Forbes Media CEO Mike Perlis sent the following to the staff about its first-half results ahead of a company town hall meeting on Friday:
We’ve reached an important inflection point in our history. Over the last few years, Forbes has evolved into a digitally-driven global media and branding company with technology at the center of its strategy. Our traffic stands at 44 million today, and approximately 80% of our ad revenues come from digital. After transforming our business model in 2010 with the launch of our contributor platform, we’ve been reinventing ever since and doing so from a leadership position in the marketplace. It’s like constantly changing the tires while the car is moving.
Now we’re harnessing our technology to embrace a mobile-first world. We’re adjusting our digital and print strategies in line with mobile consumption patterns. In the first half this year, mobile traffic to Forbes.com increased 30% …while mobile ad revenues surged 60%. Our teams have been hard at work creating a new mobile user experience that is fast loading and highly visual. For two examples of our mobile format, click on your iPhone here http://www.forbes.com/beta/infographic and here http://www.forbes.com/beta/top-colleges. We’ll be continuing to test, experiment and iterate our approach in the months to come.
In digital, we’ve developed two of the most sophisticated operations in our industry – native advertising and programmatic – and both are driving the most significant share of our digital growth as we focus on continuing to offer new products. Through June, BrandVoice digital ad revenues increased more than 50%, with high value interactive brand content performing particularly well. Look for a unique BrandVoice 360 offering in the second half, which is unlike any content marketing product in the industry. Programmatic, meanwhile, is on an aggressive growth path, as revenues ramped up 40% in the first half.
In print, Forbes magazine continues to resonate with audiences at peak levels. According to the most recent MRI report, our readership is at 6.8 million in the U.S. – a new all-time high in our 98-year history. And our most-read issue ever, featuring Ashton Kutcher on the cover, was published this April and had 8.8 million readers. Our spike in readership notwithstanding, we’ve been addressing the industrywide pressure in print advertising by creating innovative BrandVoice spreads and second covers for our advertisers. On a worldwide basis, we now have 36 local licensed editions of Forbes magazine…and our goal in the second half is to further expand in Western Europe, Africa and Latin America.
Capturing the millennial audience remains a key priority and, based on the numbers, our mission of entrepreneurial capitalism is resonating with a new generation of doers. Over the last seven years, Forbes magazine has seen a 50% increase with readers aged 18-34 – the largest increase of all 144 publications measured by MRI. On our site, nearly half of our visitors today are millennials. To further engage this important demographic, we recently launched Women@Forbes, which encompasses business-first content integrated across Forbes.com, live intimate mentoring salons and podcasts … all aimed at helping millennial women advance their careers. We’ve also extended our Under 30 franchise internationally this year with the launch of 30 Under 30 lists in Europe and Asia, as well as Under 30 Summits in Israel and Singapore. Up next, from October 16-19 is our Under 30 Summit in Boston, which is expected to bring together more than 5,000 of the world’s greatest young entrepreneurs.
In the near and long term, our overarching goal will remain the same – to build the business of Forbes to be as big as the brand of Forbes. Particular areas of expansion include San Francisco and Hong Kong. As we grow, we’re keenly focused on getting out in front of the challenges that media companies face today in the marketplace, such as ad blocking (which we took head on beginning last December), softness in direct sold advertising campaigns, declining print advertising, platforms like Facebook and Google which are taking the lion’s share of mobile advertising, and mobile monetization. As the nimble organization that we are, we’ve shown that we can pivot when necessary and we can count on the stewardship and strength of our teams to help us navigate an ever-changing media environment. We look forward to collaborating together to finish off the year powerfully and kick off 2017 with great momentum.
Thank you again for your continued commitment and for the work that you do for Forbes every day.
All the best,
Forbes Media CEO and Executive Chairman