Economist reports success of mobile phone mag sales

The Economist has claimed success with a new mobile-phone-based magazine sales ploy this week, as it reported its overall operating profit had climbed three per cent to £57.5m for the 12 months to April.

In the annual report of parent company Economist Group, its UK managing director Nigel Ludlow outlined how interest in the new sales system had grown since it was launched.

He said: “We started an innovative way for readers in the UK to buy their copy of The Economist. Readers can elect to receive a text message on their mobile telephone summarising the main stories from the issue about to go to press.

“Readers can choose to buy that issue by replying, triggering a charge to their credit card. The copy is then delivered overnight. Interest in the service has grown significantly since launch.”

The annual report also revealed that while print sales of the magazine increased in the UK by 1.2 per cent year on year to 189,201 in the second half of 2009, print advertising was down 16 per cent over the same period.

However, Ludlow said he was optimistic about the prospects of growing the magazine’s UK sale saying: “In the past, we have viewed the UK market as relatively mature for The Economist.

“Our recent analysis, however, suggests that the audience of intellectually curious people is larger than we thought and capable of supporting further growth in circulation. We have already started to invest in activity to tap that potential, and this will continue in the coming year.”

Global turnover for Economist Group increased by two per cent year on year to £319.9m in the 123 months to April, the report stated.

In the UK turnover was £54.47m (down from £56.4m) and operating profit increased slightly to £16.4m (£15.3m).

Editor-in-chief John Michlethwait boosted his £271,000 annual salary to £617,000 thanks to a £108,000 annual bonus, £223,000 under a long-term incentive plan and a further £15,000 in benefits.

The Economist had global weekly average magazine sales of 1,420,766 in the second half of 2009.

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