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Matt Kinsman

Want to Innovate? Look to the Little Guys

Matt Kinsman B2B - 10/19/2009-08:41 AM

Recently, did a story on Waukesha, Wisconsin-based enthusiast publisher Kalmbach Publishing Co. buying Cabin Life. It was a small deal, the type that pops up several times a week (or used to before M&A crashed along with everything else), yet it generated a volume of reads usually associated with stories about much larger transactions. Or lay-offs. Or Cygnus Business Media.

Why? Because Kalmbach, which publishes 15 special interest magazines with total circulation of 1 million plus, knows what they are and what they need to be, even amidst the changes of the media industry. In 2008, they generated more than $50 million in sales for the sixth year in a row (in April 2009, president Gerald "Butch" Boettcher made our FOLIO: 40 list honoring notables in the magazine industry). As one reader commented on the story, "I'd venture a guess that's why these guys have been around 75 years and are able to make an acquisition while other publishers struggle to deal with the Internet and the economy."

At a time when many larger publishers that traditionally defined this market are stuck between a rock and a covenant, it's the smaller players who are coming through, reinventing themselves when it makes sense (such as Churm Media aggressively investing in digital and seeing triple-digit growth after enduring a 20 percent revenue plunge) or having faith in a model that works (like Kalmbach), and not just chasing the latest fad for its own sake.

At FOLIO:, we take pride in the fact that we've covered these smaller publishers all along. But after receiving two e-mail promotions from two different industry associations in the recent weeks announcing that-news flash-our "mindset has to change," I think it's time to recognize that the market leaders aren't who they used to be.

Matt Kinsman

New Study Says Magazines a More Effective Buy Than Online, TV

Matt Kinsman Consumer - 10/13/2009-14:45 PM

A new study says magazine advertising drives consumer attitudes and intended behavior more effectively than viewing television advertising on its own or seeing TV and online messages together.

Researcher Dynamic Logic recently updated its database of client-commissioned accountability studies, which look at how television, magazine, and online influence consumers as they go through five stages of the buying process (or "purchase funnel") and released the findings in a new white paper called "Assessing Ad Impact: How TV, Online and Magazines Contribute Throughout the Purchase Funnel."

Takeaways include:

■  Adding magazines to TV and online campaigns had the greatest impact on consumer attitudes and intended behavior in three out of five stages including brand awareness, brand favorability and purchase consideration/intent at conversion and action stages of the funnel.

■  Magazines were also the most cost effective medium throughout the purchase funnel when considering cost per person and people impacted per dollar spent.

■  Magazines significantly outperformed online and TV in generating brand favorability.

The Dynamic Logic CrossMedia Research surveys are conducted online by asking respondents about media habits and attitudes toward advertising for a specific campaign. The current white paper looks at an aggregation of 39 studies from 2004 to 2009 and includes 10 studies with ROI data.

While Magazine Publishers of America is doing its best to publicize the data, it says it was not involved in any of the studies nor did it have access to the data. The white paper can be found here.

Matt Kinsman

When Are Layoffs Not Really Layoffs?

Matt Kinsman B2B - 10/01/2009-15:32 PM

There's a disturbing trend that seems to be growing with publishing companies cutting staff. Not just the cutting (although that's certainly disturbing enough) but attempts to portray cuts as something other than what they really are.

It happened earlier this year with Johnson Publishing, which denied making layoffs but required employees to reapply for new positions within the company.

Most recently, FOLIO: senior online editor Jason Fell asked Advanstar CEO Joe Loggia about reports of 80 lay-offs and was told, "You can't really categorize things as layoffs when they're more of shift in strategy. [While there were layoffs] you have to remember that it's in context that we've had some geographic shifts in strategy and a shift in strategy in regard to our product portfolio."

While Advanstar has also added some new positions, that specific response sparked some truly vitriolic remarks in our comments section. Nobody is happy with lay-offs and I understand trying to emphasize the positive but a publisher downplaying people losing their jobs is going to alienate the remaining work bees engaged in the daily grind of trying to help that publisher crawl out of the hole.

