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Josh Gordon

Media Buyers and Sellers Agree: Stop the Buzz Words!

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 11/21/2007-09:53 AM

Earlier this year, MediaPost subscribers-which include media buyers and sellers-were surveyed by Dynamic Logic and asked if there were buzzwords they would like to have people stop using. About half (49.5%) said yes.

Top of their "stop using" list? "Web 2.0" and "engagement."

On a call, it's a good idea to check the buzzwords at the door. The problem with words like these, is they mean different things to different people, so using them often does not advance communication.

Download: PDF of the survey

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Josh Gordon

Why Didn’t Someone at Sports Illustrated Start ESPN?

Josh Gordon Consumer - 11/21/2007-09:49 AM

In the late '80s while managing the sales and marketing of CableVision magazine I saw magazine myopia at its worst. As I watched, first hand, the rapid growth of many new cable networks I wondered how the opportunities they represented had slipped by my publishing peers:

Why didn't someone at Sports Illustrated start ESPN?
Why didn't someone at Time or Newsweek start CNN?
Why didn't someone at Rolling Stone start MTV?
Why didn't someone at National Geographic start the Discovery Channel?

The list could go on...but I fear history could be repeating itself, this time with regional magazines.

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Josh Gordon

Magazines Drive Buying Intent ... More Than TV!

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 11/20/2007-16:06 PM


The Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) just released a U.K.-based study that tests advertising on different media for their ability to drive traffic to search engines. Of the all the media tested, television was the top driver beating out magazines by a nose.

But in the second part of the study magazines pulled off an upset. Of the people who were both driven to search AND made a purchase, magazines beat TV. While magazines may not generate the big bang that television does, it has greater influence for people driven to search who are purchase oriented.

Use it on a call. This study sets up a great story: Magazines may be second to television in driving traffic to search, but the nature of the audience magazines drive is different. Since a magazine ad can be revisited, marked up, and torn out and carried to a store it is a superior ad medium for driving search traffic that results in a sale.

Download: PowerPoint
Visit: PPA homepage

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Paul Conley

ASME’s Silence on Ethics: ‘Pathetic’

Paul Conley Editorial - 11/20/2007-15:48 PM

I'm in a good mood.

Just a day after I noted that Ziff Davis' PC Magazine had broken its word and once again violated industry ethics by using ads-within-edit, a reader of this blog sent me some good news.

American Business Media has changed the rules for its Neal Awards. Henceforth:

"Web sites submitted (for consideration for Best Web site) should not hyperlink editorial content to advertising or other paid material. (You can read all the rules in this PDF document.)

I'll take some credit for this change. Longtime readers of this blog will remember that I complained earlier this year when eWeek was nominated for a Neal Award even though the magazine's Web site violated ABM's ethics policy. Check out this earlier post in which ABM's Sara Sheadel responded and said the organization would likely change its rules.

Selling links inside editorial copy is wrong. It's offensive, misleading and disgusting. It belittles the work that thousands of B2B journalist do every day of their careers. It cheapens a Web site and damages the reputation of all of us in B2B publishing.

ASBPE has ruled on this issue. And now ABM has made its stance clear as well. ASME, however, remains silent.

And that is just pathetic.

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Mark Newman

How Regionals Differ From City Magazines

Mark Newman City and Regionals - 11/20/2007-14:54 PM


As editor-in-chief of a regional magazine-Southern Breeze-I get a lot of other regionals across my desk that I never knew existed. And while all magazines everywhere-with the exception of InStyle and most of the other ladies books-are fighting for ad dollars, our challenge seems wholly unique, even in the regional realm.

Southern Breeze delivers "the good life on the Gulf Coast" so we cover the tropical South along the Gulf of Mexico from Lake Charles, Louisiana to Apalachicola, Florida. Editorially, this is great because we have a large swath of the Southeast to feature in every issue. From an advertising standpoint there are significant challenges. What is a benefit for the writers-an entire region to cover-is a detriment for the ad salespeople. Why would a restaurant in Baton Rouge buy a full page ad when the magazine only covers a portion of its audience?

We also can't do a lot of the types of stories that city magazines do each year like the "Top 10 Doctors," "Top 10 Lawyers" et al because we're not exclusive to any one city. What is a boon to most city magazines would be ill-advised for us. Add to this conundrum the fact that we compete with other city publications and you'll find the print advertising dollar stretched very thin. There are only a few regional mags that have pulled this off successfully that I can think of, most notably Southern Living (duh), Midwest Living and Sunset.

As spectacular as these magazines are, none of them had their entire coverage area gutted by a spate of what we down here call "tropical occurrences." Hurricanes Katrina, Ivan and Rita gave us all a bit of a beating physically, financially, and emotionally. Sure our advertising dollars dwindled during that time, but we bounced back pretty quickly. We're not just the little regional magazine that could, we're the little regional magazine that does: ad dollars, competition, and Mother Nature notwithstanding.

