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Jandos Rothstein

New York's New Section Design Explained

Jandos Rothstein Design and Production - 01/15/2008-12:17 PM

Print has a short behind-the-scenes look at New York’s recent section reshuffling:

There’s been some sadness around this office that New York decided to get rid of their High Priority feature, a half-page graphic that opened their listings section each week. Created by a different designer every issue, High Priority showed off the talents of designers new and established, with the only restriction being that the design be done in red, black, and white.* Chris Dixon, the magazine’s design director, jokes that they “ran out of typographers” after three years, but adds on a more serious note that High Priority had a tendency to be “a little removed [from what the magazine was actually recommending] for the reader’s good.”


Dixon and his team also bumped the crossword puzzle a few pages and introduced a new back page infographic, Artifact, which the magazine's editors describes as “pure observation, a moment grabbed and preserved.” Dixon adds that they “had been looking for the perfect end note to the magazine for a year or so,” and that “this seemed to be the best way to finish off the experience of the issue.”

More here ...

[Editor's note: For more intelligent design talk, buy Jandos' new book.]

Ted Bahr

Straight Shooter Optimistic About Mag Industry

Ted Bahr Sales and Marketing - 01/15/2008-12:14 PM

One of my favorite people in the industry is straight-shooter Jack Semler, President of the Readex Corporation. Readex is best known for ad readership studies (like Starch and Harvey) although they also do a healthy business in more general subscriber studies and other types of research. In any case, WE publishers are their customers. If WE are really worried about business next year, we will do fewer paid outside studies and Readex's forward business outlook for 2008 should be down.

Well, here's what Jack said; "As for our indicators, we are kicking butt right now.  The ad effectiveness study count will be up and the number of proposals we are writing for custom studies is above average.  IF all holds up and doesn't crash under the 'self-fulfilling prophecy' weight of the media reporting 'Recession,' then we will be running at an 18%-20% increase over 2007."

Gosh, I hope Jack is right and that this IS a leading indicator for all of us.  The tea leaves for my business are spread before me and, well, it kinda depends how you arrange them! Forward contracts were flat, but followed a 35% increase the year before. Business at the end of December - a flurry of activity in 2006, was this year, like Old Marley, "dead as a door-nail." But it has picked up noticeably in January as marketers realize that the sky has not quite fallen.  Yet, anyway.

So call Jack Semler a positive leading indicator. For me it's still cautious optimism. With heavy emphasis on the cautious.

Josh Gordon

Digital Media Buyers Want You to Remember What Business You are In

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 01/14/2008-16:10 PM

As media moves from being intangible to measured the details become more important, and lunch--the core tool of intangible sales-- less so. Along these lines, Ed Kelly executive vice president, digital media at KSL Media, offered sobering advice in a post last week on "Online Publishing Insider":

"We're not in the lunch business. We're in the advertising business. The publishers that heed this charge will outrun their competitors every time, even if their sites aren't quite as robust."

Kelly offers these guidelines for reps wanting to make the most of the new sales environment:

Respond to the full RFP. This sounds a lot easier than many major publishers evidently find it. Publishers can't pick and choose which questions to answer; it's an all or nothing proposition. If you're not going to address an issue, you have to tell the agency why.

Take it to the top. Senior management involvement is always appreciated. RGM chief Kamran Razavi managed JustLuxe's response personally, and at one point he had us collaborating directly with the JustLuxe publisher.

Prove the numbers. RGM provided Media Metrix runs, site surveys and anecdotal information without being prompted. That might seem ordinary, but it's not. Far too many publishers either don't have audited audience breakouts or refuse to divulge them.

Weave a program, not a buy. RGM bested the competition in several areas: the number of travel packages, the robust content and functionality of the program micro site, the variety of high-impact ad units promoting the program, and pricing that was aggressive in light of the demonstrated value.

Make pricing simple. The more complex the program, the more important it is to have clear pricing guidelines for CPM-based, fixed-fee and value-add program elements. RGM actually provided rates and pricing for three scenarios, with clear rules on what was included in each. Just as important: All of the scenarios synched perfectly.

Sound advice. 

