David Plotz, EIC of Slate until earlier this summer, has a few suggestions in case you think you've hit the wall with monetization.
Not all of them are for everyoneâ€”a bunch require scale ("Ad network ads") and/or serious investments ("Conferences"); a few depend on the content you produce ("Higher end specialized product"); and some are just weird ("Cruises for readers")â€”but it's a good starting point for anyone looking around for ideas.
Plotz on revenue
Twitter has gotten more attention lately, but Facebook still has massive advantages in content consumption.
The latter is a news portal for close to a third of all American adults, according toÂ latest studyÂ from the Pew Research Center's Journalism Project. Used for news by 10 percent of Americans, YouTube is actually a more-viewed source than Twitter (8 percent).
That's good news for publishers with a lot of "likes," but it doesn't mean the other channels can be ignoredâ€”content probably isn't going to reach people on multiple channels. Two out of three of U.S. adults get news from one, and only one, social network.
Younger, richer, lefty: Most of the platforms in the study skew younger with mid- to high-level income users who are predominantly left-leaning politically, but distinctions did emerge.
Notably, Facebook's user base is 58-percent female, while YouTube (57 percent) and LinkedIn (67 percent) cater to male audiences; Twitter is 50-50. LinkedIn also stood out in ageâ€”half of its users fall in the 30-49 year-old demographic; just 18 percent are under age 30â€”and incomeâ€”63 percent of LinkedIn users earn at least $75,000.
Where else do they look: Twitter users are the most insular when it comes to consuming news content, according to Pew. Out of all social network users, they're the least likely to turn to print, TV or radio.
Twitterers will look down at their phones when they want news thoughâ€”54 percent "often" consume their news content via mobile devices. LinkedIn was the second-most mobile news source (51 percent), with Facebook (38 percent) and YouTube (37 percent) failing to crack 40 percent.
reddit...America's No.1 source for news: By one measure, reddit was the most popular news site of allâ€”more than 60 percent of its users get news on the site, Pew says.
Despite the high percentage of news consumers, its small baseâ€”Pew puts the figure at about 9 million users; for comparison, they say Facebook has 202 million and Twitter has 50 millionâ€”means that just 2 percent of the U.S. population gets its news there.
From print publishers to pureplays, the magazine media community gathered at the Marriott Marquis in New York this week for MediaNext.
Â They listened to Google's Daniel Alegre describe the marketing funnel of the future and Glam's Samir Arora explain how he's built one of the largest media companies in the world without creating a single piece of content. Elisabeth DeMarse spoke to them about how TheStreet uses its "free front porch" to generate paid subscriptions, while Roy Sekoff highlighted HuffPost Live's raw video play. Andy Weber detailed Farm Journal Media's transformation from a print-centric, debt-laden publisher, into a rapidly-growing, digital-first enterprise. Meanwhile, one hundred of their most innovative peers were honored at the inaugural Folio: 100 Awards Breakfast on Wednesday.
Â Media is changing too fast to predict what the topics will be at MediaNext 2014, but we can't wait to find out.
Just two of 22 b-to-b media verticals showed ad page increases in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latestÂ ABM BIN report.
Though the industry averaged an ad page loss of 9.7 percent year-over-year, the Resources, Environment and Utilities segment grew 6.3 percent, while Travel, Business Conventions and Meetings publications had a 2.3 percent increase. The Automotive and Miscellaneous segments took the biggest hits, each losing more than 20 percent of its ad pages.
Ad revenue numbers were kinder. The average industry loss hovered at just over 6 percent, with seven verticals posting gains. Total revenue for the quarter topped $1.7 billion.
The 9.7-percent average ad page loss is the worst Q1 performance since 2009â€”then, pages dropped close to 30 percent in the midst of the recession. Losses slowed in each of the following two first quarters before 2012, when b-to-b publications saw a 7.25-percent decrease. Monthly averages have typically ranged between 9 and 12 percent since then.
April's numbers were also released with the Q1 report. Both ad pages (down 9.2 percent) and sales (down 5.5 percent) continued to fall in the month, but at a slower pace than the first three months of the year.
Meanwhile, consumer magazines posted a 4.5-percent loss in ad pages in Q2, according to theÂ first half numbers from PIB. The industry appears to be recovering however, reducing losses in eachÂ of the last three quarters.
