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Josh Gordon

Social Media is Now Your Business

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 07/09/2009-11:30 AM

The findings of my recent study, "The Coming Change in Social Media Business Applications,” should give traditional publishers a reason to take another look at social media. Results showed that social media is used as a general communications tool in public relations and marketing, but is evolving into a major tool of customer engagement.
Research found that companies are now looking to social media as a primary way to engage their customers, enabling lead generation, immediate customer contact and customer interaction.

As content publishers, consider that all ads and sponsorships sold are for this same goal; customer engagement. If social media becomes a primary way that this happens then you need to be a part of it. Luckily, a lot of what goes into building social networks is about leveraging focused content. That’s something publishers know a lot about, and should see as an opportunity.

The Social Media Shift

This study, to my knowledge, is the first to measure a coming shift in how companies will use social media. There are several factors driving this trend.

First, with more people spending time on online social media sites and companies are realizing a lot of their customers can be found there.

Second, the shift to online communications has made it easier for potential customers to dodge traditional lead generation and sales strategies. Social media can help break the ice.

Finally, a recession is causing every company to rethink its customer engagement strategy.

The report offers an overview of the shift toward uses in social media as well as measurements specific to Twitter and social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. (I had the good fortune to interview social media gurus Brian Solis, Shel Holtz, Dan Schnabel, Ari Herzog and Dan McCarthy.)

For publishers, this is a real opportunity and an important trend to get in front of.

Click here to download the full report.

Josh Gordon

Is the CMO of Your Advertiser on Twitter?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 05/11/2009-12:03 PM

One great way to get on the "inside" of an account is to follow key marketing decision-makers on Twitter. Anyone can "follow" anyone with a Twitter account, and by "following" a marketing executive you will receive a steady stream of anecdotal information that can better help you understand and ultimately sell the account.

The question is, who in your client's marketing department is on Twitter? I've noticed that most ad managers and people focused on internal functions are often not. Even though Twitter is all the rage, most people who start do not continue. A recent survey by Nielsen found that slightly less than 60 percent of Twitter beginners continue after a month. In business, the people who tend to keep Tweeting are ones who find a business benefit. For internal people, like media buyers, once the novelty wears of it can be hard to justify the time, effort and discipline required to keep up a steady flow of Tweets.

But a chief marketing officer who Tweets can attract positive attention for an organization. Since most will assume they are involved in company policy, when their posts generate a positive reaction, it reflects on the company. That is a business benefit.

On a large account, you may never meet or call on the CMO. But by "following " them on Twitter you can gain insight into the mind, values, and where abouts of the person setting the tone and direction for an organizations marketing. 

Let's get started. Check this list of CMOs who are on Twitter maintained by by Systemic Marketing to see if you already know a CMO on Twitter. Hey, that's Zinio's CMO Jeanniey Mullen at #33 on the list. See? I already know a CMO on Twitter. I'll bet you do too!

Josh Gordon

Why Europe is Ahead of the U.S. in Auditing Digital Magazines

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 05/08/2009-14:36 PM

A digital magazine story making the rounds on the Web is about a subject some publishers dread and media buyers have suspicion: digital magazine open rates. Napier News asked a few European digital magazines what their open rates were. The admittedly informal query yielded the following:

Four titles had open rates of 11-12 percent
One title had an open rate of 16 percent
One title had an open rate of 19 percent

A media buyer hearing these numbers might conclude that digital editions are useless for advertising.

But there's a huge difference between digital magazines created as replicas of print magazines for the convenience of readers to archive and search their print publications and those "designed for digital" publications created to fight for audiences in competitive online environments.

"Designed for digital" publications have much higher open rates, so much so that many are making their case with advertisers without discussing open rates.    

In Europe, the recent ABCe audit for digital only publications makes its core metric copies delivered and opened. By design, this audit does not mention how many copies/invites are originally sent out to achieve this. In other words, if an ABCe audit for digital only magazines confirms a 100,000 monthly circulation, it means 100,000 copies sent are opened by readers that month. The audit will not share how many copies/invites were originally sent out to achieve that 100,000 number.  