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Ted Bahr

Maybe Branding Isn’t Dead

Ted Bahr Sales and Marketing - 11/20/2007-14:36 PM


In the wake of all the noise about everything going digital, everything being measurable on the Internet and demands for accountable ROI comes this story via the Wall Street Journal: "Starbucks Posts Decline in U.S. Store Traffic, Plans Ad Campaign."

An ad campaign. To increase awareness. How retro! They're going to use TV ads-you know, mass market, branding, all that. Sheesh, why aren't they grinding out interstitial EyeBlaster BrainBurst SoulSucker pop-up ads on all the kewl internet video sites?

Isn't that what everyone is supposed to do? Apparently not.

Maybe we're ready to move beyond the "Revenge of the Sock Puppet" phase of anti-branding. You remember the sock puppet mascot for pets.com? The lesson absorbed by VCs and CFOs everywhere in 2001 was, "Don't do anything even resembling branding, look what followed in the wake of the Super Bowl advertising for pets.com." Of course, it had nothing to do with their business model or the recession. Lots of targeted branding efforts were just thrown out with the bathwater. Branding somehow meant "Super Bowl ads." For years afterwards I met with marketers who said either the venture capitalists or their CFO said, "Yes you can spend millions of dollars, but don't you dare advertise for awareness or brand-building." I wonder if the marketers would ever turn around and say to the CFO, "you can run A/P and A/R but don't you dare use a spreadsheet!"

In this case, it appears as if Starbucks CEO Jim Donald is letting the marketers do what they were hired to do: marketing. As quoted in the Journal, Donald says Starbucks is getting into television advertising because "as we grow our stores, we're trying to reach out to this broader audience that maybe [has] not had a chance to experience Starbucks." I call that building awareness. The old-fashioned way.

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Henry Donahue

Dead Cats and Digital Media Panels

Henry Donahue emedia and Technology - 11/20/2007-14:05 PM

You can't swing the proverbial dead cat without hitting an industry panel discussion about the death of print, the transition to digital or some variation thereof. This has been true now for the better part of a decade. The panels just come with different titles:

1997: "Avoid Becoming Roadkill on the Information Superhighway"
2007: "The Magabrand Revolution”

Cycling through a number of failed strategies—homegrown portal sites, blockbuster acquisitions, digital editions—most publishers still have a hard time getting over the fact that branded, high-quality content doesn't seem to have the same value on-line as it does off-line.

Intuitively, established magazine brands should have an advantage over competitors they perceive as underwear-clad, basement-dwelling overachievers. Magazines have loyal audiences. Their content is professionally reported, edited and fact-checked. Longstanding brands connote a certain level of quality.

But it doesn't work that way. Perez Hilton competes on the same field as People, Drudge with Newsweek, TVNewser with Mediaweek, and on and on. On top of that, advertisers pay a significantly lower CPM online than they do for print, hurting magazine publishers in the tradeoff.

At the risk of getting sucked into the same repetitively lame dialogue I just mocked, this is what I want to blog about. As someone who started in the online world (LendingTree.com circa 1999) and then transitioned to magazine management, I hope to bring a perspective that cuts through a lot of the doomsaying and navel-gazing.

I'm going to highlight what works from the print, integrated or exclusively on-line perspectives. And if I plug my own magazine (Discover) and online product (http://discovermagazine.com) along the way, so be it. At least you don't have to sit through another integrated media panel discussion.

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Joanna Pettas

The New Yorker of Health Insurance Underwriter Magazines

Joanna Pettas Association and Non-Profit - 11/20/2007-11:29 AM

Baseball is the cover theme of HIU (Health Insurance Underwriter) magazine for no reason other than that October is a big month for the sport.

"There's no deep meaning behind the cover," says freelance illustrator Bruce MacPherson. "It may be the only light part of the whole thing."

Since MacPherson started working with HIU, which serves the National Association of Health Underwriters, the magazine's covers have had very little to do with its content. "I don't read it. I flip through it," he says. It's an intentionally light-hearted approach.

"The magazine is about health insurance," says managing editor Martin Carr. "Sometimes that just doesn't translate well into art. How many times can you see people sitting around a conference room on a cover?"

When we passed this cover along for commentary, we got mixed response. "I like seeing illustration on the cover. It adds personality to a topic," said Brian Taylor, design director for National Defense magazine. Donathan Salkaln, art director at Successful Meetings, said the illustration was wonderful.

But, aesthetics aside, the cover has issues. "The concept is out of left field, unless it's just trying to be self-promoting," said Salkaln.

The image of someone reading HIU while he or she is supposed to be working-in this case, the umpire-is an ongoing, inside joke. "Readers are distracted by their own magazine in the midst of other tasks. People appreciate that, for better or worse," says MacPherson.

MacPherson says readers are "in on" the concept, partly because it's an association mag. "It's a closed audience," he says. "There's kind of a ‘homey' feel."

Association or not, Taylor says, "There should be a connection. I find it misleading if the cover isn't representational of the editorial content inside."

