American Express Publishing CEO: ‘Go Where the Money Is’

In the first talk of the day at the 2008 American Magazine Conference, Myers Publishing LLC president Jack Myers moderated a panel featuring Bob Carrigan, CEO, IDG Communications; Ed Kelly, President & CEO, American Express Publishing Corporation, and Andy Sareyan, President, Better Homes and Gardens and EVP, Meredith Publishing Group. The group discussed how the model for magazines was changing and how their companies and publications were changing along with it.

“Go where the money is,” Kelly said when talking about his company’s forays into the non-print world. “Forty percent of my bottom line comes from non-magazine [sources].”

Carrigan, who now sees roughly 60 percent of United States revenue come from non-print sources, said IDG was forced to deal with the move away from magazines earlier than some other categories. “The tech category was hit fast and furious,” he explained. “We were the canary in the coalmine if you will.”

The three on stage agreed that digital in itself was not the solution. “We just put together a large deal that really led with digital,” Sareyan said. “That’s where we’re finding success with digital. Not isolating it on its own.”

So how do you get into the digital realm?

“With great patience,” Kelly said. “We’re not making money on our online properties at this time.”

Carrigan sees his company’s database business as a source of revenue in the future. “Marketers are willing to pay dearly to be in front of those users and users today are willing to trade information [about themselves] to help them making buying decisions,” he said.”