Read Kelly's entire post on Online Publishing Insider

Andy Cohn

Hiring a Musician to Edit a Magazine

Andy Cohn Editorial - 01/14/2008-10:19 AM

Recently, I had the task of finding a new top editor for The Fader magazine and Web site. Being a very targeted and specific editorial property, it is never an easy job to find an editor that meets all of our so-called "requirements," which are many and include (but are not limited to) writing/editing skills, vast knowledge and experience covering underground and emerging music of all genres, ability to work in a collaborative editorial environment and a multi-dimensional background not strictly limited to writing and editing. The last one is somewhat unique in that we want writers and editors here that aren’t just coming from a traditional/pure journalism standpoint (our new editor was not only a writer for the Washington Post, but lead singer of an influential indie rock band).

Of course they need to know how to write/edit first and foremost, but having diversity is a key way for the tone of our title to differentiate itself from the "other" music magazines and Web sites. That all being said, after interviewing a host of great candidates, one thing truly stood out through the process and actually reminded us what we are all about and what many other magazines should give heavier consideration to in their editorial hiring process is PASSION for the particular subject matter and magazine. There were many qualified people, but the ones that stood out were the ones who loved The Fader, and the feeling that they were not just looking at this opportunity as another resume building block, but a sincere desire to be a part of something they love. It’s been my experience that these individuals are also much more loyal, take on a feeling of ownership and dedicate themselves on a deeper level.

Henry Donahue

CES Recap: Magazines Rule the Land of the 150-Inch TV

Henry Donahue emedia and Technology - 01/11/2008-11:50 AM

I called my wife Tuesday from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

"Forget about building that addition on the house. We need the money for the 150-inch TV I just saw."

Understandably alarmed, she pointed out that we would probably still need the contractor to build a steel-reinforced wall in the man cave to mount my dream television.

As I snapped back to reality, I surveyed the vast expanse of the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Hundreds of exhibitors covered the floor, each showing their own combo digital HD camcorder/DVD player/cellphone/plasma screen/gaming console.

If you've been there, you know that the effect can be overwhelming. Without a knowledgeable guide to highlight truly innovative products, a massive trade show like CES can rapidly become a tiring bore.

One of the perks of being CEO of Discover is that I was able to walk the floor with our news editor, Tyghe Trimble. With Tyghe's guidance, I saw some truly amazing technologies:

Tyghe also separated the quality from the dreck for Discover's Web readers, blogging from the event 2-3 times a day.

Across the show, magazine editorial teams performed the same filtering function, including Popular Mechanics (who had their own branded blog HQ above the floor of the Central Hall), Wired and niche tech titles too numerous to mention. The coverage spanned multiple platforms—daily blog entries, online video, podcasts, in-book product review packages and "best of" award events.

CES reinforced why print's self-flagellation about digital content is so pointless. First, major advertisers realize that the leading magazine brands are still the most trusted and influential arbiters of what products are good. That's why they hype the awards in their booths and, more importantly, pay significantly more for a single magazine ad page than for a month of online impressions.

Second, the preponderance of CES coverage shows that publishers are aggressively taking advantage of their online products' immediacy and interactivity. This may be more apparent in a tech-heavy environment like CES, but it exposes the fallacy that magazine publishers are ceding any ground to pure-play Internet providers.

I plan to explore this argument further in future posts. For now, though, I need to get back to preparing the man cave for the Super Bowl.

Matt Kinsman

Maybe You Can Sell Digital Editions After All

Matt Kinsman emedia and Technology - 01/10/2008-16:33 PM

Early versions of digital magazines got a bad rap, thanks to static facsimiles and awkward reader tools that did little to improve the reader experience over print. However, digital editions have been evolving, becoming more seamless with online and offering new opportunities with search and archiving.

They may even show some promise as revenue generators. In a recent Folio: Webinar called Digital Edition Revenue Generation, part of a three-part Digital University Series sponsored by NXTBook Media, three publishers talked about how they're seeing financial returns with digital editions. Hearst Electronics Group created a custom digital edition called Project Analog for one sponsor, while UK-based Graduate Prospects phased out its decades-old print product for digital-only and is profitable.

ITEM Publications' Interference Technology started launching digital editions for the Asian market, publishing Interference Technology Japan six times per year with a 5,000 circulation. All ads from the print product are featured in the book (paid or not) and advertisers pay a 12 percent optional premium of the print cost for the digital edition.

