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Mitch Speers

3 Strategies for Data Products

Mitch Speers B2B - 02/11/2014-13:15 PM

 

Customer and audience frustrations are fertile ground for new revenue opportunities. Sometimes it's easy to map those frustrations to a new data product or service, and sometimes you hit a brick wall. When that happens, it helps to get outside your comfort zone to find solutions.

1. Generate Data From Scratch
Here's a real example: A data publisher supplies data about a certain commodity to the financial industry. They identified a need for real-time data about shipments of this commodity into and out of U.S. ports, but the buyers and sellers closely guarded the information and would not sell it.

Undeterred, the publisher set up webcams at all major U.S. ports and used some simple software to assess shipment volumes based on how high in the water the ships rode. That company has created a proprietary data product that is sold at a premium to commodities traders who use this data daily.

This "brute force" approach might seem a bit unrealistic for most of us, but it shouldn't. There is still plenty of opportunity to build new data products by going out and grabbing data that nobody has bothered to get yet, and then presenting it in a way that's immediately useful to someone.

2. Create Mashups
There is also revenue to be mined from simply packaging or combining data to make it more useful or compelling. If you want to capture some of this revenue, you should do it quickly, because there are few barriers to competition. Someone is going to beat you to it or the government is already doing it well enough that it's not worth trying to monetize.

Case in point: How do I find an unbiased, detailed evaluation of rehab facilities near my elderly parents' home? There are several commercial operations that have tried to make a go of this, but this Medicare site is better than any of them. That's because the ratings data is generated directly from government inspections of the facilities, and even the government is now figuring out how to present data usefully to consumers.

A bigger example of this kind of disintermediation is how Google has obliterated traditional b-to-b directories and buyers guides. There is a way to transform some of these into data products someone is willing to pay for, but it's an uphill slog.

3. Leverage Your Existing Data

Do you do a "Top 10" or "Top 100" projects, products or technologies? Many awards programs can support a data product spin-off.

Does your editorial coverage regularly include industry statistics and information your readers see as competitive intelligence? If so, and assuming you don't cover financial services, energy or pharma, there is likely an opportunity for you to create a data product, and to explicitly blend that with your editorial coverage. Done correctly, editorial can be the marketing funnel for a data product or services. Skift CEO Rafat Ali has some interesting thoughts on this concept. Wardsauto.com is a good example of this paradigm.

Data product opportunities don't last forever, and those willing to roll up their sleeves and map the way forward are far more likely to capture the bulk of the profit potential. 

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Measuring Your Digital Magazines

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 02/10/2014-18:13 PM

 

In my last post, I talked about how to match your digital magazine's features with your audience. Here, I'll carry that forward into measurement. It is imperative that you measure the effect of your digital edition initiative very carefully—and honestly. You need to set your goals in advance, but there is no reason why these goals cannot change providing there is a sound reason to do so.

See Also: Matching Your Digital Magazine Features With Your Audience

Circulation professionals long ago learned that the editor who said, “Just send people one renewal. People love this magazine, they’ll renew,” was never correct. If you think that works, give me a call, I have a bridge I can sell you. It is important you base your decisions on actual results compared to what you are trying to achieve.

I know it is going against popular thinking, but a 20 percent open rate is really not that impressive because what a 20 percent open rate really means is that 80 percent didn’t.

What should your strategy be if you're faced with this situation? First, is the open rate approximately the same each month and is it the same people each month? If the answer is yes to these two questions, then you need to concentrate on the 80 percent who are ignoring you. You also need to ascertain how many people in the 20 percent category actually download the magazine—the more the merrier. Those people who open the email, but do not download the issue need to be addressed. There are many reasons why they didn't download it, but you need to know because it could be something that is easily fixable.

How you approach improving the digital response depends on what it is you are trying to achieve with your digital issue. If your digital issue is just to support the print product as an added benefit, then a low open rate may be acceptable. If you are trying to move to a digital-only platform, a low open should not be acceptable.