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Bureaus, correspondents, freelancers--journalists and media-types have always worked remotely. Reporting on location is glamorized, exotic datelines accentuated. More than the flash that comes with it, remote work is a necessary part of journalism.
That's part of the reason Yahoo'sÂ pronouncementÂ that it would end work-from-home arrangements drew skepticism from the journalism community in particular this week. While on-site reporting and working from home are different, the lines can blur when it comes to journalism.
Take Quartz, The Atlantic's new global business site. Editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney has 12 editorial staffers working from the group's home office in New York, but his team extends to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Los Angeles, London, Paris, South Africa, Indonesia, India, Thailand andÂ soon, Hong Kong. Many of those reporters operate out of home offices.
"It's a great advantage," he says. "We're able to be a global, 24/7 news organization serving an international readership."
Technology--instant messaging, Google Hangouts and shared documents are among theÂ solutionsÂ Delaney has implemented--has allowed Quartz's staff to stay connected in spite of the disparate locales and time zones.
Yahoo is one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world though. They can figure out IMing. It's the loss of intra-office relationships that's their main concern, according to the company's internal notice leaked last Friday.
"Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings," the memo reads. "Being a Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."
Delaney admits the value of those "interactions and experiences" but believes they happen online, if slightly differently.
"There is a shared buzz around the office when you meet at the coffee machine," he says. "A lot of it carries over to IM though, particularly since we have a group chat that's exposed to everybody. There's something that could potentially concern just two people, but then winds up spilling out into the group chat and other people weigh in on it and follow up. The benefits of having a geographic spread and of having those serendipitous interactions where they live is a huge advantage and far outweighs the individual collisions in a single workplace."
Considering the nature of the job--highly digital and web-focused--and the institutional memory of remote work in journalism, media members might simply be better suited for the task than others.
Like Delaney, Macy Fecto, executive vice president of human resources and administration for business media publisher Access Intelligence, the parent company of Folio:, says that working from home is a plausible solution for journalists in today's business environment.
"Today's media lends itself [to remote work] better than ever," she says. "Because we work in a medium that is so digital, we're all used to that. Media has a slight edge over other industries, having people who can make the most of the various tools available that allow you to work from home and allow you to do so successfully."
Michael Rondon is an associate editor for FOLIO: Magazine. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ and follow him on Twitter @Mike_Rondon.
FOLIO:'s MediaNext event concluded today in New York. With about 1,000 in attendance the show examined all the ways publishers are evolving into true multiplatform media companies. With keynotes from LinkedIn's Dan Roth, Business Insider's Henry Blodget, Vox Media's James Bankoff and Meredith's Tom Harty, as well as four tracks dedicated to the various strategic channels publishers are leveraging, event content sat right at the intersection of where "traditional" meets digital.
Al DiGuido, president of Optimus Publishing, kicked off the Magazine Media Core Skills track with a lesson he learned at his first job as a 13-year-old store clerk in Brooklyn. DiGuidoâ€™s storeâ€”surrounded by larger, cheaper competitorsâ€”would put a Tootsie Roll in the bag of each customer. Donning an apron and doling out candy, DiGuido reminded publishers to offer a unique selling proposition.Â â€śLegacy media has not been aggressive enough in modifying value proposition,â€ť he argued.
Samir Husni, the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, presented an optimistic view of the industry, despite its tendency toward the negativeâ€”â€śNobody talks as much as we do about our own demise,â€ť he says. Husni ran through the more than 800 magazine launches of the past year, stopping to highlight several of the more amusing. His point was larger though. Though many were alarmed print been passed by other forms of media, that doesnâ€™t mean it will go away. Print ad revenues bypassed radio in 1935; television bypassed radio in 1955â€”after playing third-fiddle for more than a half-century, radio is still relevant.
In sales and marketing, Stephen Acunto, account manager with Hearst Menâ€™s Group, and Jackie Ghedine, associate publisher with Ad Age, echoed the comments of Beth Tomkiw, EVP and chief creative officer at what is now TMG/McMurry. Content marketing, they agree, will emerge as a go-to marketing solution in 2013.
During the Data, Sales & Audience Monetization track, a heavy emphasis was placed on building a highly engaged community of readers, followers, fans and customers to reach business objectives that support generating revenue and capturing valuable insights.
