Iâm given to rail against the state of the world in terms of the overreaction in favor of online marketing methods over print advertising. As with any sea change in the sales end of our industry, there are multiple players (publishers, clients, ad agencies) and plenty of blame to go around. A frequent target for publishers is ad agencies. Part of this is historical, as an agency can stand between the publisher and his/her client. And part of it is structural. Clients squeeze ad agencies, who have to run leaner and often assign inexperienced media buyers to select media.
Today, there are two beefs we have with ad agencies: one is the âRFP due by the end of the day.â The other is âweâre only buying online.â Clearly, there is pressure from clients on both fronts, but the hope is that the ad agenciesâwho are supposed to be guiding the clientâs marketing effortsâwould make a greater effort to help stop the insanity.
But Iâve discovered hope recently in the form of two of the most influential high-tech ad agencies, Just Media and Mindshare.
Just Media, in Berkeley, California, has a whole pile of accounts including EMC, the red-hot VMware, Quest, Fujitsu, McAfee, and others. Recently, CEO Dick Reed told me of the battles they are pitching to get these clients to truly embrace integrated marketingâwith the print part of the equation being the biggest challenge. It was Dick that told me about ROMOâ"Return on Marketing Objective"âand how his agency is using it to convince clients to use print in the mix. Dick also told me about having lunch with Pat McGovern this summer and railing on him about shutting down InfoWorld. A far cry from a 23-year-old media planner plunking numbers into a spreadsheet, this is the kind of involved, opinionated and non-isolationist ad agency we need.
Another agency that gets it is Mindshare, working with IBM. Experienced associate media director Larry Meisel is out on the front lines with publishers, pushing, cajoling and preaching about what IBM needs in print. And he is almost single-handedly keeping the IT newsweeklies alive. (A quick hand-count of 12/17 issues reveals: Computerworld, 21.5 ad pages, 4 from IBM; Network World, 19.5 pages, 6 from IBM; eWeek, 37.5 ad pages, 9 from IBM.)
They are out there. Find those ad agencies that get it. And letâs get them more business.
Following up my previous rant on the business of investigative journalism at magazines, I was happy to see this from Texas Monthly's Evan Smith:
Long-form is not the disease, it's the cure. What distinguishes us from other magazines is that we believe enough in the intellectual and cultural passions of our readers to give them 6,000; 7,000; or 10,000 words, when appropriate, on big subjects. Our circulation numbers are strong, which tells me that rather than going against the wishes of the people out there, we're actually speaking exactly to them.
Art director Adana Jimenez says the cover of Scholastic Administr@torâs October/November 2007 issue is âstill too prettyâ for herâit doesnât reflect grossly enough the fact that most children seem to be eating junk in their schools. Our panelist Jim Nissen, publication art director at Switch Studio, agrees. âIf it was sloppy and unhealthy-looking, they might have better set up an argument for change.â
Click here to read more. Then scroll to the bottom and take the survey to win an iPod Shuffle.
"Downfall." "Volatile." "Implosion." It's a story that has, as one industry insider observed, the appeal of "trainwreck." Tony Silber's account of Ascend Media's fall from grace, despite being published last week, is continuing to draw heated comments from a largely anonymous gallery.
Submitted by Anonymous:
The founders of Ascend have the worst track record and as we know, history always repeats itself. There was no other possible ending to this story with these guys at the helm.
The demise of Intertec ... did NOT happen under Bishop's watch as commented by someone here. Cam fought hard at Intertec against a naive and greedy attempt by a board with no publishing experience to transform Intertec into a "dot-com" company, was ousted because of his resistance to what everyone at the company knew was a crazy and stupid plan, and was ultimately proven correct when the dot-com crash killed Intertec.
Given that I live in a city that elected a bar owner as its mayor, you'd think that nothing about politics would surprise me anymore. Still, I couldn't decide whether to be tickled or befuddled at the ongoing rumblings that Philadelphia magazine editor Larry Platt was contemplating a run for Congress. [FULL DISCOSURE: I've been drunk with the guy. Several times.]
