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Digital ads boost lifestyle publisher

News, 04 April 2016

NEW YORK: Meredith Corp, the US local TV operator and publisher of women's lifestyle magazines, is on course to reach a milestone next year when its digital ad revenues are expected to offset declines in print revenue.

Steve Lacy, chief executive of the Des Moines, Iowa-based media group, revealed this forthcoming "inflection point" in an interview with the Financial Times.

He said digital revenues accounted for around a third of the $137m advertising sales generated by its publishing division in the most recent quarter, up from 25% in the same period last year.

Although print still accounts for 60% of Meredith's total audience – and circulation made up a third of its $1.1bn in revenue from magazines in 2015 – the company is encouraged by the growth of its online readership.

Lacy said that print sales have been declining at around 4% to 6% a year, a rate he expects to continue, but the company's online audience is expected to grow from 75m unique visitors monthly to 100m and more.

This greatly expanded online audience is expected to be achieved through acquisition of titles that will bring with them web traffic and technology to improve Meredith's online ad offerings.

He added that the company's publishing arm is likely to drive its acquisitions strategy and he pointed to its purchase of "Shape", a women's fitness magazine, and its acquisition of Selectable Media, a New York-based native ad technology company, as signs of things to come.

However, despite seeing growth in digital ad revenues and online audiences, Meredith has no plans to neglect its print subscribers.

Lacy explained that the company is also focusing on generating more revenue from subscribers by converting them onto auto-renewal plans where their debit and credit cards are automatically charged for another year's subscription.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by Warc staff