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Josh Gordon

Have Publishers Let Competitors Position Their Media?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 11/20/2012-15:09 PM

Media buyers who buy the products publishers sell now divide the media they manage into three categories:

  • Earned media, largely social media where organizations "earn" exposure by posting content on services like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
  • Owned media, media a marketer owns like their company website, newsletter, or blog.
  • Paid media, third party media, which is most of what publishers sell to marketers.

But consider the emotional message these labels send.

"Owning" your own media makes marketers feel great and in control. Owning is good!

Everyone loves to "earn" free exposure on social media platforms.

But who really wants to "pay" for exposure they might be able to get for free through social media?  

Of the three media categories, only "paid media" is named for a negative characteristic.

How did this happen? These category names came into common use around 2008 when social media was being added to media budgets. With the need to contrast social media with traditional media, the social media centric thinking of the time renamed traditional media as it contrasts to social, suddenly we became "paid media." This label casts a negative implication every time it is used.

There is a fix. Publishers need to work to change the label from "paid media" to "third party media," which is more descriptive and offers a significant benefit. While earned and owned media are highly effective at reaching existing customers, third-party media is far more effective at reaching non-customers. Current customers are much more likely to visit a company website or subscribe to a company newsletter. Non-customers, less so. Current customers much more likely to participate with a company Facebook page or subscribe to a company Twitter feed. Non-customers, not so much.

Third-party media, reaches customers and non-customers alike.

But it is no secret that marketing budgets have seen a big shift in the last few years. While marketing budgets have remained flat for the past few years dollars have moved out of  third-party media (paid media), and into owned and earned media. This trend may have gone too far.  

In a study
my company did earlier earlier this year that measured the marketing effectiveness of 34 companies in a B2B market and found  that marketing was effective with an average of 55.6 percent of current customers, but only with 10.6 percent of non-customers.

There is a real case to be made for the benefits of third-party media. The more important winning new customers is for marketers, the more important third-party media becomes. I we can reposition what we sell from being "the media you have to pay for" to being "the media that best communicates with NEW customers" our media sales job will get easier. 

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Josh Gordon

Are Your Media Reps Asking About Paid Search?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 11/08/2012-14:26 PM

 

If your sales staff sells traditional media, understanding how paid search works is a big plus. Today, about half of all online ad dollars go to search, so it is important to understand where most of online money now goes.

The first step is for media reps is to ask clients how much of their ad budget goes to search. Many are surprised at how much of the marketing plan goes to a format that started in its current form only 12 years ago—2000 was the year Google first started selling advertising based on keywords.

The year search really broke out was 2008. In that year Google indexed a trillion web pages, but more importantly, acquired web analytics giant DoubleClick enabling them to, "dramatically improve the effectiveness, measurably and performance of digital media for publishers, advertisers and agencies."

Leveraging the resources of DoubleClick, Google was able to improve the metrics for advertisers and offer "more precise metrics in order to judge the effectiveness of their campaigns." With improved metrics came better documentation of the effectiveness of search and and improved sales.  
    
The year 2008 was also the year b-to-b print advertising, a medium challenged with documenting results, started to falter. Coincidence? Hard to say.

But let's look at the present. A recent study of b-to-b marketers from Marketing Sherpa showed budget allocation for paid search is now ahead of print advertising, no small feat for a medium where ads often cost between 30 cents and five dollars each. Think traditional media does not compete against search for ad dollars? Think again.
 
Do your media reps know how to position their products against paid search? It would be best if they could.

 

 

 

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Josh Gordon

Angie, On Why Angie’s List Publishes a Print Magazine

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 10/09/2012-14:12 PM

 

Angie Hicks Bowman, co-founder of the home service rating company that carries her name, is one of the smartest marketers I have ever interviewed. She started her company as "Columbus Neighbors," personally going door to door in Columbus, Ohio to sign up members and collect ratings on local contractors. After her first year of door knocking, her company had 1,000 members. Today, that number is over 1.5 million paid members.

