[Editor's Note: This post is reprinted with permission, originally appearing on World Hum, a site dedicated to travel storytelling.]Back before there were travel blogs, there were travel magazines. In a nutshell, these were blogs made out of paper that came in the mail each month, glossy pages covered in ads that didnâ€™t pop up, but instead just kind of sat there, hoping impotently that youâ€™d look at them. A few of the most stalwart are still in circulation, of course, piling up in doctorâ€™s offices and the foyers of small-town libraries, and those travel mags that remain can be sorted into two basic categories.Magazines in the first category feature a woman on the cover who enjoys traveling the world in her bathing suit. These publications are intensely focused on the present moment, forever proclaiming â€śWhere to Eat in Shanghai Now,â€ť â€śWhere to Sleep in Toronto Now,â€ť and â€śWhere to Buy Something to Cover Up That Bathing Suit Now.â€ť Itâ€™s no use consulting such magazines about where to eat or sleep later on. They will not be able to tell you.In the second category are publications concerned not with vacations but with travel as a transcendental bridge between cultures. These mags are different from their cousins in that they privilege â€śauthenticityâ€ť above style and are conscious of the serious social and environmental issues facing our planet. Also, they are probably going to fail.One such magazine was the adventure-travel journal Wend, which quietly expired almost a year ago, but has yet to receive a proper eulogy. Founded in 2006 and independently published in Portland, Oregon, Wend was a not-altogether-intuitive combination of formats both old and new. Like a magazine, it was printed on paper. Really nice paper, in fact, made from locally sourced and sustainably harvested trees, covered in biodegradable soy ink. Like a blog, however, Wend welcomed contributors who werenâ€™t necessarily professional writers or photographers. â€śReal peopleâ€ť were at the heart of each issue, explained the magazineâ€™s media kit, â€śwriting real stories about real adventures and real environmental issues.â€ťAnd at the outset, Wend got off to a real good start. Founder Ian Marshall was a former ad and marketing guru for the short-lived, but much-beloved Blue, another indie adventure-travel mag that ran for 33 issues around the turn of the aughts. Marshall and his skeleton staff at Wend put out a handsome, photo-heavy quarterly with an emphasis on â€śhuman-powered adventure.â€ť Early features followed climbing expeditions in China, river-surfers in Namibia, and adventure-racers in Patagonia. A few key motifs resurfaced throughout every issue: the sacredness of various landscapes, the willful abandonment of carbon-fueled transport, the search for enlightenment abroad. Wend covered transformative, long-distance bike rides like People covers Kardashian weddingsâ€”freewheeling rides across Bhutan, Australia, Mexico, Iran. Often as not, the central feat of any given story was performed under the banner of â€śawareness-raising.â€ť Kayakers circled Newfoundland to raise awareness of oil slicks in the Atlantic; hikers traipsed the globe to call attention to HIV in Africa.Profiles were rare to non-existent, and service-writing (like destination round-ups or â€śBest Ofâ€ť lists) had no business in the feature well. The quintessential Wend story was, above all, first-person diaristicâ€”light on reportage and heavy on personal reflection.Whether despite or because of this idiosyncratic formula, Wend quickly acquired a small, passionate audience. The magazineâ€™s revenues doubled annually in its first three years. By 2009, it was available on newsstands and checkout racks at every REI, Whole Foods, and Eastern Mountain Sports across the country, not to mention the usual slate of chain and indie bookstores. In early 2010, its print circulation topped out at a respectable 135,000 readers per issue. To hear Marshall tell it, though, this is where things plateaued.