Matt Kinsman

Report: Journalism Jobs Vanish at Three Times The National Rate

Matt Kinsman Editorial - 09/21/2009-09:25 AM

It may not feel like it but magazines may be a relatively safer gig compared to other journalist jobs. According to Unity's 2009 Lay-off Tracker Report, a survey from Unity Journalists of Color, there has been a 22 percent increase in the number of journalist jobs lost every month from September 2008 through August 2009. That's three times more than the national average, in which jobs were lost at an 8 percent rate each month.

The report says the news industry has lost 35,885 jobs since Sept. 15, 2008 and 46,599 jobs since Unity began tracking journalist cuts since January 1, 2008.

While much of the report pertains to the newspaper industry, no sector is immune. Since September 2008, cuts include 24,511 jobs in print (primarily newspapers), 8,333 jobs in broadcast and 1,172 jobs in magazines.

E-media is no safe haven either, as evidenced by Conde Nast's purge of more than three dozen online staffers last fall and multiple lay-offs within the last couple weeks at Reader's Digest's e-media group, including several editors.

With many publishers facing broken covenants with lenders (even as they company itself may be profitable), it's going to be a while before many employees can breathe easily again, even if we start to see an uptick in print and online that some observers are predicting for 2010 (events however, which many publishers made the core of their business in recent years, will still be down).


Matt Kinsman

Cheer Up With "Worthless Gifts for Print Veterans"

Matt Kinsman - 09/08/2009-10:35 AM

Sometimes you gotta laugh: Darlene Koenig has created a Facebook gift app called "Worthless Gifts for Print Veterans." The faux gifts run the gamut from relics of the print age (TTS Punched Tape, Layout Desk Proportion Wheel) to (non)-inspirational fare such as "Journalist as Folk Hero" (a copy of "All the President's Men"), "Disappearing Editorial Cartoonist" and a George Carlin-inspired "Deadline Volley of Profanity."

Still, it's nice to know that some print essentials remain timeless, such as the "Old-School, Post-Deadline Refreshment" (a bottle of Jim Beam).

Enjoy, and pass on to your peers struggling to get back into the post-holiday groove.

Matt Kinsman

Are You Making More Than Your CEO This Year?

Matt Kinsman - 09/03/2009-11:04 AM

Stories of bloated CEO compensation abound (a recent Newsweek article says that the pay ratio between CEOs and employees of the companies on the Standard & Poor's 500 is now 319 to 1) and a recent FOLIO: blog revealed that Reader's Digest CEO Mary Berner is getting $125,000 per month while RDA is in bankruptcy (and a $2.23 million severance package if her contract is not renewed when the company emerges from bankruptcy).

However, an increasing number of consumer CEOs who also own their own companies are either cutting or foregoing their own salaries to keep their businesses alive.

According to the 2009 FOLIO: Consumer CEO Survey, an astonishing 23 percent of respondents said they are making $70,000 or less in total compensation (including bonuses) this year. In comparison, the mean salary for consumer editorial directors and editors-in-chief is $90,800, according to the 2009 FOLIO: Editorial Survey.  

Mean salary for consumer publishing CEOs shrank from $161,000 in 2008 to $150,000 in 2009. "Our biggest challenge right now is simple survival, so if I have to pass on my salary to see us through, that's what I'm going to do," one respondent said.

That may be cold comfort to the worker bees dealing with 10, 15 or even 25 percent salary cuts. But give credit where credit is due; at some publishers, the brass is making serious sacrifices, too. 

Matt Kinsman

Edit Salaries Slump in 2009

Matt Kinsman Editorial - 08/27/2009-09:35 AM

Magazine editors, for the most part, saw salaries rise in 2008. But with many publishers turning to salary freezes or salary cuts (often as steep as 25 percent) editors are expecting a significant decline of possibly 10 percent or more, according to the 2009 FOLIO: Editorial Salary Survey, conducted by Readex Research.

