Here is another short paper I wrote for my magazine media class in New York University’s masters program, Publishing: Digital and Print Media. It discusses Cosmopolitan magazine (as a brand, and as a print and digital product) and how it generates revenue as well as suggestions for generating revenue in the future.
The official mission of Cosmopolitan magazine is “to empower fun, fearless females to own who they are and be who they want to be, no excuses, no bullshit, no regrets.” Cosmo does this by generating content for their target audience of women ages 18-50 across many outlets, via a print magazine which comes out on a monthly basis, a website which is updated daily, an app which is updated monthly, as well as various social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, which are all updated daily. Cosmo has 64 international editions, is printed in 35 languages, and distributed in 110 countries.
According to WARC, the Cosmo brand generates revenue from its focus on digital, partnerships, as well as sales and advertising. (Note: these observations/facts are not all encompassing, rather, they are the most important and prominent features of the brand.)
As for digital: Cosmo wants to build a community with their brand, and they do that mostly by promoting their own content digitally. By offering the ability to look at their magazine via an app on phones or tablets, they make their content accessible to all (although users do have to pay to view the magazine on the app). They regularly and frequently update their website: over 15 million people are subscribers. By putting their content up on Instagram and Snapchat daily and by tweeting frequently, they successfully reach younger audiences who are more likely to engage through these interactive apps: For example, Cosmo posts on Snapchat an average of 14 times a day, with a 76% engagement rate. They generate revenue digitally by exposing their audience to advertisements that sponsors pay for as well as making people subscribe and pay online to access their content.
As for partnerships: Cosmo frequently partners with celebrities, stylists, and media influencers like bloggers, creating content that advertises and sells these celebrities, stylists, and media influencers’ personas and products, accurately reflecting the Cosmo brand, and generating revenue through clickable content. Specific examples include Fun, Fearless Female/Male of the Year, Bachelor of the Year, various articles, etc.
As for sales: Single copy sales dominate for Cosmo in comparison to other magazines, (Cosmo is one of the leading consumer magazines in the United States, ranking third in 2014 with single copy sales.) including digital subscriptions. Over 3,000,000 people subscribe to and pay for Cosmo in its various forms. As for advertising: Cosmo makes a significant amount of revenue through advertising: for example, a single full page color advertisement in its online or print edition is $335,200. In 2013, they had a total of 461 ads of various sizes and colors in their online/print editions for the year.
In terms of expanding its revenue, Cosmo might take ecommerce into account: in 2016, former editor-in-chief of Cosmo Joanna Coles stated that she wanted to open up ecommerce on Cosmo’s Snapchat account and allow users to buy products advertised in their magazine through the app. While this hasn’t been developed yet, shopping tags on Instagram as well as Snapchat and their app might be beneficial to the brand as well as sponsors of the brand. They could start advertising and selling products on Instagram and Snapchat and their app with shopping tags, having sponsors/partners pay for their products to be featured and sold.
They might also consider pulling a Teen Vogue and eliminating the print version of Cosmo entirely: Last year, Cosmo reached 4.8 million unique visitors/month through their digital platforms, and while their print subscribers remain strong and steady, they’re in the hundred thousands and significantly fewer in number than digital subscribers. Focusing on their digital platforms and eliminating the print versions would help them increase their online unique visitors and expand their digital options.
Lastly, Cosmo might want to utilize tailored marketing: as in, customizing the app and website to each individual digital subscriber. This will make it more likely for subscribers to engage and click on content. Before subscribing, they could take a quiz that determines what they most want to get out of Cosmo. Then when they use the app, they could see all the content and products and ads that, based on their individual quiz, Cosmo thinks they would most likely engage with.