When my wife Lynn became an Angie’s List member, a monthly print magazine started showing up at our Brooklyn brownstone. I was intrigued. In a time when many marketers are scaling back print magazine marketing investment to favor digital media, here was a prominent digital content company publishing a print magazine. Retro marketing? Not on your life. In an interview with Angie I found her rationale for using print magazines so rooted in common sense I wondered why no one had thought of explaining it her way before.

When I asked Angie why she is sticking with print magazines she said, “I think people interact with print publications differently than they do with online content. Angie’s List is essentially a problem solving service. When people say, “Oh, I need a plumber” they come to us. But our print magazine allows us to interact with members when they are not in need of a plumber.” Angie added that her magazine helps differentiate her company in the crowded online market: “It’s one of the neat differentiators about us. We are not only collecting all of this content but actually packaging it into this kind of “news you can use format.”

In addition, Angie said her print magazine helps drive incremental activity by educating members: “Maybe someone had not thought about buying a geo thermal heating and cooling system, but read an article about it in Angie’s List magazine. That person may not have gone on our website to read the article but read it in our magazine, and it created incremental interest.”

The magazine also serves as a way to introduce new members, said Angie. “Angie’s List members are busy people, and getting the magazine delivered to them can be a very easy, great way to kind of break in.” She continues, “I get tons of e-mails but on Saturday I might sit down to read a magazine at home, where I don’t want to be sitting in front of my computer. Our members are very passionate about our magazine and a lot of consumers leave it sitting out on their coffee table.” And members love the magazine. Angie recalls, “I remember getting a call from a member who had a hospital stay during which her daughter came in, cleaned her house, and threw away her Angie’s List magazine collection. She was so upset she called and asked if we could send her a whole new set.”

For those of us marketing print products in an ever more digital world, for my money, Angie’s best wisdom came when she described how magazines keep her customers engaged even “when they are not in need of a plumber.” As more marketers abandon print budgets to fund digital initiatives, her comment reminds us of print’s unique marketing value, which is not easily duplicated online. When a print magazine arrives in a home or office it can be read in any physical location, and does not compete for online time with other websites.

In addition, website content is often “purpose driven”—designed for users to choose their own sequence of information as they search for content and solutions to problems. The magazine experience is different, because an editor selects the sequence of content within an area of interest. The magazine read may offer fewer content options, but sometimes it’s really nice to have someone who really knows the neighborhood be the tour guide. Like many websites, Angie’s List is a problem solving service, so a print magazine is the perfect complement.

Need a book? Go to Amazon.com. The latest political news? Politio.com. Tech news? Mashable.com etc. But what about when you do not need a book, political news, tech news, or a plumber? Maybe you are sitting on your couch just reading a magazine, maybe the one published by Angie’s List.

PS: Watch a video produced by American Business Media on our initiative to help publishers sell more print adverising by selling the value of 3rd party media HERE.

Josh Gordon is president of SmarterMediaSales.com where he works with publishers to maximize their online and print revenue through training, consulting, and representation.
 

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Josh Gordon

To Sell More Print Ads, Pitch Digital First

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/28/2012-15:23 PM

 

Many media reps who sell both print and on-line media lead their client conversations talking about print. Since it can take as much time to sell a $7,000 print ad as a $1,000 banner ad, this can look like the fastest way to meet quota...or is it?

I have found the opposite is true. Starting with print can lead to lower print sales. Sound crazy? Here are three reasons why:

1.
Advertisers would rather talk about digital options than talk about print. Digital media is new and more interesting for them. Honestly, what is there to say that is new and exciting about print advertising that can compare?

2. When calling on smaller and mid-sized accounts there is a very real opportunity to be a hero by helping them understand the chaos that is digital media today. Many of the organizations you call on don't have on-staff expertise who keep up with the changing digital marketplace. If you keep up, you can be of real service to them.

3. Finally, digital media is more strategic than print because of the metrics that show up after a campaign. When you can look at the results together, a great detailed conversation can result.

If focus your client time first on where their interests are, you will simply have a better conversation and make a better connection which will be more rewarding for both of you.

I find that by talking about digital options first I become far more valuable to my clients, find out more about their needs, and uncover far more opportunities.