The reason people renew a magazine is because it helps them professionally or entertains them privately, but in both cases, this requires the reader to actually have access to the magazine. A print magazine has an advantage because it can sit on a desk or table and have visibility until the cleaners come, but a digital magazine lurks on a computer and is not as visible. Put simply, people forget.

If you are creating digital issues based on demographics, or regions, check to see if there is any variance in open rates because it could be a certain demographic does not respond as well as another—and the same goes for regions. It does not make sense to create something that is being ignored but unless the data you are reviewing is measurable, making a decision is difficult.

The key thing is to work on the 80 percent who don't open the edition. The more you can reduce this figure, the better off you will be. Whether it is fair or not, digital magazines get judged differently than print because data is available on digital deployments that is simply not available on magazines deployed by the post office.

 

 

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Linda Ruth

Magazine Distributor Shuts Down While It Restructures Debt

Linda Ruth Audience Development - 02/05/2014-16:38 PM

 

HDA is a  St. Louis-based distributor that has been the magazine and book supplier of specialty magazines to specialty stores since 1983. Recent events, however, have indicated the company is dealing with some major problems.

A client of mine had been blindsided by HDA’s refusal to receive 57,000 copies of their magazine. The copies were bound for Lowes, Menards, and Dollar General. A confused shipper contacted the client to find out what was up. The publisher had no idea.

Neither, it appeared, did anyone else. Calls to national distributors were received with shock and confusion. Calls to some of HDA’s retail partners were met with blank disbelief. Even now, no official announcement has been made. There is no press release, notice, explanation, or any kind of acknowledgement at all on the HDA website.

According to Bob Ketterer, HDA Inc.'s president, CEO and chairman, the company is working through a significant debt restructuring.

“We don’t intend to file for bankruptcy protection," he said in a phone call. "We are in a reorganization, but have neither declared nor been forced into bankruptcy. Our intention is to continue as a book and magazine distributor. The process had to be sped up because of our arrangement with the bank. We ship to 16,000 locations around the U.S. The locations are 100-percent SBT (scan based trading). What that means is that we own that debt load. It drove up the debt to a level the bank and the secured creditors found unacceptable, and we were forced to cut overhead dramatically. Banks are both risk-averse and unfamiliar with the way our business works. The restructuring process was hastened based on the bank demands.”

HDA employees, I am told, showed up at work Monday morning to find the doors to their company locked. Each received a letter indicating that it was the last day of work and the last day of insurance coverage.

People with whom I spoke were stunned. There had been a shared perception that things had been going well; only a few days before they had been informed by Lowes that they could count on continuing as magazine category manager for the Loews stores through 2017.

“It wasn’t ideal,” Ketterer acknowledged. “In fact, it was one of the saddest days of my life. I started this business 30 years ago. Some of those people were with us 15-20 years. It was rough. But we really had no choice.” 

What about the hundreds of magazine and book publishers with whom they work to distribute several thousand titles to the specialty market? What about the outstanding payments owed? I asked Ketterer about my client’s receivables—the publisher, whose publication is Lowe’s top-selling magazine, is looking for contractually agreed-upon payment that hasn’t been received.

“We want to continue to do so. We’re still very much in business. We are working with the bank and an investor to restructure and move forward. We are going to be leaner and meaner. We would like our publishing and retailer partners to work with us.”

According to a source, HDA hopes to re-open within eight to ten days, and hire back a team from the employees turned away on Monday. Ketterer did not immediately confirm this.

I mentioned this to my publisher client. “It’s got to be a two-way street,” the publisher replied. “We have always worked cooperatively with HDA, delivering to them Lowes' top-selling magazine. Lowes has been paying HDA every week, based on the very-healthy POS sales. I haven’t seen that money, and I haven’t had a return call from the distributor. If I’m to work with HDA, HDA needs to work with me.”

 

 

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Caysey Welton

Face Up Online: Arizona Highways

Caysey Welton Design and Production - 01/31/2014-09:20 AM

Welcome to the first edition of Face Up Online.

