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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 breakingviews.com 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. Weblogs.inc: 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.

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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:

A NOTE FROM STEVE WEITZNER, CEO, ZIFF DAVIS ENTERPRISE

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,

Steve

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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.

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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 ...

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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.

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

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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 ...

Cover:



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!]

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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.

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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.

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Dylan Stableford

Meredith's Careers Page: No 'Content Strategists'—But Plenty of 'Editors'

Dylan Stableford Editorial - 03/03/2008-09:50 AM

There's been a lot of buzz (relatively speaking) about Meredith president Jack Griffin's comments about editors ("We don't hire editors anymore—we hire content strategists") since his keynote last week at the FOLIO: Publishing Summit in Miami.

But, as one astute commenter points out, there's not a single "content strategist" position listed on Meredith's careers page—but plenty of editors.

Was Griffin blowing smoke for the sake of an industry keynote?

Check out the keynote report here, and our video Q+A with Grffin here.

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Jason Fell

CMP: The Official Announcement

Jason Fell B2B - 02/29/2008-18:31 PM

FOLIO: reported today United Business Media's decision to split CMP Technology into four “integrated media companies” in order to “better align CMP’s products with its customers.” In addition, UBM named four CEOs for the respective companies, and dropped the name CMP altogether.

Some FOLIO: commenters have called the restructuring a “non-announcement,” claiming that nothing has really changed.

What do you think?

Here's the press release in its entirety:

United Business Media Transforms CMP into Four Independent Media and Information Services Businesses

News Release Issued: February 29, 2008 3:00 AM EST

United Business Media Transforms CMP into Four Independent Media and
Information Services Businesses

New market-focused agile businesses to leverage UBM global resources and infrastructure

LONDON, Feb. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- United Business Media plc (UBM) today announced that it will restructure CMP Technology (CMP) into four new, market-focused businesses. As agile, independent organizations, each new business will be well positioned to meet the changing needs of the professional communities and technology markets it serves. The creation of these market-focused businesses is the next step in CMP's strategic transformation into a next generation media company.

In the last three years, CMP has significantly rebalanced its businesses, investing in the development of new products and services (including bMighty, Designlines, eXalt, InternetEvolution, MTC, myGDC, Teardown TV and TechWeb Performance Marketing) and its expansion in international markets. UBM has supported CMP's evolution with the investment of over $225 million in eighteen acquisitions, particularly events and business information products.

UBM's 2007 results, released today, demonstrate the development of CMP's businesses from largely print publishers (75% of revenues in 2004) into integrated media businesses that offer their customers a full suite of marketing solutions, including events, online and print products, as well as data-based workflow tools and services. In 2007, CMP generated 34.2% of its revenues from events, 20.2% from online products, 7.3% from workflow tools and business information services, and 38.3% from print products. The proportion of revenues contributed by events and services will rise in 2008 as result of the recent acquisition of Semiconductor Insights, Think Service Inc. and Vision Events. In 2007, CMP profits rose 30% to $50.1 million, with margins reaching 15.6%, the company's highest margins for five years.

The four new businesses and their respective Chief Executive Officers are noted below; each CEO will report to UBM Chief Executive, David Levin:

TechWeb, formerly CMP's Business Technology Group, will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Tony Uphoff. TechWeb, the global leader in business technology media, is an innovative new business focused on serving the needs of technology decision-makers and marketers worldwide. TechWeb produces the most respected and consumed media brands in the business technology market.

Today, more than 10 million business technology professionals actively engage with and rely on its global face-to-face events: Interop, Web 2.0, Black Hat and VoiceCon; online resources: The TechWeb Network, Light Reading, Intelligent Enterprise, InformationWeek.com, bMighty.com and The Financial Technology Network; and the market leading, award-winning InformationWeek, TechNet and MSDN Magazines. TechWeb also provides end-to-end services ranging from next-generation performance marketing, custom media, research and analyst services. 2007 proforma revenues for TechWeb were $148 million. For more information, visit http://www.techweb.com/aboutus.

Everything Channel, formerly CMP Channel, will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Robert Faletra. Everything Channel is the global leader in Channel execution and the one stop shop for the indirect sales channel that drives 75 percent of technology sales throughout the world. High-tech suppliers and Solution Providers turn to Everything Channel to manage and accelerate their business, using its comprehensive portfolio of channel solutions which include the ChannelWeb online network, magazines (CRN and VARBusiness), events (XChange and Vision), workflow tools (MTC and eXalt), tele-recruiting, sales support, marketing services, research and education (IPED). 2007 proforma revenues for Everything Channel were $73 million. For more information, visit http://www.everythingchannel.com/ and http://www.channelweb.com/.

TechInsights, formerly CMP's Electronics Group, will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Paul Miller. TechInsights is the daily source of essential business and technical information for the electronics industry's decision makers -- the Creators of Technology -- who define, develop, and bring to market the electronic products that improve our lives. TechInsights uses that unique and privileged access to connect its customers to these decision makers at the right time and at the best ROI. With global market leading brands such as EE Times, Semiconductor Insights, TechOnline, Embedded Systems Conferences and Portelligent, TechInsights is the leading dedicated information and services business serving the global electronics market. 2007 proforma revenues for TechInsights were $83 million. For more information, visit http://www.techinsights.com/.

