By Attracting National Budgets, Texas Monthly Grows Ad Revenue 31%

The publisher has grown total revenue by 39% thanks to revenue diversification

Publisher Texas Monthly, which marked its 50th anniversary last month, grew its overall revenue by 39% in 2022, an uptick the privately owned media company attributed to its expanded number of advertising channels and an ongoing effort to cultivate new sources of revenue.

The publisher increased its advertising revenue 31% year over year, according to chief revenue officer Jalaane Levi-Garza, and revenue from print and digital subscriptions climbed 26% in the same period.

Texas Monthly generates 75% of its revenue from advertising, 15% from subscriptions and 10% from entertainment, licensing and books. It wouldn’t share financial specifics.

While the publisher still generates an outsized portion of its advertising revenue from its print magazine, it has worked to mitigate the commercial challenges of its digital transformation by investing in supplemental lines of business, particularly events, audio products, derivative intellectual property and digital subscriptions.

This comes despite a broader downturn in the digital advertising ecosystem, which has prompted a wave of layoffs throughout the industry. 

“Every media company is grappling with the challenge of evolving our legacies, moving from single to multi-platform,” Levi-Garza said. “We are fortunate in that the legacy of Texas Monthly print has allowed us to expand our quality editorial content across eight distinct businesses.”

The 105-person publisher has also benefited from its new ownership, the oil and gas scion Randa Duncan Williams, who acquired it for an undisclosed sum in 2019. Her patronage has let Texas Monthly invest in its digital capabilities, according to media analyst Mike Orren, the former chief product officer at The Dallas Morning News.

“They have been given the leeway to create a great product, which yields great readers, which attracts great advertisers,” Orren said. “These numbers are trailing indicators.”

Texas Monthly has expanded its business across a variety of new channels, including podcasting, events and a major push into digital subscriptions.Texas Monthly

Attracting national budgets

The lion’s share of its advertising revenue comes from print. The publisher sells 95% of its inventory directly, and roughly 80% of its print campaigns now contain a digital element. Many of its largest media buys have been exclusively digital, including a recent $900,000 campaign spread over three months, according to the publisher.

Texas Monthly has roughly 37 ad products available for clients but is focusing on growing its custom content division, the Texas Monthly Brand Studio. The studio has wooed national clients, such as Coca-Cola, by promising to translate its messaging into a Texas vernacular.

Texas Monthly has a means of communicating to everyone in the state in a way that no one else can.

Greg Artkop, director of business, brand and strategic communications, Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages

The sheer size of the market—if Texas were a country, it would be the 10th-largest economy in the world—has helped the publisher court larger brands, such as Hermes, as the magazine often ends up on national media plans. 

But its ability to tap into passionate communities within the state has made it a must-buy for brands looking to reach Texans, an audience that has grown rapidly in recent years, said Greg Artkop, the director of business, brand and strategic communications at Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages. 

In one recent campaign, Artkop worked with Texas Monthly to sponsor its Barbecue Passport, an activation tied to the magazine’s highly anticipated ranking of the top 50 barbecue restaurants in the state.

“After 50 years in Texas, Texas Monthly has a means of communicating to everyone in the state in a way that no one else can,” Artkop said.

Subscriptions, events, audio, IP and newsletters

The publisher has grown total number of print and digital subscribers 26% last year, to 263,000—a larger reach than most Texas newspapers, according to Orren.

Of its new subscribers, 48% bought bundled subscriptions, 32% bought digital and 20% bought print. By promoting its bundled offering and graduating subscribers from trial rates, the publisher increased its average subscription price by almost 45%, according to Levi-Garza. 

The publisher also grew its newsletter readership by 11.8% to 336,000 free subscribers across 12 total newsletters, and its fledgling events business has seen a 112% uptick in revenue, albeit from a lower base. On the audio front, Texas Monthly has produced 11 podcast series since 2018—one of which is being adapted into a series by Yellowstone creator Tayler Sheridan. 

The media company has also sought to mine its archival content for film and television adaptations, partnering with the talent agency CAA to develop such opportunities. It currently has roughly 50 series in varying states of production, including a forthcoming HBO series called Love & Death.