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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Digital Publishing: New York Magazine Grabs Digital Ad Revenue - Scores Online Success

In the newly arrived digital age (really NOT so new, anymore) one of the great mysteries that has confronted magazines' digitization has been how to make money online --- A MUST for survival and transition from the sagging print editions.

Well, New York Magazine, once on the brink of failure itself, has solved this perplexing puzzle and should be a beacon of hope for other brethren of their competitive industry.

How did NYMag accomplish this? With intelligent foresight from a new, pioneering editor-in-chief AND a nimble business team that's equally adept at selling print and digital advertising.

Matthew Flamm, Crain's New York Business, takes us inside the minds and business decisions of the owners, managing staff and other players that not only rescued NYMag, but pushed it to the front of the pack:

Mags to riches

New York's Adam Moss is having his 'Approval Matrix' moment. The company's cashing in online. A publishing puzzle solved

To its groaning shelf of National Magazine Awards and bulging portfolio of stories extolling its business success, New York magazine can add one more credit: It's having its best year in a decade.

Both profits and revenue are the highest they've been since financier Bruce Wasserstein bought the barely profitable publication in late 2003 for $55 million and lured Adam Moss from The New York Times to become editor in chief. That move was among several that would make New York what it is now: a growth property at a time when much of the rest of the industry is struggling to hold its ground.

Observers also praise New York's owners for their willingness to invest for the long term and a nimble business team that's equally adept at selling print and digital advertising.

In addition, the magazine and website have racked up more National Magazine Awards since Mr. Moss' 2004 arrival than any other title during the same period.

The finishing touch has been an opportunistic approach to publishing, whether it's in print or online.

"We saw that we weren't just publishing a magazine, that we had a certain voice and way of looking at the world that could find expression in different products," Mr. Moss said. "Some would be distributed in print form and some digitally."

The editor in chief has gotten plenty of support from an A-list staff, including online Editorial Director Ben Williams, but veterans of the magazine cite Mr. Moss' vision as key to the company's success.
"He's got a really good balance between his own intense curiosities and a feel for what can resonate with a larger audience," said New York Times Magazine Editor in Chief Hugo Lindgren, who was Mr. Moss' longtime deputy at both the Times Magazine and New York.

Solving the mystery

Just as important, the company has solved the most pressing conundrum: how to make money online. Consumer magazines draw only about 5% to 15% of their ad sales from their digital operations, analysts and insiders say. New York's digital properties, by contrast, account for 40% of the company's total ad sales.

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