If you're a reader of our Magazine then you're familiar with the concept. But if you're new, it's simple: Designers from around the industry critique various magazine covers. The critiques are often highly technical and aim to help designers consider certain practices before they go out and plan their next package.

Face Up in print does have a few hitches though--timeliness, frequency and sometimes space. There are so many great covers being produced week after week, but we only get to focus in on a dozen or so each year. Face Up Online gives us the flexibility to start conversations about more covers on a regular basis, and in some cases, when it matters.

We didn't want the online version to look like a magazine replica. Print allows us to slow the story down and speak with a multitude of creatives, and tell the tale behind the cover from a magazine's perspective. Here, the objective is to extend the franchise but shake up some mission-critical elements by adding historical context, cross comparisons, emotional response and insightful storytelling.

Design vet Robert Newman will be teaming up with us and every other week to offer his expert opinion. To kick things off we showed him a handful of covers to consider and he quickly narrowed it down to Arizona Highways' January issue.

Here's his take:

This is a solid, well-done cover, featuring crisp easy-to-read typography, understated, tasteful color and of course a powerful image. Arizona Highways is known for spectacular scenic photography, but even by their high standards this picture is a great one. I've looked at the magazine for decades, and I'd rank this photo of "The Wave" as one of their all-time best.

Arizona Highways' current cover format engages the readers with headlines and teasers much more than it did in the past, and creative director, Barbara Glynn Denney, is very skilled at integrating type and graphics while leaving plenty of space for the cover photograph to breath and luxuriate. There's a strong attention to detail and positioning as well; an obviously keen eye is assembling the parts and polishing them into a very elegant package.

That said, I think the main cover headline, "10 Rare Opportunities," is a head scratcher. I think if you're going to put a headline of that size over a picture with that kind of impact, it really needs to be a lot more direct and engaging, instead of sitting there thick and dense like a big old slab of petrified wood. Imagine this headline attached to an online story or a tweet, and how little attention it would attract. It seems to me that a main cover headline should captivate and promise as much magic as the photograph it accompanies (and the story it's representing). This headline does not come close to doing that.

At the risk of sounding hopelessly old school, I wish that Arizona Highways could return to something of the graphic flavor of their covers from the 1960s. And yes, I know that classic logo of theirs that I love hasn't appeared since Nixon was President, but there was something about it that gave the magazine a very specifically Arizona and Western flavor, something that is lacking in the current slick but place-unspecific design. A number of regional magazines, including Los Angeles and Atlanta, have created very characteristic logos with a hand-crafted feel, that help give them a dash of local flavor.

The design of Arizona Highways, separate, of course, from those wonderful cover photos, feels like it could be from Oregon, or Philadelphia, Vermont, or anyplace else. Those 1960s Arizona Highways covers feel very contemporary to me, reminiscent of some of the very polished and elegant indie magazines that have been sprouting up in the U.S. and U.K. At a minimum, perhaps Arizona Highways could do a split run cover, and give their subscribers a version with minimal cover lines, and a photograph presented in full, unobstructed glory. -BN

Robert Newman was most recently the creative director of Reader's Digest. He has been the creative director of Real Simple and the design director of Entertainment Weekly, New York, Details, Vibe, Inside, The Village Voice, and Guitar World. He was also the editor of The Rocket, a music and culture magazine based in Seattle. Visit his site and read his full bio and follow him @Newmanology



 

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Mitch Speers

Your Next Hit Product Doesn't Exist Yet

Mitch Speers B2B - 01/30/2014-15:41 PM

 

If you are a media company, your top-selling product for 2017 probably hasn't been invented yet. This was one of the more headline-worthy findings of JEGI's 2014 Media Growth Study (pdf). You don't have to believe in Kurzweil's Singularity to see that the rate of change in information technology is accelerating. The shrinking time-to-adoption curves in this plot illustrate that technologies go from invention to mass adoption more quickly every year.