And while most editors have seen their workload take a significant jump, thanks to more digital assignments, that's not yet reflected in salaries. "Closing down print products could be smart from a cost standpoint but getting big dollars from online is a challenge, which could result in cuts in pay and staff," said one respondent.

Look for more on the Edit survey in FOLIO:'s September issue. In the meantime, here's a quick look at some of the more telling stats:

Mean Salary for Editorial Director


20% expect a salary increase in 2009
47% expect salaries to stay the same
31% expect salaries to decrease

Mean Salary for Editor/Executive Editor


17% expect an increase in 2009
53% expect to stay the same
28% expect a decrease

Matt Kinsman Graded Best, Good Housekeeping Worst Top Mag Web Sites

Matt Kinsman Consumer - 07/21/2009-12:11 PM

Financial news site 24/7 Wall Street has released a new report grading the top 20 consumer magazine Web sites. The sites are rated "A" through "F" based on strength of content; ease of use and navigation; use of technology and online tools including comment sections, message boards and multimedia; layout; a strong advertiser presence and size of audience (based on data from and Nielsen Netview).

The listing on 24/7 Wall Street's site is confusing with the sites ranked 1-20 based not on the Web site grades or even online traffic but the magazine's print circulation. Below, we've reworked the order according to the grading and summarized 24/7 Wall Street's comments for each site. The results are surprising, with some legacy print brands scoring high marks while others that have made very aggressive online moves not faring so well.

Grade: A+ The best magazine Web site of the survey, according to 24/7 Wall Street, with "a nearly perfect combination of the best of the print version and contains features that strengthen the product online." Latest news, photos and video run straight across the top while search features allow users to explore the site or the site's video. Inside sections are extremely simple and functional.

Grade: B+
AARP Bulletin. The news site for AARP earns a high grade for easy navigation and an excellent "Ask the Experts Section." However, the site for AARP the Magazine doesn't fare as well (see Grade: D). Earns a B+ for crisp navigation and uncluttered design while receiving criticism for subsection titles that are poorly identified. The site is highly praised for its social network options and engaging features such as "Most Read" and "Most E-mailed" stories.

Cosmopolitan. The site is lauded for a clean and carefully designed homepage designed to get readers inside the Web site as well as "intelligent use" of quizzes. 24/7 Wall Street says the site makes one big mistake by putting "More from Cosmo" so close to the bottom of the homepage. Minimal social media and Web 2.0 features.

Grade: B
Ladies Home Journal. Receives a B for an "extremely well-designed homepage" and for editors engaging visitors right away with a section called "Everybody's Talking About." Most pages have search functions to help the reader find other interactive tools on the Web site. Despite a slick design and intuitive navigation, 24/7 Wall Street says "has been hemorrhaging visitors." Still, the report gives a "B" and says the site is "set up to maximize page views by keeping visitors occupied."

Taste of Home: A Reader's Digest site, 24/7 Wall Street says, "This is about as ‘plain vanilla' as a content site can be, which is not all bad." Props are given to the simple and straightforward slide shows and instructional videos, while "Top Recipes" section gets slammed for "text links which look primitive and resemble Google advertising."

Grade: B-
Reader's Digest. Site earns praise for clean navigation that runs across the top of the homepage and a section called "Today's Digest" that draws visitors to the site. gets marked down for a hard-to-find Comments section and lack of multimedia.

Better Homes and Gardens. Site gets a B- for a "My BHG" option that allows visitors to become members and customize what they want from the Web site.

National Geographic. The site is "well designed to bring readers to sections beyond the home page and makes state of the art use of multimedia features, especially video."

Woman's Day. Site has a well designed, clean and easy-to-follow homepage but marked down for hiding important elements such as games, blogs and coupons.