From paid online content models, to generating revenue from Twitter engagement, the track aimed to deliver specific takeaways to help professionals leverage their key asset: their audience.
One particularly interesting session was lead by Steve Ennen, president and chief intelligence officer for SocialStrategy1. He contented that magazines are the stagecoaches from yesteryearâ€”an outdated vehicle for spreading information. Ennen argued that publishers must rethink and restructure their businesses at every level. Distribution is no longer about the mailman, he said, but about network effects, sharing, and the fluid channels of social media.
â€śSocial media is so powerful it topples governments,â€ť said Ennen. â€śWhy would you think it couldn't help your media company?â€ť
The opportunity, he said, is a proliferation of revenue channels and readers, empowering publishers in ways they still cannot imagine.
In the session "Integrated Sales in a Three-Screen Era" in the Media Mashup track, Elena Sukacheva, The Economist's vice president of strategy and client solutions, noted that her team primarily drives the creative process of building an integrated package. "Agencies give us big ideas, they don't care what it is. They just want us to make it big and unique," she said.
Accordingly, the team leverages all of The Economist's brand platforms. A recent campaign for BMW, for example, included print, digital, video and live eventsâ€”as well as a partnership with Bon AppĂ©tit.
Later in that session, Cygnus Business Media's senior vice president of business development Blair Johnson described the company's new Engagement Report, which leverages detailed analytics to measure the exposure and consumption of each of a client's messaging elements. The company then carefully trains the sales team to present the report to the client in an effort to help them better steer the campaign to the client's actual goals. "At the very least, the Engagement report is getting our sales people in the door," said Johnson.
One session in the Content and Brand Marketing track featured Betsy Frank and Barry Martin, who are â€śresearch and insights officersâ€ť with Time Inc. Their jobs are to figure out how Time Inc. editors can relate better to readers. Explaining one recent research project in which they used biometrics, they took a group of Digital Natives (people under 30 who presumably were born into a digital world) and another group of Digital Immigrants (people over 30 who had to get used to it), gave them glasses with video cameras built in and recorded every type of media they used during their non-working hours.
As a consequence of their research, Frank and Martinâ€™s best advice to Time Inc.â€™s editors about how to engage their Native readers? â€śMake it quick, make it easy and make it emotional.â€ť
It may not be the advice their Immigrant editors want to hear, but itâ€™s what theyâ€™re going to have to do if they want to keep their publications alive.
Two publishing executives noted that their events programs generate substantial revenue, serve their readers in a way that print and digital publishing canâ€™t, and extend and reinforce their brands.
In the conference session titled â€śConferences, Meet-ups, Mixers and Summits,â€ť The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Steve Clemons and Computerworld Vice President and Publisher John Amato agreed that the wide variety of events they hold are all profitable.
â€śIn fact, it generates more revenue than anything else we do,â€ť Clemons said, â€śincluding the magazine.â€ť
For specific keynote session coverage, visit:
â€˘ MediaNext Show: Thriving in the Age of Transformationâ€˘ MediaNext: LinkedIn Executive Editor Dan Roth Sharesâ€˘ MediaNext: From Upstart to Powerhouseâ€˘ MediaNext: Scaling Quality Journalism
The U.S. Postal Service appears to be gearing up for an entrance into the magazine retail market, according to meeting notes from theÂ Mailers' Technical Advisory CommitteeÂ (MTAC) quarterly meetings over the past year. Traditional newsstand sales have been discussed, as well as digital options via USPS.com and mobile devices.
A summary of the group's most recent November gathering--first mentionedÂ this weekend on the blog Dead Tree Edition--notes: "The USPS is moving forward on a plan to offer magazine subscriptions for sale on USPS.com." And later adds: "The USPS and mailers are developing a plan to have posters in retail sites with QR codes and other ways of linking to magazine subscriptions."
These notes come on the heels of anÂ August meetingÂ where Kelly Sigmon, USPS VP of Channel Access, gave an address entitled "Magazines at USPS Retail" and indicated the Postal Service "is open to a test in 25-50 locations."
SimilarÂ mentions--overwhelmingly positive--have appeared in meeting notes since February.
The response from publishers seems to be less enthusiastic though.
