In my capacity as Discover magazine CEO, I had lunch last week with a leading environmental scientist and blogger. After a brief but stimulating chat about the climate crisis, I steered the conversation around to my more parochial concern: Can I dramatically increase my Web traffic by adding more blogs?
He was skeptical to say the least. Incumbents in this market have significant first mover advantages. My friend launched his environment blog in 2004, a year before the Huffington Post but a good five years after Boing Boing. Since then, if you believe Technorati, literally tens of millions of new blogs have been created. At the same time, blog users' bookmarks and RSS readers have been filling up (not to mention other blogs' blogrolls), leaving less real estate for new entrants.
A quick look back to early 2007, though, shows that a magazine site can launch a new blog using a time-honored tactic-poaching from its competitors. In January, Atlantic Monthly signed Andrew Sullivan's blog away from Time, and whatever they paid him was probably a bargain compared to the ad inventory he generates.
There's a lesson here for magazines looking to expand their
blog platforms. Instead of coaxing your overworked editors to blog more, look around your competitive space for established but undermonetized blog sites who might see the benefit of hooking
up with your brand.
If that doesn't work, you can always go with the LOLCats.
Most magazine designers have come across references to the legendary Aspenâ€”a multimedia-filled â€śmagazine in a boxâ€ť published between 1965 and 1971â€”though few have actually seen a copy. In addition to articles, Aspen included phonograph records and several issues came with Super-8â€™s. (For our younger readers, Super-8 was kind of an early Quicktime.) Well, the folks at Ubu have provided a tantalizing look at some of those Aspen pages. The images are not as large as a designer would ask for, and some of Ubuâ€™s attempts at recreating the magazine as Web pages fall flat, but they do provide mp3s and streaming video for all of the publicationâ€™s multimedia content.
Read more here ...
I just returned from a sales trip on the West Coast. I am always looking for ways to keep fighting the wacky perception that print is dead, as is regularly reported in print media-Doh! One of the problems was typified by a large client who said he wants to measure the success of a marketing effort on the very next day, and since you could not do that with print, he was only using online media.
Now there are many things one can respond to here, but I want to focus on the metrics. It is very difficult to measure the results of a print ad campaign in a trade publication on a daily basis. It's not how they work. You don't measure the speed of a glacier moving in miles per hour. You measure glaciers in inches per year. Similarly, you have to measure print campaign benefits in longer-term metrics like "increase in awareness over six months, change in brand perception or brand preference" over a longer period of time.
If you are not offering the kind of research that measures these kinds of metrics right now, you need to be. Print cannot be measured with clicks but it doesn't produce that type of impulsive result. That doesn't mean that what we do produce-awareness, brand preference and sales-cannot be measured. They can be, quite easily with pre-and post-campaign studies. There are many quick-and-dirty online research sites out there (www.surveymonkey.com is one) where you can do a study for less than $20.
You should also be using Harvey, Readex or Starch to independently measure the perception of an advertiser's creative as well as the creative of every other advertiser in the issue. This sort of research- common in print for years-is very rare in the online world. When I mention the breadth and depth of these studies to the new online buyers they are amazed.
Don't give in to demands for online metrics that don't make sense for print. There are ways to measure print's effectiveness. Educate your customers and use them.
A tip of the knit hat to my pals at Boston magazine, who did the right thing when the Boston Bruins tried to buy a little love:
"Thatâ€™s when Wendy Watkins, a marketing executive from Delaware Northâ€”the company that oversees the Bruins and all of the various other Jacobs family business concernsâ€”called one of the magazineâ€™s sales reps to ask whether or not the story about Jacobs was going to be â€śpositive.â€ť
If so, Watkins said, the Bruins might be interested in buying a series of ads. If not, however, the deal would be unlikely."
The magazine turned down the deal.
Compare and contrast, if you will, to this shameful episode.