 


 

It's easy to be overwhelmed by the rate of change, and get caught up in chasing the latest technology as the savior of your business. But when new technology goes mass-market so quickly, the competitive advantage it confers to early adopters doesn't last very long. Soon everybody has it and it's just table stakes. All industries are in the process of being disrupted by information technology, even if they don't all see it yet.

I believe the only way to maintain competitive advantage is to be better and faster than your competitors at translating customer needs into new business models. The promise of predictive analytics based on Big Data may allow deep-pocketed companies to build defensible market positions for themselves for a time, but automation and optimization can only go so far. We aren't yet at the point where algorithms can make the leap from vaguely-expressed customer frustration to ground-breaking new product concept.

Where do you start? In the JEGI study, 31 percent of executives said they had a structured innovation program for generating new product ideas, while 71 percent said launching new products or services would be a top growth driver over the next two years. That's a disconnect you can take advantage of. Create and embrace a structure for innovation in your company and you'll innovate faster and more effectively. What does that structure look like? Sounds like a great topic for another post.

 

 

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Mitch Speers

Usability: The Secret to a Profitable Redesign

Mitch Speers emedia and Technology - 01/28/2014-13:17 PM

 

Is your website converting visits to revenue efficiently enough? Getting people to fill out a registration form or click through on an offer is difficult, but getting it right is critical in the battle for revenue and market share. The most effective thing you can do is to learn directly from your users how to lay out your site and what to offer.

The benefits of this approach are well-documented, but the example that resonates with most of us is the ACA or "Obamacare" website. This site was built the way many publisher sites are, without doing any usability testing up front. We all know how that turned out.

Let's review the typical approaches taken by publishers:

Focus Group of One

Use internal staff as "stand-ins" for your users. Editors know their readers, so this should work, right? It's popular because it's really easy. The dismal results of this approach are everywhere.

Research Best Practices
Study the latest best practices in user interface design, lean UX, persuasion architectures, and the many sources of insight about how to remove friction from your conversion funnels. This is worthwhile, and applying these lessons to your site will likely generate measureable improvement.

However, there are problems. Which expert do you believe? How do the cumulative results of user behavior on many other sites compare to your users, your industry and your content?

Best practices give you insights like "send your newsletter on Tuesday morning" or "make action buttons bigger." They can't be specific to your users because they represent aggregated, normalized data, not detailed feedback. Researching and applying best practices is a lot better than the focus group of one, but it's still a scattershot approach.

A/B or Multivariate Testing
Tools like Adobe Target, Google Experiments or Optimizely can allow you to test copy, layout and graphical elements to see which combinations yield the best conversion rate. What this kind of testing can't reveal is why users like Page A more than Page B. You might get lucky, but this kind of testing is best used to optimize products that have already been designed with direct input from your users.

Usability Testing
Usability testing involves the user going though a number of tasks while giving constant feedback to the researcher. Everything the user does is captured in a screen recording, and in a video that captures the user's reactions at every stage. In this way researchers understand in detail how well users are able to use the website or app, what confuses or annoys them, and what they'd really like to see but don't. Then you go build according to what you learned, and before launch, you test it again to make sure you got it right.

Think about the last major brand site that left you frustrated. For me it was trying to add minutes to my kids' AT&T prepaid phones. An hour of bouncing between website and phone representatives finally finished what should have taken a minute of navigating and clicking. I can guarantee you that AT&T skipped usability testing, with a very frustrating result for millions of customers like me. Do you think a poorly-designed subscribe process is any less frustrating for your users?

Usability testing isn't cheap (figure $20,000 to start) because it involves a lot of time, resources and logistics. That price tag is dwarfed by the amounts publishers regularly spend on designs that confuse and confound users. Publishers who apply usability as part of their regular process would prefer that you continue to view it as something that can be safely ignored. If you want to make more than incremental improvements in your next site redesign, budgeting for usability testing is a smart move.

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Matching Your Digital Magazine Features With Your Audience

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 01/24/2014-11:28 AM

 

More and more publishers have a digital version of their magazines and if you are about to embark upon the digital road, there is a great deal to consider before you take the plunge.