Circulation and ad dollars faltered over the next two years while the magazineâ€™s costs kept rising. In 2011, Wend became a magazine without an office, its dwindling staff camped out in various Portland coffee shops. That yearâ€™s summer issue didnâ€™t hit newsstands until October. Then, last January, Wend put out one last issue, updated its website for another few months, and finally went dark, leaving contributors unpaid and subscribers uninformed as to the magâ€™s fate. (The website, scrubbed of any mention of the magazine, re-launched in December as a newsy blog to very little fanfare.)Full disclosure: I wrote for Wend on two occasions and was paid for my work each time. Whatâ€™s more, I liked the magazine. I liked that the food column had nothing to do with restaurants and didnâ€™t shy from gastronomic taboos like Amazonian tree grubs or stewed dog in China. I liked the clever, Harperâ€™s-esque â€śWendexâ€ť on the opening pages, which managed to drop some startling eco-stats in a format that was piquant rather than preachy. I even liked the relentlessly contemplative nature of the feature stories. Every issue was like Chicken Soup for the Gnarly Eco-Nomadâ€™s Soul. Sure, the broth was a bit thick with profound personal revelations, but with other publications dishing out only a thin gruel of glorified itineraries, the earnest reverence of Wendâ€™s authors for their surroundings was genuinely comforting.Still, I canâ€™t help wondering what the demise of Wend says about the conscious-activist-adventurer niche to which the magazine tried to lay claim. Wend had a conflicted relationship with the more mainstream, consumer-oriented aspects of travel and the outdoors. Its average feature story tended to fall on a spectrum somewhere between commendably self-reflective and irritatingly navel-gazing, as the authors both reported on their far-flung exploits and wrung their hands over the same exploitsâ€™ impacts on the environment. A world-class heli-skier bombs an Alaskan peak while contemplating the petrol-powered vehicles that enable her lifestyle. Slackliners in Scotland bolt a new route on a locally beloved spire, then brood over whether their actions constitute vandalism. The conventional goal of a travel or adventure publication is to inspire its readers to get up and go (and thereby spend). As the tagline of yet another defunct glossy, National Geographic Adventure, once urged, â€śDream it. Plan it. Do it.â€ť Wendâ€™s message, by contrast, seemed something along the lines of, â€śPlan it minimally. Do it without fossil fuels. Think very, very hard about what it meant.â€ť Is there a whole magazineâ€™s worth of audience out there for this kind of moral cud-chewing? Do armchair travelers really want to ponder the consequences of their actions, or are they simply wondering Where to Kayak in Ecuador Now?For that matter, are the possibilities for â€śhuman-poweredâ€ť adventure sufficiently inexhaustible as to keep the soy ink flowing, issue after issue? Iâ€™m the first to speak up for the limitless horizons of travel, but from a readerâ€™s perspective, might not all those epic bike rides blend together after a time? Wendâ€™s talented former editor Kyle Cassidy says that while he sometimes turned down a pitch on the basis of its carbon footprint, the magazine never wanted for content.
All the same, the occasional Wend story was edited to downplay the necessity of motorized transport. Mentions of car travel, for example, were cut when possible, and in one of my own pieces, a gas-powered motor launch became a more ambiguous â€śboat.â€ť Thatâ€™s a legit editorial call, of course, but it also suggests that every so often, the pursuit of a good yarn required expanding the boundaries of the mission statement. The frontiers of travel and adventure, moreover, can seem decidedly non-human-poweredâ€”consider Virgin Galacticâ€™s space tourism, micro-submarines in the Mariana Trench, or Austrian guys jumping out of high-tech capsules in the stratosphere. Might devotion to eco-principle so narrow the scope of acceptable content that it alienates potential readers?Not in Wendâ€™s case, insists the magazineâ€™s founder. In Marshallâ€™s view, ironically, it was actually the broadness of Wendâ€™s vision that did the magazine in. According to him, much of Wendâ€™s later inability to attract new advertisers stemmed from companiesâ€™ decisions to concentrate their limited ad budgets on vertical campaigns. In marketing-speak, a â€śverticalâ€ť ad campaign is the sort that focuses only on a targeted niche of consumers. So Trek advertises in a bike magazine, even though the New Yorkerâ€™s readers also ride bikes, and Cuisinart buys a banner on a foodie blog, even though Gawkerâ€™s readers also eat food. Wendâ€™s ads were heavy on outdoor clothing, footwear, and beer, but bigger-fish clients like ski brands and kayak manufacturers were harder to land. Snowboarding and whitewater paddling are exploitable vertical niches. Simply wandering the world in a way that minimizes oneâ€™s ecological footprint is not.Itâ€™s a conundrum thatâ€™s bigger than just Wend. In an era of specialization, travel media appeals, by its nature, to an audience of passionate generalists. The world may not have been ready for an eco-conscious, obstinately self-aware adventure magazine, but Wend wonâ€™t be the last ambitious venue for travel writing that struggles to find a foothold in a fractured media landscape. The arc that Wend followed is likely to keep playing itself outâ€”in print, on monitors, and on tablet screensâ€”until some publication or another discovers the magic formula: How to make a sustainable venture out of sustainable adventure.
