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BoSacks Speaks Out: Ad Spending Disappearing as Most Magazines Continue to Fumble

I just spent a few days in Florida speaking to a group of below-the-radar publishers from The Coastal Angler. These are a collection of local magazines focused on the niche topic of angler fishing. Angler fishing, (I had to look it up), is just what you might have expected. It’s a method of fishing by means of an “angle” (fish hook). The hook is attached to a fishing line, the fishing line attached to a fishing rod, the fishing rod fitted with a fishing reel, etc., etc. You get the idea. It’s what this layman would have called fishing.

So, here you have by my count 35 regional editions from Massachusetts to Costa Rica and a combined circulation of 350,000. That number is a respectable publishing data set by anyone’s criteria. When I spoke at their annual convention this past Tuesday in Melbourne, Florida, I found them to be a terrific set of local mom and pop publishing entrepreneurs successfully battling for ad space, circulation, distribution and coop advertising just like any other publishing outfit. I’ve said it many times, I love being in a room of passionate entrepreneurs.

Which brings me to the article published this week on WWD along with the headline Ad Spending Disappearing as Most Magazines Continue to Fumble Here is my main beef with this reporting. This is not about most magazines. 50 of the biggest advertisers and only 170 audited titles do not encompass an entire industry. Far from it. The Coastal Anglers don’t have any of the big 50 ads, but their books are filled with advertising. And there are thousands of other magazine titles just like the Anglers that go about their business – our business – unreported and greatly underappreciated.

Just because a magazine is unaudited doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In this day and age of magazine media, the number of audited titles is on the decrease, not the increase around the globe.

Does anyone think that LSC, Quad and all the other publication printers only print audited titles? Absolutely not. 170 titles cannot and do not support the entire magazine industry; they are just the most visible part of it.

Here is what I think is a legitimate question – how many of the more than 7,000 titles on the newsstand have ads from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Möet, Hennessy, Louis Vuitton or Chanel? All I’m asking is to take the data with a grain or two of salt.

Obviously, the industry is under stress. While advertising and newsstand sales are down, paper prices are going up and so is postage. I don’t hear very many people discussing the shipping and distribution costs, which are also on the rise. There are lots of things to take into consideration, but it’s not all bad. Groups like the Anglers and the thousands of other entrepreneurs in our field will find a way to make it work. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

Bo Sacks, President, Precision Media Group

This commentary originally appeared on Bo Sacks daily newsletter and is re-published with kind permission. You can subscribe to Bo’s e-newsletter here


Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

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