As recently as last week, Roll Call was making it seem like a done deal:
Philadelphia magazine editor Larry Platt is planning a bid against Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) and an announcement is forthcoming next month, according to a Pennsylvania Democratic operative with knowledge of the race."He's certainly moving ahead and finishing his due diligence, but we certainly expect that he will be running," the Democrat said. [...]Local Democrats are hopeful that Platt's connections in the wealthy Philadelphia suburbs will be the ticket to defeating Gerlach in a district that voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.
Philadelphia magazine editor Larry Platt is planning a bid against Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) and an announcement is forthcoming next month, according to a Pennsylvania Democratic operative with knowledge of the race.
"He's certainly moving ahead and finishing his due diligence, but we certainly expect that he will be running," the Democrat said. [...]
Local Democrats are hopeful that Platt's connections in the wealthy Philadelphia suburbs will be the ticket to defeating Gerlach in a district that voted for Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.
Well, Philly Dems are going to have to make other plans. Platt has told his staff that he's out:
After being a prospective candidate for two days at the Pennsylvania Society last weekend, I was so sick of my own voice, so tired of hearing me talk about me, that I realized this life change wasnât for me. When youâre a journalist, I realized, youâre interested in hearing and conveying other peoplesâ stories. When youâre obsessed with your own story, you create your own little echo chamber inside your head. Itâs not fun.
The latest entry from John Brady's Last Legacy Editor Standing ...Is it just me, or do scent strips stink? You know, those perfume or cologne ads that run in Esquire, Vanity Fair, the fashion mags, with a sniffer sample of the scent being sold.First of all, they all smell alike.Secondly, when you put four or five of them in the same magazine, the scents merge and the whole publication smells like the men's bathroom between innings at Fenway Park.Thirdly, I have never known anyone who made a purchasing decision on the basis of these strips. I think they are a bogus tool for selling ads and stinking up a magazine.Whenever I sit down to go through a magazine with strips, the first thing I do is tear them out and toss them in the trash. Then I seal the trash bag tightly so that the scents don't contaminate the room. Whatever you do, don't run these strips through your shredderâyou will have that Fenway smell in the confetti and the blades of your shredder for at least three years. (I think the half-life is a decade.)Finally, never ever ever rub one of these stinkos on a wrist or behind the ears before heading out on a date. You may think initially that you have saved some big money for the latest trendy scent, but, if the evening heats up, a rash is sure to follow.
With all the talk of social networking in 2007-including the Beacon debacle-I've been following with interest the monthly traffic growth of Facebook and LinkedIn as they continue to chip away at MySpace's lead and market share.
It's a Web 2.0 pennant race!
Alongside the usual suspects, note that Flixster, the site that allows you to share movie ratings with friends, is having an enormous year.
AOL Hometown, down 22 percent versus November 2006, is not.
The latest unique visitors (in thousands), as provided by Nielsen Online.Nielsen also provides the top 10 blogs in terms of traffic. The top
five on this list-like Blogger and Wordpress-are not blogs, per se, but
free blog hosting companies. The exception is TMZ.com, whose traffic
was flat when compared to November 2006âthe month, you'll recall, that
Michael Richards' racist tirade at a Los Angeles comedy club was caught
on tape and posted to TMZ.
The New York Times reports that Jeffrey Bewkes [right], who takes over as Time Warner CEO in January, has "quietly" hired Douglas Shapiro to head up investor relations. Shapiro was formerly an MD and research analyst for Banc of America Securities and joined Time Warner a month ago. Coincidentally or not, a February report by Shapiro on Time Warner had a buy recommendation on the stock at $25 a share because "we think there is a chance it pursues a restructuring eventually, including possibly divesting publishing or AOL, or even a full breakup of the company into its four logical components." That would include Time Inc., presumably.If Bewkes eventually does take Shapiro's advice, here's what a spun-off Time Inc. might look like.
Inspired by a pair of archive
in other industries, I recently took a spin through the New York Times now-free
online archive. (NOTE: It's not entirely free; see comments below.)
Armed with search terms like "magazine" (81,099 results since
1981), "Internet" and "Graydon Carter," here are a selection of resultsâsome
dated, others oddly prescient:
January 1, 1981: Earliest result in archive for "magazine."
Mr. Shafir also came under fire when he defended assigning a
plainclothesman caught taping a closed news briefing given by the ministry's
Police Division. The taping was said to be for a police magazine.
