News digest magazines such as The Week have a long and illustrious history - after all, one of the world's biggest media brands, Time, started life as little more than a cut-and-paste collection of news clippings.
Even in our information-saturated internet era, the rationale for a digest title remains as compelling as ever - and may even be enhanced. There are all sorts of reasons why some people need the week's events filtered, simplified and ordered. They might find the job too daunting a prospect; or they may simply not have the time.
Understandably, The Week's owner, Dennis Publishing, focuses on readers in this latter category, pitching the title as an executive summary for "cash-rich, time-poor" middle-aged business people. And it has acquired impressive momentum in recent months.
In the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, covering the period July to December 2005, The Week broke through the 100,000-copy mark for the first time and the publisher reports a steady increase since then.
Last week, it announced that it has decided to back the title with an above-the-line ad campaign for the first time.
The campaign coincides with a significant senior appointment - Dan Reeves will join next month from Development Hell in the new role of commercial director. His job will be to translate circulation increases into ad revenues.
As Seth Hawthorne, The Week's publisher, puts it: "We want our circulation success to be matched with a first-class advertising sales operation that will address the needs of advertisers at all levels."
1. The Week was the brainchild of Jolyon Connell, who left his post as the deputy editor of The Sunday Telegraph to launch the magazine as a private venture in May 1995. Connell is still the editorial director, while the former BBFC film censor Jeremy O'Grady, who joined soon after launch, is still the editor-in-chief.
2. Dennis Publishing acquired The Week in 1996 - Felix Dennis is reputedly a big fan of the title. His strategy was to build circulation primarily through subscriptions - and the focus was almost entirely on direct marketing promotions. Its most recent ABC figures show that of its 108,208 total circulation, 90 per cent are fully paid subscriptions.
More than 85 per cent of subscribers renew their subscriptions each year, an achievement that helped it to win the Periodical Publishers Association Subscription Marketer of the Year award in 1999. Where newsstand sales are concerned, it focuses its efforts on airports and mainline rail stations.
3. The editorial format of The Week has remained unchanged over its 11-year history - there are always 35 editorial pages (of a typical total of 48) and it always uses the same page-layout templates. News is given 44 per cent of pagination, the arts takes up 18 per cent and business is the next-highest priority, with 13 per cent.
4. According to the publisher, it has a readership of just under 250,000 people. Two-thirds are male and the core readership is professionals in the 35- to 54-year-old age bracket. They have an average salary of £58,871, more than 120 per cent higher than the national average. Almost a quarter earn in excess of £100,000.
5. A full-page ad is priced at £6,360. That's roughly one-third of the price of an equivalent ad in The Economist's UK edition, which has a circulation of just under 160,000 copies. The Week's advertising base is largely luxury goods, cars and corporate. Recent advertisers include Intel, Toshiba, Rolex, United Airlines, Jaguar and Veuve Cliquot. It pledges that display advertising will never exceed 30 per cent of total pagination.
6. The title looms large in Dennis Publishing's plans. It launched a US edition - identical in format to the UK title - in April 2001. Bill Falk has been its editor since launch and Sir Harold Evans is the consultant editor. There has been speculation that Dennis might consider selling its US titles - all except The Week.
7. The Week's new ad campaign was created by BLM Flint, the creative division of the BLM Group. It includes a 30-second television commercial and three outdoor executions, which will run on Underground panels and cross-track sites, plus taxi media. The campaign will seek to encourage people to sample the magazine by telephoning for a free copy.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR ...
AGENCIES AND ADVERTISERS
- This campaign could propel the magazine to a whole new level. And media agencies won't need much excuse to use the title more regularly - because they all tend to love it.
- Thanks to a generous free distribution list, the publishers make sure it's highly visible in the industry but senior agency management would, in many cases, be readers anyway. They fall neatly into the "cash-rich, time-poor" audience that the magazine hopes to target and they tend to be fans of its no-nonsense, functional journalistic style.
- They also find its sales argument compelling - and, in particular, praise the fact The Week maintains a clutter-free environment by restricting the number of ad sites available in each issue.
- So there's a consensus that if it can now match a first-class sales operation to continued circulation success, The Week will consolidate its position in the ad market.