CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: MEDIUM OF THE MONTH - People was once just a section in Time but has become a huge weekly hit, Michael Burgi says

It appears there is a point to magazine readership research after all. If it weren’t for the readership studies Time magazine conducted in the early 70s, in which it discovered that among the most widely read sections in the magazine was the People page, the prolific publishing company would have never thought to launch People in 1974.

It appears there is a point to magazine readership research after

all. If it weren’t for the readership studies Time magazine conducted in

the early 70s, in which it discovered that among the most widely read

sections in the magazine was the People page, the prolific publishing

company would have never thought to launch People in 1974.



One of the most successful publications in the Time Life empire, People

magazine is a regular-sized glossy weekly that focuses not only on the

stars of entertainment and culture but also on human interest stories

from around the US. People took a mere 18 months to hit black ink,

swelling its ad revenue each year.



In 1997, People generated almost dollars 600 million in ad revenue, top

in the US for some seven years among magazines.



Behind this is the impressive readership. People guarantees a base of

more than three million readers; subscriptions account for more than two

million and another 1.5 million buy it off the newsstands. Nora McAniff,

People’s publisher and a 16-year veteran of Time Life, says another plus

that her sales staff incorporates into the pitch to advertisers is the

’pass-along’ factor: she estimates that as many as eight people will

read a single copy of the magazine. ’The world is fascinated by people,’

McAniff explains.



’Our magazine meets an intrinsic need.’



Popular celebrities on the cover provide the lure, but inside several

stories highlight the lives of everyday Americans who are either heroes

or victims of personal tragedy. ’Celebrities bring readers to us but

we’re a human interest magazine first and foremost.’ That helps to

explain why McAniff does not consider Us magazine - a rival publication

launched by Wenner Media several years ago to cash in on People’s

success - a competitor.



’First of all, they’re so small but, more importantly, they’re 100 per

cent celebrity-driven.’



In fact, McAniff sees no direct competition when gunning for ad

revenue.



’When we’re going after cosmetic accounts, we sell against the fashion

magazines, and when we’re pitching automotive advertisers, we’re selling

against the news or sports magazines.’



People’s success for Time Life (a unit of the media giant, Time Warner)

has spawned a couple of spin-off titles: People en Espanol and Teen

People.





PEOPLE MAGAZINE

First published: 4 March, 1974

Single copy price: dollars 2.79

1997 ad revenue: dollars 588,503,553

1997 ad pages: 3,999

Male/female readership ratio: 34:66

Median age: 39.4

Median household income: dollars 47,851

Source: People Magazine



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