I recently had the opportunity to attend an Intel conference where blockbuster film producer, executive and bestselling author Peter Guber spoke. In his speech, Peter emphasized the importance in business of being fully committed to an opportunity, and evoked the metaphor of Spanish conquistador HernĂĄn CortĂ©sâ famous order to âburn the boats.â Upon arriving in Mexico and facing the warriors of the entire Aztec nation, CortĂ©s knew the only viable exit strategy was to move forwardâas the alternative would have meant utter failure (climbing back in boats and retreating to safety).As I think about the opportunities and challenges mobile represents to the media/publishing world, it strikes me that these organizations would do well to follow the same strategy.According to many sources, mobile platforms (smartphones, tablets) now account for more than 10 percent of media consumption. If you speak with publishers that produce rich content today, traffic to smart device platforms is approaching levels closer to 25 percent. Most of this audience engagement has come with little commitment on the product side to truly exploit the usage shift that is taking place. Publisher monetization on these device platforms is even worse, capturing barely 1 percent of ad spend.The mistake publishers are making is simply not dedicating the resources and commitment required to effectively optimize these new business opportunities. Publishers continue to manage the emerging platforms as extensions of current print, broadcast or digital businesses. While âmobile specialistsâ are found embedded within these organizations, there is virtually no commitment to full, standalone teams of content, audience marketing, technology and product specialists solely focused on growing these ânew businessesâ and effectively cannibalizing the legacy businesses before somebody else does it for them.A look back at the transition to desktop web illustrates an informative history. Most publishers pursued the same path of managing initial digital efforts as a part of existing business activities and fell hopelessly behind as new brands charged forward with the benefit of focus and clarity on the new market opportunity from a purely digital position.I worked at one of the only traditional media companies that took a different path. Ziff Davis set up its first interactive business (ZDNet) as its own, standalone business. It had its own executive, content, sales, marketing, technology and product teams. These teams could not fall back onto the safety of market-leading print business. The mission was to succeed online or fail tying. The boats were burned. It was a bold move executed by then-CEO, Eric Hippeau, that let to ZDNet establishing itself as a $100 million business and an early top-ten most-visited property as the Internet media market got rolling.Ironically, many of the very digital brands that took advantage of the unwillingness of the print market leaders to go all in, are now repeating the same mistake as we transition to mobile. As such, itâs a new crop of mobile pure-plays that have assumed market leadership in key areas of audience footprint and advertising/monetization.The publishers that have established content brands, audience relationships and advertiser history are positioned to succeed wildly, but only if they burn the boats and put dedicated businesses, people and platforms in place to grab the opportunity. If they donât, history will surely repeat itself. The opportunity will quickly become a glaring liability as the majority of audiences and advertising dollars shift to mobile in the coming years, and marquee digital media brands die, as did many of the generation of print brands before them, who failed to make this vital transition.
We received this e-mail from the Joss Group on Monday, as the hurricane was about to hit. Not only did they take a shot at our decision to postpone the MediaNext eventâwe didn't cancel it, we postponed until Januaryâbut they also made hurricane jokes. For the record, Joss Group, here's some of what Hurricane Sandy did: âą Caused 51 deaths.âą Knocked out power for 7.5 million people.âą Caused the cancellation of 16,000 flights.âą Caused unprecedented flooding on New York's 100-plus-year-old subway system.âą Left much of Manhattan in darkness, with Lower Manhattan flooded.âą Caused the New York Stock Exchange to be closed on consecutive days, the first time since 1888.âą Destroyed scores of houses in fires in New York City. So you can market your event by making light of the impact of a hurricane, and you can offer hurricane pricing, and mock our decision to postpone our event. But don't expect everyone to think it's clever.