When more client understanding, trust, and opportunities are developed far more productive ways to work print into the media budget present themselves.  

The best way to sell more print advertising is to have client conversations directed by what is most interesting and useful for your customers, not commissions. Most often, this means starting your conversation about digital.

 

This post originally appears on Josh Gordon's Ad Sales blog

 

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Josh Gordon

Are You Swapping Analogue Dollars for Digital Dimes?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/26/2012-15:53 PM

This post originally appeared on Josh Gordon's Ad Sales Blog. 

If you follow the traditional publishing business model in an ever more digital world, it is inevitable. The traditional magazine business model is based on creating content to attract eyeballs, and then to sell exposure (advertising) to them. This basic plan has kept magazine publishers profitable for over a hundred years. But this model faces harsh challenges in today's digital media world. The problem is a far more efficient way to deliver eyeballs online, called "search." Every marketer knows that they can get far more eyeballs and clicks per dollar for their website by buying “search” instead of digital media from traditional publishers. Why every publisher does not know this is a mystery to me.

To understand the problem let's look at a rough example with the math:

Say you publish a magazine that charges $6,000 for a page of print advertising and gets $1,000 for a banner on it's website. What if running either a print or newsletter ad gains exposure to many eyeballs and results in 75 click-thoughs to an advertiser’s website? Depending on the expense of appropriate keywords, a click-through generated by Google, or another search engine, could cost as little as 20 cents or as much as $5. So, Google would charge between $15 to $375 for the same number of clicks you are asking advertisers to pay $1,000 or $5,000 for. Argue all you want about the quality of your clicks. With this big of a price difference, it is going to be hard to make it stick.

If you don’t think the online advertisers in your niche are impressed by this math, think again. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) [chart below], almost half of all online ad dollars (46.5%) now go to search. A recent analysis of where Google gets its ad dollars shows penetration into niches traditionally held by publishers.

But there is a better way to compete. The core strength of digital media is not in its ability to deliver exposure to eyeballs, but in its ability to deliver interactive experiences. Why sell one-way communication (eyeballs) for what is a fundamentally interactive medium? With this in mind, a new model for publishers is emerging:

Use content to build data on potential customers. Use that data to build sponsorable interactive customer experiences.

In this context, a piece of data is either the location of an individual (address, phone number, name, company name, e-mail address, zip code, etc.) or information about the individual that explains his or her behavior (buying intentions, current products owned, income, demographics, sex, ethnicity, political orientation, type of car owned, etc.).

What can you do with this kind of data? Let’s look at that rough magazine example where they are charging $5,000 for print ads and $1,000 for web banners. With the right data, what else could they sell?

Targeted sponsored webinars.

Cost of sponsorship: $7,500 to $15,000

Live sponsored events.

Cost of live event sponsorships: $5,000 to $15,000

Market research to sell.

Cost of market research: $2,000 to $15,000

Market consulting opportunities.

$7,000 and up

Highly focused direct marketing based on opt in lists (e-blasts).

$2,000 to $4,000


These are not digital dimes.

 

 

IAB online ad revenue for 2011 shows the continued growth of search.

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Josh Gordon

To Monetize Podcasts Think Sponsorships, Not Ads

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 12/16/2010-12:12 PM

A study released earlier this year advocates sponsorships over advertising as the best way to monetize podcasts. The Association for Downloadable Media along with Edison Research report that podcast listeners HATE radio style ads but relate much better to "this content is brought to you by" sponsorships. The study says that it helps if the podcast host makes the sponsorship announcement.

When podcast listeners were asked about traditional radio style ads their response was negative with 62% saying they "generally dislike" them.

But when the same audience was asked about sponsorship plugs instead 67% responded they "Don't mind them and occasionally find them useful." Sponsorships seem the way to gain exposure for advertisers without without turning off listeners.

There were other findings as well. According to Edison Research Vice President Tom Webster, "A podcast advertising buy is not a redundant media buy for advertisers and marketers. These are attractive, affluent consumers that mass media is losing." He also notes, "Ninety percent of these respondents indicated that they had taken some kind of action as a result of podcast advertising or sponsorship, and over 40% reported purchasing behaviors, which indicates that they are receptive to the right message, in the right context."