Beliefnet editor Steve Waldman, whose spiritual Ellie-award winning site just got sold to News Corp., posted a note and YouTube message to his faithful readers this morning:"We've been getting interest from would-be acquirers for a few years. We were in no rush to sell but I've always believed that Beliefnet would fully blossom with the help of a major media partner. In assessing acquirers, what did we look for? Though we wanted to obtain a fair price, as big a factor in our deliberations was whether, by selling, we could better meet our mission. We created Beliefnet primarily to make a difference, not a killing. As I explored the possibilities with News Corp., it became clear that, with their help, Beliefnet would be able to take quantum leap in what we can do. The best spiritual and religious teachers â€“ from Rick Warren to the Dalai Lama -- pass through News Corp doors (through Harper Collins, Zondervan, Harper One and others). News Corp's reach is enormous. Its proficiency in the areas of video, social networking and media in general is unsurpassed."More of Waldman's memo here ...
Read the Beliefnet press release here ...
Over at Media Life, Rachel, the chatty career advice columnist, gives her best advice for migrating to new media to those "Stuck in Traditional Media."
It seems that for people on the selling side, migrating to new media is less stressful. No need to change jobs as for we sellers the media comes to us! Most often it is just handed to us to be integrated into our product mix.
But when you read Rachel's column it is clear that some view interactive media buying as a fundamentally different skill set from buying traditional media:
"'Some interactive agencies will value your 10 years of (traditional) media experience and will consider you for an online media supervisor position,' says Marlene Kruelle, associate online media planner for Atlantaâ€™s Definition 6.
But then again, maybe not.
'Other interactive agencies will see that you have no online media experience and will tell you to look for an online media planner position,' says Kruelle."
If many view interactive media buying as a fundamentally different skill set, should we sellers view the sales side the same?
Both Yahoo and Google have released their answers to magazine editors' fun-yet-ultimately-meaningless year-end lists: the Top 10 Search Terms of 2007. And, in what qualifies as a non-shocker, no magazine-specific terms apply. (Although celebrity magazine publishers are no doubt thrilled to learn that "TMZ" was the #3 most Googled of 2007, ahead of YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.)The lists:
1. Britney Spears2. WWE3. Paris Hilton4. Naruto5. Beyonce6. Lindsay Lohan7. Rune Scape8. Fantasy Football9. Fergie10. Jessica Alba
1. iphone2. webkinz3. tmz4. transformers5. youtube6. club penguin7. myspace8. heroes9. facebook10. anna nicole smith
I looked at NYTimes.com briefly this morning before leaving for work. Nothing interesting. Some bishops. Then I got to the Cold Spring Harbor Deli and glanced at the physical print edition of the Times and was surprised to see the headlines on Iranâ€™s nuclear program screaming out at me. READ ME, it said. This is IMPORTANT!
And I did read it. And it was important. If I only read the Times online, it would have just flown right by. Print is really good at providing context. The Internet is not.If you are selling print, you need to pay attention to these examples as they come up and use them to hammer home the unique benefits of print.Iâ€™m not against onlineâ€“we sell tons of online products. I just feel the jump to online marketing has gone overboard and there are few voices reminding us why and how print still works.
We've all gotten used to the idea of the e-mail interview, the interview via instant messenger (the "IMterview"), even cover story interview conducted via Blackberry (see: Lindsay Lohan, GQ et al). But what about using the Blackberry logs to back up investigative reporting? Definitely never thought I'd type this sentence, but here goes: It appears as though In Touch magazine has become the first major magazine to reprint photo evidence of a Blackberry text message exchange to back up claims in a reported story-specifically, that Britney Spears is pregnant:
Contrary to the statement J.R. Rotem released on November 28, In Touch has documented proof that on Monday, November 26, the music producer did indeed confirm in these text messages that Britney is pregnant and that he is the father. When asked about rumors about Britney's pregnancy and whether he is the father, J.R. texted, "It's true." And when questioned about Britney's intentions regarding her unborn baby, he responded, "No clue on what she will do. She is unpredictable."
