of a pep rally with Hearst Magazines president/marketing and publishing director Michael Clinton in his capacity as MPA -- Association of Magazine Media Board chairman citing plenty of impressive statistics.  Such as $2.5 billion in newsstand revenue per year, 300 million magazine subscribers and 83% of the adult U.S. population reading magazines.

Most substantive was Clinton telling of the MPA board getting the pledge from Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe that future periodicals class rate hikes will be tied to the consumer price index.

The first session, "Where Are Magazine Media Headed?" was clearly answered "digital" by the panel of company presidents David Carey (Hearst Magazines), Tom Harty (Meredith National Magazine Group) and Bob Sauerberg (Condé Nast).  Carey said that HM's well-publicized 300,000-plus paid distribution of digital products "will double in short order."  Sauerberg pointed to CN's $15 million in digital revenues versus zero a year before, and Harty told of the important "communities" that Meredith has established.  (This morning, Meredith launched the "Shopping List from" App for iPhone and iPod touch.)

Yet, Sauerberg reminded the turnout that print remains by far the key to the business, and "we must never forget that."

The mostly happy talk contrasted with the worrisome economy, as shown by the down morning on Wall Street that followed yesterday's (Oct. 3) 258-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Plus, ZenithOptimedia released a pessimistic forecast expecting that "magazines may even see a 1.6% decline in 2011 spending in constant dollars."

That said, the perhaps the two most optimistic people in the house were Automobile president/editor-in-chief Jean Jennings and General Motors VP-Global/Chevrolet marketing and strategy Chris Perry. Both are Detroit-based, and with baseball's Tigers on the verge of beating the Yankees in the playoffs and the football Lions opening the NFL season undefeated, they had a lot to cheer about--for now.

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