If advertisers are not told how many issues are originally sent out, they cannot calculate an open rate. I think this is terrific, because it shifts the question "What is your open rate?" to "What can we achieve for this advertiser with these delivered and opened copies of this digital magazine?"

I have not heard of an audit for digital-only magazines in North America that verifies open rates. Please post a reply if you know of one.

If none exist, I would encourage North American publishers to press their audit organizations to create an appropriate audit for digital only editions


Josh Gordon

Time Americans Spend Using Social Networks Surpasses E-Mail

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 04/23/2009-11:44 AM

Nielsen released some startling figures yesterday for anyone involved in the business of media.

In February, social network usage exceeded Web-based e-mail usage for the first time.

As you fight to sell that e-mail sponsorship, some of the numbers—like these—might be against you. While every content publisher’s newsletter is different, if the one you sell is tracking along with what is going on throughout the web, your clickthroughs are down.

If this becomes an issue, I recommend you bring this just released study from Epsilon on your next call. The study is based on the performance of 7.7 billion promotional e-mails in Q4 2008. While we don't sell ads in the direct marketing campaigns these e-newsletters represent, we share the same Internet and readers. It is the behavior of both of these that should concern us. Here are some survey results:

Bad news: Promotional direct mail volume is way up of year prior, 19 percent. Our newsletters are competing with a lot more volume in the inbox.

Good news: open rates are up. "Open rates increased for the third quarter in a row."

Bad news: Clickthrough rates dropped to the lowest level Epsilon has recorded.

Check your open and clickthrough rates. If your open rates are up, you need to use these numbers to counter the drop in clickthroughs clients could see as a sign of bad performance. This study can add a third part validation for the view that a drop in clickthroughs does not have to indicate a less effective campaign.

Click here to download the study 

Josh Gordon

Digital Magazines That Actually Generate Revenue

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 04/20/2009-08:47 AM

I'm involved with a project to help build the case for advertising in digital magazines. As part of the proposal process, I created a list of digital magazines that are optimized for digital delivery that support advertising sales.

If you are trying to sell advertising into a digital edition and getting resistance, show them this PDF. It contains the best list of high profile ad supported digital magazines I could find.

Also, if you know of any other ad supported digital magazines not included here, please post them!

Here is the list so far: 

US Newsweekly: The digital reincarnation of US News and World Report

MINE: a "made to order" magazine from Time Inc publishing (84.5 percent digital, the rest print).

Sporting News Today: Daily sports news.

SportsArizona: Local sports news from Arizona.

PC Magazine: Now digital only.

PopSci Genius: From the publisher of Popular Science.

eWeek: Has a print version but the digital version is optimized.

ZooZoom: Digital only fashion form New York.

Winding Road: Pioneering digital only car magazine.

PowerBlock: For car enthusiasts.

Mustang Life: for Mustang enthusiasts.

Red Wire: Music enthusiast digital only.

Coachella: Music enthusiast digital only.

Premier Guitar: A digital replica with enhancements.

Viv: Very high end women's service magazine.

Double Dutch: For teenage girls.

Zakar: For black women.

Hilary: Claims to be North America's "First and Most Popular Online Women's Magazine, est. 1995."

Double X: Launching soon, from

URBiz: For urban business professionals 

Organic Style: Green lifestyle magazine.

Organic Lifestyle: Also, a green lifestyle magazine.

Maria Claire: A digital preview edition.

Reader's Digest: Digital preview edition.

American Girl: Digital preview edition.

In the U.K.:


Computer Weekly

Cosmetic Surgery Answers

Drivers Republic

Eco For You

Graduate Prospects

iMotor (Dennis)

iGizmo (Dennis)

Monkey (Dennis)

Nature Methods

Sisters magazine (Muslim women)

The Week (Dennis)

Tennis Head

Josh Gordon

Behold! The Recession White Paper That Will Help You Sell Ads

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/23/2009-10:38 AM

For several weeks now, this white paper I wrote for the Customer Collective ("What is Your Recession Sales Strategy?") has been one of the top ranked white papers on the Web, according to ZDNet. This is great news for media salespeople because it is a great media sales tool. The white paper is based on a research study that challenges assumptions of how selling should be done in a recession and can open conversations that lead to a media sale.