Slides from aÂ product development presentationÂ given at the meeting available on the MTAC website hint at trepidation, saying: "Implementation and economic challenges limiting interest with Publishers."
Several related parties, including Sigmon, declined interview requests, and, after multiple denials the project existed, a USPS spokesperson admitted the program had not progressed beyond "the idea phase."
Another industry source confirmed thatÂ Synapse, a large-scale magazine distributor with ties to major publishers including Hearst, Time, Conde Nast and Meredith, had been involved in the project but was unsure of where it stood at the moment. Synapse also declined comment.
Right now, it seems clear the USPS wants in.
It's just up to publishers to open the door.
Michael Rondon is an associate editor for FOLIO: Magazine. You can reach him at email@example.com.Â and follow him on Twitter @Mike_Rondon.
Media companies, and especially those in the b-to-b space, are increasingly reliant on events as a vital way to diversify a portfolio. Yet, as reported by FOLIO: today, even growth in the events sector seems to be slowing.
However, harnessing the power of social media is one way that media companies can hold the attention of customers and consumers beyond the week or month a magazine is on sale--or an event is in session. That was one takeaway provided by Eric Ly, the co-founder of LinkedIn and keynote speaker at the International Association of Exhibitions and Eventsâ€™ annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. on Wednesday.
â€śWe werenâ€™t cool enough to create Facebook,â€ť said Ly. â€śSo we tried to create something useful instead.â€ť
Ly, joined onstage by Rick Calvert, moderator of the address and head of New Media Expo, was speaking to a crowd of about 400 professionals as the CEO of another startup nowâ€”matchmaking provider Presdo. Ly discussed the role of social media in the face-to-face industry.
â€śI used to go to a lot of tech events,â€ť he said. â€śPeople want to get together, they want to socialize and have really important business relationships and friendships come out of that experience. I would go to those events andâ€”I donâ€™t think Iâ€™m alone in experiencing thisâ€”you walk in and see a room full of people really not knowing who you should meet.â€ť
â€śIn face-to-face, and especially events, itâ€™s really about connecting people,â€ť he added. â€śThat actually turns out to be really hard to do.â€ť
Ly noted several times that he sees social as a compliment to face-to-face interaction howeverâ€”not a replacement. While it can be a useful tool in matchmaking and extending relationships beyond the time and space limitations of an event, social is not an answer in itself.
â€śI think that face-to-face is never going to go away,â€ť he said. â€śWe are humans, we want to be in contact with other people, we want to develop trustâ€”and those kinds of things are really hard to do online.â€ť
Calvert also broached LinkedInâ€™s own potential as an event provider. Despite shuttering itâ€™s proprietary events app in late-November, the social mega-site could still be poised for a head-on collision with the industry.
Admittedly theorizing, Ly suggested the move could simply have been the closing of an unsuccessful product, or perhaps, a hint that LinkedIn was going to get into the events business itself.
While that prospect may be daunting for many in the event industry, Ly doesnâ€™t think it would work.
â€śThereâ€™s so much value in face-to-face interaction, itâ€™s an industry of $200 billion,â€ť he said. â€śThose kinds of abilities, skills and talents I donâ€™t think are going to be replaced any time soon by a Silicon Valley company.â€ť
Michael Rondon is an associate editor at FOLIO: magazine.
FOLIO: unveiled a one-day, nuts-and-bolts training workshop this week focused on presenting essential new skills for content creation and deployment. The workshop will be conducted three times in 2012â€”in Los Angeles (October 10), New York (November 14) and San Francisco (December 4). Called C2, the workshop is built on more than 70 case studies and best practices from around the media industry. FOLIO: general manager Tony Silber and editor Bill Mickey will host the event.â€śThereâ€™s never been a more exciting time to be in media,â€ť Silber said. â€śThere are new channels, new formats, new expectations and new opportunities. The basic relationship between content creators and content consumers has evolved.â€ťThe workshop's core curriculum is an analysis of case studies that show how media companies are leveraging social, cross-platform tactics, video and much more to build content creation strategies that address today's reader behavior. Learn whatâ€™s on the minds of the innovators in consumer, b-to-b, association media, city and regional, and hear whatâ€™s right around the corner.To register and to learn more, click here.