Digital magazines can do a lot to boost a publisher’s presence, but there are many issues to keep in mind. The savvy circulation professional knows to look at both the positive and negative possibilities as a matter of course. The savvy circulation professional recognizes,   for instance, that a 70 percent renewal response really equates to 30 percent of the file disappearing. The savvy circulation professional will recognize that you need to evaluate what kind of digital magazine will work for your market.

Digital magazines have one major advantage over print: you can adapt them to individual readers’ requirements. Print cannot do this easily, although it has been done for longer than you may think. The Economist, Time, and Newsweek as far back as the seventies used to change the pagination of most issues to reflect readership simply by moving sections of the magazine around.

In deciding what will work for your magazine, you have to look at what you have available. You also have to decide what you want to achieve by producing a digital version. Is it going to support the print product or branch out on its own? Is it going to replace the print product? Does the editorial department have the ability to be proactive in possibly producing “personal” content? What information can you access on your subscribers to make their digital experience worthwhile?

Answers to these questions will dictate the digital path you need to take. Digital magazines arguably have a disadvantage over print—and that is accessibility, ironically enough. You need something to read the magazine on, be it a tablet, phone, laptop or desktop. Some of these options are more portable than others, but the fact is that a print product just needs to be picked up and you are good to go. You need to make readers’ experience as memorable as possible otherwise renewal and requalification rates will start to fall and this is something we already know, certainly on controlled circulation as response rates differ vastly between print and digital.

At its simplest your digital magazine can just be a copy or replica of your print publication. Not only is this the simplest solution, it is also probably the cheapest—and the most boring. However, as noted above a digital strategy is a companywide thing, it relies on the abilities of production, editorial, advertising as well as circulation or audience development. You can split a digital edition out by geographic area, and this could be as broad as continent or as narrow as zip or post code. If you have demographics on your subscribers, you could gear your editorial according to those demographics.  The more demographics or information you have, the more defined your digital magazine can be.

Next week we’ll discuss how far you can take your digital initiative and what you need to measure to see whether it is working—or not.

 

 

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Michael Rondon

You Choose: Which Hillary Cover?

Michael Rondon Design and Production - 01/23/2014-12:16 PM

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Linda Ruth

Back to the Future in 2014: A Former Wholesaler’s Prediction

Linda Ruth Audience Development - 01/15/2014-14:10 PM

 

My first day at work in 2014, I was delighted to get a call from a very dear mentor of mine, a former wholesaler who built his business in the years when there were hundreds of them and closed it when independent wholesalers were losing their place in the changing distribution model.

This wholesaler has a few bookstores left from the old days and keeps his finger on the pulse of magazine distribution through his stores and his friends in the business. He’s always had a remarkable sense of the ebb and flow of business trends and what they indicate, so when I’m lucky enough to hear from him I always listen attentively to what he has to say. Naturally I wanted to know what he thinks about our current magazine landscape.

What he sees is opportunity.

“The business today is just the same as it was when I first got into it,” he said. “Dominated by very large distributors who couldn’t maintain profit by sending product to such far-flung locations. Magazines are disappearing from the shelves because no one could afford to distribute them to the stores. Racks are getting smaller as a result. Handling all those magazines—that’s a lot of work.”

Maybe so, but where, I wondered, was the opportunity? It looks like the opposite, doesn’t it?

Not for a trucker or a shipper or a warehouse, my friend responded. Not for someone starting out and looking for a need to fill. “If I were a young man, I’d do now what I did then,” he said. “I’d start a wholesale agency. I’d pick up local businesses, the stores that can’t make it work getting their shipments from thousands of miles away, and I’d bring them magazines and I’d do it well. We had consolidation, then we had fragmentation, and now we have consolidation again. It’s time for the pendulum to swing back.”

My old friend is quick to acknowledge the differences today—the national chains doing their buying nationally, the loss of the mom and pop businesses that once played such a key role, the growth of digital sales. But problems, in his world, equal opportunities, and a broken model demands fundamental shifts.

