A day after I finished my ramble about how advertising tends not to get mentioned in articles about The Future Of Magazines, I read the following passage in Holy Terror, Bob Colacello’s “insider’s portrait” of Andy Warhol. Mr. Colacello ran Interview magazine for about 11 years, shortly after its launch.
Selling advertising also helped me become a better editor: It forced me to focus on what kind of readers we wanted and how to get them, to see the magazine as a complete process, with editorial feeding circulation, circulation feeding advertising, advertising feeding editorial, rather than separate parts working against each other. That didn’t mean doing everything the advertisers wanted, though we did a lot, and Andy would have had me do more. It did mean that a certain kind of reader led to a certain kind of advertiser and vice versa. And in explaining the magazine’s editorial policy to advertisers, I was also formulating it for myself â€” defining it in sharper, clearer terms, giving it direction, identity, finding not only its niche in the market, but also its place in the culture. There was another thing I liked about selling advertising: Success could be measured in dollars and cents, pages and half pages and quarter pages, and like Andy, I was soon counting them and measuring totals against the previous year’s. I liked the feeling of building something from the ground up.
As an editor who is involved in the advertising side of a magazine (trade, not consumer), this entire piece resonated with me. Except my boss doesn’t wear an outrageous white wig and invite me to parties with Bianca Jagger.