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FOLIO: Personalities -- The Blog People Page


MPA Recycling Campaign: Small Steps To Help Combat A Big Problem

Marrecca Fiore Design and Production - 03/09/2007-03:00 AM

No one would ever describe me as an environmentalist. I have a deep appreciation for the beauty and tranquility of the Rhode Island coastal community in which I grew up and would love to see it preserved for generations to come. But I also think the noise and the garbage and the graffiti is a small, but important, part of what makes New York the greatest city in the world and I really wouldn’t want to see that change either.
That said, I think the Magazine Publishers of America has the right idea in mind with the recycling campaign it launched earlier this week. The campaign is simple and straightforward. It doesn’t preach doom and gloom. All it does is remind readers that they can toss their magazines into the bins with the rest of their recyclables.
Currently, only about 20 percent of magazines are recycled. Some of that may be due to the fact that people don’t realize magazines are recyclable, says MPA CEO Nina Link. She may be right. I had no idea magazines were recyclable and I’ve always tossed them in the trash. That’ll soon change, however.
In addition to its recycling campaign, MPA is also encouraging its members to use more certified paper in their publications. Certified paper is paper harvested responsibly and in an effort to keep the world’s forests healthy.
By placing one of the two logos MPA has designed for its recycling campaign and using more certified paper (for more information on certified paper and certificate programs visit magazine.org and click on the environmental section), publishers, in very small ways, can do their part to help combat very big problems such as global warming and air pollution.

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Internet Aggregation Etiquette

Marrecca Fiore emedia and Technology - 02/16/2007-03:00 AM

In the Internet space, there are no competitors. Publishers have realized that to best serve their audiences online they must aggregate their own content, as well as the content of others, including their competitors. However, one rule of thumb remains, if you’re going to aggregate someone else’s content, you must link back to the story you’re citing.

Let’s face it. None of us want to drive traffic off our sites. However, if readers come to know our Web sites as the place where they can get all of the news and information they’re looking for, they’ll visit us daily AND hit the backspace key after reading the articles we link to.

I bring this up because a couple of weeks ago Folio: ran a story in its newsletter that received a lot of pick-up from bloggers and news Web sites – for this we’re grateful. However, one site referenced our story, gave us credit, but didn’t link to the story itself.

To me, this does both a disservice to the site’s readers, as well as to the news organization (in this case us) that wrote the story. Look at it this way, if they had linked to the story, the reader could have hit the link, read the story and then gone back to the news aggregator’s site. Instead, if they wanted to read the story, they had to physically leave the aggregator’s site and go on to Foliomag.com. If anything, the aggregator probably hurt themselves by neglecting to link to the story.

The other day I picked up a story from a competitor (I’m a former newspaper reporter so it pains me to do this) and I linked to the story. It’s common courtesy. We got scooped. It happens. But it would have been a disservice to our readers had we not shared the news with them. Publishers: Keep aggregating. It’s clearly the best way to keep your readership informed. But when you do it, give credit where credit is due.

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Online Ad Spending Expected To Increase, Time To Monetize The Web

Marrecca Fiore Sales and Marketing - 02/06/2007-03:00 AM

Marketing firm Outsell’s 2007 ad spending report shows that online ad spending is expected to grow almost 18 percent this year and, as I’ve said before, now is the time to monetize the Internet.

Among the findings of the report, which surveyed more than 1,000 ad executives, are that advertisers are expected to boost their spending on sponsored content by 38 percent, on trade or b-to-b Web sites by 30 percent and on Webinars by 28 percent. Advertisers are also moving their money into vertical search, to grow by 18 percent, and their own Web sites, to grow by 17 percent.

But the survey also found that advertisers are planning to reduce spending slightly on pay-per-click advertising, in part, because of the click fraud problems that have surfaced. This serves as a message to publishers that now is the time to find meaningful ways to measure Web metrics and to come up with a meaningful system for pricing online advertising. As advertisers gravitate away from print and into the online arena, publishers should stop offering online advertising as an addendum to print and look for ways to fully monetize the Web for what it is worth.

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Time Inc. Frenzy Ends?

