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Josh Gordon

Why Does Your Site Exist?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/10/2008-12:38 PM

Why does your site exist?

On a sales call, how do you answer this question? Many media reps jump into a canned pitch about the power of their print-originated brand franchise and how their Web site extends the franchise online.


Media buyers, are driven by "What's in it for me?" and the best print brand does not guarantee online results.

The online world is results and measurement driven. You have to explain the functional benefit behind your online media first. Then go on to explain how this function can generate measurable results. Start with an explanation of what your Web site or online media DOES for it's visitors.

A great post on "Online Metrics Insider" lays out a guide for categorizing the functional benefit of a Web site for people who measure Web performance. They need this as much as well do. If you can't functionally define a Web visitor benefit you cannot evaluate a Web site's result, nor can you explain the advertising benefit of that site to a media buyer.

From the post:

Your Web site exists for a purpose, perhaps multiple purposes, such as:

  • Providing information or data. Many sites entice people to visit for access to valuable, differentiated information or data. Traffic is then monetized primarily through site advertising. Many internal and external analytics packages will tell you where visitors come from and what they do onsite, which, when combined with demographic information, can be used to qualify a specific audience to an advertiser.
  • Generating leads. A content asset is placed on a site and gated using a form. People fill out the form and download the asset. The information captured in the form is stored and used by the company that generated the leads or profitably sold to another company.
  • Selling products. The typical ecommerce model involves acquiring customers via some method or offer, providing a product catalog or landing page, and creating a strong call to action and funnel that persuades people to purchase a product.
  • Connecting people. The explosion of social networking sites where people connect to other people, interact with each other, and use widgets, apps, and data services, is a modern phenomenon in which many of us participate.

Click here to read the entire post ...

Matt Kinsman

An Early Death Knell for User Generated Content

Matt Kinsman emedia and Technology - 03/07/2008-13:25 PM

Every year there's a new savior for magazine publishers. Last year it was video. The funny thing is, while many more publishers are doing video today (and some are even making money on it), the buzz has faded a bit. That's because enough publishers are doing it that they now realize video does require investment, it does require staff, and it does not usher in a wave of new revenue for everyone who tries it.

This year, it's all about user generated content and social media. However, a article says user generated content may have peaked before it's really started. The article cites the continued inaccuracies of Wikipedia and scammers running rampant on sites such as Craigslist as reconfirming the power of the "expert." While most publishers cite the 80-20 rule for user content (80 percent of the feedback is generated by 20 percent of the users), the Newsweek article says the ratio is even more skewed, with 1 percent of Wikipedia users accounting for 50 percent of the contributions.

Yes, I'm aware of the irony of a struggling "old media" brand calling out what could be the defining media trend of the next decade, as well as limiting its examples to the shortcomings of Wikipedia and Craigslist. However, the article does represent further evidence that publishing CEOs need to stop acting like the front row at a Hannah Montana concert when it comes to the idea of user generated content and apply more critical thinking to their approach. "Some of our forums have been great while others have been failures," said Alec Dann, general manager of Hanley Wood Magazines Online, at the ABM Digital Velocity conference this week. "You have to have the staff to do it right, and a lot of b-to-b companies don't want to do that."

Ain't that the truth. One CEO-level attendee at ABM Digital Velocity said, "We're all moving to a relationship with the audience. I don't mean to say that our friends in editorial will become extinct, but ..."

Well, even if he doesn't mean that, plenty of other publishers (especially on the b-to-b side) are salivating at the prospect of eliminating that pesky editorial staff in favor of a few monitors of audience content.

Yes, social media and user-generated content are great opportunities (and I think they will be huge). Yes, editors need to redefine their approach and facilitate the two-way conversation. But user-generated content doesn't offer a quick fix or justify completely abandoning the backbone of your content strategy. User generated content is another tool for the toolbox.

