In the days before digital pages and virtual newsstands, the magazines owned by Hearst – be it Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar or Elle – could rely on brand recognition and mass circulation for safety.

“What protected the magazine business was the rate base,” Troy Young, Hearst Magazines’ president, explained at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) NexGen Marketing Summit in New York.


Troy Young, President, Hearst Magazines

A publication like Cosmopolitan, he continued, might enjoy an official rate base of approximately four million readers. This figure was the basis for the magazine’s ad prices, while also serving as a proxy for marketers – and, indeed, competing publishers – about the beauty-focused title’s scale.