Marrecca Fiore Consumer - 01/26/2007-03:00 AM

So the excitement is finally over. Maybe. Between its layoffs and the sale of 18 of its magazines, Time Inc. has had no shortage of headlines over the past few months. Whether the company is done laying off remains to be seen, but at least the question of who will buy the magazines from its Time4Media and Parenting groups has been answered. And the sale of the publications to Bonnier Magazine Group and their merger with World Publications is good news for Time Inc. and for the magazines it's shedding.

For one, it gives Time Inc. executives the opportunity to focus their full attention on repositioning the company for multimedia growth. Time CEO Ann Moore has had to deal with a tremendous amount of pressure in the past few months from the media, from her employees and most of all from Time Warner executives who have been pressuring her for the better part of a year to boost profitability in the company’s publishing segment.

As for Time4Media and the Parenting groups, they have a home with a new magazine company – and a growing company at that - that plans to leave them in New York and leave the employees – at least the non-executive employees – in place. World Publications also will give magazines like Field & Stream, Parenting, and the Transworld publications an opportunity to grow that they didn’t have at Time Inc. As one M&A source put it, “If you have Surf magazine and Field & Stream competing with People magazine for online resources, who do you think is going to get them?”

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On Franchise Issues

Marrecca Fiore Audience Development - 01/19/2007-03:00 AM

An analysis of publishers’ statements filed with Audit Bureau of Circulations revealed that while some franchise issues, like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue, are wildly popular with consumers, others are not.

But that shouldn’t de-value the importance of special magazine issues. There’s a great many people who each year look forward to People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People list, as well as Forbes annual Investment Guide. Instead, magazines should look for ways to tweak their formula to meet the needs of the consumer.

Or, even better, publishers should do what Forbes is doing, making its annual lists of Billionaires, Most Powerful Celebrities, Top Companies to Work For, etc., a true multimedia experience. Forbes realizes that there are a lot of people out there that just will not pay for news anymore. So rather than trying to beat them, they’ve joined them.

Whenever a special issue of Forbes comes out, it’s one of the top stories of the day highlighted by the search engine Yahoo. From the Yahoo story, readers can link to Forbes Web site where they can find even more articles and information on the special information contained in that franchise issue. And Forbes doesn’t just offer little teasers on its Web site of the articles featured in the print version of the franchise issue. Instead, it gives readers full magazine articles and original Web content that can either complement or be read in place of the magazine.

And the effort is working because even when the franchise issue doesn’t fly off the shelf, hits to Forbes’ Web site increase greatly during the week that the issue hits the stands. Using those metrics, Forbes can probably, if it hasn’t started to already, begin charging advertisers a premium to advertise on its site during peak traffic weeks such as those when its franchise issues come out. More...

Teen Vogue Finds Success With Readers And Advertisers

Marrecca Fiore Consumer - 01/12/2007-03:00 AM

Whatever the right formula is for attracting and keeping a fickle teenage audience, Teen Vogue seems to have found it. At a time when teenagers are turning to the Web for most of their news and information, Teen Vogue continues to find success with both readers and advertisers.

According to the latest Publishers Information Bureau statistics, Teen Vogue increased ad revenues in 2006 by 31.1 percent to just under $101.83 million, up from $77.67 million in 2005. Pages-in-book for the teen title increased 22.3 percent to 1,223.44, from 1,000.36 in 2005.

The publication, which turns four in February, also increased its rate base in October of last year from 850,000 to 900,000 – its third rate base increase since its launch. And its total paid and verified circulation has climbed from 850,000 in 2005 to just under a million.

But other teen titles have struggled. Teen People and ElleGirl folded their print publications last year, but maintain a Web presence. Cosmogirl, which has a lower market share than Teen Vogue, enjoyed growth last year in its ad revenues, up 12.2 percent to just under $81.1 million, but its pages in book grew by just 3 percent to 794.33 from 771.36.

Seventeen, the oldest of the teen bunch, saw its pages in book dip 3.7 percent last year to 936.65 from 972.30 in 2005. Its revenues grew just 2.5 percent to $101.87 million from $99.3 million in 2005.

Whether Teen Vogue continues to be successful remains to be seen. One thing's for sure though. While other teen magazines focus a lot of attention on celebrities and/or sex, much to the disappointment of parents, Teen Vogue focuses almost entirely on fashion and that could be the key to its success. Maybe. More...

