Everyone is second-guessing the viability of a Newsweek Daily Beast alliance again. According to a new industry report, media buyers are so far uninspired by the viability of the print-plus-digital experiment and would rather stick with one brand. With Time showing 7% growth in ad pages this year over Newsweek's 34% decline, Time now boasts double the ad pages over its historical competitor.
This is just the latest kink in the tracks for Tina Brown's new media locomotive. Less than a month after the redesigned magazine launched, early April numbers revealed that, despite a sunny outlook for the advertising industry, Newsweek was the only newsweekly to lose advertisers this year. (Even the lesser known waterfowl watchdogs Ducks Unlimited increased ad sales by nearly 50% noticed Business Insider.) Around the same time, Jonathan Alter, the last of the "Newsweek six" hit the road, taking his column to Bloomberg. Then Newsweek owner and self-proclaimed bank roller Sidney Harmon passed away leaving the future of the brand new Newsweek Daily Beast company in question. The April 18 edition of Newsweek featured a paltry six pages of advertising.
Now a month later, the company looked like it might have turned a corner. Former Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman filled her late husband's board seat and assured the world that Newsweek wouldn't be going anywhere. Newsstand sales ticked up 57% over this time last year, and traffic numbers for The Daily Beast doubled since April 2010, perhaps due to the strong performance of newly acquired and very popular blog by Andrew Sullivan. According to editor-in-chief Brown, "there's a great synergy" between Newsweek and The Daily Beast that appeals to all.
Despite that optimistic news, advertisers say they still need convincing. "We're not rushing to put money into Newsweek… They have their work cut out for them," one media buyer told AdAge this week. Some claim that the rigidity of advertising budgets, which are traditionally siloed into print and digital categories, makes it more difficult to sell the integrated packages the Newsweek Daily Beast merger made possible. Others report that the new company is riddled with internal chaos on the editorial front, claiming that Brown suffers from a lack of direction and participation. Brown recently told The New York Times, "I like to have a structure of things that are in place, and then I constantly disrupt it with a new thing, an idea that’s just in the air."
Stability and progress will be a tough sell for the NewsBeast in the near future. On the heels of news that managing editor Brekke Fletcher, a "key hire," would hit the road after only five months on the job, synergy looks like it might be a ways off.