Bureaus, correspondents, freelancers--journalists and media-types have always worked remotely. Reporting on location is glamorized, exotic datelines accentuated. More than the flash that comes with it, remote work is a necessary part of journalism.
That's part of the reason Yahoo'sÂ pronouncementÂ that it would end work-from-home arrangements drew skepticism from the journalism community in particular this week. While on-site reporting and working from home are different, the lines can blur when it comes to journalism.
Take Quartz, The Atlantic's new global business site. Editor-in-chief Kevin Delaney has 12 editorial staffers working from the group's home office in New York, but his team extends to Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Los Angeles, London, Paris, South Africa, Indonesia, India, Thailand andÂ soon, Hong Kong. Many of those reporters operate out of home offices.
"It's a great advantage," he says. "We're able to be a global, 24/7 news organization serving an international readership."
Technology--instant messaging, Google Hangouts and shared documents are among theÂ solutionsÂ Delaney has implemented--has allowed Quartz's staff to stay connected in spite of the disparate locales and time zones.
Yahoo is one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world though. They can figure out IMing. It's the loss of intra-office relationships that's their main concern, according to the company's internal notice leaked last Friday.
"Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings," the memo reads. "Being a Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."
Delaney admits the value of those "interactions and experiences" but believes they happen online, if slightly differently.
"There is a shared buzz around the office when you meet at the coffee machine," he says. "A lot of it carries over to IM though, particularly since we have a group chat that's exposed to everybody. There's something that could potentially concern just two people, but then winds up spilling out into the group chat and other people weigh in on it and follow up. The benefits of having a geographic spread and of having those serendipitous interactions where they live is a huge advantage and far outweighs the individual collisions in a single workplace."
Considering the nature of the job--highly digital and web-focused--and the institutional memory of remote work in journalism, media members might simply be better suited for the task than others.
Like Delaney, Macy Fecto, executive vice president of human resources and administration for business media publisher Access Intelligence, the parent company of Folio:, says that working from home is a plausible solution for journalists in today's business environment.
"Today's media lends itself [to remote work] better than ever," she says. "Because we work in a medium that is so digital, we're all used to that. Media has a slight edge over other industries, having people who can make the most of the various tools available that allow you to work from home and allow you to do so successfully."
Michael Rondon is an associate editor for FOLIO: Magazine. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ and follow him on Twitter @Mike_Rondon.
Social media is a direct extension of your editorial voice and brand. For many, your publication doesnâ€™t exist outside of the social worldâ€”until they find you in it. For instance, I was introduced to the Pulitzer Prize-winning site Pro Publica via Tumblr. Their â€śOfficials Say the Darnest Thingsâ€ť Tumblog is focused and funny. Now Iâ€™m hooked.
Think of social as the front porch to your brand: It should have curb appeal and be inviting.
While itâ€™s important to stay active within the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest), there are untapped audiences for content publishers in the social universe. Consider activating one of these â€śnewâ€ť social media communities as you build your online strategy.