Putting all ads, paid or not, into the digital edition saves time for the art director, and lets non-paying advertisers know what they're missing (paying advertisers are included in search results and receive reader tracking results).

In 2007, ITEM Publications saw $180,000 in digital publishing revenue and $70,000 from optional digital ad revenues. "It's not huge but it's not a difficult sale to make and it comes with high margins," says publisher Graham Kilshaw.

To access the Webinar, go to

Bill Mickey

Guerrilla Cover Testing

Bill Mickey Audience Development - 01/10/2008-14:11 PM

I interviewed Kristy Kaus, Active Interest Media's research director, for a story I wrote in the January issue of FOLIO:. Kaus has been doing cover research for a number of AIM's enthusiast titles, and her program has provided a measurable boost in newsstand sales. The research is done via online surveys-a method that puts cover testing well in the realm of small to mid-sized enthusiast publishers that otherwise wouldn't spring for a full-on, focus-group or direct mail approach.

The testing is performed through a proprietary Web-based survey platform developed by Kaus, and can be executed with a 36-hour turnaround. If you're feeling skittish about using an online-based testing group, don't be. Kaus notes that readers are typically online anyway, and backtested her groups just to be sure their opinions matched performance. "We tested a past poor performer versus a past top performer. With every control on the online survey the top performer won. So that was enough to validate the program for us, that it's effective. And it gave us enough assurance that moving forward was a smart idea," Kaus told me.

I suppose it's a more guerrilla approach to cover testing, and perhaps not as hermetically sealed as a formal, live version, but Kaus' numbers speak for themselves: "For every test that I have done, the sellthrough has either stabilized with the same issue month the year prior or it has increased, and in some cases increased pretty substantially," says Kaus. Southwest Art jumped 12 percent in singlecopy sales, and Vegetarian Times increased 21 percent, for example.

Not too shabby.

Dylan Stableford Founder: We'll Talk to Anyone, But We're Not Looking to Sell—Yet

Dylan Stableford M and A and Finance - 01/10/2008-12:27 PM

Great FOLIO: cover story this month on and its pink-leaning founder, Samir Arora. The company is still somehow under the radar, despite its absurd traffic growth (25 million unique visitors a month across its network of 400 sites) and rank (ComScore places it among the top 25 Internet media companies).

One point that didn’t make it into the article but came out during a video shoot we did with Samir for this week: he’s not looking to flip the company. At least, not yet. From rough notes I took during the interview:

FOLIO: I’d imagine, given all the success you’ve had in a relatively short period of time, you get approached a lot by some of this traditional media companies you’re kind of competing with.

ARORA: Yes, we do get approached, every month ... nothing serious ... but that wasn’t the goal. We want to create a great brand ... one that will have tremendous value in the marketplace.

If traditional publishers continue to miss the site network strategy, as Arora says, I’d expect that line of “approachers” to start looking like the runway at JFK, probably sooner than later. And when it does, it’ll be a fun exercise in valuation.

Joanna Pettas

Hearst Tower a ‘Misplaced Missile Silo’

Joanna Pettas Consumer - 01/10/2008-10:04 AM

Architectural Record’s contributing editor Robert Campbell—also a Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic for the Boston Globe—takes a sophisticated jab at the Hearst Tower, which opened in October 2006, in the magazine’s January issue.

He writes that the building, designed by UK-based Foster + Partners, looks like a “misplaced missile silo”, “a cage for a single massive object”, maybe even “the carton the real tower came in.” It’s like a delinquent teen, he writes, that thumbs its nose at its older companion—the six-story Art Deco building from the 1920s that the new tower sits upon. The waterfall with the neighboring escalator that you see when you enter is “the kind of cliché you’d expect to find at a Hyatt convention hotel,” he writes. “The three-story shell of the old Deco building surrounds you on all sides, but nothing is done to dramatize the experience of yourself as new wine in this old bottle.”

(One thing Campbell doesn’t mention, surprisingly, is the “greenness” of the building, the subject that seems to come up most in reference to the tower. The Hearst Tower is New York City’s first building to get Gold LEED certification, the U.S. Green Building Council's highest.)

