The Magazine “A-List”

Recently, AdAge has evaluated magazines in search of the the overall best magazines. But what makes up an “A-list” magazine? Great editorial? Think again. There are many more balls in the air to juggle than you might have thought. With magazines on the brink of possible nonexistence (so excited to be a magazines major…) it is important to understand that everything from the way readers perceive magazines to the reason they pick them up is changing.

AdAge has recently reevaluated what goes into a great magazine. It turns out that it’s all about branding. They looked for magazines that were making smart licensing moves, becoming retailers in their own right, creating revenue-generating digital content, building smart cross-media content and ad platforms, or finding a way to engage and monetize their communities (take a breath…).

The good news is that it looks like our local BHG brand made No. 2, so Meredith must be doing something right! AdAge credits the success of BHG to the expansion of their brand outside of the print magazine (Walmart products, etc). What do you think is the most important part of a magazine, taking into account their uncertain future? What will keep magazines alive?


5 responses to “The Magazine “A-List”

  1. I’m not at all surprised to see Cosmo on the list. But was surprised at No. 1 being Women’s Health, followed by some family magazines. But, then again, women will always be concerned about their health, and many will continue to have families. So maybe it’s just an overarching theme of what we “need to know” no matter what the economy is like (something that will stay on your subscription list regardless).

  2. First off, congrats to Meredith and BHG, that’s pretty awesome. Like Caitlin, I am also not surprised Cosmo made the cut–it was the first magazine that came to mind when it was mentioned that branding was so important. I am also curious to see what other criteria is among the most important during the reevaluation period and how far some magazines moved up or down the list according to AdAge. I was surprised that I have never heard of some of the magazines on the list–I’m kind of ashamed actually.

  3. Like I said in a previous post (on Mr. Magazine), I agree that magazine success is all about the branding. It’s the way we associate certain images with a magazine that gives them power. Martha Stewart is a great example: she has tapped into television, magazines and the web as media outlets, but also has her own line of products at K-Mart and Michael’s. I figure anytime you can say, “That’s so______,” you’ve got a brand.

    I think that’s why Food Network Magazine got the A-List launch of the year. They already have an established brand. And, if you’ve ever spent time on their website, it can be overwhelming to try to browse their recipes. Is it perhaps that a challenging website can boost a magazine’s readership? And, I don’t know about Cosmo, but a lot of fashion magazine websites do not provide much content, forcing readers to keep up with the print edition.

    This seems counter-intuitive to what we’ve been learning about updating to the 21st century to survive in the journalism industry, but perhaps it’s a temporary solution, for now. Anyone else think so?

  4. I started working for Meredith’s Brand Licensing department this summer and it has really opened my eyes to how crucial this stuff is. As a design intern there, I help design presentations and other collateral work like ads and posters to promote Meredith’s brands/titles. We are constantly working with things with BHG – mattress collections, furniture, and a large portion is Walmart products. It really is much more than a magazine title — consumers looking for products trust its name. Same goes for Family Circle, which is No. 3 on the list. It is great to see Meredith succeeding in this area.

  5. I think Meredith’s work has been awesome to keep in the top spot. Who would have thought that our very own Meredith would be near the top. It’s like Caitlin (kind of) mentioned, women are going to be the main audiences for magazines and Meredith and BH & G are obviously making a profit on that. So, way to go, Meredith!

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