Condé Nast is abandoning a costly two-year attempt to “capture the glamour” of business and markets, shutting its Portfolio magazine because of financial constraints at the publisher’s parent company.
The title was born in a business media boom that saw launches as varied as Trader Monthly and Fox Business News try to tap rising demand from brokerages and luxury advertisers for a wealthy, largely male audience that they found hard to reach elsewhere.
That demand has collapsed with the falling markets. Portfolio’s advertising pages fell by 60.9 per cent in the first quarter, when the broader US consumer magazine market was down 25.9 per cent, and CNBC was carrying ads for “male enhancement” products on Monday lunchtime.
“I don’t think Condé Nast has the deep pockets it once had,” said Martin Walker, a magazine industry consultant. S.I. Newhouse Jr’s Advance Publications, the owner of Condé Nast, “was once a company that would never close a magazine. I don’t think any company can afford that now – even a private company,” he added.
Venerable Condé Nast titles are also suffering, with Vogue off 28.4 per cent in the first quarter, Vanity Fair down 32.6 per cent and the New Yorker down 35.7 per cent. Wired, its technology title, lost 57.2 per cent of its advertising pages.
Condé Nast reportedly spent more than $100m on Portfolio’s launch, but advertisers deserted as its celebrity treatment of business leaders began to look out of tune with the times. Condé Nast’s reluctance to offer discounts from its rate card also drove advertisers elsewhere, Mr Walker said.
Other titles have suffered similar fates. Trader Monthly announced its closure in February, ending a run of articles on fast cars, bespoke fashion and other ways of spending the bonuses that once seemed guaranteed on trading floors.
Although advertising was already falling at longer-established rivals such as Fortune, Forbes and BusinessWeek, when Portfolio launched, Mr Newhouse said at the time that it would “help the whole field”.
By promising to show the “powerful, gutsy, and passionate” side of business, with “stories of ambition, invention, ego, drama, and conflict”, Portfolio had hoped to attract more fashion and luxury goods advertisers to business coverage.
On Monday, Charles Townsend, Condé Nast’s chief executive, admitted that the challenges facing the “ambitious and innovative” magazine and website were now too great.
“The pressures and realities of the continuous deep economic slump have lowered Portfolio’s revenue projections below what is needed to continue publication,” he said.
The news came on another gloomy day for US print media. Six-monthly figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations showed average daily circulation of the country’s top 25 daily newspapers fell by 7.1 per cent between October and March.
The one exception was the Wall Street Journal, which showed a 0.6 per cent increase.