Arguably, publishing is quickly heading toward digital dominance. Strategies for the migration are way past overdue. However, some of the strategies that ruled print media are being abandoned for digital media, and thatâs a mistake. It still should be about reaching the right customer at the right time with the right message. With digital marketing and the data it generates, publishers can be more accurate about the right time and message. Publishers can use customer information to improve their content and sales quality. Here are four ways to improve yours.1. Analyze and Optimize Premium Inventory: Digital publishers spend too much time worrying about the valuation of their remnant inventory, who sells it, and who gets a cut of it. Remnant inventory can be just as valuable as premium if you put it in perspective. You should be looking at all of your inventory holistically and assigning true values to each ad slot instead of differentiating between premium and non-premium (remnant) like we have done for the past 10 years. That means measuring the value of ad slots by content relevance, brand safety, and viewability. Learning to differentiate inventory is a complex task. âPremiumâ shouldnât just be the homepage and a page with a user cookie. Learn to accurately evaluate all of your inventory based on quality, actionable information about the pageânot just old-school cookie data.2. Get Information, Get Data: The best way to value digital publishing real estate is to get the best data on who visits it, what they do when they get there, how long they stay and how your content relates to the audience and creative. In short: customer engagement. There are literally dozens of exchanges and RTB companies that will be happy to track that and store that information. But itâs the publishers who need it. Itâs the publishers who donât have it. You need customer engagement metrics to compete for the best advertisers and the highest revenue. We see a lot of great digital publishing companies with brilliant content that are not getting paid what they deserve because they donât have enough data to prove the true worth of their inventory. 3. Ease Common Concerns for Advertisers: Quality inventory will avoid some of the pitfalls that advertisers are generally concerned with. Publishers need to make sure they automate to guard against suspicious activity. At AdSafe, for example, we can analyze and score the risk that a website is associated with suspicious activity on a 1-1,000 rating scaleâspecifically including click fraud, which occurs in pay-per-click online advertising when a person or program imitates a legitimate user of a Web browser; and impression fraud, which occurs in CPM advertising when a person or program imitates users by repeatedly loading a page or advertisements on a page for the purpose of generating higher fees. Buyers of online media are able to purchase inventory informed by AdSafeâs risk score, while sellers of online media are able to better manage their inventory by eliminating fraudulent activity if discovered. This also means eliminating the concern of ad collision by having the data and tools to make sure brands are on pages that arenât crowded with other ads.4. Redesign for Viewability: Like the doctor said when you got your first tetanus shot: âThis is gonna hurt a little bit.â And it will. But many publishers will need to optimize yield only after they reposition their content and ad positions to be viewable and valuable. Currently several industry organizations are working on viewability standards. If an ad is not in view when the page loads, or never comes into view during a user session, basically, a publisher isnât going to get paid for it. That pushes premium positions toward the top of the page. It will probably reduce a publisherâs viable amount of inventory. And as stated, it means you will need to charge more for each ad. In the end, the goal is to meet brand goals and objectives, whether they center on sales, marketing ROI, awareness, brand lift, or conversions. If publishers bring data quality back into balance with quantity, publishers will be well positioned.
Oxford, MississippiâMagazine publishers from a broad cross section of the industry spent two days presenting their best practices and innovative ideas for an era of transition during the third annual ACT III conference at the University of Mississippi.
Like at the AMC in San Francisco last week, the underlying theme of the event was whether print media's best days are behind it. And if it is, the question was how long the decline will take, and how far down print will go. And like at the AMC, there was no broad agreement. In fact, said opening keynoter Sid Holt, executive director of the American Society of Magazine Editors, no one really knows what form the business will take in the years ahead.Â And in the meantime, publishers described how they're innovating and iterating to serve the changing needs of their communities.
The conference, organized by Samir Husni, founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center here, featured an eclectic mix of speakers, from Rebecca Darwin, CEO of the acclaimed Garden & Gun, to Michael Capuzzo, publisher of Northern Pennsylvania's Mountain Home, and author of the best-selling real-life shark thriller, "Close to Shore." There were 145 attendees at the event, which also featured tours of the historic city and a visit to the Mississippi Delta, the birthplace of blues music.
