Hearst’s MagFront Event Featured Experiments With Audio and Other Niche Formats

'Listenables' on audio platforms are on the horizon

Drew and Jonathan Scott, Ree Drummond, editor in chief of Food Network Magazine Maile Carpenter, and HGTV Magazine editor in chief Sara Peterson presented new projects at Hearst's MagFront. Getty Images for Hearst
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Top editors and thought leaders in the publishing world presented new projects at Hearst’s fifth-annual MagFront event today at its headquarters in New York.

Many of the presentations at the event, at which Hearst introduces new initiatives available for potential future sponsorships, referred advertisers to small-scale projects that will end up finding more niche and highly engaged audiences, but audio is a format Hearst as a whole is enthusiastic in pursuing.

Joanna Coles, Hearst Magazines chief content officer, announced new audio initiatives she and the company are calling “listenables,” voice-first content for platforms like Amazon’s Alexa. One listenable from Hearst is a skill called “My Beauty Chat,” and Coles hopes it will keep Hearst and its experts close to its readers and fans.

“We want to own those moments when you’re getting ready in the bathroom in the morning or at the other end of the day before bed,” Coles said.

L’Oréal is the sponsor of “My Beauty Chat,” Coles encouraged other brands that want to sponsor other Hearst audio projects or start their own in partnership with Hearst, to connect.

“Voice is the medium of the future, and Hearst has historically been an early adopter to technology breakthroughs,” Michael Clinton, president, marketing and publishing director for Hearst Magazines, told Adweek. “‘My Beauty Chat’ will not only help listeners seek out beauty advice but also cultivate brand loyalty, streamline the customer journey and lower the barrier to purchase.”

Editors from many of Hearst’s titles presented smaller-scale expanded projects, too.

After a surprisingly successful pop-up issue of a bespoke Pioneer Woman Magazine sold out of its first run earlier this year, Hearst announced today that it will be published four times in 2018 with a minimum of 400,000 copies printed per issue.

Another Scripps Networks partnership will be released next year from Hearst in the form of a magazine-within-a-magazine featuring the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, who star in many programs on HGTV. Through HGTV Magazine, readers will get to know what the brothers’ lives are like behind the camera. Readers can expect that special mini issue in the fall of 2018.


Other mini and special issues will appear in both Country Living and Good Housekeeping—a quarterly mini-magazine called Julep will celebrate “how the southern half lives” and will feature Molly Sims as a lifestyle contributor.

“Southerners were the original influencers,” Sims said at the MagFront event. “They’re a very word-of-mouth type of person.”

For Clinton, Hearst is made up of experts on dozens of topics from dozens of brands. He believes their knowledge, as it’s shared with Hearst’s readers, is what will keep people reading and coming back.

“The faux influencer bubble is about to burst,” Clinton said. “Our future will always be producing content with true influencers—magazine editors who are skilled, knowledgable and have deep experience in their subject matter.”

@samimain sami.main@adweek.com Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.