Wired UK – How is the UK’s magazine launch of the year doing?

Just over 12 months ago I wrote a couple of posts on this blog talking about the brave and exciting launch of Wired UK.  In them I suggested that the publishers (Condé Nast) were missing a bit of an opportunity to build their subscriber base.

Last year the magazine won the British Society of Magazine Editors “Launch of the Year” award. They also released their audited circulation figures recently so I thought it was an opportune moment to review how they had done.

The numbers

Average circulation for the last 6 months was 50,009 copies per month. The circulation was broken down as follows:

17,488 subscription copies of which:

  • 793 were sold at full rate
  • 13,659 were sold at between 50% of full rate and full rate (the current sub offer is at 51%)
  • 2,869 were sold at between 20% and 50% of full rate
  • 166 were sold at less than 10% full rate
  • 49 were sold as multiple subs

Full rate for a subscription is listed as £47.88

In addition they sold an average of 22,472 copies per month on the newstand – largely at the full cover price of £3.99 per copy.

The Money

So, let’s make an estimate of the current annual circulation revenue for the magazine.

Subscription revenue = c. £425,000 per year.

Newstand revenue = c. £1,075,000 per year minus (say) 30% for the retailers = c. £750,000 per year.

Total circulation revenue estimate = £1,175,000 per year.

Now, clearly Wired UK is a great advertising vehicle for brands wishing to reach an attractive demographic. I can only guess what they charge for a page (anyone who can find a link to their print media pack online please leave it in the comments below) but the latest issue has an advertising/editorial ration of 1:5 with 31 pages of advertising.

They’ve obviously sold their advertising on the back of a circulation of 50,000 because they are currently giving away 10,000 free copies per month on airlines, in clubs and spas. They also have an interesting web offering that I would hope brings in some decent revenue and which I know they are looking to develop.

How should we judge the launch?

As I said previously you have to admire any company launching new publishing products in early 2009 – especially a big, expensive print glossy. Hats off to them.

Wired UK had been tried a couple of times previously with no long-term success. In 1997 it was closed with an average paid circulation of 40,000 (similar to today). It was suggested that it needed to be selling double that amount to break even – mind you, it did have a staff of 32 at the time.

At launch the editor claimed a £2m first year promo spend. I doubt it was that much but even so their production, distribution and marketing costs must be pretty sizeable so the company probably haven’t seen a return on their investment yet. It will be interesting to see now if their momentum can be continued.

I still firmly believe that they missed a massive opportunity to sign people up for subscriptions at launch, when the buzz was highest. I like the magazine but have never seen a single piece of subscription promotion for it (and god knows I’ve now written enough to show up on someone’s radar…).

As a result I have probably only bought about one in four of their monthly issues.

So, it’s great that Wired UK has established itself. The editorial team have done a great job with the product but I think the subscription marketers need a bit of a kick up the backside!

Sorry team – with a better early promotion schedule I think you could have easily had  50,000 subscribers by now.

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3 responses to “Wired UK – How is the UK’s magazine launch of the year doing?

  1. Rory Brown

    Link to the Wired UK ABC circulation certificate here (not sure if you need to register to view it or not)


  2. ben eva

    Rory, great analysis of the first year. I have to say I think it is a great product and I hope it keeps going. I do actually subscribe, but only because Amazon promoted it to me as part of their subscription offering, so it wasn’t really through any Wired magazine promo.

    I also subscribe to the US edition and I have to say they targeted the hell out of me, online, email, affiliate and I finally took up an offer for $20 for the year, very good value for money.

    So I agree, there is a huge opportunity being missed by the UK wired team, perhaps they should employ some of their US teams tactics!

  3. Rory Brown

    Thanks Ben,

    Interesting that you subscribed as a result of an Amazon promotion rather than through anything Conde Nast had done.

    I think the magazine is great but it always pains me to see a missed opportunity on subscriptions – especially in a launch environment where every penny towards profitability really counts.

    Hope you’re still enjoying the US.


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