Joanna Pettas

New York’s Organic Cover

Joanna Pettas Design and Production - 03/07/2008-11:03 AM

Design director Chris Dixon says the cover of New York magazine's January 21-28 double issue "evolved organically" among the art and editorial teams.

The cover itself is somewhat organic. As Face Up panelist Robert Sugar says, it "fights the visual cacophony of the newsstand." When you picture not only the bright colors and flashy headlines of the magazines surrounding it but also the busy streets of New York around the newsstand itself, the image sort of embodies the concept of the cover line-finding calm in the urban squall.

For the most part, Face Up panelists had nothing but positive things to say about the two versions of this cover. To throw a little water on the love-in—or to reiterate how great it is—take the Face Up survey (and get the chance to win an iPod shuffle while you're at it!).

[EDITOR'S NOTE: To see another pair of fraternal-twin New York covers, click here.]

Henry Donahue

Why No One’s Gonna Buy Your Blog

Henry Donahue M and A and Finance - 03/07/2008-08:24 AM

I'm on the record here as being in favor of hiring away other people's bloggers ("Coveting Thy Neighbor's Blogger") and there was an entertaining Internet dust-up this week about the next logical step: whether or not big media companies should buy big blogs.

The recap:

Jeff Segal on thinks that media companies should steer clear of buying blogs right now because of some obvious risks. Blogs are tough to value, dependent on writers with individual fan bases and also notoriously faddish. On top of that, he takes a gratuitous swing at Gawker.

Felix Salmon at Portfolio mag's Market Movers blog thinks that Segal is "hilariously off base" and "utterly clueless." He sees plenty of comparable transactions (Engadget, Freakonomics) and the big blogs have good, old-fashioned revenue as a starting point for valuations. He also points out that many big blogs (including Gawker) have thrived after the departure of their founding editors. Salmon says that acquisition discussions are going on all the time and, once buyers' and sellers' price expectations cross, we'll start seeing some big blog acquisitions.

Gawker itself chimes in with hastily composed rundown of the reasons why a few of the biggest blogs will never be acquired. Gawker: too outsider-y. TechCrunch: really just one guy. BoingBoing: really just three guys and a gal. already acquired.

Based on my experience over the past six month, Segal comes closest to the crux of the current M&A market: e-media companies (including blogs) do have estimable valuations, but those valuations are too flippin' high. Like 1999 high.

More than one company has recently expressed to me that their value expectation starts at "$10-20 per unique visitor" and goes up from there. In this environment, traditional media players have a couple of options:

1. Get in on the land grab. Discovery Networks is a great example of this, with their Treehugger and HowStuffWorks acquisitions. Valuations be damned, if you're a multi-billion dollar cable network about to go public, you can pay up for these properties and accelerate your online strategy to light speed.

2. Invest in your own site instead. Most people I talk to (who are not multi-billion dollar cable networks) think that valuations have to come down. In the meantime, if you have a sub-$15 CPM, you're likely to get a better return on a $5 million investment in your in-house product than the same money spent on a site with 300,000 to 500,000 uniques.

So Segal ends up being laughably wrong on all the specifics but right on the recommendation. Everybody but the deepest pockets probably has to wait for valuations to come down.

Jason Fell

Steve Weitzner: 'Ziff Davis Enterprise' Not 'Ziff Davis Media'

Jason Fell B2B - 03/06/2008-16:26 PM

Last June, after Ziff Davis Media sold its Enterprise Group to private-equity firm Insight Venture Partners for $150 million, I couldn’t understand why the new company—called Ziff Davis Enterprise—took a name so similar to its former parent.

It’s confusing—and not only to me.

Yesterday, following Ziff Davis Media's announcement that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Ziff Davis Enterprise CEO Steve Weitzner posted a note on the ZDE Web site reminding everyone that Ziff Davis Enterprise is not Ziff Davis:


I joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in January because I saw an unprecedented opportunity to serve technology buyers and sellers in this market. After two months on the job I couldn't be happier with my decision.