Still, when your readers are members, not just subscribers or purchasers at newsstand, that might imply a sort of dedication that allows for a little more fun. It seems to work for HIU; Carr says readers are vocal about how much they like the new approach to covers since they started with it a few years ago.

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Jason Fell

Men’s Health, Taking Cues from Maxim?

Jason Fell Consumer - 11/19/2007-19:25 PM

There's nothing like a practically naked woman to grab a man's attention. That said, it struck as somewhat odd when we noticed this photo as part of the annual gift guide featured in the December issue of Men's Health, on newsstands Tuesday.

The editors used a number of photos from a shoot with Dania Ramirez-a star on the hit NBC television show "Heroes"-throughout the gift guide package. The best way, apparently, to display Fender's new VG Stratocaster guitar was to have Ramirez strip off her clothes and wear it.

"We love women and, of course, we're going to have photos of beautiful women on our pages," a Men's Health communications staffer told FOLIO:.

When asked if featuring a mostly nude woman was a sort of departure for the magazine, the staffer responded, "She wasn't completely nude. She was wearing a pair of heels."

What's your opinion?

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Joanna Pettas

Association Publishers Keeping Score

Joanna Pettas Association and Non-Profit - 11/19/2007-16:30 PM

At the SNAP conference today in Chicago, Richard Creighton, principal and co-founder of The Magazine Group, said that association publishers need to look to models "from the other side" in order to create a 360-degree platform to surround members with relevant, authoritative information in the same way that custom publishing surrounds customers.

Creighton suggested association publishers rate themselves in ten categories heavily drawn upon by successful custom publishers to communicate with their target audiences:

1. Print
2. Web site
3. E-newsletter
4. Blog
5. Podcast
6. TV/Video
7. Wikis
8. Mobile
9. Webinars
10. Multiple Languages

A 360-degree platform will widen the reach of an association publisher's content, which can help bring in new and retain existing members. If monetized, these channels can provide new revenue sources for the association and possibly help increase dues and donations as well as brand awareness. According to Creighton, many associations are already drawing on Webinars and podcasts, but less on more advanced technologies, as in the mobile arena.

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Bill Mickey

Brandscape Vs. Workscape

Bill Mickey Sales and Marketing - 11/17/2007-03:00 AM

Gordon Hughes and company at ABM fashioned their Top Management Meeting held this week out in Chicago around a concept Hughes coined as “Brandscape”: Leveraging a publisher’s brand (i.e., the magazine) across an ever expanding product platform.

Hughes noted that member companies are reporting relatively flat growth for their print brands in 2007, around 2 percent to 4 percent, while other products are growing at a much faster clip: digital at a 14 percent average, custom at 18 percent and events at about 6 percent. Events are expected to pull even next year with print, achieving revenue parity. So it goes without saying that there should be some consideration of how publishers are both leveraging their brand identity and consistently representing it across the platform.

But another theme emerged from the TMM program that also has to do with the repercussions of rapid diversification. And that’s how companies are handling day-to-day changes in their workforce to accommodate it – whether through hiring, retention, training or compensation. It’s an important topic, and one that will likely see much more coverage.

Earlier
-Observations From ABM Top Management

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Chandra  Johnson-Greene

Murdoch’s Plans to Make WSJ.com Free, Rival The Times

Chandra Johnson-Greene Audience Development - 11/14/2007-03:00 AM

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch announced this week that he intends to make access to The Wall Street Journal's Web site free-a move he believes will attract "large numbers" of big-spending advertisers.

"We expect to make that free, and instead of having one million [subscribers], having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth," Murdoch said.

News Corp. has signed an agreement to acquire Dow Jones & Co., and the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. A special shareholders meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13 in New York.

WSJ.com currently has about one million subscribers and generates about $50 million in annual user fees.

This move could be seen as the first step in setting up The Wall Street Journal as a direct rival to The New York Times, which is a major goal of Murdoch's, according to observers.

"Murdoch will do anything to take market share away from the Times. He has gotten farther than anybody else and can afford to undercut anybody else," Martin Dunn, deputy publisher of the Daily News, told Crain's New York Business back in August. "Anyone who thinks he will play by Marquess of Queensbury rules is living in a cloud-cuckoo-land."

The New York Times also opened up access to portions of its Web site. In September, the Times announced that it would stop charging its readers for access to its online subscription program TimesSelect as well as the majority of its archives.

Other weapons that could be used by the Journal to compete with the Times could include steep reductions in ad rates and direct targeting of the Times' current advertisers.

Murdoch also outlined plans to compete last month at the annual Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco that included increasing the WSJ's national and international coverage, as well as coverage of cultural issues in order to get advertisers from venues such as movie studios.

According to the Guardian Unlimited, when asked whether Murdoch was aiming to kill the Times, he replied, "That would be nice."

For more on the viability of online newspapers like the Times and WSJ, click here.

-- Chandra Johnson-Greene 

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