Optimism Reigns inside Magazine Industry C-Suites

folio_logoMost magazine-media execs are anticipating solid revenue growth this year as they focus on adapting to changing consumer habits.

Want to know how an industry’s really doing? Just ask the leaders who live and breathe it every day. Folio: did just that in June, sending magazine-industry execs a 13-question survey on their projections and expectations. And overall, the mood is all about growth.

“Sixty-three percent of magazine-media CEOs in an exclusive Folio: survey indicate that they anticipate revenue growth in 2016, and more than a quarter of all respondents expect double-digit growth this year,” writes Tony Silber in Folio:.

“That’s a healthy amount of projected growth indeed for an industry undergoing disruptive change, and it reflects a resiliency that other print-media based industries have not shown,” Silber continues.

Silber digs a bit deeper into the stats, looking at both company size and revenue of the respondents, and realizes that “tiny entrepreneurial shops coexist with well-established and growing enterprises, and also with corporate giants, like Time Inc., UBM, Meredith, and others.”

This fact says something profound about the magazine industry, according to Silber: “It remains a place where entrepreneurs start small businesses and where—should that entrepreneur so choose—she could serve a market and make a living for herself and her staff, with, say, $1.5 million in revenue. That may not attract breathless media coverage, or multiple rounds of venture capital, or private equity firms looking for the next big investment, but it is a characteristic that suggests notable resilience for this industry.”

That resilient attitude will be useful as magazine execs face their challenges. Respondents reported that changes to the way their readers consume media present their biggest competitive threat.

“More than one-third (35 percent) said their readers are the key, and their biggest threat is the changing media-consumption patterns of those readers,” Silber reports. “Also mentioned were digital disruption and the loss of audience and revenue to social media. And when you think about it, all three of those reasons are interrelated. The one is both the cause and effect of the others.”

I believe that the 35% who focused on their readers – rather than focusing on new competition, digital disruption and social media – are on the right path. We have to understand the connected consumer, and create an audience-first approach to engagement if our magazine brands are to thrive.