However, I'm aware of the potential confusion that some recent media industry news might be causing about Ziff Davis Enterprise. So let me set the record straight:

1. Ziff Davis Enterprise and Ziff Davis Media are not the same company. Ziff Davis Enterprise is an entirely separate entity. We were acquired in July 2007 by Insight Venture Partners, a leading venture firm with an extensive portfolio of internet enablement companies.

2. We are well-funded and continually investing in infrastructure and innovation that best serves our customers. Thanks to our parent, Insight Venture Partners, we have significant investment capital at our disposal.

3. We are B2B technology's trusted information and marketing resource.

The unique combination of our relevant, objective content, contextual marketing and audience development expertise accelerates the technology buying process - for buyers and sellers - by delivering the right message at the right time to the right audience. I am extremely excited about our opportunity for success in this ever changing market and look forward to a rewarding relationship with our audience and the marketing community.

Best regards,


Dylan Stableford

Is This Really the Nicest Guy in Publishing?

Dylan Stableford Consumer - 03/06/2008-14:37 PM

Don't get me wrong. I like David Carey. I've met the new Condé Nast group president just a handful of times, and he seems softspoken, smart, funny. Sweet, even. And I count him as one of my Facebook friends.

Still, if I were doing a profile on the heir apparent to Condé Nast CEO Chuck Townsend—as the New York Observer did this week—I'd surely dig a little deeper than, say, Condé cronies like David Remnick—or Carey's weakness for office cantaloupe and fruit smoothies—to paint a picture of the guy.

Here are some of the quotes about Carey the Observer managed to squeeze into its 1,363-word profile:

  • “I always heard he was a good guy." (Former CondĂ© executive Ron Galotti)
  • "David Carey certainly embodies, in the best sense, the CondĂ© Nast of now." (Remnick)
  • "Carey is the sort of publisher you 'hate competing against because he’s so good.'" (Graydon Carter)
  • "Carey is very nimble intellectually. He will not allow himself to fail.” (Remnick)
  • "David inspires people to do the very best. You want to be smart for David.” (William Li, who succeeded Carey as Portfolio publisher)
  • “Also, I like the fact that like me, he has four kids.” (Carter)

And that doesn't include this passage:

The quiet, contented face of a millennial Man in the Gray Flannel Suit with a slight spare tire around his middle, leaving the Beemer at the Metro-North station to chug into work. There’s also a Toyota Sienna, “the best one on the market,” in the garage back home—Mr. Carey’s choice for corporate car. “Alas,” he e-mailed OTR, “minivans are something I know about.” And then: a frowny-face emoticon.

Looking for the darker (OK, maybe olive-colored) side of David Carey? I was too. Maybe he really is that nice.

For more Carey love (we're not above it!) check out our video interview with him at the FOLIO: show last year.

Josh Gordon

Beyond the New Media Buzz Words

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/05/2008-13:54 PM

I lost a sales media training program last week. The publisher hiring the sales trainer insisted his print centric staff was failing at online sales because they did not know the new media semantics. He told me, "They know the brand and how to sell, they just need to know the new buzz words."

I didn't agree. Assuming his sales staff had graduated high school, learning a few new word defintions should not hold anyone back.

When moving from selling print to integrated or interactive selling, the deeper issue is understanding the shift going on in marketing itself and how it impacts your advertisers. After you understand this shift the "buzz words" take care of themselves.

Media sellers are not the only ones discussing this shift. Yesterday, Kevin Downey, a writer at Media Life articulated it for media buyers in way that sellers should hear as well:

"How people use media is changing dramatically, and the era of force-fed commercials is nearing an end.

What's taking its place--and has been for several years at least--is a dialog between advertiser and consumer, and more and more the consumer is in charge.

Media buying agencies need to become part of that dialog. They need to learn how to spark that exchange. Those that fail to do so will face extinction. Or that's the clear warning in a new study from Forrester."

