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Time Inc. Races to Go Digital Before Its Print Business Disappears

Joe Ripp's print sales fell faster than he thought in Q3.

Vjeran Pavic for Re/code
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Time Inc. says its digital ad business is looking up. It had better: The giant magazine publisher says its print ad sales are dropping faster than expected, prompting it to lower its financial goals for the year.

Time has cut its revenue and profit guidance for 2014, citing “weak print advertising booking trends.” It now thinks it will generate $3.27 billion in revenue, instead of $3.3 billion, and will make $510 million in adjusted operating income, down from $535 million.

During an earnings call to discuss the company’s third-quarter results, CEO Joe Ripp said some of the decline in print ads was “economic-driven,” and that other drops came as advertisers moved their spending to digital platforms.

And Time’s own digital story is looking up, he said. Digital ad sales increased 19 percent in Q3, up from a 15 percent increase in Q2. Ripp said he would be able to report another increase in Q4.

Digital sales remain a small part of Time Inc.’s business for now, at 15 percent of the company’s ad revenue. But Ripp said digital now accounts for 25 percent of his subscription business.

Ripp talked at length about the challenges of turning Time into a digital business earlier this fall, at our Code/Media New York event. You can see that interview below:

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