More findings include:

1. Active Podcast consumers are mobile media consumers - and content creators and advertisers alike should continue to take advantage of that fact
2. Active podcast consumers are not receptive to interrupt advertising, but they are receptive to targeted messages in podcasts
3. There is a "halo" effect ascribed to brands, products and services that sponsor podcasts.

To download a PDF of all the ADM Edison Study findings or watch an hour-long Vimeo video where Edison Research presents the findings, turn to Josh's original blog here.

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Josh Gordon

Print Magazines Have Never Stopped Selling

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/11/2010-12:17 PM

At the just concluded FOLIO: Show, Kerry Smith, Red 7 Media CEO, offered a surprising view of what the future of print publishing might be. Challenged, like all publishing companies, with the decline of print ad revenue, Smith has diversified his organization's offerings to include marketing services such as research, and consulting. But even as less of his company's revenue is tied to print he is more committed to it. Why? Because he has found that his magazines are most often the first point of contact leading to the sale of all the other services he is now selling.

Today, publishers of all kinds are using the presence they have in their markets to start related businesses. For example:

• Premier Guitar, sells sheet music to subscribers
• Oil and Gas Journal sells industry data and research
• Dwell, a shelter book for the modern home, sells modern prefabricated homes

But this "new" trend where publishers use a magazine presence to sell products and services to readers is not so new. Marketers have used sponsored or branded magazines to do this for years. Despite the migration of ad dollars away from print magazines, the dollars flowing into sponsored magazines are going strong as documented early this year by The Financial Times:

According to the UK research body Mintel, this type of "customer publishing" is booming. It estimates that the industry in the UK alone is likely to be worth £1bn by 2013. Between 2008 and 2009 it grew 16 per cent, and by 2013 it is projected to increase by a further 22 per cent - no mean feat when the rest of the glossy magazine world is in the doldrums.

What attracts companies is the direct impact on consumers. "Our research has shown that these magazines create an eight per cent uptick in sales," says Julia Hutchison, chief operating officer of the Association of Publishing Agencies, the representative for the customer publishing industry in the UK. "On average, every customer spends 25 minutes reading these titles. That's 25 minutes spent with the brand. Lots of companies are redirecting their ad and marketing spends to this avenue."

In the past, some sponsored publications were little more than product promos. But now, savvy marketers are investing in quality writers, photographers, and more objective journalism to attract larger audiences. The FT article continues:
"Whereas in-house magazines used to be glorified advertorials, today the branding is much more subtle and there's a genuine effort to tap top editorial talents and introduce original material; Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, photographic stalwarts of the fashion publications Vogue and Visionaire, shot the latest YSL manifesto.

The investment makes sense: it gives depth to a brand in an environment they can control. It pushes product without the obvious "sell", and in many instances may be cheaper than advertising. Asos' title, for instance, which is known for its mix of celebrity, shopping and entertainment, is now the second largest women's fashion title in the UK with an annual circulation of 471,522. Terri Westlake, head of media at Asos.com, says, "Customers are savvy; they understand that it's a brand title (and not independent), but they still appreciate a very good free magazine."

Print magazines can provide marketers with a "media marquee" that gives them consistent visibility hard to duplicate in the crowed online world. What Kerry Smith, and a growing number of publishers are taking advantage of is the same benefit marketers using sponsored publications have used for years...print magazines sell!

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Josh Gordon

Are You in the Content Delivery Business?

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 05/17/2010-10:46 AM

Many print publishing companies are failing  in their transition to digital by giving the wrong answer to the question, "What business are you in?"

In Theodore Levitt's classic marketing essay, "Marketing Myopia" he describes how the once mighty railroads went bankrupt by failing to understand they were in the transportation business, not the railroad business. Many publishers are making the same mistake, thinking they are in the content delivery business when they are actually now in the customer engagement business.

Like the railroads, many publishers are failing to see how much new technology can transform an industry.

