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Maybe there is something to the notion that media companies are experiencing a comeback, as online ad rev at Meredith (NYSE: MDP) Interactive rose more than 20 percent in Q1 amid a decent 5 percent rise in total revs. Meanwhile, ad sales at its mags, including Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and Parents gained 4 percent to $137 million. But even more impressive was the 10 percent growth at Meredith Integrated Marketing, which is the publisher’s attempt to build a more solid alternative revenue stream to advertising. The unit works directly with advertisers on campaigns, and could potentially upset the traditional balance between publishers, advertisers and ad agencies as it grows.
At the moment, ad agencies don’t have too much to worry about. While the Meredith unit is still positive, it’s not exactly the juggernaut it was when Meredith marketing revs first shot up 50 percent between the summer of 2007 and 2008. By last summer, those marketing dollars were up only 13 percent and in the last quarter