Sports Illustrated. is praised for the center of its front page which features video but is also "clean and well done." However, photo and video sections at the bottom of the homepage are called "average" in design and quality while type is small and pages are cramped.

Grade: C Earns high marks for being visually well done and offering engaging features like a section for downloading free MP3s and a sophisticated entertainment guide but the report takes a shot at Playboy for attempting to put much of the content behind a pay wall. "There may be some evidence that online readers will pay for content but naked women are probably in a different category than world news."

Grade: C-
Family Circle. Report calls the homepage "boring" and marks site down for random organization of articles. Family Circle does get credit for a "very clever section" that allows readers to gets specific information on topics of interest via e-mail.

Game Informer Magazine. The report says, "Given the demographic of heavy video game users, it is surprising that the site has so few social media connections."

Grade: D+ Site gets a "D+" for overwhelming the reader "with too much material crowded onto its homepage" and promotions that can be confused with editorial. Bright spots include a robust community site with a visible link to Facebook.

Grade: D
Southern Living. While the design is fine, the Web site offers almost nothing beyond the magazine, according to the report. Props are given to the "home section" for its use of video and 360 degree viewing but the fitness section is lacking much-needed illustrations and the community section is an after-thought. The report takes to task for an "extremely confusing" homepage that features blog sections with titles that have no meaning to the readers. " is one of the few sites where the reader has an easier time navigating the site on the inside pages and sections," the report says. "Almost all the major design elements are text and the use of illustrations and video are typically pushed to the bottom of the pages."

AARP the Magazine. Site is marked down for choppy lay-out and confusing copy.

Grade: D-
Good Housekeeping. Receives the lowest grade in the survey for an "awkwardly designed homepage," a jumble of content mixed with distracting offers for the print magazine and online promotions and "photos so poorly cropped that they are over-layered on top of the text."

Not Graded:   
American Automobile Association. With more than five separate sites tied into parent, 24/7 Wall Street doesn't offer a grading.

Matt Kinsman

Paid Content and Blog Sponsorships Generate Highest E-Profits

Matt Kinsman Sales and Marketing - 07/13/2009-14:13 PM

The wisdom of paid online content is still debatable but blog sponsorships and paid content are the most profitable e-media revenue streams, with more than 50 percent of respondents saying they see a profit margin of more than 30 percent from these two products, according to the 2009 FOLIO: E-Media Survey.

However, just eight percent of publishers sell sponsorships against blogs and only 28 percent offer paid content.

Of course, that doesn’t mean blogs and paid content are generating significant revenue at this point. Paid content was the fourth largest e-media revenue stream for magazine publishers today (banner advertising remains the largest).

However, 32 percent of respondents said banner advertising was the least profitable e-media revenue stream, generating profit margins of less than 10 percent, followed by online directories.

The 2009 FOLIO: E-Media Survey tracks e-media performance for magazine publishers including fastest growing revenue streams, product pricing, product investment and e-media profitability. The survey will be available in full later this year.

Most Profitable E-Media Revenue Streams:

Profit Margin > 30%+
Paid Content
Blog Sponsorship

Least Profitable E-Media Revenue Streams:

Profit Margin < 10%
Banner Advertising
Online Directories

Source: 2009 FOLIO: E-Media Survey

Matt Kinsman

'Live-Tweeting' Iran Drives Million Page Views a Day for

Matt Kinsman emedia and Technology - 06/18/2009-11:33 AM

While the Iranian government has barred established media organizations from the country, it's having less success with onsite, organic reporting being transmitted online (despite attempts to slow connection speeds and government-sanctioned hackers trashing Web sites and threatening posters).

Many media outlets are turning to Twitter for coverage, including the Atlantic, which has averaged more than one million page views each day this week thanks in large part to its continuous "Live-Tweeting the Revolution" on writer Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish blog.

On Monday, the site hit 1.2 million page views, its largest since the November 2008 presidential election, according to an Atlantic spokesperson.

