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Publishers Have Big Aspirations to Further Diversify Their Revenue

Eight publishing industry leaders tell us where to follow the money.

Publishers will continue to look beyond their legacy business models in the coming years, and lean on technologies to not only improve their operations, but also their products.

This idea was the thesis of a recent survey we conducted with a representative sample of leaders from across our community (check out the results here). We learned a lot about the current state of the publishing industry, and where it’s making key investments as well as placing bets to grow.

We also reached out to eight industry leaders who were willing to go on the record and dive deeper into the survey questions.

One of the most compelling takeaways we found were the different growth catalysts each of the publishing companies are counting on. The question we asked to learn this was a simple one: What will drive revenue growth?

Here’s what they said:

Andy Clurman, CEO, Active Interest Media

Memberships, marketing services, e-commerce and digital advertising.

Bonnie Kintzer, CEO, Trusted Media Brands

Our diverse revenue streams and continued efforts to experiment and explore new ways to monetize will be a big driver of growth in 2020.

We certainly expect to see growth in the programmatic, direct and consumer sides of the business, but we are also quite bullish on affiliate and consumer products.

Adam Sandow, CEO, SANDOW

Material Bank is growing exponentially, in terms of user base, partners, and revenue. With regards to other areas of our business, we expect to drive revenue through new offerings.

Interior Design will launch a new revolutionary product accelerator platform in a few months that we are very excited about—we look forward to sharing that with Folio:.

ThinkLab will offer their first bundled, subscription-based offering in June. Metropolis will introduce new franchises and partnership opportunities in 2020, and NYCxDESIGN will publish their first ever magazine. Luxe and NewBeauty both have newly designed websites and expanded events programs.

Material ConneXion is expanding its research team to accommodate intense demand for its Sustainable Innovation programs as global brands seek out sustainable material solutions for their products.

The demand for SANDOW to produce custom content, including custom publications, has also increased considerably and will result in greater revenue in 2020. Really, across the board, we are doing new things and leveraging our powerful ecosystem to drive more opportunities for our partners and for SANDOW, as well.

Business Models

Tim Hartman, CEO, Government Executive Media

We see the main drivers and greatest opportunities in digital media and events. In events, we launched the Government Hall of Fame last year, which was a huge success. We expect to build on the incredible foundation we built and scale it in 2020. We also expect our State and Local brand, Route Fifty, to achieve significant growth. We’ve had a lot of success in the State and Local market and see a huge opportunity there.

Chris Ferrel, CEO, Endeavor Business Media

Events and marketing solutions revenue.

Catherine Levene, President and Chief Digital Officer, Meredith

We believe growth will come from increases in audience and engagement and from higher rates. We also continue to grow our portfolio by launching new digital and magazine brands and investing in existing titles by increasing trim size and upgrading paper stock.

Erin O’Mara, Presdient, The Nation

As a mission-driven organization, The Nation‘s goal has never been to make a dollar but to make a difference. But being mission-driven doesn’t make us immune to the need to create a sustainable business and every dollar, in and out, counts.

The key to our security and growth is a revenue stream that has long been diversified. In addition to the traditional pillars of circulation and advertising, The Nation was an early adopter of donor-supported journalism, decades before it was a business model embraced by others.

We’ve also created unique ancillary projects to support our journalism: The ever-popular Nation Cruise—once called “the love boat for policy wonks” by The New York Times—and an expansive travel program; The Nation’s Wine Club; and a more traditionalproduct shop. We believe nurturing new paths for revenue, brand and voice are vital.

Last year, we created a prototype teaching resource, The Nation Classroom. Developed for high-school students and designed to adhere to common core standards, the first module, mined from our archives, focuses on race and civil rights from 1865 to the present. Our ultimate goal is to scale The Nation Classroom to a profitable product, allowing us to use our archives to support our journalism and eventually, to make it available free of charge to schools and institutions that otherwise can’t afford it. We also plan to develop additional modules focused on climate change and the environment, feminism and women’s rights, and war and peace.

Which brings me to our next plan for growth and change.

Challenging markets and a turbulent media landscape means rethinking and reimagining how we work from every possible angle. To that end, we’ve applied for 501c3 status, and when granted, will spin off our educational initiatives into a new and separate entity—The Nation Fund for Independent Journalism, Inc.

The new non-profit’s core programming will center on elevating and expanding representation, authenticity, integrity, truth and diversity in journalism. Once approved, The Nation Fund for Independent Journalism will ultimately take over the stewardship of our internship program, our StudentNation vertical and fellowship, our annual Student Journalism Conference and TheNationClassroom.

Paul Miller, CEO, Questex

We are an event company first. We are launching new events and many of our current ones are already showing growth for 2020. We will continue to roll out new content and data programs built around our attendees, which gave us a significant lift in 2019 revenue and we expect that trajectory to continue.

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