Because it's held in an academic setting, the event included students as attendees and sometimes participants, and many speakers geared their remarks to the next generation of journalists as well.
Even as individual magazine operators and entrepreneurs told their own stories, the state of the industry was summed up in a presentation by Bob Sacks, the newsletter publisher and chronicler of the state of the magazine industry.
"We're in a period of what I call the great realignment," Sacks said. "We're going from being primarily print-revenue based to one that's primarily digital. But for print, a loss of dominance does not equal death. There will be hundreds of billions of dollars to be made in the reading industry."
Sacks also urged publishers to reinvent themselves before someone else does, and from the tone of the presentations, the attendees and speakers at ACT III are busy doing just that.
For example, in 2009, when it was in danger of being shut down, Garden & Gun set itself to developing new ways to connect, Darwin recalled. "I really always envisioned that this would be a national magazine that was about a region and a lifestyle," she said. "But during that time, the four "P's"âpaper, printing, prepress and postalâkept coming. And at the same time the advertisers were paying late. So I got the staff together and said, 'We have got to come up with something that will generate some revenue. We created a club. We came up with the membership levels ourselves. We came up with the names, and now we have a very loyal audience and the club is working well."
And Kevin P. Keefe, vice president of editorial at Kalmbach Publishing Co. described a variety of spinoff business lines in his company's markets, which focus on railroading, model railroading and other enthusiast markets. Included in these products are track plans for modeling enthusiasts available for sale online, railroad maps that tell different stories about the industry, and DVD archives of back issues of print magazines.
"These are the most profitable products we've ever produced,â Keefe said, crediting Sue Roman of Taunton Press for the idea. "It's insane how popular they are."
Two speakers, Keefe and Jim Elliott, president of The James. G. Elliott Co., noted that apps have not played out as well as many publishers had hoped. "[The] Apple Newsstand hasn't been quite the bonanza we were hoping for, but it still has been a positive," Keefe said.
Perhaps the most passionate speaker was Capuzzo, who summarized the true value of the industry: "It starts with the writer," he said. "One of the things I wanted to talk about was content. At Mountain Home, we've suffered for something, and I hope this is it."
Paraphrasing Oxford native William Faulkner, Capuzzo said, "Journalism, at least on the newspaper side, has been a utopian venture, except they are aiming it at a tragic species."
Tony Silber is the general manager of FOLIO: Magazine.
ABM, which is wrapping up its Executive Forum being held in Chicago this week, voted nine new companies into membership at its board of directors meeting Monday.Media members include Editorial Projects in Education, InsuranceNewsNet.com and new international member Beuth Verlag GmbH.The association also added six associate members, including Adobe Systems Inc., bXb Online, LiveIntent, MagToGo, Tout and WeiserMazars LLP. "These new membersâranging from traditional and international media companies to progressive businesses focused on app development, social media, virtual event technologies and digital monetization solutionsâsupport ABM's initiative to represent the wide range of platforms and models leveraged by business information and media companies," said ABM president and CEO Clark Pettit in a statement. Meanwhile, news out of the Executive Forum includes a bit of research ABM did in partnership with Outsell that examined mobile content and business models. B-to-b executives responding to the joint survey, it seems, are not in it for the moneyâyet. Instead, brand enhancement, content delivery, serving advertisers' needs and creating a superior digital experience were the top mobile objectives, with 64 percent, 60 percent, 60 percent and 52 percent of responses, respectively. At the bottom of the objectives list were "new revenue from mobile users (29 percent) and "enable mobile e-commerce" (24 percent).Additionally, only 20 percent of respondents indicated they have a formal mobile strategy in place. The majority of respondents (56 percent) say their mobile strategy is somewhere between formal and ad hoc. A quarter, or 24 percent, say mobile is on an ad hoc, project or case-by-case basis. Given that objectives aren't quite standardized and that 40 percent of respondents expect to break even with their mobile investments and 48 percent expect a negative ROI, mobile initiatives are clearly still in the experimental phase.For more results from the study and the slide deck on the ABM/Outsell presentation from the Executive Forum, click here [pdf].