The Internet makes content a commodity. Think that great celebrity interview in your June issue is so unique? Type her name into Goggle followed by the word "interview" and see ten other interviews your readers can instantly access. But your ability to use content to engage and service readers has never been more valuable. The internet may commodotize content, but is also creates a need for knowledgeable guidance though the vast, conflicting, unmoderated content chaos that is the Internet.        

Also, digital media does not just "transmit" content like print media does, digital media transforms it. When content is delivered through digital social media channels the content added by readers can be more important than content generated by editors. How many readers link to an article can have a profound effect on search engines ranking which can make or break the life of a piece of content. Publishers who think their "transition to digital" is about swapping analog transport for digital ignores the importance of interactive reader participation. This came out loud and clear in the recent study, "The Case for Advertising in Interactive Digital Magazines" as it documented the core reason marketers advertise in digital magazines is to deliver an interactive brand experience to readers. When value comes from interactivity it is not hard to see why straight digital replicas of print magazines have less value to advertisers.

It is important to anticipate that digital content will be aggregated, redistributed, rated, commented on, ranked by Goggle, repurposed, trashed, praised, and ignored as part of the process. All this is very healthily, adds value to the content you create, and is the key to your ability to monetize it. Why? Because it shows that the mere content that you pump out is driving the creation of an online community. If you can show a lot of interactivity between your community members, the value increases. Again, online, most content is a commodity, but when you use it to build a community, you create something of unique value that you can charge for.   

For publishers, the transition from analog to digital can be painful, unfair, and frustrating. At the heart of a successful transition to digital is a reinvention of the business model. Magazine publishers are often initially surprised by  the tiny revenue their digital media generates as they swap $10K print pages for $1K newsletter banners. But those newsletters, operating within a community as data gatherers, can return big profits when leveraged properly. Subscriptions for magazines and newsletters are harder to charge for when they go digital, but free subscriptions operating as content development centers, can be leveraged to create other reader experiences that can be monetized.

The key to figuring all this out starts with answering the simple question, "What business are you in?" Online, most content is a commodity. If you still think you are in the content business...please, think again.  

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Josh Gordon

Six Editorial Forms That Work Better in Print Than Online

Josh Gordon Editorial - 02/17/2010-09:20 AM

Magazine editors still suffer from a sense of entitlement. Most grew up in a world where if you created articles that were well-written, relevant, and targeted for their audience it would automatically attract an audience...and advertisers. But the many new ways readers get content, by the time a magazine arrives to compete for a reader's attention, a lot of content needs have been satisfied. Magazines edited with an "If you build it they will come" mentality are now in danger.

But despite the more efficient online and mobile ways to get content to readers there are still some types of content that is better delivered in print. As we move into a Web centric world these are forms of editorial print publications should consider embracing.

This is the new job for every editor of a print magazine: coming up with content that is best delivered in print for your particular market.

1. Analytical content. In depth content where the reader may want to set aside a magazine and pick it up later, re-read passages for clarity, or write notes or highlight detailed passages are better delivered in print. Technical journals, analytical articles, or detailed content can work better in print.

Want proof? Take a look at the struggling newsweeklies. US News & World Report scaled back its frequency to monthly with Newsweek and Time struggling. But the one newsweekly whose revenue, and paid circulation, is stable and growing is the more analytical Economist.

2. Marquee content. A print publication can often call attention to a single feature article and get it noticed above the crowds better than websites. A monthly publication carrying a feature article can time shift its way through a reader's life over the course of a month. Can't read it on the day arrives? It will be on your desk a week after. Not in your office? Take it on the plane. It has an entire month work its way into the reader's life. Websites, in contrast, are under tremendous pressure to be constantly updated to maintain large audiences. It is rare a single piece of content will be featured for an entire month. If an article is featured as a magazine's cover story it truly becomes a piece of marquee content. It is rare that a website home page can match the focused longevity of a magazine cover story.

Want proof? When was the last time you heard someone refer to a piece of content that ran on a website as a "cover story?"

3. Award content. A few years ago a full-page photo of me ran in SellingPower magazine. I immediately got a call from a company offering to take my 4-color page into a plaque for my office. It's a real thrill to be written up in a print magazine, where the honor has a sense of permanence no website can duplicate. Framing a write up you get on a website don't have the same impact.