Ahh, the intersection of technology and celebrity journalism.
More here ...
You don't often see the admittedly arcane subjects of postal rates and magazine circulation strategies debated in the mainstream media, but the U.S. Postal Service's recent rate hikes are back in the spotlight.
Here's pundit Eric Alterman:
"Back in March, the Commission voted to approve a plan pushed by a coterie of major magazine publishers that will likely increase mailing costs for small periodicals everywhere by as much as 30 percentâ€”a crushing burden for many small, editorial operations. Big magazines like Time and Vogue, however, may actually see their rates decrease, owing to the new bulk rates."
Here at 5280, we mail about 40,000 subscriber copies each month but have only seen a modest boost in our postage costs. Because so many of our copies go to a relatively few local zip codes, we can qualify for many of the sorting discounts enjoyed by the big boys. But I'm guessing it's a different story for regionals that serve a larger area, or national pubs that serve a niche audience. Alterman continues:
About 5,700 small-circulation publications will incur the large rate increases. In many cases, the increase might put the final nail in their proverbial coffins. True, The Nation can absorb its likely additional $500,000 in postal costs by firing staff and cutting back in other ways; ditto National Review and its $100,000 increase. But for many smaller, particularly minority publications, the postal rates are literally a matter of life or death. And the death of these publications is a death in the marketplace of ideas and a blow to the function of a healthy democracy.
More on the increases, as well as a way to make your voice heard on the issue, is available here and here.
This has been building up in me for a long time. All of this BS about publishers fearing the future, worried insanely about going out of business. They can't figure out what is happening and where their place in the future of information distribution is going to be. Damn it all, guys grow up. The future will take care of itself. It always has.
Ask the old parchment makers. Do you know that it took over three hundred sheepskins (parchment) to make one fair sized bible in the 1600s? You do the math. Publishers found a better way to distribute their information. It was called paper. They did it and they did well. Did the public love parchment? Most likely, but paper was better and cheaper. So, here we are and last week a major paper supplier stated that "the price of paper must double."
Does anyone else find it funny that in the very same week, Amazon launched Kindle, a WiFi connected e-paper device? It holds 200 books and weighs less than 10 ounces. How much will the publishers save by not using a printing, press, not using paper, not shipping those books anywhere but to the ether zone, ready for instant deployment anywhere on the planet?
This is just the beginning of a series of drastic and necessary changes in the publishing industry. The actual cost of paper, printing and distribution can and will only go up, the converse of a digital distribution where the costs can only go down. There will come a time soon when this is self-evident event to the most diehard of the tree hugging publishers. Ease of use and cost of manufacturing will determine the substrate of choice for the populous and the publisher.
Just for point of reference, what substrate are you reading this missive on?
"Destitute" may be a bit strong, but this little nugget from FOLIO:'s recap of a Fall MRI report came as a bit of a shock:
Surprisingly, readers of Esquire magazine-which distinguishes itself in its online media kit by touting "while other men's magazines are written for highly aspirational readers, Esquire is geared towards men who have arrived"-have the lowest median household income for adults ($53,783) among five of its top competitors. (To be fair, Esquire's readership has seen a marked increase in affluence since 2002, when it had a median income of $42,602). Men's Journal leads the pack with a median of $77,063, followed by Men's Health ($76,865), GQ ($68,746), Men's Fitness ($68,486) and Maxim ($65,614). Esquire's readers are also the oldest of the group, with a median age of 43.9 years. Maxim is on the low end, with a median age of 28.4 for adults.
What does it all mean? Do healthy men earn more? Do gentle men have less earning power?
Do Maxim readers really have more disposable income than Esquire readers?
Tuesday, December 09, 2014 -- Join this upcoming Folio: Webinar to discuss the survey findings, and to learn
how one publisher, Advanstar, streamlined their process to intensify the focus
on audience engagement strategies.