I got quite a few phone calls this past week from fellow circulators concerning the article that was posted on Audience Development's website last week on action code response rates exceeding direct mail rates.I am not going to say who called me in this article, let them get their own fame, but the best call was from someone who simply said: âWhat the hell is an action response code?â Actually she used another word instead of âhell,â but I donât want to be censored in my first month on this web site.Some of the figures were pretty astounding to be sure but direct marketers have always said the less the people have to do to respond, the better the response will be. And here, all you have to do is scan a code with your phone.These codes have increased in usage over the past year and will continue to increase although be careful where you use them. I saw one on a billboard high above the West Side Highway in New York and many drivers were driving and trying to scan the code on the billboard at the same time. Action response codes are really good on the page ads in your magazine as this means people no longer have to rip out a page to take action. Letâs be honest, how many subscription orders were ever gained from space ads? Now, however, a quick scan and you have an order.Codes can be used on all manner of things; I would love to run an insert card that is quite simply a response code just to see what happens. Generally I think it is a good idea to inform people what will happen when they scan the code, but if anyone has ever run a card with only a code printed on it, I would love to know how it worked.The beauty of these codes is they are so adaptable. You can use them in renewals linked to the subscriberâs record, on invoices, for new subscriptionsâthe possibilities are endless. Perhaps we should all have these scans tattooed on our foreheads which would make getting through airports so much easier, but I digress; this is 2012 not 1984.If you have not experimented with action response codes, it is worth your while to investigate using them. I do not have an iPad which I know makes me pre-historic, and I do not have an iPhone but I do have a mobile phone that I am just about able to switch off and on, and one of the few apps I have downloaded is a QR scannerâand if I have one, you know itâs serious.There is one caveat to all of this, the article started âdigital action codes have become the most-responded-to form of print marketingâ but at no point was it ever made clear what people were actually responding to, so an expectation of huge increases in new subscriptions and renewals may be unrealistic but these action codes are going to be around for a little while so exploring their possible usage is, as Martha Stewart would say âa good thing.â
Roy Beagley is Director of Publishing Services for Tyson Associates Inc. Roy started his career at The Economist and then The Spectator in London. He moved to the United States in 1992 and since then he has worked with Tyson Associates handling many controlled and comsumer publications. He is editor of Circspot.com, a website for circulation and audience development professionals.
For their November/December 2012 issue, the editors and creative director at Mother Jones decided to do a split run cover, with a completely different cover story and image for subscribers and newsstand buyers.Subscribers get âNo Way Out,â a long-form investigative piece on solitary confinement in California state prisons written by Shane Bauer, who himself was imprisoned in Iran for 26 months, six in solitary, when he was picked up on the Iraq border in 2009. The cover image is a realistic illustration by Tim OâBrien of a tormented man in a prison cell.The newsstand cover story is âSweet Little Lies,â a story by Gary Taubes and Cristin Kearns Couzens about the sugar industryâs 40-year long campaign to cover up evidence about the bad affects of the sweet stuff: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and its addictive nature. For that cover, also an illustration by Tim OâBrien, thereâs a pitcher of Kool-Aid with a grinning skull superimposed on it.Â (Note that on the newsstand the issue is simply dated December 2012.) By Mother Jones standards this is considered a lighter, more accessible story!âNo Way Out is a great story, but we felt that it might not sell that well on newsstands, where the potential buyer is not as familiar with our magazine,â says Mother Jones creative director Tim J Luddy. Early last year Mother Jones did another split cover for similar reasons. Editors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery wrote about their decision for the January/February 2011 issue to put a story about gang rape in Haiti on the subscriber cover, but deliver a newsstand cover story that highlighted the pot business: âAs compelling as all that is in a story, itâs a tough sell on the newsstand. Even assuming that anyone tempted to buy this magazine probably isnât expecting cheerful (our joke is that the Mother Jones tagline should be âItâs Worse Than You Thinkâ), rape gangs are pretty heavy stuff to hit a new reader with on our first encounter.