To compile the tweets, one of Sullivan's assistants is using an RSS reader to search through more than 1,000 blogs for Iran coverage. Another assistant reads through all of the various tweets coming out of Iran and compiles them in the "Live-Tweeting The Revolution" post. Meanwhile, Sullivan looks through his Daily Dish inbox, which gets between 400 and 500 messages a day. Those readers tip him off to breaking news and interesting commentary. Farsi-speaking readers are translating or summarizing stories and sending them to Sullivan, who links to them and asks readers to translate.

Some sample Tweets:

"My mother just spoke to relatives in Shahrak-e-Gharb, who live in apartments (luckily). Hundreds of homes, the street ruined."

"According to hospital doctors in Iran the attacks on civilians are from the chest up. they are taking and burrying the bodies b4 family sees"

"New Worst Offender @Persian_Guy sending false RTs from reputable users and misinformation. Ignore."

The tweets can be maddeningly cryptic (a Twitter neophyte, I'm embarrassed to say I automatically clicked on the first few posts that caught my eye, thinking it would take me to more in-depth coverage), they often get repetitive and there's obviously no way to check the veracity of the post or who it's coming from (the tweets out of Iran seem to be drawing a growing number of government plants). However, it offers a visceral, first person account to one of the biggest stories of the year.

It also puts the Atlantic, one of the longest-running stewards of long-form print journalism, among the media outlets at the forefront, covering this story in real time. 

Matt Kinsman

Star and Us Weekly Run Same Basic Gosselin Cover

Matt Kinsman Consumer - 06/11/2009-09:51 AM

With the same three or four stories hogging the spotlight for a week or two (typically Brad & Jen, Angelina & Jen, or reality star of the moment), similarities between celebrity magazine covers are an occupational hazard. Not to mention the fact that so many mass consumer titles follow the same basic plug-in formula for their design (something legendary Esquire art director George Lois slammed back in 2005 at MPA's American Magazine Conference).

But the June 15 covers of Wenner Media's Us Weekly and American Media's Star seem to take it to a new level.

Both feature beach shots of reality star/villain/victim Kate Gosselin (in photos that look like they were taken within seconds of each other, from the same dune angle) with yellow cover lines and three yellow bullet points with white type hammering the cover subject. Both also feature a white third cover strip with two other cover subjects—and both feature secondary cover lines for Twilight stars "Rob & Kristen" (who are making out on and off the set, apparently).

Not to be left out, People's June 15 cover goes full Gosselin, and shares the same yellow cover lines, blue background, 1/3 cover strip and Kate Gosselin beach shot.

So in the spirit of Us Weekly's "Who Wore it Best," which of these extremely similar covers do you think will actually stand out at the newsstand?

Matt Kinsman

Job Fears, Not Just Slashed Budgets, Take Toll on Events

Matt Kinsman B2B - 06/04/2009-13:53 PM

The downturn in event revenue has been brutal for publishers who counted on their tradeshows and conferences to pick up the slide in print in 2009. Tradeshow revenue fell 18.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008 and is down about 10 percent through the first four months of 2009, according to American Business Media’s 2009 Media Financial Survey, conducted by ABM and the Jordan, Edmiston Group.

Publishers are betting the downturn is temporary and attendance will bounce back once travel and training budgets are restored. But some event managers are finding that the biggest obstacle to drawing attendees isn’t budgetary at all. It's the fear that the brass will start to think employees are expendable if they spend any time out of the office at a show.

“We’ve got telemarketers pounding the phone and we’re offering deep discounts but people still aren’t coming,” one event manager told FOLIO:. “And it’s not about the money—they’re saying they worry that they’ll be considered for the next round of layoffs if they aren’t seen in the office every day.”

Others are seeing former attendees grounded due to other fears. “We had one group tell us no one in their office is allowed to travel for fear of swine flu,” says another event manager.

Much of the downturn in print may be blamed on false perceptions and hysteria over “old media,” rather than reality. Now the event side is learning just how costly this hysteria can be.