Art & Antiques Gets Contemporary

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Old is not good enough for Art & Antiques magazine.


The monthly title from Trans World Publishing Inc. is making marketing, circulation and editorial changes designed to appeal to younger readers. The changes come as the magazine strives to maintain its circulation rate base of 127,000, down from 170,000 in 2002.


"The redesign was simply to give it a modern, younger, more contemporary look," said Art & Antiques publisher Jay Perkins in New York. "You can't find the people in traditional ways. So you've got to give them something exciting that's going to catch their attention."


Readers and advertisers picking up the January issue will notice the overhaul. The cover sports a more contemporary logo. On the editorial side, new pages, columns and departments are part of a largely rebranding exercise.


The Scene & Gallery Watch is now City Watch. Value Judgment, a deep look into the price of a piece of art, is Value Spotlight. Market Value becomes Market Buzz, retaining its purpose of covering the latest sales figures and shows. And Queries, an assessment of individual items sent in by readers, is called What's It Worth?


A key introduction is the Art & Design department, featuring contemporary designers shaping the future.


The bigger change is the magazine's new marketing philosophy. Ninety-five percent of circulation comes from subscriptions. Newsstand accounts for the rest. Perkins claims a 70 percent renewal rate. But it is chasing the 30 percent to maintain the rate base that is becoming costlier.


"We're using less direct mail," Perkins said. "We're still doing it. It's still the old standard. We'll be doing 1 million mail pieces in 2005. We sent 800,000 mail pieces in 2004 and 1.3 million in 2003."


The strategy to cut mail -- and thus postage and printing costs -- is in line with the company's trimming of its rate base. Even with the lower circulation, it still leads Art News and The Magazine Antiques, Nos. 2 and 3 in this magazine niche.


Art & Antiques (www.artandantiques.net) rents its list to third parties. Statlistics, Danbury, CT, is the list broker and manager.


The magazine now will spend more for keyword buys on Google. It also will increase e-mail pitches. But most importantly, Art & Antiques will pay more attention to event marketing and sampling. The magazine has targeted 10 to 15 young collectors' clubs. It will meet their members at art shows and auctions, distributing copies of the magazine.


"Your response rates to that are tremendously higher," Perkins said. "What you find when you partner with groups is you do one-to-one marketing and they renew at a better rate.


"We're not as concerned with what the ABC statement says. We're more concerned with getting the right reader. The trend over the last 10 years was getting the most number of readers, and what happened was things like Publishers Clearing House collapsed. Their publishers scrambled to replace sweepstakes with real poor quality of circulation like doctors' clinics."


Another reader generator is a new Art & Antiques show planned for March in Scottsdale, AZ. The event builds on the magazine's coverage of emerging artists. About 60 galleries representing artists nationwide will exhibit. Galleries -- the magazine's core advertisers -- pay to exhibit. The public pays to enter.


"That's part of our philosophy, to put our advertisers in front of our readers," Perkins said.


Art & Antiques added about 60 ad pages this year to take its total to 600. A full-page ad costs $9,000, based on the rate card.


The show and the event marketing are central to Art & Antiques' efforts to acquire not just new subscribers, but also younger ones. The typical reader is 59 years old, making $600,000 a year with a net worth of $2 million. Sixty percent of the readers are female.


"Young to us is 38 to 55 years," Perkins said. "The challenge? It's absolutely new customer acquisition from a reader standpoint. The advertising will follow. Finding the right readers will give the advertisers the right ROI.


"The more comfortable a reader gets with a magazine, the less they do direct calling to your advertisers. The readers are still buyers of their products, but they've met them all. You have to replace the readership with passionate people so they inquire."


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