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A NEW RECIPE: A year and a half ago, Meredith Corp. purchased the Web site Allrecipes.com from Reader’s Digest Association for $175 million. The rationale was for the site, which boasted some annual 700 million visitors, to bolster Meredith’s digital presence.
Last summer, Meredith decided to test whether the site’s appeal online could translate to the old-fashioned newsstand.
At a magazine conference last month, Meredith chief executive officer Steve Lacy said the site’s readers were already shopping at supermarkets with the help of its recipes.
“This is a digital consumer,” Lacy said at a panel alongside other publishing bigwigs. “She’s in the market and she’s also interested in the print world that ties all of this together. That’s been our greatest corporate lesson — to figure out how to connect those dots and help our advertisers figure out how to sell to her when she’s right there in the store.”
The site was paired with one of the company’s existing special interest publications for a newsstand test run that carried the site’s logo on the cover, and it sold well — 40 percent more at retail than the SIP, Lacy said.
Meredith’s acquisition of the recipes site came full circle Monday when the publisher said it was extending the test run into a full-fledged print magazine of the same title to be published six times a year.
“Clearly there is tremendous enthusiasm and passion for a print extension of the Allrecipes brand,” said Tom Witschi, the head of Meredith’s women’s lifestyle group. The introduction of the new magazine can be attributed to the resurgence of the food advertising category after a decline of 17 percent in 2011, a larger dip than any other advertising group at the time, according to Publishers Information Bureau. In the first half of 2013, the category was up nearly 10 percent. Hearst’s Food Network Magazine, which also began as a pilot and later expanded to 10 times a year, posted 16 percent more ad pages through July, and Condé Nast’s Bon Appétit was up 25 percent, according to Media Industry Newsletter.
Allrecipes’ December issue, its inaugural, will hit newsstands in November with a guaranteed circulation of 500,000. Advertising sales will be handled by New York-based Christine Guilfoyle, who will continue as publisher of Every Day With Rachel Ray. The magazine’s editorial direction is somewhat unorthodox — its editor in chief is Cheryl Brown, a former senior editor at Gourmet who is also the editorial director of Meredith’s Recipe.com. Brown, based out of Meredith’s Des Moines headquarters, will work with the Web site’s team, which is based out of Seattle.
Brown explained the magazine’s place in the market by emphasizing relatability in an appeal to Meredith’s core heartland audience.
The new magazine, she said, “will speak to real everyday cooks.”