Some of these may not be for all of you, but the idea here is to think of unique avenues for growing your audience.Â
Google+The value in Google+ is its SEO benefits. The Google +1 button (think of it as a Facebook â€ślikeâ€ť that wonâ€™t share directly in your social stream) can lead to a better page rank.Â When people +1 a Google+ post or +1 a piece of content from your website, it increases the link's potential for a high CTR, which leads to more social shares and amps up your search rank.
The bottom line: Start a Google+ profile for your publication so that it works in tandem with your traditional SEO strategies such as link building, relevant keywords, and URL structure, all of which have a more direct impact on search.Â
Your To-Do List:
FoodilyThe beauty of Foodily, a food with friends social network where you can find and share recipes across the Web, is that itâ€™s focused and niche. Itâ€™s a forum for food enthusiasts, registered dieticians, chefs, party planners and restaurateurs to have conversations about cuisine.
Food isnâ€™t a main focus of your editorial strategy? Consider starting a profile anyway. For instance, if youâ€™re a ski magazine, your compilations could focus on comfort food, aprĂ¨s ski bites and Hot Toddyâ€™s for the cabin. If youâ€™re an automotive publication, think of top meals for tailgating.
As an official Tastemaker, SELF updates its recipe lists regularly and hosts focused discussions with our food editors and contributing experts. And like Pinterest, all recipes link back to the original source, so referral traffic is an ROI.
The bottom line: Join Foodily to have a presence in an emerging social community and introduce your publication to a new audience in an unexpected but on-brand way.
InstagramThe photo darling of the social media set, Instagram is a great vehicle for visual storytelling. It allows mastheads to come to life, and the app puts a face on the wizards behind the curtain: your editors. There are contests and hashtag campaigns that publishers can execute, but for those just starting out, keep it simple. Thatâ€™s what readers want.Â
The bottom line: Mobile is arguably the number-one social trend of 2013. Itâ€™s a vital way to extend your brand. A must-do.Your To-Do List:
What new communities are you excited about? Respond below in the comments section or Tweet me @StephaniePaige.Â
The New York Timesâ€™ style magazine, T, was reintroduced to readers this Sunday with a new look and feel. It has been redesigned, and its newly tapped editor from The Wall Street Journal, Deborah Needleman, has already gotten some feedback from readers, though not in a good way.
Several readers contacted the Times saying they were disappointed at the lack of diversity among the pages of the new magazine. The publication itself conceded this fact:
â€ś(M)any readers found one aspect of the magazine disturbing â€“ its lack of people of color. Indeed, there could be no argument; it was overwhelmingly white,â€ť wrote the Timesâ€™ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, in a post online. One reader commented that she in fact saw â€śonly one African-American and one Asian-American among the thousands of models in the ads.â€ť She added, â€śT doesnâ€™t look like my neighborhood or America.â€ť
Is this really a surprise? No. Especially considering what the fashion landscape looks like: According to Jezebel, the models included at shows during the Fall 13â€™ fashion week events are getting whiter, making up about 82.7 percent of all models. Asian models were the second most represented group with 9.1 percent, black models at 6 percent and Latina models with a mere 2 percent.
Fashion and magazines clearly intersect in a variety of waysâ€”fashion pubs not only cover all the happenings at fashion week, but also include the designerâ€™s clothes, and models, in their advertisements. A lack of diversity in represented ethnic and racial backgrounds could eventually hurt publishers in a serious way.
Publishers are struggling at the newsstand, as the latest numbers from the Alliance of Audited Media shows. By having the majority of photo subjects in the pages of a magazine be Caucasian, the magazine industry, and specifically womenâ€™s magazines, are already hurting their soon to be newly defined base.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the non-Hispanic white population is projected to peak in 2024, at 199.6 million, up from 197.8 million in 2012. Unlike other race or ethnic groups, however, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.
The Census Bureau says the Hispanic population will more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. Consequently, by the end of the period, nearly one in three U.S. residents will be Hispanic, up from about one in six today.