Want proof? Take a look at Media Post Publications. Media Post Publications, which maintains a monthly print edition that is heavily used when they create award programs.

4. Directive content. One way that print applications can offer a real service to readers is to offer direction to readers on where to find content on the Internet, before they get online. Content overview guides offer a real service real service. Laying out the kinds of websites offering which content can be a great service. Magazines can become a sort of table of contents to a new web journey.

Want proof? A newspaper executive from an organization that has extensive online holdings once described his print newspaper component as being the table of contents do they are online content.

5. Content on the go. As of now there is no live Internet access on airplanes. No restrooms, awkward in waiting rooms, limited access on trains and busses. Guide books at trade shows. If you want to reach traveling rock and roll bands, electrical contractors who are always out in their trucks, or any other mobile demographic, print has an advantage.

Want proof? Look around any airport.

6. Reference content. If you have content that simply cannot be found anywhere else, a print publication is a great way to release and keep relative control over it. Directories, research, and unique content that only you can provide work well in print.

But these only begin the process. It is imperative that every editor of a print publication rethink their editorial mission with the consideration that much content they publish and also be found online. How and what they choose to publish must offer a more compelling read in the same content found for free online.

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Josh Gordon

The Revolution in Magazines Will Be Here This Summer

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 01/13/2010-14:13 PM

By June of this year we will be having a very different discussion about interactive magazines. By then, the behind the scenes work going on in several areas will come together enabling the printed magazine to evolve into its inevitable digital form. Soon content publishers, content distribution companies, and hardware technology companies, working on different pieces of the puzzle, will have their pieces on the table. Once connected, a new way to look at magazine content and how it is delivered will emerge and the skeptics of digital magazines will need to reconsider their views.

The activity is everywhere:

■ Apple is quietly working behind the scenes to lineup publishers for rumored digital magazine distribution through iTunes alongside the release of an Apple tablet reader.
■ Hearst just announced an e-reader to support their magazine content at the Consumer Electronics show.
■ Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. announced a "Hulu for magazines" to distribute their digital magazines.
■ At the Consumer Electronics Show, which just ended, e-readers were so prominent some reporters to called it the year of the e-reader.

The pieces are coming together. Let's connect the dots:  

First: What the experience will look like.

Two publishers have animated the concept on videos showing what interactive magazines will look like on the next generation of digital readers. The readers are responsive to the users touch, and highly interactive as they intuitively create a dynamic reader experience. The first video shows the anticipated edition of Sports Illustrated with a play by play of what that publication will look like in digital form:



The second is a concept video is from Bonnier Corp, the publisher of Popular Science, and offerers a detailed look at how content for interactive magazines will be created and delivered:



Science fiction? Nope. The digital Sports Illustrated edition will be out in June, and as for Popular Science, they have been publishing interactive editions of the PopSci Genius Guide since last year. In addition there are already dozens of interactive magazines published around the world.  What will be different six months from now is that the next generation of digital readers will be making their way into the hands of readers. Which brings us to the next piece of the puzzle...

Second: the digital readers are coming.

Here is a video report from the recent Consumer Electronics Show where a wide variety of notebook computers with specialized e-reader features, as well as dedicated e-readers were shown. In this video Associate Press reporter Haven Daley predicts that 6 million notebook computer and e-readers will be sold in the US this year.



Third: Digital distribution technology is moving ahead.

Several digital magazine service companies are not waiting for the digital readers, they have launched applications to deliver a magazine reading experience to smart phones that are available now. Look at these three videos: 

Zinio's CEO Rich Maggiotto explains how his organization's iPhone app delivers both a high end graphical experience and readability to a small screen:



Nxtbook Media's marketing director Marcus Grimm shows how his organization's smart phone app creates ad revenue opportunities for publishers:



Finally, a demonstration of Texterity's iPhone version of Elite Traveler magazine:



Magazine content, e-reader hardware, and distribution technology are all coming together. When the three are finally in place be prepared to rethink everything you know about magazines.

