Time Inc.’s realignment of ad sales was ‘disastrous’

Meredith Chairman Steve Lacy and new CEO Tom Harty were at the former Time Inc. headquarters at 225 Liberty St. on Thursday morning, greeting employees on their way in. Behind the smiles of the new owners was knowledge that a grim task is still at hand trying to right Time Inc..

Harty took swipe at a disastrous realignment of ad sales — and repeated his vow to undo the plans engineered by former CEO Joe Ripp and the most recent CEO Rich Battista.

“Historically, Time Inc., which owned the best portfolio of media assets in the industry, outpaced industry performance,” Harty told investors on Wednesday morning.

However, in 2016, Time Inc. realigned its sales structure by eliminating the title of publisher and assigning ad sales people to represent 20 titles at once as they called on categories including pharma, auto, financial services and other sectors.

Advertisers were being forced to consider the whole Time portfolio group — not, say, the People Oscar issue or the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, Harty said. Advertisers apparently hated the realignment.

“This has resulted in revenue declines much steeper than both our own or average industry performance,” Harty said. “ For example, in calendar year 2017, Time Inc. print magazine and digital advertising revenue declined 13 percent, compared with a 3 percent decline for Meredith’s national media group,” he said.

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