The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period. Its share of the total population will rise slightly, from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2060.
The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, with its share of the nation's total population climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period.
Itâ€™s not 2060 yet, but demographics online have already changed. Last week, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report that shows non-whites are more active in social mediaâ€”68 percent of blacks use social media, 72 percent of Hispanics and 65 percent of whites. When getting more specific, 26 percent of blacks use Twitter, 19 percent of Hispanics and 14 percent of whites. Minorities also use Instagram more, with 23 percent of blacks using the platform, 18 percent of Hispanics and just 11 percent of whites.
While many Hispanic publications saw drops at the newsstands (like their non-Hispanic counterparts), just as many saw double-digit subscription growth: Meredithâ€™s Siempre Mujer magazine increased its paid subscriptions by 11.9 percent, Cosmopolitan En EspaĂ±ol increased its paid subscriptions by 99.9 percent, Poder Hispanic posted a 36.5 percent gain in paid subscriptions and Vanidades saw a 28.4 percent jump in the number of paid subscriptions, and newsstand sales increased by 18.6 percent.
If magazine-media is supposed to be one of the most cutting edge and dynamic industries, why is there a serious lag in even playing to a changing audience? My advice to T and to you would be to learn your new audience, and learn it quick. Â
T. J. Raphael is the Associate Editor of FOLIO: Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael.
For the last five years publishers have been digging ever deeper in the newsstand coal mine, seemingly blind to the dangers that lie below. The canary hasnâ€™t croaked, but itâ€™s clearly breathing harder.
Publishers, naively waiting for good news from the top of the mineshaft, keep bemoaning the reasons for this calamitous bit of bad sales luck.
The recent newsstand sales figures for the second half of last year from AAM were indeed grim. It has been reported that the decline in unit sales was 8.2 percent from the year previous. But a more measured review, one that includes the sales of titles that reported sales a year ago but are no longer being published, shows that performance was measurably worse.
See Also: AAM: Newsstand a Drag On Circ as Digital Rises It reveals that unit sales were down 9.3 percent and revenue off 8.2 percent. But even these numbers donâ€™t fully demonstrate the level of performance.
Because of a reporting date anomaly nearly all the weekly frequency publications reported sales for 27 issues. However, they are being compared to 26 issues from the previous period. If the extra issue for the top 11 weekly publications is excluded from the calculations the unit sales decline would have been 10.2 percent. This, perhaps, represents a truer picture of newsstand sales performance in the second half of last year.
Well, as they say, stuff happens. If that were only the case an isolated ten percent decline wouldnâ€™t be so worrisome. But letâ€™s not forget this performance closely mirrors what has been happening on the newsstand for the last five years:
Unit Sales: Down 44.9 percent, 11.2 percent annuallyRevenue: Down 38.0 percent, 9.1 percent annuallyTotal Paid Circ: Down 14.9 percent from 277.6 to 236.1 million Single Copy Circ: Down 44.7 percent from 48.8 million to 27.0 million Single Copy Circ as a Percent of Total Circ: Down from 17.7 to 11.8 percent
Has it ever been clearer that the newsstand canary is in extreme danger of croaking?
Whatâ€™s my point in stretching this analogy? I believe publishers, to some great extent, remain in denial concerning the depth and seriousness of this precipitous decline. Letâ€™s be realistic here. In the last five years there has been a sea change in technology and how people consume media. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman indicated, in speaking about all businesses, 9/11 and the Great Recession have disguised the effect of these changes.
The business of magazine publishing is being seriously altered. Management emphasis has shifted to cope with the changes of an increasingly digital world. One manifestation of these changes is the rapid ascendency of replica circ. Its use nearly tripled in the last yearâ€”from 2.8 million circ to about 7.6 million circ, an increase of about 4.8 million. This increase, interestingly enough, compares pretty closely to the 3.6 million decrease in newsstand circ for the same period. Itâ€™s now a good bet that replica circ is cannibalizing newsstand sales.