Ted Bahr

Hemmings Motors Along

Ted Bahr B2B - 01/09/2008-23:03 PM

I was idling around the newsstand at lunch and was surprised to see the December issue of Hemmings Motor News sitting there, weighing in at 696 pages. Hemmings is basically an antique car and car parts directory. Looking for an antenna for that 1964 Corvair? Find it in Hemmings.

The curious thing is why the print publication is still thick as a phone book. If ever there was a publication to become disintermediated by the Internet, this is it. Hemmings is a place where you go to find things you are looking for, not for random discovery. And, in fact, it has a robust Web site, claiming to be the “world's most comprehensive and informative web site of its kind, featuring over 30,000 searchable cars-for-sale ads, 10,000 Car Club listings,” etc.

Maybe it’s because car collectors are old and don’t use the internet. Nope, we know that all age groups are active users of the Web. Maybe the Hemmings brand is so strong that they can REQUIRE classified advertisers to use print if they want to advertise online. Not so—you can advertise online exclusively. I just don’t get it. Why is their print edition so robust? Any ideas?

Leave 'em in the comments section below.

Joanna Pettas

This Month's Cover: Good or Bad?

Joanna Pettas Design and Production - 01/09/2008-10:23 AM

Good got some bad reviews on its December cover from panelists in this month’s FOLIO: Face Up, but let’s not ignore the positives: Laura Wall says it is “contemporary and compositionally interesting.” Unlike Paul Lee, who doesn’t get the monochromatic look, Anthony Ficke thinks the use of a limited color palette “gives the image a chance to stand on its own.” Ficke also likes the profile shot and thinks the use of the equation is a “creative use of text combined with design.”

On the negative side, Wall says at first glance she couldn’t even understand what the magazine was about—“a real problem if you are trying to attract a newsstand readership.” It could be. But it took time for Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, the game theorist featured on the cover who uses math to predict the future, to gain respect from much of anyone. Now, his work has been used by the CIA, Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. Department of Defense, according to Good’s article. Maybe, in a way, it's just harmony of subject and form.

What do you think?

Click here to take the quick Face Up poll for a chance to win an iPod Shuffle.

Dylan Stableford

OK! Publisher Touts Jamie Lynn Pregnancy Coup to Advertisers—Again

Dylan Stableford Sales and Marketing - 01/08/2008-11:11 AM

When OK! publisher sent a note to advertisers reminding them that the story that had America in a tizzy—Britney Spears' 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn's pregnancy—was theirs, I criticized him for a misguided, blatant attempt to cash in on a teenager's apparent troubles ("OK! Magazine Breaks 'Intimate,' 'Exclusive,' 'Major' Pregnancy Story"), and a desperate ploy to stave off the cannibalization of a global scoop at the newsstand.

Well, Morrissy is at it again—this time, though, he has a point. Sort of. It appears his evil plan is working:

From: Tom Morrissy
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2008 9:45 AM
Subject: You Heard It Here First!

Dear Advertiser,

Ask yourself this question: Over the holiday week, how many times did I see news coverage of the Jamie Lynn Spears story, which OK! Magazine broke exclusively? Did it come up in conversation with friends and family at least once? If so, you've experienced the buzz that OK! Magazine has been so successful at creating with our major news stories this year.

We're proud to announce that this buzz helped propel OK! Magazine sales to well over 1 million copies at newsstand for the first time! In fact, this issue sold so well, we literally had to go back to press to satisfy the demand. We project a newsstand sale of 1.3 million for a total delivery of close to 1.7 million for the week! This caps a 2nd half in which the magazine averaged 947,055 copies on our 850,000 rate base - a bonus delivery of 11%.

But OK! isn't only breaking news... we're making news! Our surge in growth and overall awareness is such a phenomenon that the New York Times featured OK! Magazine on the cover of its business section. Click here.

So, as we finish off an extraordinary year of news-breaking exclusives, we want to thank all of our advertisers for their support. We finished the year with a 46% increase in pages (+187 pages), which is the biggest increase in the weekly market and the 4th biggest increase in publishing overall.

Stay tuned for more OK! exclusives. Happy New Year to all!


Tom Morrissy
OK! Magazine

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