“Throughout this country we still have local businesses,” he said. “They’re starting up all the time. Chain stores are closing down here and there and independent retailers are moving into their old space. And some chains want local service for their stores.

“You’ll be seeing changes in the coming years, even just in this year. And one way the changes could go is to have new local agencies pop up, to do the work the big guys can’t.”

 

 

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Roy Beagley

Renewal Notices and First Impressions

Roy Beagley Audience Development - 01/15/2014-14:04 PM

 

Harlan Hogan said “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” which is almost as annoying as “there is no ‘I’ in team,” but even more annoying is both these sayings happen to be true.

Whether you are sending a new offer, a renewal effort, an invoice or an order acknowledgement, your outer envelope speaks volumes about your publication. Therefore, before you decide on outer envelope copy, make sure you understand your audience.

“Yo Dude! Here’s a mega awesome offer!” is probably not going to work well if you are offering a new subscription and your audience is CEOs, expectant mothers or students of English literature. Keep in mind the audience you are serving. Sending a letter to chief executives in a plain envelope without any copy whatsoever almost guarantees the letter will be opened, thus proving the adage “less is more” is just as annoying as “there is no ‘I’ in team” as well as Mr. Hogan’s message noted earlier.

Keeping the message on target is important, but urging the recipient to do something is also a good technique. If I get an envelope that states: “You need do nothing”, then I do nothing and throw the unopened envelope away. If I get an envelope that says: “You need do nothing… but what about 5 extra issues?” my trash can may not fill up quite so quickly, since now I am intrigued by the offer.

I’m not sure how many people only send renewal notices by email, but if you do not put at least a couple of renewal efforts in the mail, you are missing an opportunity. I know more and more people are getting and paying their invoices on the Internet but many are still convinced it’s unsafe for personal data. Don’t let “being green” stop you from mailing some renewal efforts. And be creative. Done correctly, you will see a good response to mail efforts, probably better than your email response.

Putting an acknowledgement of an order into the mail is not a bad idea. You can use this notice to offer people an opportunity to extend their subscription term (called a renewal at birth), or offer them other products. Here’s suggested copy: “Thanks for being part of our family and as a valued member, here are some other products we thought you might like to know about.”

This approach makes you a) look as if you really care (which you do) and b) get more revenue just for being nice.

However, all of this relies on one thing, getting people to open the envelope. Ask yourself what makes you open an envelope. The promise of a benefit? Something free inside? Engagement, such as a short quiz?
Think long and hard…and prosper!

 

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Mike Kisseberth

Native Advertising and Programmatic Buying: Predictions for 2014

Mike Kisseberth Sales and Marketing - 01/10/2014-09:31 AM

 

Native advertising and programmatic buying were all the rage in 2013—and for good reason.

According to eMarketer, native ad spending will exceed $3 billion in just three years. Publishers are trying to take advantage, of course, with nearly 75 percent now offering online native ads across their sites. Any why not? BuzzFeed, the poster child for native, is both profitable and growing at a time when many media companies, new and old alike, are finding it increasingly difficult to do either of those things.

Still, native advertising only shared annual buzzword honors with programmatic buying. Programmatic is expected to account for nearly 30 percent of all display ad spending by 2017—or over $9 billion. That’s because 85 percent of advertisers use it, with 91 percent expected to do so in the next two years. And like native, publishers are going where the money is. 72 percent now have programmatic offerings in place.

Long-term growth for both native and programmatic is clear. But the two categories are still very young. Over the next year, how might the way in which we use them change? Here are a few predictions.

Native Advertising


1. Standardization Is Coming

With the recent release of the IAB's Native Ad Playbook, we’ll see continued standardization of native ads and native ad serving. Remember—while native spending will likely hit $3 billion in just a few years, the concept is, again, relatively new. Implementing structure and a consistent framework will only help both buyers and sellers maximize opportunities and take full advantage of the trend.

2. “Answering” the Scale Question

The next big hurdle in native advertising will be to close the programmatic-native gap. The pressure is on figuring out how to automate native, similar to RTB and programmatic, so that publishers can create custom content quickly and with little overhead, to drive actual scale.