Monetizing The Web In The New Year

Marrecca Fiore emedia and Technology - 01/05/2007-03:00 AM

A Folio: and Readex survey conducted last year showed that print remains the dominant revenue stream for publishers. That’s in spite of the fact that print advertising is declining and both readers and advertisers are flocking to the Web. Much of the problem stems not from a lack of investment in online media, but from a lack of understanding on the part of publishers on how to monetize their Web properties.

The issue is two-fold. For one, setting print advertising rates is second nature in the publishing industry and is often done using a rate base or by using paid or controlled circulation models. But setting advertising rates online is more difficult and publishers often find themselves with the quandary of whether to set rates according to Web traffic or impressions, or according demographics or how much time users actually spend on their sites.

The second issue is a lack of space and creativity in the online ad realm. Publishers need to move beyond the banner ad and the often-ineffective interstitial and find other, more creative ways to allow advertisers to market their products and services. This could be remedied as simply as adding more video, audio, sponsorship and social networking offerings to Web sites. But publishers must also think outside the box to offer advertisers more diverse ways to reach to consumers.

VNU Business Media this week launched a job portal that will combine the resources of its entertainment, advertising and media trade publications on a single Web site. The hope, said VNU eMedia group sales director Jeff Green, is that the portal will allow VNU to take a large bite out of the $50 million employers in the aforementioned three industries spend annually to advertise jobs on major and niche job sites. Because the three different industries often look for employees with similar skill sets, VNU believes they’ll have an advantage over their competition by offering a one-stop shop for people working in advertising, entertainment and/or media jobs. And who knows, they just might.

The time has come to not only put in place a quantifiable method for setting ad rates online, but to also look for new and creative ways to make money online. Two-thousand-seven should be the year to monetize the Web. More...

A Not So Shocking Week

Marrecca Fiore Consumer - 12/22/2006-03:00 AM

Another week has passed and another magazine has closed, more people in publishing lost their jobs, and Time magazine was criticized for an idea it was all too proud of.

Shock shuts

Hachette-Filipacchi’s attempt to bring a gory photojournalistic magazine to the newsstands failed. Not a big surprise. The graphic-heavy, text-light publication is much more appealing to “screenagers” and very early 20-somethings than to the “older” print-reading set, which is why Hachette will keep the effort going online via its ShockU Web site and scrap the print publication. The effort serves as another reminder that young people want their news and entertainment for free …

Merry Christmas from Time Inc. and VNU

Time Inc. rounded up 27 workers from its consumer marketing division this week like a herd of cattle and told them they were no longer needed. This is second December in row Time Inc. has said happy holidays with a layoff (last year it laid off 105 workers in mid-December), as the struggling company repositions itself for the digital age …

Meanwhile, VNU said this week it will cut 4,000 jobs over the next few months as its new management team positions the company for growth.

While no one would argue that both Time Inc. and VNU need to cut costs and refocus their missions, Ann and Dave could have at least waited for the New Year to lower the boom on their employees …

Disapproval strikes Time magazine's “You” cover

Time magazine caught a lot of flack this week from journalists and bloggers for its selection of “You” as the person of the year. Did Time take the easy way out in not selecting an actual person for the annual honor? Probably. But the idea is not totally misguided, if not also a little self-serving. After all, there wasn’t a journalist in the world this year that wasn’t a little unnerved by the uprising of so-called citizen journalism.

But just as Andy Warhol famously predicted that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes, he also made the often misused quote to describe the fickle nature of the entertainment-starved public. Translation: Citizen journalism is hot for now, but whether it’s hot for good remains to be seen … More...

Folio: Show: Know Your Mission, Know Your Audience

Marrecca Fiore Editorial - 10/27/2006-02:00 AM

Know your mission statement and know your audience, said Debbie Bates-Schrott, president of Bates Creative Group, Monday when discussing how to match great edit with great design during the opening session of the Folio: Show Production and Design track.

It was a message repeated more than once throughout three days of sessions at the Folio: Show, raising the issue as to how many of us in the publishing industry really knows the mission statement of our magazines and who our audience is? How many can say, I know this is who we are and this is who reads us weekly, monthly, daily? My guess is not many.

