President and CEO,
Conde Nast Publications Inc.
Many automakers say they'd like one standard to measure magazines by. What do you think?
We've never been able to come up with a model that all the major publishing companies would agree to. In England, the major agencies and media companies have agreed to a research model and they farm it out to an independent firm to get what they believe is much more accurate information about audience size and quality. MRI (independent research company Mediamark Research Inc.), for instance, once told me how big the sample was - because we have magazines with tens of millions of readers - they said, '200 readers.'
Who should come up with the measurement standard?
I think we should have corroboration. I think you should have agencies, including the media buying houses, major clients like the (Procter & Gambles) of the world, as well as Ford, GM and Chrysler and the large publishing houses - Conde Nast, Time Warner, Hearst, Hachette Filipacchi.
How about the Web initiatives like CueCat and Digimarc?
The unfortunate part about that is that I don't believe a woman sitting down to read a copy of Gourmet is going to have her computer on; she is probably in her kitchen.
Are the automakers a lot tougher on magazines than they are TV?
Oh sure, they're a lot tougher. The brand manager, agency's media director and creative director want television. They feel it's immediate. I think in order to build a brand in automotive, you had better have a healthy mix of national magazines. I don't know if you're going to sell too many Dodge Vipers or Ferraris on television. Television has an enormous amount of waste.
Are you coming to automakers with ideas or are they coming to you?
We go to them.
How do automotive ad sales rank in terms of your overall advertising sales?
I would say automotive is three or four, behind beauty and fashion.
Do you think that will continue?
I'm hearing some pretty scary stuff. I'm hearing that Chrysler is rolling back its print levels to 1999 levels and then even shaving that. I'm hearing that General Motors is taking a very, very hard look at their media spending levels for magazines specifically. A lot of (GM's) money is going into the Internet and back into television. I think magazines are going to see a softening.