Inc. Magazine Celebrates a Most Profitable Year

Our chat with Inc. Media president and editor in chief Eric Schurenberg.

At Inc. magazine’s annual town hall meeting earlier this month, there was much for employees to cheer. Website traffic measured by comScore is up 110% from two years ago; the print audience tabulated by IPSOS has increased 9.1% since 2015; and much of the digital traffic growth has come from Europe, without regionally targeted advertising or content tailored for that readership. All told, 2016 will be the publication’s most profitable year since it was purchased in 2005 by Morningstar billionaire-entrepreneur Joe Mansueto.

December 2016 issue

“This is the first year in Inc.’s history in which revenues from digital surpassed revenues from print,” Inc. Media president and editor in chief Eric Schurenberg tells FishbowlNY. “That’s a real milestone for a brand that got its start as a magazine 38 years ago. Most of the revenues in digital came from display advertising, where CPMs remained strong.”

“I think that’s a tribute to the power of the brand and its connection with the entrepreneurs who read Inc. and inc.com,” he continues. “It’s also a tribute to our ability to spread our sponsors’ messages in all kinds of media—not just digital, but also print, video, live events and podcasts.”

“We also saw strong growth in branded content, where we really amped up our commitment this year and which we’ll be throwing even more resources behind in 2017.”

Events were an important part of this year’s revenue flow. For the second year, in partnership with CNBC, Inc. put on its iCONIC Tour. Meanwhile, the keynote speaker at this year’s Inc. 500 gala was Tony Robbins, who has contributed to the fund that Beringer Capital tapped to recently acquire Adweek.

Most of the 9.1% increase in print readership came from subscriptions. The best-selling issue overall was the September Inc. 500-themed edition, although Schurenberg stresses that it did not enjoy any sort of huge, relative spike. He says print growth was spread fairly evenly across the year.

That’s also true of the aforementioned European web traffic. Schurenberg (pictured) says the interest in Inc. content overseas extends well beyond anything to do with Brexit. And starting next month, the magazine will be open its first international office. In addition to New York, Inc. has U.S. offices in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“We’ll hit the ground running in January,” he says. “Our goal is to put together integrated packages that include print and live events, in addition to digital media.”

Asked to highlight one of his prouder moments in 2016 as EIC, Schurenberg points to the addition of columnist Thomas Goetz, a former Wired-editor-turned-entrepreneur. “With his business writing credentials he could write anywhere,” says Schurenberg. “But he said he chose Inc. because it struck him—both as a writer and as a startup owner—as the most authentic voice of entrepreneurship in the field. That felt good.”