Even the most simple of mission statements can become muddled as we search for news and information to fill our pages, our Web sites, our blogs. And the same is true for the audience that we strive to reach. So maybe it’s time we all reread are missions and take a closer look at our subscription lists, at least that what Bates-Schrott would recommend.

Aside from mission statements and audience engagement, the Folio: Show Production and Design track was filled with information about working with and selecting a printer, how to lower manufacturing costs, and how to improve your magazine right now. All of these sessions will be available Monday at www.folioshow.com/presentations for downloading.

In the meantime, here are eight tips (abbreviated) on “Improving Your Magazine Right Now” offered by Jandos Rothstein, design director of Governing magazine and assistant professor at George Mason University.

1.) Simplify. Some magazines clutter pages with non-communicative elements - boxes, rules, frames and decorative standing art. Good design “sells” rather than distracts from images and words.

2.) Right-size page elements. Layouts can feel disorganized or confusing if too much emphasis is given to less important elements. Placement, size, color and value decisions should be guided by the relative informational value of each element.

3.) Don’t design a loaf of bread. Some magazines are like a loaf of bread - no matter where you cut them open, they offer a consistent texture and predictable sameness. Any magazine can support variety within its structure. Solving “bread” design can be as simple as making sure spreads look different from one another and each spread (or page) has a main visual focus.

4.) Get the space you need. A million dollar art budget is useless without the room to display the art you purchase. Design is fueled by space.

5.) Become an art whisperer. Good design is responsive to imagery. Design to enhance rather than compete with art and photography. You cannot save bad art with design.

6.) Good photography is not always good. Looser crops, outtakes and action photos (even if they are slightly blurry) often give more insight into the subject than a perfectly lit, composed, (and predictable) portrait. Look for images that will intrigue and surprise your readers.

7.) Two clichés don’t equal an original idea. If you must use stock art, use it carefully. Many stock images juxtapose to stereotypes creating a melded image. Real illustration renders insight or comments on the topic. Invest in fewers, more specific ideas.

8.) Banish your canards. Many fields have an obvious visual vocabulary (teachers = apples and bells, lawyers = scales and gavels). However, using apples in the pages of an education magazine makes the publication appear superficial. Banishing the obvious improves the thinking behind the assigned art because it forces freelancers to engage issues deeper than the magazine’s demographic. More...

Mobile News: A Dish Best Served Free

Marrecca Fiore emedia and Technology - 10/20/2006-02:00 AM

Mobile publishing is huge right now. And why wouldn’t it be. With approximately 1.6 million Internet-enabled cell phones in circulation in the U.S. alone, publishers would be crazy not to post their articles and other content on mobile platforms.

But mobile versions of news and articles are best offered for free. Publisher Hachette Filipacchi figured that out and launched or is in the process of launching mobile sites for five of its magazines, including Elle, Shock and Car and Driver, that will be completely advertiser supported. Businessweek and Runner’s World are other publications that recently announced an advertiser-supported mobile endeavor to be offered free to consumers. But for those publishers still charging monthly subscriptions for mobile magazines, here’s why that content needs to be free.

Decades after the first mobile phone was introduced, users finally are being offered plans that allow them plenty of talk time for reasonable monthly fees. That said, phone companies have found ways to nickel and dime us. Monthly Internet charges of $15 a month are the norm, as is a $5 a month unlimited text messaging usage fee, and then there’s the $1.99 a month some will spend for a ringtone, another $1.99 a month for a call tone, $1.99 for a screensaver, a $10 a month fee for unlimited picture downloads … you get the idea.

The nickel and dime-ing leaves little left-over, especially for teens with limited budgets, to pay for magazine articles that more than likely can be read for free on the Internet. Still, there’s lots of money to be made by publishers in the mobile sphere. For one, they can offer their own screensavers, wallpapers, picture downloads and ringtones for nominal fees, and many are. And, as far as news articles and text messaging alerts go, there are plenty of advertisers willing to sponsor such content enabling publishers to offer it for FREE.

Laura Marriott, the executive director of the Mobile Marketing Association, recently told Folio: Publishing Technology that marketers are spending upwards of $78 million a year on mobile advertising and that dollar amount is likely to grow in the years to come.

