Flunking maganomics: After months of trying to explain that it is a positive development when an industry receives more revenues for selling less product, I had given up trying. Until a few months ago, every time MediaPost’s Larry Dobrow reported that “advertising pages are down” in magazines with the buried lead that, oh, by the way, advertising revenues are up, I would comment that such a development in any other sector would be touted as “increased margins,” “more productivity,” and “the end of discounting.” But, my cause is a lost one. Again, today, he does so again.)
To Dobrow, more revenue for less advertising pages does not mean the obvious: that publications were giving away unsold inventory last year. To him, it does not mean that such inventory is now being sold. To him, it means that “there’s really no reason for me to think that things will get better sooner…” (as he quotes someone saying).
I will go on record once more as saying, “Revenues are the only metrics that matter in magazine publishing. It is the only thing that pays salaries. It is the only thing that is reflected on a company’s income statement and balance sheet. The number of advertising pages is a smoke and mirrors metric. Get over it.”