â That both current covers were illustrated by Tim OâBrien was more by chance than design, says Luddy. âI did a separate set of conceptual sketches for the Sugar and Solitary covers. Once we decided on final ideas, it just happened that Tim was our top choice for each image.â The actual cost for producing and printing two separate covers for Mother Jones is minimal, since they already print different covers with a UPC code and a subscriber address. And Mother Jones does its own in-house proofing. As Luddy says, âThe only additional cost is the extra wear and tear to the creative director and editors,â along with the additional fee for the illustrator or photographer.How does Mother Jones handle the covers on other platforms? On their website, or for any online editorial use, they rotate between the two. For their Zinio app or other digital versions that require a cover, they use the newsstand version. For development and fundraising, they use the subscriber cover, since according to Luddy, âThatâs the kind of story our donors like to support.â For circulation (blow-in cards, etc.), however, they go back to the newsstand version.Are split covers worth the effort and is there a payoff? Thereâs a long history of entertainment magazines like TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly doing multiple covers. But they usually promote the same story, albeit with different cover images (like doing a separate cover for each cast member of Lost). Itâs much less common to take the Mother Jones approach, although idiosyncrasy for a smaller independent title can work to its advantage.When I was creative director at Readerâs Digest we tried a similar split cover strategy for several issues, but found that it confused readers, and got us plenty of complaints. It also didnât pay off at the newsstand; in fact one of the covers was the worst-selling of the year. And Luddy reports that last yearâs Mother Jones split cover was also one of their worst-selling issues for 2011. So why bother? Newsstand sales are only about 10 percent of Mother Jonesâs total paid circulation, so featuring a âsofterâ story at retail is a strategy thatâs aimed at luring in new readers rather than one thatâs designed to materially boost single copy sales. Nevertheless, I wondered whether the strategy had any downside for the brand overall. Liz Gettelman, Mother Jonesâs public affairs director, put it this way:âThe game has changed when it comes to print magazine covers. In the print era you would rarely see a logo separate from a cover image. But now, the logo is a much more prominent feature, since that alone (without cover art) is usually a publicationâs branding image on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and on websites. The split covers signal to readers that we are versatile and robust enough to be able to highlight various types of coverage. So long as they all feel like Mother Jones stories, then we are actually staying true to our brand.â
Getting a name, email address or other contact information can be a very valuable lead for publishers. Yet, in the instant culture of 2012, many users are becoming ever more impatient when presented with a registration form.
According to a new report from Janrain, a company that provides social login technology, among other things, online registration forms are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Its data, collected from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Harris Interactive Polls and Blue Research, and other sources, shows that 86 percent of people may leave a website when asked to create an account because the form is too long or asks too many questions.
Many consumers have password fatigue, with 50 percent disliking the idea of creating a new password. About 60 percent have more than five unique passwords to remember and 40 percent use the âforgot passwordâ feature at least once a month.
When it comes to sharing information, about 86 percent admit they have lied on a registration form, yet 60 percent say they would give more information if they knew what it was used for.
The endless forms seem to becoming so exhausting that 2 in 5 feel would rather scrub a toilet than come up with another new password.
As magazines continue to struggle, using a social login could be a viable and relatively easy way to capture potential new customers on a quicker and more frequent basis.Â
Â T.J. Raphael is the Associate Editor of FOLIO: Magazine. Follow her on Twitter.
Angie Hicks Bowman, co-founder of the home service rating company that carries her name, is one of the smartest marketers I have ever interviewed. She started her company as "Columbus Neighbors," personally going door to door in Columbus, Ohio to sign up members and collect ratings on local contractors. After her first year of door knocking, her company had 1,000 members. Today, that number is over 1.5 million paid members.
