Time Inc.’s Ripp Reorganizes to Boost Native Advertising Sales

  • Publisher wants to offer ‘much broader set’ of ad products
  • Analyst says changes may lead to cost savings, job cuts

Time Inc. is reorganizing how it sells advertising, aiming to boost revenue by creating more custom content for sponsors and making it easier for marketers to buy ads across its magazine portfolio.

The structure will help increase sales of native advertising, Chief Executive Officer Joe Ripp said Wednesday in an interview. Such ads -- promotional content that’s designed to look like editorial articles and videos -- have become the lifeblood of digital media companies like BuzzFeed and Vice Media. At a recent investor day, Time Inc. showed off marketing messages, including videos and social media posts, that it created for Walgreens stores to help women “reconsider how they think of Walgreens’ role” in their beauty routine.

“We’re going to the marketplace and saying there’s a much broader set of products that Time Inc. has that are available to you,” Ripp said in the interview. “We understand native is important as advertisers are trying to break through the clutter.”

The changes announced Wednesday included a shakeup at several key positions within the company. Alan Murray, editor of Fortune, will succeed Norman Pearlstine as the company’s chief content officer. All Time Inc. U.S. editors will report to Murray. Pearlstine will remain with the company as vice chairman.

Time Inc., which owns Sports Illustrated and Travel + Leisure, along with Fortune, also announced changes to its sales team. Under the new arrangement, the company’s U.S. ad sales organization will report to Mark Ford, chief revenue officer for global advertising.

In the first quarter, Time’s total advertising revenue rose 2 percent to $360 million from a year earlier, as digital sales grew and print ads declined. Circulation revenue fell 5 percent. Shares of the New York-based company, spun off from Time Warner Inc. two years ago, have plunged 30 percent in the past year.

In a note to clients, analyst Eric Katz of Wells Fargo Securities said the changes could lead to cost savings and job cuts. Ripp declined to comment on possible firings.

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