Nothing can be done to halt the advance of these technological and consumer involvement changes to the magazine business. But what publishers can do, if they really want to preserve the newsstand channel, is to concentrate their efforts on cooperatively working with its wholesaling and retailing partners to fix the inherent inefficiencies of channel operations.
But time is of the essence. The canaryâ€™s breath is running short.
Baird Davis is a senior consultant with Circulation Specialists.
Bonnier's Popular Science is taking the venerable sell sheet one step further by including a video of the magazine's editor-in-chief Jacob Ward describing the upcoming issue's content highlights, marrying that with the magazine's pertinent demos. The sales team uses the video as an email enticement or brings it on a live sales call to add a dash of editorial celebrity when Ward himself can't come along. The idea came to Michael Gallic, associate publisher, marketing, the technology group, as Ward was taping his customary video introduction for the magazine's tablet version. Why not just ask Ward to hang around for another five or ten minutes to create a 90-second highlight reel of the upcoming issue? The first video sell sheet was created at the end of last year for the January/February issue. "We're always looking for new ways to help the reps to get to the advertisers," says Gallic. "The standard way is the issue sell sheetâ€”a PDF which gives an overview and relevant statistics, but in the video you're hearing about the content live from the editor and you can see the stats pop up. He's an engaging, personable guy who brings the editorial to life. Who better to hear what the issue is about than the editor himself?"While they may not actually win the sale, anecdotally Gallic says the videos have been useful hooks to get the brand noticed. "The face-to-face calls are more difficult to get, but these video sell sheets are not only helping getting the call but getting the call back."The team uses Adobe's After Effects to edit the videos, and Gallic adds that, with a slightly different content spin, they're morphing into a useful consumer marketing tool as wellâ€”particularly as a newsstand driver. "We'll run them on the website to drive people to newsstand. They're taking on a life of their own," he says.
Here's a video of Ward highlighting the upcoming May issue:
The nomination period for the FOLIO: 100 is now officially open! Yes, you read that rightâ€”we're expanding the magazine industry's best-known and most prestigious list of innovators, entrepreneurial thinkers and disrupters from 40 to 100. The more the merrier.Starting now you can help shape the list by nominating a colleagueâ€”either at your company or at another oneâ€”that has made a meaningful, quantifiable impact on a specific product, group, company or even the market at large."Quantifiable impact" is the key phraseâ€”this isn't a popularity contest, anyone from inside the org chart can make this list, just be ready to back up your nomination with some solid supporting info, which you can do here. Remember, not every FOLIO: 100 list-maker is a top executiveâ€”innovation and constructive change often comes from the front lines and the trenches, let's be sure those folks get their due, tooâ€”from editors to publishers to sales, audience development, design, production and digital. All across consumer, b-to-b, regional, enthusiast and association publishingâ€”big and small. And now with the expanded list, we can include an even more diverse range of deserving go-getters.Click here to fill out our easy nomination form. Nominations are due by March 4. Here's last year's FOLIO: 40 to get you inspired. We'll announce the 2013 FOLIO: 100 in April. Submit your nominations now and good luck!
