Consumer Magazine Report: The Kids Are Alright

Youth-targeted magazines have found it pays to be among the very young at heart
outh is not wasted on the young, at least not in the eyes of publishers. As kids’ buying power has risen, so has advertisers’ interest in media outlets that can deliver this market–which has meant good news for kid-targeted magazines.
“The whole kid print category is growing as more and more marketers realize the viability of the category,” says Glenn Rosenbloom, group publisher of Disney Adventures, a 1.1 million-circ guide to “movies, music, video games, comics, sports and more” published 11 times a year for readers six to 12. “Kids are influencing a tremendous amount of spending in so many different categories, and marketers realize that,” he says.
Disney Adventures closed its winter 2000 issue up nearly 104 percent over last year, says Rosenbloom.
Nickelodeon, once simply a network for kids and now a brand name, produces three magazines for kids: Nickelodeon, an entertainment and humor book for kids six to 14, published 10 times a year with a circ of 900,000; Nick Jr., a 500,000-circ bimonthly launched last year that targets preschoolers and their parents; and Rugrats Comic Adventures, a comic book spun off from the popular TV show that reaches 120,000 readers 10 times yearly. Meanwhile, the bimonthly Crayola Kids, aimed at kids three to 11 and their parents, wrapped up last year 32 percent above 1998 in ad pages. The magazine just announced a rate-base increase, to 600,000 from 550,000, its seventh increase since 1994.
SI for Kids group publisher Cleary Simpson says there are three categories of advertisers her magazine can go for: the parent-directed category, which includes makers of breakfast cereal and the like; kid-directed, such as video games; and “the mom-and-kid-at-the-same-time-directed advertising. Foot Locker would be an example of that. So we’re seeing our ability to cross over all of these lines in a unique way, driving our ad pages.”
Not surprisingly, the major players in the kids’ category are all offshoots of brands that are either familiar to youngsters, such as Disney, or that are seen as good for them. Time for Kids, for example, has a circulation of 2.8 million, much of that representing classroom subscriptions (the magazine does not take advertising but occasionally does special sponsored issues).
But publishers aren’t relying only on brand recognition to keep their magazines afloat. All of them spend a considerable amount of money and time on research to serve what may be the least static readership there is. “You’ve got boys and girls, you’ve got the differences between a six-year-old child and a 12-year-old child, which can be enormous. And then you’ve got the fad quotient,” says Rosenbloom. “So consumer research is incredibly important.”
The feedback helps the editors, but it also boosts the magazines’ profile with advertisers who are uncertain about how to speak to kids. Says Deborah Jones Barrow, group publisher of Crayola Kids, “We can lend our authority to the advertiser, helping them make their ads even more interactive and hard-working for this group.” –Kristina Feliciano