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In 1893 Munsey Changed Forever the Way Magazines Made Money

I write at times about advertising and its relationship to the culture.

Today is one of those days.

Advertising changed at the end of the nineteenth century into something more than simply information about a product.

Frank Munsey (1854-1925)  sold his Munsey’s Magazine subscribers to advertisers.

In  September of 1893 he wrote: ” Beginning with the opening number of Volume X [the October issue] the price of Munsey’s Magazine will be reduced from twenty-five to ten cents per copy and from three dollars to one dollar for annual subscriptions.”

Munsey Magazine, January, 1894. Notice the price change at the top.
Munsey Magazine, January, 1894. Notice the price change at the top.

He thus increased his readership by expanding the importance of  advertising from supplemental revenue to a fundamental role in the business model.

Circulation of the magazine, i.e. the number of subscribers, became his business asset.

How many exposures to the ad generated his revenue. The larger readership his magazine showed, the more he could charge for advertising.

Advertisers of course looked for the biggest audience for their ads.

Munsey’s Magazine was the first national magazine to see its readers as an asset.

Before then magazines had something to say, since Munsey they have something to sell: the readers.

Today in television, the number of viewers becomes the asset for the network.


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