Online publishers of all stripes have invested heavily in search to drive reader acquisition. With a market size approaching $3B in 2013, the SEO industry has thrived on the data feedback loops created by analyzing the keywords that users enter into search engines before arriving at their sites or competitive sites. Yet despite continued growth in user search activity and increasingly sophisticated keyword analysis tools, 2013 is shaping up to be the first year that social media eclipses search as the leading source of referral traffic to publishers. How could this be?Two parallel trends are driving this sea change. The first is Googleâ€™s recent shift to encrypt search keywords for a significant segment of search referrals. This moveâ€”followed by corresponding browser updates in 2012 by Firefox, Safari on iOS, and now Chrome to use Google SSL search by defaultâ€”means that up to 39 percent of keyword data has vanished from publisher analytics systems. Less keyword data means fewer content insights, and fewer content insights means lower ROI from SEO. As publishers recognize lower yields from their search strategies, many will moderate their investment in this channel leading to reductions in search referral traffic.The second trend is the torrid growth of user-powered content sharing on Facebook and Twitter that has turned a trickle of social media traffic to publisher sites into a flood. Itâ€™s worth noting that social traffic is not a new phenomenonâ€”consumers have been sharing web content and URLs with friends and colleagues via email since the first Mosaic browser was released in 1993. What has changed is the way that social media sites structure and amplify a personâ€™s network connections. The New Yorker article URL that was emailed to 10 friends back in 2005 would today be posted to 500 friends on Facebook and 1,000 Twitter followers. And as the Likes, Shares, and Retweets pile up, the reach and traffic impacts get magnified. For example, The Atlantic recently reported statistics that measured social sources as 18 percent of total referral traffic across a basket of premium publisher sites. Search represented 22 percent of referral traffic. For an increasing number of publications, including The Atlantic, social traffic already far exceeds search in importance. As the quantity of search keyword data continues to declineâ€”and as the quality of social analytics continues to improveâ€”itâ€™s not hard to imagine a tipping point occurring in 2013 where much of the time and resources currently spent against SEO will transition over to optimizing social channels.A major wildcard impacting the relative importance of social traffic versus search is the steady growth in mobile content consumption. Specifically: Will mobile devices expand the overall amount of sharing and search behavior, or simply cannibalize existing desktop behavior? comScoreâ€™s November 2012 Search Query Report showed volumes declining by over 6 percent versus October 2011 on desktops. While growth in mobile search volumes offset those declines, the trend is clear: Consumers are substituting desktop queries with mobile queries. On the other hand, social network usage on mobile devices continues to explode, even as desktop-based usage also increases.Â According to a recent study by Nielsen, time spent on social media increased by 68 percent YOY on mobile devices versus a 24 percent increase on desktops.What can publishers do to tap into this trend? With social media on track to surpass search, 2013 is shaping up as a pivotal year when social networks leapfrog search algorithms as a more important source of user traffic. Publishers have an opportunity to gain insight into what content is being shared the most, as well as what types of articles drive the most referral traffic, in order to continue to grow their readership and engagement levels.
Days before last weekâ€™s debut of The New Republicâ€™s redesign, its new cover was posted and circulating around the web. The buzz was on, and people were tweeting and commenting on it before the magazine itself was even available for viewing. Today, every editor and art director thinks about creating a magazine cover that can go viral, that will work at multiple sizes on a wide variety of displays and platforms and create hype. Along with this, websites like Coverjunkie, NASCAPAS, and others are now providing a visual forum for magazine covers from all over the world to be displayed and distributed.The Coverjunkie site just celebrated its second anniversary. It was launched in late 2010, the brainchild of Dutch art director Jaap Biemans [pictured below], who has done cover designs for the weekly Intermediair and the glossy, Vanity Fair-like Hollands Diep, before moving over to art direct Volkskrant Magazine, the weekly magazine supplement of a large Dutch newspaper (itâ€™s basically The New York Times Magazine of the Netherlands). Biemans recognized early on that for many publications, the days of covers getting â€śheatâ€ť on the newsstand were a thing of the past. To date heâ€™s posted over 11,500 covers, and Coverjunkie has become a daily must-destination for magazine art directors around the world.Biemans interned at a design firm in NYC in the late 90s, and that