July 1, 1981: The return of Vanity Fair.
ADVERTISING; Vanity Fair's Return Set
For the last 45 years, the only sign of Vanity Fair
magazine, the sophisticated darling of the Roaring Twenties, was the monthly
notation on the spine of Vogue that said: ''Vogue (Incorporating Vanity
It was the CondĂ© Nast Publications' way of protecting its
copyright against the day it might resurrect Vanity Fair.
Now, following the success of its new Self magazine, the
company says the day has come, and that the magazine of ''wit and critical
intelligence'' that sparkled for 22 years before dying in the cold of the
Depression, will return as a monthly in January 1983.
The initial circulation of the new Vanity Fair has been set
at 250,000. The cover price will be $2.50. No publisher has been selected yet
but there is an editor in chief, Richard Locke, currently deputy editor of The
New York Times Book Review.
January 31, 1981: "Falwell Wins Court Curb On Penthouse
Federal Judge James C. Turk today prohibited Penthouse
magazine from distributing its March issue at the request of the Rev. Jerry
Falwell, the founder of Moral Majority, who says a Penthouse interview with him
was obtained by deceit.
September 8, 1984: "Anna Wintour Is Wed To a Child
Anna Wintour, creative director at Vogue magazine, was
married yesterday to Dr. David Shaffer, chief of the child psychiatry
department at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and the New York State
Psychiatric Institute. Judge Elliott Wilk of New York City Civil Court
performed the ceremony at the couple's Manhattan home.
The bride, who has retained her name, is a daughter of
Elinor Wintour and Charles Wintour of London. She was formerly a senior editor
at New York magazine and deputy fashion editor at Harper's & Queen magazine
in London. She attended Queen College in London.
August 15, 1987: "WINTOUR LEAVING BRITISH VOGUE FOR HOUSE & GARDEN"
Anna Wintour, the editor who changed British Vogue from a
quirky, insular fashion magazine to a slicker international publication, is
coming back to New York to become editor in chief of House & Garden
magazine. She starts Sept. 9. ''I've missed New York terribly,'' Miss Wintour
said yesterday in a telephone interview from London.
Anna Wintour, the editor who changed British Vogue from a
quirky, insular fashion magazine to a slicker international publication, is
coming back to New York to become editor in chief of House & Garden magazine.
She starts Sept. 9. ''I've missed New York terribly,'' Miss Wintour said
yesterday in a telephone interview from London. ''I'm enormously looking
forward to coming back.'' Her new job is not her only cause for celebration.
Two weeks ago, Miss Wintour, who is married to Dr. David Shaffer of New York
City, gave birth to their second child, a daughter named Kate.
November 2, 1987: First appearance of Spy magazine.
Honing the Rapier to Skewer Yuppies
First came the horror stories of
young stockbrokers too poor or shaken to order radicchio and warm goat cheese
salads at their favorite track-lighted restaurants. Then came the jokes: What's
the difference between a 28-year-old arbitrager and a pigeon? At least the
pigeon can still make a deposit on a BMW.
By now, it seems, it is open
season on yuppies in New York City. (For camouflage, some are rumored to be
scratching the Ferragamo signatures from their shoes.) Recently, some of the
more trenchant observers of the New York scene were invited to indulge in a
little yuppie-bashing. They seemed eager to oblige.
''It's fun to look into their
eyes in the subways,'' said E. Graydon Carter, co-editor of Spy magazine, which
has made just about every identifiable group in the city an object of its
biting sarcasm. ''It's nice to see the overdogs getting their ears clipped a
April 17, 1990: "Lack of Ads Kills 7 Days Magazine"
Just two years after it was
started with great fanfare, 7 Days magazine has ceased publishing.
In a tense meeting yesterday at
the weekly's newly renovated offices in lower Manhattan, the publication's owner,
Leonard N. Stern, told the staff that even though 7 Days covered New York
City's social and political happenings in a ''stylish and provocative'' way, it
could not generate the advertising support it needed to survive.
October 22, 1990: "Media Market Languishes as Buyers
July 13, 1992: "Vanity Fair Is Hot Property, But Profit Is Open Question"
Vanity Fair may be the hottest magazine on the market, but
does it make money? For all that has been written about the monthly magazine
that Tina Brown led to prominence before being named editor of The New Yorker,
almost nothing has been said about its profitability.