There are six findings in the white paper and each can help you sell ads. Here are the first two:

1. In a recession, the most common sales direction is to go after new categories of customers. Instead, focus on selling more products to your current customers. This will be more profitable, less difficult, and when the recession ends you will be tighter with your client base.

Selling point: A client who embraces this strategy will be releasing new products, configurations, programs, and packages to their existing client base. Ads can help carry the message.

2. As a result of the recession, 26 percent of sales organizations are working more closely with their marketing departments.

Selling point: The bad news is that three out of four are not. The panel of experts insists that in a recession sales and marketing must work together. Marketing needs to refocus to help the sales staff. Image advertising can be diminished, and more emphasis placed on the kind of promotion that attracts people looking for solutions. This is a golden opportunity for you to sell advertising and online programs that generate sales leads, or attract people looking for solutions. Webinars, e-blasts, and direct response advertising are appropriate here.

Now, read all six points in the FOLIO: magazine article "What 'Do You Have A Recession Sales Strategy?' Means for Content Publishers."  

If you read the FOLIO: article and review the importance of the study you should be ready for a great sales call.

Click here for a list of over 100 Web sites (including BusinessWeek, Inc., Forbes, and Fast Company) where "What is Your Recession Sales Strategy?" can be downloaded ...

Click here to see the list of the top 100 top-rated Finanzmanagement (Finance management) white papers on the site ...

And click here to download the white paper on the Customer Collective Web site ...

Josh Gordon

Monkey: A Digital Magazine Success Story

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 02/24/2009-15:37 PM

Having a tough time selling ads into your digital magazine? You're not alone. While it is nearly impossible to sell ads into digital replicas of print magazines, there is a thriving new breed of digital magazine originals blowing away the conventional wisdom that digital magazines are an ad sales death trap.

These digital-original publishers are doing things very differently. One of true pioneers and success stories is Monkey, a “lad” book from Dennis Publishing U.K. with an impressive 270,000 weekly ABCe audited circulation and robust ad sales.

Eoin McSorley, Monkey magazine’s editor, agreed to answer some questions:

What about length? Monkey magazine is only about 30 pages per issue.

We’ve played around with this. When our digital magazine arrives, if it seems dense and people think they don’t have time to read it, they might not open it. So we keep it short and make it seem very easy to digest.

As a digital magazine you kept the page turns. Why?

Eoin: What we liked about the idea of a page turning magazine was that it has a beginning and an end, so it looks like it takes only take a little chunk of time to read. When you’re surfing the Web, the only time constraints are ones you set for yourself. With Monkey, we take a little chunk of 25 or 30 minutes each week and cover all the aspects of what young men would be looking on the Web for anyway.

How was the start of selling advertising?

Eoin: Like any new thing, people were very tentative when we were starting to sell ads. One problem was that advertisers didn’t know where to categorize us. Are you a Web site or a magazine? Also, one of our biggest questions in the early stages was, “Who are we going to speak to?”

That was two years ago. Now you have a successful, ad-supported digital magazine. When you call on an ad agency do you call more on print buyers or online buyers?

Eoin: It varies from agency to agency. A lot of agencies are getting wiser to digital magazines now. But a traditional standard flat page in Monkey doesn’t work as well as one that has video, so we tend to be going more to online media departments now.

How do you handle clickthrough reporting?

We have a very open policy about letting people know exactly how many clickthroughs and page views they are getting. We generate great results. The results have been very good and I think our transparency has helped us a lot.

Do you have any advice for people starting an ad-supported digital magazine?

Eoin: You need to start with a list. If you’ve got a decent list then you can find out what they really like and what they don’t. Just keep it very honest. Then we react to what is happening on the 'net and add a little bit of structure. It is the same way that  magazines like The Week condense all the news for you. We condense all the fun stuff for young men.

Josh Gordon

Why ‘Selling Harder’ Doesn’t Work

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 12/16/2008-10:31 AM

This is the title of a new free white paper I wrote for the Customer Collective. It is based on a survey and packed with strategies you can use to sell more effectively in challenging times.

While tough times often bring new ideas to many company functions, when it comes to sales, organizations are making no strategic adjustments, doing things they way they always have, only opting to “sell harder" and wait for better times.