When my wife Lynn became an Angieâs List member, a monthly print magazine started showing up at our Brooklyn brownstone. I was intrigued. In a time when many marketers are scaling back print magazine marketing investment to favor digital media, here was a prominent digital content company publishing a print magazine. Retro marketing? Not on your life. In an interview with Angie I found her rationale for using print magazines so rooted in common sense I wondered why no one had thought of explaining it her way before.
When I asked Angie why she is sticking with print magazines she said, âI think people interact with print publications differently than they do with online content. Angieâs List is essentially a problem solving service. When people say, âOh, I need a plumberâ they come to us. But our print magazine allows us to interact with members when they are not in need of a plumber.â Angie added that her magazine helps differentiate her company in the crowded online market: âItâs one of the neat differentiators about us. We are not only collecting all of this content but actually packaging it into this kind of ânews you can use format.â
In addition, Angie said her print magazine helps drive incremental activity by educating members: âMaybe someone had not thought about buying a geo thermal heating and cooling system, but read an article about it in Angieâs List magazine. That person may not have gone on our website to read the article but read it in our magazine, and it created incremental interest.â
The magazine also serves as a way to introduce new members, said Angie. âAngieâs List members are busy people, and getting the magazine delivered to them can be a very easy, great way to kind of break in.â She continues, âI get tons of e-mails but on Saturday I might sit down to read a magazine at home, where I donât want to be sitting in front of my computer. Our members are very passionate about our magazine and a lot of consumers leave it sitting out on their coffee table.â And members love the magazine. Angie recalls, âI remember getting a call from a member who had a hospital stay during which her daughter came in, cleaned her house, and threw away her Angieâs List magazine collection. She was so upset she called and asked if we could send her a whole new set.â
For those of us marketing print products in an ever more digital world, for my money, Angieâs best wisdom came when she described how magazines keep her customers engaged even âwhen they are not in need of a plumber.â As more marketers abandon print budgets to fund digital initiatives, her comment reminds us of printâs unique marketing value, which is not easily duplicated online. When a print magazine arrives in a home or office it can be read in any physical location, and does not compete for online time with other websites.
In addition, website content is often âpurpose drivenââdesigned for users to choose their own sequence of information as they search for content and solutions to problems. The magazine experience is different, because an editor selects the sequence of content within an area of interest. The magazine read may offer fewer content options, but sometimes itâs really nice to have someone who really knows the neighborhood be the tour guide. Like many websites, Angieâs List is a problem solving service, so a print magazine is the perfect complement.
Need a book? Go to Amazon.com. The latest political news? Politio.com. Tech news? Mashable.com etc.Â But what about when you do not need a book, political news, tech news, or a plumber? Maybe you are sitting on your couch just reading a magazine, maybe the one published by Angieâs List.
PS: Watch a video produced by American Business Media on our initiative to help publishers sell more print adverising byÂ selling the value of 3rd party media HERE.
Josh Gordon is president of SmarterMediaSales.com where he works with publishers to maximize their online and print revenue through training, consulting, and representation.Â
Source Interlink Media's enthusiast sports group, GrindMedia, bought Dirt Sports and Off-Road Industry magazines from Ryan Communications Group this week. The deal sets up a new Dirt Sports group within Grind for Source, which also includes existing titles Dirt Rider, ATV Rider, Endurocross and Motocross.com. Ryan Communications founder Jim Ryan will head up the new group.The deal is the second one for GrindMedia, which bought Baseball America last December. The GrindMedia group is Source's gen-y, young male consumer group, which, says the company, reaches a monthly audience of 20,000,000 along with other brands such as Skateboarder, Bike, Powder and Slam. The latter recently extended its model into Football with the release of TD and TDdaily.com.
