said it is reorganizing the ad sales operations of recently-acquired publisher Time Inc. to emphasize its individual titles rather than selling based on industry-specific categories.
The shift will effectively undo a structure Time Inc. began to implement in 2016. It signals that Meredith, owner of titles such as Better Homes & Gardens and Shape, is moving quickly to fix what it perceives as errors by the previous management team since acquiring Time Inc. in January.
The new strategy includes reappointing individual publishers at Time Inc. titles, including those brands Meredith has put on the sales block: TIME, Fortune, Money and Sports Illustrated.
The realignment is intended to strengthen ties with ad agencies and marketers and give specific magazines greater visibility at a time when print ad revenue continues to be under pressure.
“It’s important for the brands to have an evangelist in the marketplace and internally,” said
president of Meredith’s national media group, in an interview. “We’re extending our existing sales structure to the Time Inc. brands because that approach has been successful in terms of driving revenue and share-of-market.”
As part of the restructuring, the Foundry—a Brooklyn-based studio that creates branded and native content for advertisers—is being integrated into Meredith’s digital business unit.
Foundry staffers are moving to Meredith’s New York offices at 225 Liberty Street, where they will be more involved in the company’s sales and marketing efforts across all digital advertising products.
In recent years Time Inc. struggled with declining revenue; in its last public quarterly filing, the publisher reported that print and other advertising revenue decreased 19% for the nine months ended Sept. 30.
At a recent conference,
Meredith’s executive chairman, attributed Time Inc.’s revenue declines to “some unfortunate changes they made in their sales structure.”
Starting in early 2016, Time Inc. began to focus on “category selling” in which sales teams were devoted to large advertising categories such as pharmaceuticals, technology, telecom and automotive.
Time Inc. executives said at the time that they were responding to requests from marketers who wanted one point of contact and larger ideas. The approach was also intended to enable Time Inc. to better take advantage of its scale as it competed with Google and Facebook. The approach never sparked the returns that Time Inc. once envisioned.
Mr. Werther said Meredith’s corporate sales team will continue to focus on the largest accounts in such areas as beauty, auto, food, consumer packaged goods and pharmaceuticals. But under the Meredith approach, specific magazine brands will have a voice at the table, and will be able to pitch those bigger accounts.
Under the Time Inc. approach, every seller at the category level was responsible for every brand and every brand product when they went to pitch a client, said Mr. Werther. The other extreme, in which 20 people have 20 meetings, frustrated marketers and agencies.
Meredith, he said, takes a hybrid approach, meaning that if an advertiser wants to advertise in Food & Wine, it will work directly with that brand. If they want to extend beyond Food & Wine’s print and digital reach, other food brand sales people will get involved, or the company’s digital team.
“It used to be that agencies and marketers had to go to the category team, and not Food & Wine,” said Mr. Werther. “That’s what has shifted.”
Write to Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg at [email protected]