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David Carey Highlights Hearst Magazines’ 2013, Plots 2014 Path

David Carey 1-4David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, has issued a letter to staffers highlighting 2013, and plotting a path for 2014. It’s similar to the note sent last week by Hearst Corp’s CEO, Steven Swartz. The main difference, as you might guess, is Carey’s letter speaks on the magazine side of Hearst only.

Below are some of the more interesting points in Carey’s letter. You can read it in full after the jump.

  • Food Network Magazine is now the second best selling monthly magazine, “with more than 11.6 million readers and the No. 1 share of advertising.”
  • HGTV Magazine, which debuted only a year ago, has a circulation of 1.2 million.
  • Dr. Oz’s magazine, The Good Life, launches next month. Carey described it as “lively, smart and surprising.”
  • Cosmopolitan.com had more than 20 million unique visitors in December.
  • Carey said in the second quarter of this year, a “shared user experience for both Cosmopolitan.com and ELLE.com” will launch.

Dear Colleagues:

Welcome to 2014.

I always look forward to the new year and the enormous promise it holds. As 2014 begins, it’s an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and outline our priorities for the next 12 months.

I’m very proud of all we achieved in 2013, and it is our exceptional people and unique culture that make it all possible. Thanks to you, today Hearst Magazines is by far the strongest global magazine publishing company, and we’re well positioned for 2014.

The role our culture plays in our overall success cannot be overstated. Backed by the enormous strength of our parent company, Hearst Magazines is forward-looking and optimistic. Our culture makes us a world-class partner and gives us confidence to take risks and invest in new products. We’re encouraged to seek diversification across audiences, business lines and geographies. Simply put, our culture helps us grow, regardless of the day’s headlines.

And grow we have: Hearst Magazines has dramatically expanded over the last three years to more than 11,000 professionals, and we now incorporate businesses from New York to Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, and beyond. It’s been two years since the successful acquisition of Lagardère titles and what is remarkable is that the same energy, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit exists at all levels, in every market. At the top of my New Year’s resolution list: improving communication and best-practice sharing throughout the Hearst global network. You’ll be hearing more about “One Hearst” in the weeks ahead, as we share how teams around the world are seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges.

In 2013, our editors took exciting risks with their content strategies and pushed hard to surprise readers on all platforms. Our advertising sales teams brought ever more complex offerings to clients who prize breakthrough ideas. Our consumer marketers, facing a choppy newsstand environment, focused on extensive e-edition promotions to build our total paid tablet circulation to well over 1 million per month in the U.S. Hearst general managers continually sought out new business models and were not afraid to abandon old orthodoxies and structures to improve performance. And our digital leaders, especially in the U.S. and the U.K., made important strides in growing audience, revenue and engagement.

There were many highlights of 2013.

The last several years have been good for fashion magazines in the U.S., and even better for our titles, which have outpaced the industry. ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR and Marie Claire each generated record profits, propelled by superior editorial products and outstanding marketing programs. Their gains, coupled with the robust growth of our new magazines and digital businesses, led to a winning performance in the U.S.

Our ventures with Scripps Network—Food Network Magazine and HGTV Magazine—truly soared in 2013. Food Network Magazine is now the second best-selling monthly magazine on newsstands in the U.S., dominating the epicurean category with more than 11.6 million readers and the No. 1 share of advertising—all the more impressive for a business just five years old. Kudos to the founding team of Editor-in-Chief Maile Carpenter and Vice President/Publisher/Chief Revenue Officer Vicki Wellington.

HGTV Magazine, after one full year of publishing, has a circulation of 1.2 million, sells an average 300,000 copies on the newsstand and is solidly profitable. HGTV Magazine introduced a fresh voice and defined an entirely new category—home lifestyle—and in December Adweek named it Hottest Newcomer on its annual Hot List.

The mark of a company’s confidence in the future is set by the pace of new product introductions. In February we will debut the first issue of Dr. Oz THE GOOD LIFE, in partnership with Dr. Mehmet Oz. Consumer interest in health and wellness is enormous, and there’s clear white space for a modern magazine that addresses everything from nutrition to beauty to relationships. I just saw the final pages as they were being shipped: It’s lively, smart and surprising—and we’re enthusiastic about its potential.

We have a well-earned reputation as a good partner and other media companies regularly seek us out to create businesses together. We’re committed to constantly testing new ideas—some will hit, some may miss, but we’re focused on always having a pipeline of new products in development. I’m especially excited about our joint venture with DreamWorks’ AwesomenessTV to create a digital video business around our Seventeen brand.

It was a pivotal year for the U.S. edition of Cosmopolitan, our biggest franchise, which reaffirmed its role as the country’s most powerful voice for young women. Leaders in the worlds of media, entertainment and politics are taking note: Many of America’s most influential women, from lawmakers to media moguls to movie stars, turned out in December for the annual “Cosmo 100” lunch; Cosmo’s editors have been frequent guests at the White House to discuss women’s issues; and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg guest edits a twice-yearly careers supplement. In 2014, Cosmo enters the live events business, with the first in a series of women’s conferences, produced with our partner William Morris Endeavor. It’s no surprise that Adweek named Cosmopolitan the industry’s Hottest Magazine and Joanna Coles Editor of the Year.

