Spreading the news
The lights dim. The hip and young crowd holds its beers aloft and cheers as the comedy trio Stella takes the stage. People in the VIP balcony mingle, quaff mixed drinks and help themselves to passing hors d'oeuvres while awaiting musical sets by local bands — all in celebration of New York's 40th year in print.
The anniversary party exemplified the cutting-edge pop culture editorial for which this regional — though nationally read — magazine has become known since it was founded in 1968. The sold-out crowd of 3,000 also proved that the magazine's consumer marketing efforts in several channels have succeeded, increasing paid subscriptions by 13% since 2005.
“There are clearly a lot of new ways that we're selling print subscriptions,” says Ken Sheldon, circulation director for New York. “Some sources have been around for decades, going back to when the magazine was launched, including inserts, newsstand and direct mail, and we've grown all of those. But we also have sources that are growing for print, like online and partnerships and events.”
Special events drive recognition
Events, in particular, have won the magazine a great deal of press and subscribers lately. The New York by New York events series, which began with a half-dozen New York-sponsored events in 2007, offers subscriptions as part of the ticket price for concerts, barbecues and other gatherings. The magazine has seen such success with these parties that it recently launched a more official events division.
“We're definitely doing more events now, and we're looking to grow more of that business,” Sheldon says. “In some cases we've sold subscriptions, and in others not, but the brand has gotten involved and gotten exposure, whether by selling subscriptions, generating newsletter sign-ups or even just driving people to NYMag.com.”
The magazine is also holding “40 Nights” — 40 events squeezed between March and December— as part of its anniversary celebration. 40 Nights features fully sponsored New York events as well as several partner-sponsored happenings. Not only do the events work to drive brand recognition and subscriptions, they help New York cater to an audience that skews slightly younger than its traditional reader base.
“Events with young New Yorkers are something we've been heavily involved in, and our MRI [Mediamark Research & Intelligence report] shows that our readership has gotten younger,” Sheldon explains. “Our general goal is to grow audience, but when we do take it a little further, we would like to reach more affluent, younger readers.”
The magazine's target audience, aside from being young, is also a “typical New Yorker — like Sarah Jessica Parker or Carrie from Sex and the City,” he adds. Its editorial appeals to more liberal, pop culture-savvy urbanites. The audience also skews slightly female — 55% — with a median age of 39. Readers have a median income of $78,000 per year.
Though 75% of New York magazine's 425,000-count print circulation is in the New York metropolitan area, two-thirds of the magazine's Web traffic hails from outside the region. Online readers help contribute to the magazine's declining median audience age and provide plenty of growth opportunities for print marketing opportunities outside of the magazine's regional marketing focus.