Similarly, Tom Burgess, CEO of Third Screen Media, an ad network devoted to the mobile medium, told Media Post earlier this year that mobile phones are more inherently personal than any other medium and conducive to effective ad targeting. And personalization, targeted marketing and interactive marketing are all key to successful mobile advertising, says Marriott, and publishers willing to work with marketers to achieve the targeted interaction they seek will more than likely reap the benefits of those ad dollars into the future. More...

On Being An Editor

Marrecca Fiore Editorial - 10/09/2006-02:00 AM

I’m really glad I had the opportunity to hear and see John Skipper, executive vice president of content at ESPN, speak at MPA’s “Breakfast with a Leader” last Friday at the University Club in New York.

Skipper was invited to speak about how he’s learned to effectively create and place content throughout all of ESPN’s platforms, which include television, radio, publishing, mobile and, even T-shirts, to name a few.

What was great about the breakfast is not just what Skipper talked about, but how he presented it. Skipper’s one of those rare people who is as entertaining as he is intelligent. He’s what my husband would call a “real cool dude.” To put it simply, he’s a real funny and personable guy and knows how to use his sense of humor to keep the crowd focused and draw them into what he’s speaking about.

One statement Skipper made particularly resonated with me. Speaking about his experience in the magazine industry, Skipper said this, “My experience with magazines has served me well. I get to work on things I know nothing about. I don’t think I had ever been on the Internet and I was hired to be in charge of it.”

Those few sentences speak volumes. People are always saying it’s an exciting time in publishing right now because of the new media evolution that’s taking place. But it’s actually an exciting time for people who work in publishing, especially on the editorial side. Because the digital media evolution means that we’re no longer just writers, reporters or editors.

I interviewed a woman named Kristin Campbell back in August for our Folio: Publishing Technology e-newsletter. As the editor of DSnews.com, she’s a great example of being more than just an editor because, in addition to writing and editing copy daily on her company’s Web site, she also shoots and edits videos, takes pictures, and anchors and writes a daily newscast.

That’s what’s so exciting about publishing right now. We’re no longer just editors. We’re Web site and e-newsletter designers. We’re videographers, photographers, bloggers and whatever it is that you call someone who creates content for mobile devices. To some, that might be overwhelming. And it might be looked at with dread and the feeling that it is just that much more we have to add to our already busy days.

But to the rest of us, it’s a journey. It’s the chance to do a million different things. Is there a chance that some of us will over extend ourselves in our zeal to do everything and be everything? Yes (I’ve been guilty of as much).

As journalists, most of us have always had the opportunity to write about things we know nothing about. Today, we have an opportunity to work on things that we know nothing about. What could be more exciting than that? More...

The Internet: A Blessing And A Curse

Marrecca Fiore emedia and Technology - 09/20/2006-02:00 AM

Having started my journalism career more than 10 years ago, I often wonder how I gathered information for my articles before the wide-spread use of the Internet. (In my first reporting job, I used a word processing program and had no Internet access at work).

Now fully acclimated to the Web, with top-notch, computer-assisted reporting skills (well, sort of), my first reporting job remains a mystery. How did I look up phone numbers? Find experts? Research topics? The Internet is great for all of that, but it has its drawbacks, as well.

Instantaneous, real-time news, often seen as blessing in the Internet age can be curse, as well. While it offers our audience news as it happens, it also sometimes frazzles the editors and reporters that try to keep up with what’s going in their respective industries and on their respective beats without getting beat by the competition.

Recently, someone tipped off Folio: that printing company, Banta quietly submitted an SEC filing last week announcing the closure of five plants, the elimination of more than 500 jobs, and that it would pay its shareholders a $16 per share special dividend that it would borrow money to pay for.

Great story, we thought when we found out on Tuesday of this week. I quickly found the document, wrote the story and (sigh) saved it for Thursday’s Folio: Alert.

Not a good idea. Stamford, Connecticut-based Cenveo today renewed the unsolicited takeover bid it made for Banta in August and criticized Banta’s SEC filing in a letter made public and sent to various media outlets.

We got scooped on our own scoop. Lesson learned, point taken. In the Internet age, research is easy, breaking news is hard and saving stories is unwise. More...

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