How Meredith plans to wring more dollars out of Time Inc. titles

Now that it’s bought Time Inc., Meredith is focusing on wringing more revenue out of Time Inc. titles. This week at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado, a team of seven writers, producers and videographers has been holed up in a house paid for by San Pellegrino, churning out branded content for advertisers from Patrón Tequila to Microsoft.

The Classic has always been sold as one of the crown jewels of Time Inc.’s events, but this is the first year that Food & Wine’s editors used it to generate content for brands or editorial use. That capability brought in dollars from new and existing advertisers, including KitchenAid.

“[The Classic] is a gold mine,” said Hunter Lewis, Food & Wine’s editor-in-chief. “The strategy is about maximizing the value of what we’re doing.”

Other titles are working with advertisers in new ways. Next week, Real Simple will launch a cooking school video series on Facebook Watch that brands can pay to place products in. This summer, Real Simple will launch a new shopping section on its site featuring Real Simple-branded products and others picked by its editors. In the fall, it’s launching an apartment in Brooklyn called Real Simple Home, which will be used to model design ideas, throw events and generate editorial content.

The goal is to grow the titles’ overall revenue, but especially digital, through new and existing ad programs. Titles like Real Simple still get fully 70 percent of revenue from print advertising. Real Simple publisher Daren Mazzucca would like it to be closer to 60 percent, while still growing overall revenue.

“Our whole mission here is pretty simple: Outperform the market,” said Doug Olson, president of Meredith magazines. “Everybody is an integrated seller now. It just matters to what degree.”

Meredith assigned dedicated publishers to Time Inc. titles, reversing Time Inc.’s maligned category-specific sales strategy. Olson said the move to dedicated sellers, which was finalized in March, will help the company monetize the magazines and their big events like the Classic.

The new ownership’s focus on delivering return on investment for clients is getting noticed. Ashley Bahlmann, svp of group media at Cramer-Krasselt, said that since Meredith acquired Time Inc., the RFPs she sends to clients have come back with more details on how a proposed campaign would meet the client’s business goals.

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