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Josh Gordon

How Publishers Profit When Advertisers are Publishers

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 08/12/2009-15:48 PM

A publisher client of mine lost a large media sale when a CMO said, "I have a huge social media presence and post as much content as you do. Why advertise with you?" How do you respond when social media tools enable all your advertisers to become online publishers themselves?  

What publishers do (and always have done) that business cannot do for themselves (even in the age of social media) is to offer content as a third party. Chances are, your client’s content, no matter how great the volume, comes from their point of view. It will about their products, their customers, and told from their perspective. Their competition likely offers content from a different point of view. Where can all of their customers go for an objective perspective? Hopefully to your community/Web site.

Social Media Today CoFounder and CEO Robin Carey refers to this objective function as "being an honest broker of third party content.” Your social media centric clients will understand the value in this.

But it is not enough just to be an "honest broker." You need to leverage your content so you can deliver a benefit advertisers will pay for.     

There are two essential steps:

1. You must become your markets content aggregator. As a third party content supplier you can credibly aggregate content in your market from all suppliers. No one of your advertisers can do this as they will hit resistance and credibility problems posting content from competitors. Some traditional publishers have problems  posting a lot of content they did not create or influence. I say, get over it. If the law of the jungle is kill or be killed, then the law of the Internet is aggregate or be aggregated. Here is the really bad news; if you don't do the aggregation, another publisher in your market will.

2. Shape your content so you get 3rd party credit in "search." When people search for objective content as they enter a buying cycle will they recognize yours? “Search” never evaluates the quality or objectivity of an article. So you need to “sell” potential readers on this benefit who find you though search. For a moment, take the point of view of a Google searcher who has never heard of your brand but sees an article of yours in a search list. If your article is worded to indicate an objective perspective it will be opened over others. An article titled "The five leading buying trends in electric fans" can become "Our editors pick the top five buying trends in electric fans." Etc.

On the Call

Earlier this year I did a study for the social media website "The Energy Collective." In this post based on the survey we see that the community spits over the  question, “Should the gas tax be substantially raised?” As an “honest broker” of content "The Energy Collective" supports all points of view.

For advertisers this is invaluable. Do you think the same divide would occur on a website/community built by the Sierra Club or Exxon/Mobile? Nope.

But If I were the marketing manager of either the Sierra Club or Exxon/Mobile where will I find new people to convert to my perspective? Not on my own website, I would need my message carried by an “honest broker.”

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Josh Gordon

Are We In A Social Media Advertising Bubble?

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 08/03/2009-08:56 AM

A recent issue of Media Life laid out a compelling case making the current enthusiasm for social media sound a lot like the "irrational exuberance" leading up to the dot com bubble crash of 2001.

Consider:

"The fact is, it's a good bet these social networking sites will never figure out
a workable business model because there may not be one. On the
internet, it's accepted faith that if you build traffic, revenue will
follow, typically from advertising.

But it simply may not apply to social networking sites such as MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.

That's for a reason that makes perfect sense on the face of it. Social networking
sites are about people communicating with one another and sharing
information. It's not a format that's suited for ad messages. In that
environment, advertising becomes social interference, in some ways akin
to eavesdropping, and it has the potential to backfire.

Why should we know this already? Because of the telephone.

Telephones have been around for more than 100 years, and yet despite numerous
attempts, Americans have resisted attempts to put advertising on
phones, even when the phone service was offered for free. Note too the
rising public protest over telephone marketing, which eventually led to
the federal do-not-call program several years ago.

One might argue that over time internet users will give in and accept advertising
on their social networking sites. One might also reason that over time
hell will indeed freeze over and Canada will indeed run dry. But it is
the sort of bet anyone in their right mind would place billions on? No.

There are several lessons to be drawn from this.

One is that where big money in involved--call it greed--our inability to remember lessons of the past can be mind-numbing.

Another is that after all these years, we still don't fully appreciate how
different and unique a medium the internet really is. We assume that
because advertising works in some environments, it works in all. And it
doesn't."

Agree or not, economic bubbles happen. One will happen again.    

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