Think Services, formerly CMP's Game, Dr. Dobb's and International Customer Management Group, will be led by Chief Executive Officer, Philip Chapnick. Think Services connects specialized communities via interactive media, educational events, consulting, training and certification. The business' flagship products include the Game Developers Conference, the Webby Award- winning Gamasutra.com, the International Customer Management Institute, the Help Desk Institute and Dr. Dobb's Journal. 2007 proforma revenues for Think Services were $61 million. For more information, visit http://www.think-services.com/.

Each business will have the freedom to develop business models, audience development initiatives and international programs that best fit its specific marketplace while also taking advantage of UBM's global footprint to support its international expansion.

The new businesses will share support functions and infrastructure, including finance, IT services, legal and global account and sales management. The central functions will become part of UBM's US infrastructure with Scott Mozarsky, currently CMP's Chief Financial Officer, taking the role of Chief Operating Officer. Scott will also serve on the Board of each business.

David Levin said:

"This is the next step in the strategic evolution of how we serve our technology market customers -- and we're doing it from a position of strength.

"As our strong and improving results for 2007 show, each of the operations within CMP has been successfully serving its specific markets, but going forward, as independent and focused businesses, they will be able to get even closer to their audiences and customers, developing products and services for these communities faster and with focus.

"At the same time, each business can take advantage of being part of UBM, a $2.5 billion corporation with a global infrastructure to support international expansion of their leading brands and content and a demonstrated track record of acquisitions and investment in new products."

About United Business Media Plc

United Business Media Plc is a leading global business media company. We inform markets and bring the world's buyers and sellers together at events, online, in print, and with the information they need to do business successfully. We focus on serving professional commercial communities, from doctors to game developers, from journalists to jewellery traders, from farmers to pharmacists around the world. Our 5,000 staff in more than 30 countries are organised into specialist teams that serve these communities, helping them to do business and their markets to work effectively and efficiently.

For more information, go to http://www.unitedbusinessmedia.com/.

SOURCE: UBM

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Jandos Rothstein

Esquire Cares, Part II

Jandos Rothstein Design and Production - 02/29/2008-17:32 PM

Those of us who have kicked around publications for a while know that the letters page ain’t what it used to be.

And, I’m not just talking about what appears in the magazine—though most glossies are printing fewer inches of reader reaction than in years past. Readers (and more importantly readers who write) no longer have the same notion of what a letters page is in the first place.

In the old days, a mail page was one of a very few accessible forums. If you were the gatekeeper of one, you could count on all kinds of unpublishable entertainment—long paranoid screeds hand printed in tiny, careful letters on three (or 12) over-stuffed pages; amateur press packages from home entrepreneurs with uh, “whimsical” schemes; requests for pen pals from prisoners with hard luck stories—and other miscellany from folks desperate to gain access to an audience—any audience.

It really didn’t matter if you were at a college literary magazine or Newsweek—you could count on a steady stream of at once horrifying and amusing correspondence. And, as much as the crazier letters were passed around the newsroom and snickered at, it was also hard to be completely untouched by them. They spoke of lives much harder and more isolated than the ones we were living.

Of course, in addition to the crank stuff, the average magazine also received a lot more thoughtful submissions than they currently do. Why the drop off? One editor I talked to blames blogs. Everyone with something to say already has a blog or can find one on which they can comment. Audiences and communities are now found on Facebook, not the letters page. But, whatever the cause, the effect has snowballed. At my old newspaper, the letters page (not to mention the free ads in the back) used to generate conversations among readers that would go on for weeks. Mail no longer runs in every issue.

That sense of reader community that you found in print is all but gone at most publications.

So, one of the most interesting features of the recent Esquire redesign is the increased love and attention given to the letters page. And, they are honoring (if that’s the right word) both kinds of letter writers—engaged readers and whack jobs—with lots of inches for letters and a short feature that quotes “highlights from a letter we won’t be publishing this month”—a few words that hint at those not-ready-for primetime letters we all used to get, and apparently Esquire still does. “The Sound and the Fury” (possibly the best name for a letters page ever—though the new design downplays it) becomes visual through informational graphics reflecting quantity of mail on various topics (and reader reactions to various pieces) and mini featurelets that expand upon the previous month’s content. Instead of rehashing art from the previous month (though there’s a little of that) the visuals emerge from content. It’s all at least as engaging as the magazine’s newsbrief section a few pages later.

It’s all so well done, in fact, that it raised some question in my mind as to whether I was reading real reader-provided material or not. If not, Esquire certainly wouldn’t be the first magazine to “enhance” its letters page, but I’d like to believe that it’s possible to take the best of a magazine’s mailbag (and web forums) and turn it into something that would work this well in print.

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

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