But a recession is more than just period of slow sales. It is a time when the markets and customers we sell to change behavior, with “buying less” only the tip of the iceberg. Customers often realign their buying criteria, corporate values, personnel and alliances in ways that last for years after the recession ends. Sales success depends not just on selling harder, but selling strategically smarter to these customer adjustments as well.

"What Is Your Recession Strategy" is free with registration with The Customer Collective, a terrific social media site for sales and marketing professionals that you will want to join anyway. Use the link below. If you already are a member, just use the link, log in and download.

Josh Gordon

Unlocking the Digital Magazine Renaissance

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 12/10/2008-17:48 PM

I’ve heard it all over the magazine industry. As an ad revenue generator, digital magazines are a flop. “We tried doing a digital magazine,” one publisher told me, “but couldn’t sell any additional ad space. The clickthroughs were abysmal and after a few issues we stopped doing it.”

But digital magazines are a distribution success story. B-to-B publishers have deployed digital editions successfully to boost their BPA circulation cheaply, and consumer magazines are selling digital edition subscriptions. But these editions typically include only the ads sold into the print issues.

Many media buyers do not understand the value of digital magazines as an advertising medium. I believe this is because the basic research to measure the impact digital magazines have as a unique advertising medium has not been done.

Every advertising media has a trade advocacy group that does ongoing research to prove its value. For magazines, it’s the Magazine Publishers of America; for cable television, it’s the Cable Advertising Bureau; for billboards, it’s the Outdoor Advertising Association of America; for Web advertising. it’s the Interactive Advertising Bureau, etc.

No one advocates for digital magazines in this way, and yet, there are three big questions that need answering:

1. Do readers skip the ads?

The good news is that digital magazines are very interactive. The bad news is that digital magazines are very interactive. The questions is, how many readers go to the table of contents and jump to just the articles they want to read, skipping all the ads in between? Do some demographic groups skip more? What are the content strategies that editors can use to hold a readers interest though the entire issue? Do digital magazines need to be shorter or more focused than print magazines so readers don’t skip? Until the "skip factor" question is answered, media buyers will stay away.

2. Is the format a problem?

What if you took all of the articles in a digital magazine and reformatted them into a typical e-mail newsletter, initially just showing article headlines and the first few sentences to click on and read the whole article? This would be quicker and avoid the wait time while images download. What’s missing? The graphical formatting. In a very basic way, when you sell advertising into a digital edition you are selling the value of graphical and text formatting. How important it is this to readers? Does it get them more involved in content? Do they read articles—and ads—at a higher level or involvement? If they could get the same content in a quick e-mail newsletter would they prefer it? Again, this kind of understanding is needed to help digital magazine publishers design for maximum impact, and for media buyers to understand "what’s in it for me."       
3. Do digital ads have impact?

How does an ad in a digital magazine actually impact a reader’s mind, say, versus a banner ad, a print ad or a TV ad? There are expectations and a basic understanding of how these other advertising media work. The basic research has been done and the advocacy association for each can tell you how advertising with their media works as a branding tool, lead generation tool or a new product introduction tool.

Please, no more surveys documenting the rapid growth of digital magazines and how happy the readers are with them. This measures only the success of digital magazines as a distribution medium. If this is all we get, media buyers will continue to be unimpressed.

I strongly believe digital magazines have a life as an ad-supported medium. I predict that once the basic research is done there will be a flurry of new digital magazines launched, designed as original digital editions. Ad-supported digital magazines will look and feel very different than their print originated counterparts. There will an understanding as to which kind of content will thrive as a digital magazine vs. content better-delivered as a simple e-newsletter. There will be a renaissance in editorial content and graphical design development specific for ad supported digital magazines.

I challenge the digital magazine industry to from an association and do the research. I’d love to help do it.

Josh Gordon

Beat 'Print is Dead' With 'Free iPod' Threat

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 12/01/2008-15:23 PM

Ron Wall, SVP of publishing at Canon Communications, shares a great story of how he beat a "print ads are dead" objection raised by a client by making him an offer he had to refuse.