At the same time, Cosmopolitan.com evolved into a vibrant news and entertainment site. Last January, while monthly unique visitors were just under 10 million, I included the ambitious goal of doubling monthly uniques in my New Year’s letter. I am pleased to report that Cosmopolitan.com exceeded 20 million unique visitors in December, and is poised for another major year of growth, fueled by its distinctive voice and personality.

We talk often about the importance of blockbusters—big, exciting programs that spark reader, advertiser and media interest—and no one did it better in 2013 than Esquire. We marked the 80th anniversary of the magazine with the multi-faceted Life of Man and the debut of a high-profile cable channel, Esquire Network, in partnership with NBCUniversal. These initiatives, plus big digital gains, led to David Granger being named Advertising Age’s Editor of the Year and to Esquire delivering its highest profits since Hearst acquired the business in 1987.

We welcomed new editorial leaders at some of our leading women’s and shelter brands: Jane Francisco joined us from CHATELAINE, Canada’s best-selling magazine, to take the helm at Good Housekeeping and Clint Smith became editor-in-chief at VERANDA. Lucy Kaylin was named editor-in-chief at O, The Oprah Magazine, and has big plans in store for 2014, building up to the magazine’s 15 anniversary next year. Country Living‘s new editor-in-chief, Rachel Hardage Barrett, will build a new home for the editorial team in Birmingham, Ala., as we embrace geographies beyond New York City.

Last year was the first full calendar year for the Hearst Design Group, with integrated editorial operations for ELLE DECOR, House Beautiful and VERANDA. We’re always looking for the most efficient ways to run the company, and harnessing the collective energy of this team led to impressive increases in profit and innovation. One thing is certain: For us to grow, we must be ready to toss out dated business strategies when they are no longer working.

It was a year of bold changes for our digital business in the U.S., with new leaders in virtually every area. Audiences quickly responded to our new content strategies and many sites posted record-setting traffic numbers in the fourth quarter. I’m very pleased to see how our digital business is increasingly operating like a nimble startup, but one built on world-class brands, and 2014 promises to be a breakout year for both revenue and audience growth. In addition to major investments in talent and content, we will be rolling out a new responsive design system that will cascade through our brands over the course of the year.

We will also see more coordinated activity internationally: Our engineers in New York and London are working together to create a shared user experience for both Cosmopolitan.com and ELLE.com for the U.S. and U.K. markets, debuting in the second quarter, which will then roll out to additional countries.

In 2013 we enjoyed double-digit increases in digital ad revenue. We reorganized our sales teams, grouping together brands with like-minded users to maximize scale for marketers. In 2014, branded content opportunities will take a giant leap forward while our programmatic buying platform will become even more sophisticated. In addition to our core digital business, the Jumpstart Automotive Group, one of the star companies that came via the Lagardère acquisition, produced record results in 2013, with more to come this year.

Rising profits from our digital business, combined with those from our new print products, are now an essential part of our earnings, and together they will account for more than 30 percent of profits in 2014 in the U.S., showing just how much our business has transformed.

Hearst Magazines International, now encompassing 304 magazines in 81 countries, continues to expand, despite significant economic challenges in various parts of the world. The collective power and influence of so many international editions of Cosmopolitan, ELLE, ELLE DECOR, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, Marie Claire and Good Housekeeping is unmatched in media. In 2013, we introduced ELLE in Australia and Harper’s BAZAAR in Germany and Japan, and we now publish Harper’s BAZAAR Art in seven countries. In 2014 we will bring the revitalized Town&Country brand to new markets.

Recent launches gained momentum, including Women’s Health in the U.K., recognized as the most successful new magazine in that market in a decade, and the fast-growing ELLE Man in Hong Kong. Traffic and digital revenue at Hearst Magazines UK climbed to new heights, our e-commerce site ELLE Shop in Japan completed its first profitable year and our network of local news sites in Russia expanded to 12 cities, with 12 million monthly uniques.

Last year was a year of investment at our two important services businesses, CDS Global and iCrossing. CDS Global launched new products, significantly upgraded its technology infrastructure to facilitate the media industry’s move to digital subscription and billing systems and made great strides in the non-media segment of its business, with revenues for that sector up nearly 20 percent.

Celebrating 15 years, iCrossing was named the No. 1 U.S. search marketing agency by Advertising Age for the sixth year in a row. The company experienced strong earnings growth in the second half and has an impressive set of initiatives in store for 2014. We often tap the expertise of iCrossing as we map the overall digital strategy for the company, and I’m so pleased this unit is part of Hearst Magazines.

This year will be an important one for our company, and I appreciate how talented, dedicated, and resourceful our team members are—this is what ensures our continued success. I know that working in the media business today is very exciting and intellectually stimulating, but far from easy: There are challenging days filled with tough decisions, as well as days of triumph and celebration.

As we take stock of where we are, and where we want to go, I am grateful to those who surround and support us: our partners, our families, our friends. We ask a lot of you, and of them, when you’re traveling for business on weekends, pinned down at the office or distracted by late-night emails, and I want to personally thank you and all the people whose love and support allow you to do your best work.

May 2014 be a year of success and accomplishment, for you, your families and your businesses.

David Caret
President
Hearst Magazines

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