"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.
Recently, I had to hire a position I've never hired beforeâproject managerâsomeone with skills to do just about anything. This includes anything from clearing music, to sourcing raincoats in Africa, from finding underground rock venues in Baltimore to overseeing and managing the creation of a custom micro-site.
The print industry has been turned on its head and, as most of us know, publishers/magazines now have to deliver way more than the good old-fashioned ad page schedule and accompanying cookie-cutter value-added programâthat just won't cut it any longer.
Over the past few years the entire game has changed and the only way to survive is to adapt or be another FOLIO: headline about another folded magazine. It's a change that I find incredible and has opened up an infinite channel of opportunity to actually work with brand partners to create exciting new content, new formats of distribution, and more ways of touching our readers/their consumer.
I have a feeling that traditional magazine infrastructures and mastheads will continue their metamorphosis to mirror these changes.
To most media watchers, when a magazine folds, it's always fun (if evil) to see how the parent company and its executives spin it ("We're shifting focus to the Web, y'all!" a familiar refrain). When a Martha Stewart magazine folds, it's even more fun.Yesterday, the diva of all media gave her television show's studio audience her pie-baked take on Blueprint two days after its shuttering:"The world has changed. By blogging, they get information. By texting. By BlackBerrying. By surfing the Internet. Even using their cell phones to retrieve information on the go! So to keep in step with this very dynamic Blueprint audience, we've decided to change the Blueprint format from just the magazine, fusing it into a new group of ideas."WWD adds: "She deftly avoided any hint of a retreat, saying simply that the company had 'changed Blueprint's format' to live on as a blog and a 'featured entity' for Weddings. As for the magazines spread out in front of her, Stewart said cheerfully: 'These issues just might become real collectors' items!'"More here ...
Several days ago I wrote about the desire for marketers to distill their art down to a science in the crucible of online marketing metrics. In it, I suggested publishers ask questions and flesh out whether your client is really doing the work to analyze the effectiveness of their online marketing or whether they were just using online because it could Cover Their Ass ("CTA") if called upon to prove ROI.So, now what?Suggest that there are other metrics beyond ROI that they should consider using. The term I heard a few weeks ago was ROMO, or, Return on Marketing Objective. This has broader application than ROI but it both encourages measurement as well as the idea that strict return on investment may not have to be the ONLY thing one should evaluate. So you can begin to discuss what other sort of marketing objectives one might have and how to measure them. For example, brand awareness and buyer preferenceâthose mysterious forces that make someone click on your Adwords ad instead of a lesser-known companyâs.Why not suggest print (oh there I go again) to raise awareness and preference using a pre-campaign and post-campaign study to measure the improvement? And then analyze changes in click-thrus, click-through rates and conversion rates of online efforts during the campaign (across the same audienceâitâs called integrated marketing). Who says you cannot measure this?We had an account that ran regular e-newsletter sponsorships. In the middle of that two-year run of online advertising, they ran some print: full and half pages, 17 times across a 22-issue span (we are 24 a year). The marketing objective was to try and increase awareness five percentage points. While they were running the print ads, they averaged 155 online leads. During the period before and after the print, they averaged 61 leads. The increase lowered the cost per lead even after factoring in the entire cost of the print advertising. That means the nine point increase in awareness they achieved over the period was in effect free. They achieved both a ROMO and ROI. That is obviously a showcase example and your mileage may vary. But to summarize, donât get put off by ROI. Suggest ROMO as an equally valuable metric. And then figure out how to measure that ROMO, with awareness and brand preference studies. Youâll like the ROI.(Note: My source for the term âROMOâ told me he had heard it from Tech Targetâkudos are due to TT, or whoever invented it.)