Four days in and I really do like Quartz. I like the catchy categories like âEnergy Shocks,â and âLow Interest Rates,â and âModern States.â I like the simple and clean look. And I like the ease of navigation on my iPad and my iPhone5 (just had to throw that inâkinda like a middle school student who inserts, nâest pa? at the end of sentences, because, well, nâest pas?).It has its quirks and bugs to work out (some bylines show up with name and âToday at Invalid Dateâ). It runs a tad slow compared with other sites on my devices (today). But they are smart people and will figure this out. I like how theyâve aggregated some good content (good and obscure, which is why I generally use Zite rather than Flipboard on my iPad). And I also like how there is good newly-created content. So that gets me to who is this for? David Carrâs New York Timesâ piece of Monday suggested, âThe editorial product is aimed at the front half of the airplanes that crisscross from Zurich to Sao Paolo to Singapore, serving executives who are increasingly having similar conversations no matter where they land. It was built for tablets, conceived as a mobile product for mobile people.â So, since I do want to be Tyler Brule when I grow up I wonder whatâs his take on it.QZ.com confirms everything weâve said in b-to-b media since the year one:Â We have highly specialized audiences that are valuable.What is fascinating about this product is that it takes on trying to appeal to a rarified slice of the world through some original and a lot of aggregated content. Will this work, or will users realize that, since this wasnât their first morning read as they hop scotched across the planet, they are rereading an FT or Reuters or New York Times piece. Might it not be more effective if one only found that content that cannot be found easily? (Note: stay tuned for such a product from Penton to launch shortly)Anyway, nice start and I look forward to sharing with all of my friends in the Delta Sky Clubs around the globe, nâest pas?
The first issue of M magazine, the luxury menâs magazine last seen in 1992 and being revived by Fairchild Fashion Media, came out on Monday with a very distinctive and unusual cover. Itâs not the cover subject, Bradley Cooper (People magazineâs Sexiest Man Alive of 2011), but the design, format, and photographic style that makes M very different from the usual newsstand fare. According to M creative director Nancy Butkus, the cover design was influenced both by European menâs magazines like Port and Huck, as well as vintage issues of Fortune. âWe had a stunning 1930s Fortune as our cover inspiration, and in some way we just updated what they were doingâthey had borders on the cover and so do we, but ours are asymmetrical.â Like Fortune, Mâs cover was printed on a rich, thick, uncoated stock, with a felt finish, making it both a visual and tactile treat. Iâm guessing, however, that M will not be mailed to its subscribers in heavy cardboard cases the way Fortune was until the early 1950s. The idea that upscale magazine consumers will respond positively to superior production values has been floating around for a while; itâs nice to see someone actually trying it out.Although I would have loved to see M try to resurrect the very-80s expanded logo from the original magazine, they hired noted logo designer Jim Parkinson to draw a smart, modern, updated version. Parkinson has been creating and revising magazine and newspaper logos for years, but this is his best and most impressive work in some time (and thatâs saying something!). Itâs also very different for the CondĂ© Nast/Fairchild magazines, most of which tend to have flat, relatively straight-forward type logos that arenât nearly as âdesignedâ as this one.Thereâs a lot thatâs âoffâ on this cover: the varied white bands on the right side and bottom, the quote running down the side, the use of the issue theme âAmbitionâ as the main headline. Thereâs a definite effort to make M feel stylish and a bit European, and for a luxury menâs magazine trying to distinguish itself from the crowd, thatâs probably a smart move.The photograph of Bradley Cooper, by Jason McDonald, is also very different from what appears on other American menâs magazines. It feels simple and authentic, almost non-stylish, and ridiculously friendly and intimate. Not to mention the power of those blue eyes, which are undoubtedly making members of both sexes weak in the knees.
Like everything else on the cover, itâs a smart way to establish a visual identity for a new magazine. The challenge for M will be in pursuing this idiosyncratic and slightly skewed cover approach every issue (itâs a quarterly), and not giving in to the demands for a more straight-forward, traditional design.