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Mr. Magazine™ and MagNet: What the Single Copy Magazine Industry Can and Should Learn from the Numbers. An Exclusive Analysis

March 19, 2014

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An ongoing series of interviews with MagNet’s Luke Magerko.

Luke Magerko was a consistent contributor to my blog in 2013. Luke has partnered with MagNet to provide retail analytics for the publishing industry. Today, we pick up our conversation from 2013 and, going forward, MagNet will provide a column every other week highlighting retail analytics.

Why did you partner with MagNet?
MagNet has what I consider to be the most important commodities in the publishing industry: store-level data and experts at analyzing the data.

Has MagNet found anything that will drive sales?
Yes, this week we will unveil a new analysis called Issue Category Standings or “ICS.” The ICS is designed to provide scan-based rapid analysis to help editors grasp which of the competitive titles were most successful in a given time frame.

Don’t publishers have a ranking system for their titles already?
Some publishers have a ranking system but MagNet will be using scan data to provide near real-time updates for the publishing industry. Further, the ICS will provide editors with a Seasonal Performance Index (“SPI) that publishers and editors can use to easily see which magazine performed the best irrespective of sale.

How can you judge a cover “irrespective of sale”?
I understand the theory that sales results determine success, except sales results alone are a terrible predictor. Two examples: One women’s service magazine sells fairly consistently except for the November and December (strong) issues and the January issue (very weak). Most fitness magazines perform poorly in the fall/winter and explode with the “New Year, New You” issue.
Does that mean every woman’s service magazine should have a Thanksgiving motif and every fitness magazine should only focus on “New Year, New You?” Of course not, however if a publisher and editor are only provided sales results, they will never know that one January issue outperformed every other issue in a recent year and that an October fitness issue was in fact the most successful in another year. Our objective is to provide a clean look at every issue so editors can understand their business and their competitors’ business as well.

Do you have an example?

MagNet produced a celebrity ranking for weeks 50 and 51 of 2013 to demonstrate the output (See below). MagNet included overall sell through percentages, the Performance Index (“PI) and the Seasonal PI for the editor’s review.

What is the objective of this program?

MagNet wants to begin a conversation with publishers and editors. We believe we have both the data and the expertise to help publishers and editors understand their businesses better. We do not want to tell the editors what to do but to provide tools to help them better understand and improve their businesses.

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Walk me through the report:
“Efficiency” represents sell-through efficiency and is the basis for traditional performance results. We include it as the baseline for the report. The “Perf Index” is the performance index, a formula comparing one specific issue versus a series of past issues. 1.0 is considered a success. The challenge with looking at this formula exclusively is that a strong or weak seasonal issue can throw off the results.
The Seasonal PI is a formula comparing one specific issue’s performance index versus that same issue in the past. Again, 1.0 is considered a success. Please note issue 51 of Ok! Magazine. The Performance Index of 0.75 would be considered very weak but issue 51 is traditionally weak, therefore the Seasonal PI is 0.99. This demonstrates that issue 51 is not nearly as bad as the editor might think.

But People probably sold more than all the competitors and wasn’t the winner?

Correct but that is the point. By creating the index, an editor can quickly surmise how their title performed compared to other titles without directly comparing sales. Sales, as any newsstand pro will tell you, is a function of many things: store count, checkout pockets, etc. MagNet addresses that with the seasonal performance index.

What is the schedule for rollout?
In two weeks, we will begin the ICS competition, highlighting results from different categories and having a 2014 cover awards issue at the beginning of 2015.

© Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni, 2014.
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