3. Expect Greater Regulation

Disclosure and transparency in native advertising will continue to be top-of-mind for the industry. Expect stronger guidelines and standards to be considered by the FTC in the New Year, with the industry encouraging self-regulation, as seen with the IAB’s Native Ad Playbook.

4. Native will Be More Data-driven

Successful native campaigns will be heavily reliant on the data and insights gleaned from programmatic initiatives. This means that understanding how creative functions and drives programmatic performance will become increasingly useful in planning native campaigns.

Programmatic Buying


1. Buyers will Grow into Tech Experts

As automation and programmatic continue to take center stage, media buyers will become increasingly technology-proficient to interpret data and provide strategic insight to clients.

2. Premium Programmatic will Be Key

The industry is still confused about what programmatic, and especially premium programmatic, really means. As more and more publishers adopt programmatic strategies in 2014, the emphasis will shift from understanding the medium to progressing it. This means more emphasis on “premium programmatic,” mobile, video, etc.

3. Marrying Programmatic and Native

2014 will be the year we see native and programmatic begin to court one another. In 2013, we created a false dichotomy between the two formats, with native on one side, programmatic on the other. Rather than separate the two, we need to understand how they can work together, plugging each other’s gaps—scale and quality, for example—to improve message delivery.

4. Direct Sales will Go Programmatic

With more dollars moving towards programmatic buying channels, I expect greater pressure on the direct sales teams in the New Year. As a result, one of the things we will see is direct sales teams working hard to acquire the skills and relationships needed to drive premium programmatic deals.

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The future is obviously very bright for both native and programmatic. In 2013, they solidified themselves as key growth areas for the long-term. In 2014, however, we can expect evolutions in each category, with more synergy between the two to better deliver for advertisers, marketers, brands and publishers.

 

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Diane Schwartz

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer Answers to ‘Me, Me, Me’

Diane Schwartz Consumer - 01/08/2014-11:46 AM

 

Marissa Mayer was the emcee of her own keynote presentation at CES on Tuesday, deflecting the spotlight from her and onto the key people leading some of the changes at Yahoo. A packed theatre at CES welcomed the hour-long advertisement from the Yahoo CEO because, well, it was interesting and entertaining. It was about the most important people: us.
 
Whether it was David Pogue, the new vp of content, unveiling the Yahoo Tech digital magazine or Katie Couric, the new global anchor for Yahoo, talking about the importance of trust-worthy journalism, Mayer made sure the key takeaway for stockholders (and us) was that Yahoo was innovating, pivoting and rejiggering for none other than us. Yahoo is a platform customizable to your habits, so much so that it just acquired a service called Aviate that predicts which apps you’ll need at any given moment and moves them to your homescreen (we don’t have time anymore to swipe to the next screen).
 
The CES audience, which comprises what Pogue called "the Geekheads" versus 85 percent of everyone else, “the Normals”, wanted to hear what Yahoo has done to become relevant again and what it will do to become more useful. As is evident in the 3,200+ exhibits at CES this year, technology is complex and the choices for how we spend our time are abundant. Yahoo and other brand leaders are answering the call to give us what we want when we want it.
 
Mayer’s goal could mirror most brands’: to turn “complexity into clarity.” For Yahoo that means focusing on four key areas: Search, Communications, Digital Magazines (mini-sites, not actual magazines) and Video. Its acquisition of Flickr and Tumblr validate what we already know to be true: that photos and storytelling are the future, and most likely on your mobile device. Its hiring of Katie Couric sent a message to its community that a quality interview requires a great interviewer. A few SNL "Weekly Update" cast members, plus a John Legend mini-concert—all during Mayer’s keynote—were crafted to showcase Yahoo’s coolness.   
 
Mayer and her cohort of presenters representing Yahoo wanted us to know that personalization and simplification are what we should expect from this media brand starting now. It should get many marketers and media companies thinking the same thing about their brands. The challenge is that being simple is not so simple.

 

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