Kim then shares from the Forrester study he based much of his column on:

“Today’s agencies fail to help marketers engage with consumers, who, as a result, are becoming less brand loyal,” writes Peter Kim, a senior analyst at Forrester and author of the report.

“To turn the tide, marketers will move to the connected agency, one that shifts from making messages to nurturing consumer connections.”

The forces killing off the old system are twofold, and one is the explosion of media options that make no one medium a must-have experience. It's the end of mass media in which advertisers could push out their message and consumers were forced to accept that message as the price of admission.

Nobody’s a captive audience anymore, argues Kim. Expensive ad campaigns across mass media no longer work in this new media landscape."

On your next call: You need to stop thinking about how the media you are selling will "expose a message to a target audience" and start thinking about how the media you are selling will elicit a reaction, interaction, or ongoing relationship with a group of individuals. Stop thinking exposure and start thinking interaction. Now remind the members of your staff who can't sell the online piece that with it there is no feedback loop or interaction. Oops.

Read more here ...

Joanna Pettas

'Resumes From Craigslist Make My Skin Crawl'

Joanna Pettas Association and Non-Profit - 03/05/2008-13:26 PM

FOLIO:'s annual, much-anticipated Magazine Job Report is out, and it's a great read (I should know—I co-wrote it!). It's choc-full of interesting, if not surprising, anecdotes.

Like this one:

Craigslist is a deplorable resource, according to ZweigWhite’s [Dick] Ryan. “Resumes from Craigslist make my skin crawl. Some have worked out but many have been unmitigated disasters,” he says. For entry level positions, however, he admits it can be useful, as people under the age of 30 are relying on social sites such as Craigslist and even Facebook and MySpace.

For the full PDF version—including charts—click here.

Click here for the online version.

Dylan Stableford

Donny Deutsch: Regional Skateboard Magazine Has 'Million-Dollar' Logo

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 03/04/2008-15:30 PM

Justin Heister, founder of a small East Coast skateboard magazine called Focus, is, oddly, a self-proclaimed "Donny Deutsch fan." So much so that he talked his way onto CNBC's Big Idea with Donny Deutsch show this week to talk about the magazine's logo.


Focus was the subject of a recent article for its unique marketing partnership with video game maker Activision—Focus' "million-dollar" logo is featured prominently in the new Tony Hawk game.

Jandos Rothstein

Campaigns and Elections, Redesigned

Jandos Rothstein Design and Production - 03/04/2008-13:50 PM

As a guy who has made his career at the sort at publications that spend at least part of their time putting out articles on the arcane workings of government, I always take more of an interest than some would when wonks get jiggy with it. Politics, the rechristened Campaigns & Elections is on the stands this month. The magazine was, at one time, a data-driven publication—visually defined by stats and tables. But in the last few years C&E had moved in a more magazine-y direction. Unfortunately, the design—and especially the art direction—hadn’t made the change along with the content, the result was just another anonymous and dreary trade book. Politics may be cutthroat but you’d never know from a magazine that looks like Insurance Today.

But staff changes—whether editorial or art, can create opportunity, and in this case the arrival of an editor William Bearman led to good things—the introduction of a real front section, a bit more air, and a more sophisticated and contemporary typographical treatment.

In truth, the new iteration isn’t all the way there—the new design drifts off its grid too frequently, particularly in the back, the new look relies too much on ornamentation and type filters, and Helvetica seems crude and plodding when paired with their signature old style serif. They could also invest a bit more in art—there’s a bit too many cases of stock used where visual content would be better. But compared to what they had, I’ll take it.

The new briefs:

A new feature, still too much text, but not as much too much:

The old version is below ...


The front had awkward edit/ad interactions, a problem that seems to have been fixed.

An old feature:

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Buy Jandos' new book!]

Jim Alkon

CMP Goes M.I.A.