The client told Ron that print ads were not responsive and therefore of little value. Ron countered by offering a free spread in his magazine. But there was a catch. The ad had to make an offer, have an 800 number, and anyone who called even just to inquire about the offer would get a free iPod.

The offer of a free spread got Ron's client thinking. What would the offer be? How many callers would buy as result? How many iPods would he have to give away? Whoa! A lot of free iPods!

As the client did the math and considered the number of people who might call to get a free iPod, he realized it could run into hundreds or thousands. The client started backing off from Ron's offer. Then Ron, with a twinkle in his eye, said, "But wait a minute, didn't you just say print advertising is not responsive?"

Ron's point, that the right print ad can be very responsive, had been made. Print is not dead, and print ads can generate response as long as they are designed with a compelling offer. Great story. Thanks Ron!

Josh Gordon

New York Times to Media Buyers: 'Haggle. Haggle. Haggle.'

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 11/06/2008-14:14 PM

Do my eyes deceive me? Is the New York Times egging on media price grinders and rate card bashers?

Last week, the Times had a small business column advising business owners to take advantage of the down economy by haggling with media sales reps:

Now is the time to bargain. If you are hurting, rest assured -- so are the local newspaper, TV station, and radio station. Now is a perfect time to bargain for ad space, both in price and position. In most cases the more advertising space you buy, the more it is discounted. So if you're a landscaper and you're looking to place seasonal ads twice a week in your local newspaper for six months, ask for the 12-month price. The economy will go back up again and advertising prices will rise, so see what you can do to lock in the prices for the long term.

The Times also recommends asking for premium placement:

If you're placing an ad in a magazine, ask which "premium" pages are open and see if you can get those at a discount. Premium pages include the inside front cover, the centerfold, the back cover, and the "front of book," which means the first third of the publication...But more important is to advertise when and where it makes sense for your business. If you offer tax services to small businesses, check into the costs of a "sponsorship" during a public radio station's "marketplace" show. If you own a sports store, make sure your ad is in the sports section of the newspaper or runs during the sports segment of your local news. Haggle. Haggle. Haggle.

Is this a sell out?  

Times are tough in media an everyone knows it. The Times provided a constructive road map to getting concessions. They did not mention more severe concession driving tactics that involve all-or-nothing-threats and strangulation of small kittens and puppies.

Still, I would rather talk to a client willing to haggle for business over one who just closes the door with no discussion about advertising until after the recession has passed.

Josh Gordon

Recession Fighting Rationales from a Brit

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 10/29/2008-15:07 PM

What is we love about the British? The accent? The Beatles? The Queen? Their command of their language?

This last point is the one that motivates me to post content from leading British research company Millward Brown. In a free, downloadable, very tight, four page PDF, Nigel Hollis, their chief global analyst, lays out the case for advertising in a recession with uncommon, common sense.

Although many of the points made have been made elsewhere, I recommend you download and share their report with your advertisers because Nigel simply states them all in a more convincing way.

From the report:

"1. The relationship between share of market and share of voice The connection between share of market (SOM) and share of voice (SOV) has been proven. The higher your share of voice compared to your actual market share, the more likely your brand is to grow its market share in the subsequent year. So, if you increase your marketing investment at a time when competitors are reducing theirs, you should substantially increase the saliency of your brand...

2. The relationship between brand size and profit margins. Because they enjoy advantages of scale, big brands enjoy an advantage over smaller ones in terms of attracting repeat purchase and recouping their marketing investments. Therefore, a brand that increases share during a recession stands to benefit from this multiplier once the economy rebounds.

3. Reduced “noise” during recession provides opportunities. A new product launch may actually have greater impact during a recession than at other times, for several reasons. A product that is unique or demonstrably better than others should be able to command a higher price, even among price conscious shoppers. Competitors who are running scared may be late in countering a new product with their “me-too” offerings. And, because media costs are likely to be lower, advertisers should get more bang for their buck. These savings may be compounded by the relative ease of cutting through in a less cluttered atmosphere.

Overall, competing in a recession is like running a marathon. A smart front runner will seize the lead and work to increase it while others are flagging. If the other runners allow the gap to widen, it will be really tough for them to regain the lost ground when the pace picks up again."

Then again, maybe it's the accent!