January 25, 1993: "Vanity Fair Is Doing Nicely, But Out
of the Spotlight"
February 9, 1994: "Spy Magazine Can't Find Buyer, and
I'm worried that 2008 is going to be an awful year for B2B publishing.I don't have any data to back up this fear. What I do have is a sense that something is about to go wrong.
In the past few weeks I've spoken with a number of B2B editors, sales people and publishers. And each of them also seems to be worried. Certainly there is a widespread and justified concern that our print products will continue to face challenges. And certainly more of them will fold in 2008. But that is old news, and not particularly interesting. As my friend Rex said, "every year is a magazine shake-out year."
So what's different now?
It seems to me that the rise of online has led to unreasonable expectations. The lust of investors, the demands for growth, the need to justify ourselves to the people who control the purse strings are pushing us into a new era of preposterousness. Everywhere I go I meet people with revenue targets that seem delusional.
There's probably not another person in B2B publishing who has championed Web journalism more than I. But my love of new media is born of my love of all media. Online storytelling excites me. Just like other forms of storytelling do. The fact that new media has also made money pleases me, but it's not why I love it. Cash flow doesn't stir my soul.
But cash flow does stir many a soul in publishing. And in some cases, it warps them.
Here's what I see happening, and why I'm worried about 2008:
1. Amid a credit crunch and suggestions of recession, online advertising is likely to contract. But no one in B2B seems to be revising their online growth numbers downward. Rather, the growth numbers I'm hearing are higher than in 2007.2. When pressure for revenue growth builds, many
folks in B2B behave badly.3. The most exciting thing about new media has been the growth of new media. Every established publisher faced more online competitors in 2007 than in 2006. I expect that will continue.4. The business model currently in fashion in B2B publishing isn't built to withstand a slowdown in online advertising. Nearly everyone is leveraged to the hilt. Nearly everyone has already cut everything that can be cut.5. I don't believe that B2B is prepared for whatever the next big thing may be.
I'm not suggesting that it's time to panic. I am suggesting it's time to look long and hard at what we are capable of doing. How much can we reasonably expect to grow? How realistic is it to expect the online advertising market to continue to expand? How can we survive a downturn and meet the debt payments? What can we reasonably expect from 2008?
(For more on this subject, check out what my friend Paul says about B2B in Asia. I think he's a little worried too.)
Every once in a while you come across a magazine so specialized that it just takes your breath awayâhow wonderful when itâs a consumer title to boot.
Airports of the World, which sits on the old stump at the crossroad of airplane and architecture geekdom, is one such glossy, which I couldnât bring myself to buy but photographed with my cell phone at B. Daltonâs. To me, the British magazine promises all the excitement of a 14-hour layover, and very nearly delivers it, with sleepy-time articles and layouts as constipated as youâd be after three consecutive concourse meals, but clearly someone is reading it and more power to them. Airports of the World is this weekâs proof certain that magazines are alive and well.
More here ...
With the continued softness in medical and pharmaceutical print advertising, Advanstarâs reorganization of its Healthcare Group around an online portal called ModernMedicine.com isnât that much of a surprise.
But what does raise eyebrows is the blunt editorial critique of Advanstar Life Science Group executive president Steve Morris. And he may be right. Editors who arenât adapting to the online opportunity may soon find themselves called out by the business side, and rightfully so.
âWeâve reduced the editorial count on our traditional books because the books have less frequency and fewer pages,â says Morris. âThe money is moving over to the Web side or the project side. Weâre trying to move people into those roles. I said to everybody, âWhatever youâre doing today is going to change in six months. You can be part of that change or Iâm going to change that.ââ
âI said to editors, âWe have a generation of doctors who grew up in the age of Google,â continues Morris. âWhen you Google something, you donât get a 1,000 word story on it. You get a thousand choices of two-line stories. Thatâs how people consume information today. We have to look at our journals that way and re-engineer it.â
The new editorial role isnât just about producing good content but also strategic planningâincluding vetting traditional partners and even vendors for content that is valuable to their audience. âWhen editors start to bring stuff up like partnerships and new opportunities in new sections, then good things are starting to happen and theyâre getting the message,â says Morris.