Magazine drops ads to save money

Most magazines are trying to attract print advertising dollars. Not Prevention.

Prevention, a health and wellness magazine published by the family-owned Rodale company, will be ad-free starting with its July issue, which will hit shelves next week.

The move is part of a broader rethinking of the magazine, which first came out in 1950. It recently brought on a new editor-in-chief, Barbara O’Dair, and it plans to introduce a pay wall for its website.

“Let’s put it this way,” said Maria Rodale, chairwoman and chief executive of the magazine’s publishing company. “If we were going to continue with advertising, I could never see a future where we would be profitable.”

By going ad-free, Rodale said, Prevention will reduce its operating expenses by more than 50 percent. The savings will come in part because the magazine will no longer have to maintain a certain circulation level – a number very important to advertisers – which can result in magazines doing things like printing many copies of issues and offering steep discounts or giving them away free. Prevention has also cut its print sales staff.

“We’re going to save tons of money,” Rodale said.

Prevention has a circulation of about 1.5 million and will be giving up print ad revenue of roughly $12 million a year. It’s doubling its subscription price, to $48 from $24. It has increased the cost of a single copy by $1, to $4.99.

O’Dair, the new editor in chief, emphasized the editorial freedom that the magazine would have without ads. She said she planned to “bring in controversial stories” on topics such as medical errors, toxic cosmetics and the anti-aging industry.

In the July issue, for instance, there is an article about medical marijuana. “In the past, advertisers might not have wanted to be side by side with that content,” she said.

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