Jim Alkon B2B - 03/04/2008-10:09 AM

Gerry Leeds, founder of CMP Publications, originally wanted to name his company Creative Media Publications, but when he went to register the name, it was already taken. “I have better things to do than think up a new name,” Gerry would say. “Let’s just call it CMP.” For the countless times over the years someone would ask what CMP stood for, they were simply told “it stands for nothing.”

I confess to being somewhat saddened when I heard last week that United Business Media’s latest reorganization ("Major Restructuring at CMP Technology") included the note that CMP as a known corporate entity has now ceased to exist.

I was one of the first 100 employees of CMP. I was always proud to point out the leaf with my name on it as it appeared in the framed “tree” behind the reception desk acknowledging CMP’s early employees. When I mentioned the passing of the CMP name to another “First Hundred” friend, he responded with the more practical, “Seems they're positioning to package things up and sell them off, if they get the right price.” I suppose. Frankly, I couldn’t even read the details of this latest incarnation of the company that, for better or worse, sucked me into this business.

Nostalgia has a minor role in today’s fast-moving publishing world. In fact, if you are still called a “publishing” company at all, there’s some sentimentality right there. Unless you are a “media” company in b-to-b, you’re already a bit behind the curve.

My CMP experience occurred in the midst of radical technological change. Even though Time magazine named “The Computer” as its Man of the Year in 1983, it wasn’t until years later that “Internet” became official, replacing the Information Superhighway as a kind of promised road to somewhere.

My first day at CMP, I worked until 11:00 p.m., then went out for dinner and drinks with my colleagues. Within weeks, I was working through the night, cutting out typewritten paragraphs, rearranging them on the floor, then pasting them together into—from my perspective—the next great American novel. The topic was probably Hewlett-Packard’s newest printer or something.

What a team we had in those days—so many of our “role” players turned out to be publishing stars. Today, AfterCMP is the social networking community through which many old faces from those early days reappear. It’s good to see them. Sometimes it’s shocking to see them—the pounds, the gray. Sometimes it’s heartwarming; sometimes it’s scary—to open dialogue with the faces, with the memories, is not easy.

On the site, each person is asked their fondest memory from CMP. Mine likely would have to do with pacing the outside grounds aimlessly one 5 or 6:00 a.m., trying to recover from an all-nighter closing one of the first issues of Computer Systems News, my day-old clothes and unshaven face a sort of Red Badge of Courage awaiting the others as they arrived with their papers and morning coffee.

At my age, I won’t apologize for throwing a sprinkle of sentimentality into a simple business story. I did a lot of growing up in and around CMP. It was a time of discovery, a time of opportunity. Many lessons learned. Thanks to the company whose letters stand for nothing—but whose name represents so much for so many of us.

Josh Gordon

What the Presidential Campaign Can Teach Us About Magazine Ad Sales

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/03/2008-16:53 PM

Hillary Clinton, behind in delegates and the polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination, is taking the offensive. Shown here taking to task a Barack Obama campaign brochure she claims spreads misinformation about her health care program. How will voters react?

Voters will react as they always do; ignoring criticism about people they like and embracing it against people they don't.

It is easy to forget that few American Presidents were more widely criticized than Ronald Reagan, but it all just slid off the likable "Teflon President" without a scratch. The minimally-funded Swift Boat attacks of the 2004 Presidential election stuck to John Kerry like glue who many demonized having criticized American Vietnam policy, and seemingly to many, the troops as well.

Hilary's case will stick not on merit, but on how likable voters perceive her Vs. Obama to be. Judging by how well her campaign's "plagiarism" criticism stuck last week I would guess not well.

On your next sales call, you may think that being likable is not so important. After all, we now sell in the measurable world of digital media. Aren't results more important than everything?

Think again. On the surface your clients are rational business people, but when criticism flys people are more likely to evaluate on the emotional side. They will ask, "Do I like them? Do I trust them?" The next time something goes wrong (and something always does), how much sticks to you will depend on how well-liked you and your organization are.