New York experience has informed his design and editorial sensibilities. And while Coverjunkie has a definite global reach, he has a big soft spot for very American style-magazine cover design, as well as for the funky, gonzo-style designs of altweekly newspapers like The Village Voice.What sets Coverjunkie apart from other cover sites is both the quantity of posts, and the fact that itâ€™s well-organized and highly searchable. Biemans collects covers by publication, theme (9/11, split-run, premier issues), and art director, and he also publishes complete credit information, a rarity. His tastes are very egalitarian; thereâ€™s a healthy mix of consumer, mass market, enthusiast, trade, city and regional, and altweekly covers, with selections from Italy, England, Germany, Russian, and of course, The Netherlands. He also has a strong social media presence on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, which helps spread the Coverjunkie cover selects fast and far.Coverjunkie is a one-person labor of love for Biemans, but itâ€™s a project that is helping to redefine the essence of how magazines design and promote their covers. In a recent interview, Biemans gave the lowdown on how he puts the site together, and what makes a good Coverjunkie cover.Why did you start Coverjunkie?Biemans: I wanted to celebrate creativity in magazine design, to spread the love for ace cover design. And it was also a response to the â€śprint is deadâ€ť statement, which I think is a lot of rubbish! I think a cover is more than just about selling itself, itâ€™s also a reflection of our visual culture. On Coverjunkie you can see this reflection from all around the world, as well as from different decades.â€¨â€¨How do you find the covers you post?â€¨â€¨Biemans: I browse the good old newsstand and look online and on Twitter. Right now I get 10-15 covers a day by email, some good, some bad. The best thing about Coverjunkie is that some mags send me hard copies. I love that; it gives me a fab feeling. â€¨â€¨
How do you select what goes on Coverjunkie?Biemans: Posting everything would be impossible; I get too many covers sent to me. I post the most creative ones, the remarkable ones, the covers that stand out. The hardest part about Coverjunkie is editing the covers and then telling art directors that their covers are not creative enough, and that I canâ€™t post them. I try to email everyone to explain. I hate disappointing people because I know theyâ€™re trying to create sweet stuff. But again, I have to be rigorous; when there are weak covers on the website it loses its strength. â€¨â€¨
What makes a good magazine cover?Biemans: Itâ€™s the creativity that counts. My motto on the site is â€ścovers that smack you in the face or that you want to lick!â€ť I think the ace cover contains news, a vibe, and creativity. Most of the covers have only two out of three of these ingredients. But when it carries three out of three you have an epic one. For many magazines, newsstand used to be the big indicator, but it's increasingly not that important, at least not in the U.S. I think a cover these days is more about making a statement instead of selling. Itâ€™s about creating a vibe that the reader likes (or maybe dislikes). A magazine cover is part of a brand, a very important part because it has a soul and it can give feeling and depth to a brand.What magazines do you think consistently do the most interesting or memorable covers?
â€¨â€¨Biemans: I definitely prefer magazines that use a different approach with each cover, who use their cover design to make a statement or to spark and surprise their readers. I like The New Yorker when they put newsy items on their covers. And I think The New York Times Magazine and New York rock it hard. Bloomberg Businessweek, theyâ€™re crazy, and what I like about them is that creative director Richard Turley and his team take charge and are very brave. I love all the altweeklies from the U.S., like SF Weekly and San Antonio Current! They donâ€™t have big budgets but they create extraordinary stuff. Thereâ€™s Spanish Metropoli, Texas Monthly, Vice, IL from Italy, Wired from the U.S., UK and Italy, Suddeutsche Zeitung Magazin from Germanyâ€¦.What advice do you have for editors, art directors and others to create great magazine covers?â€¨â€¨
Biemans: Three things: guts, guts, and guts. Mix that with talented designers with soul and a fab editor to create the best headlines. Iâ€™m a strong believer that creativity brings great pleasure to readers, whether itâ€™s on an iPad, website, magazine or even cellphone. I donâ€™t care as long as itâ€™s well-designed and made with soul.Â
Any company that's grown up targeting the magazine business the past few decades has no doubt had to come to terms with the new media landscape, particularly if its name is directly tied to print media. Heck, we're mulling through this now with FOLIO:, which is still "The Magazine for Magazine Management."The main associations that serve the industry have already rebranded, as did ABC recently. MagazineRadar, a data service that has helped magazine publishers know more about brands and the people that buy them, got caught in the same dilemma. It's just rebranded itself as MediaRadar. Not a particularly big stretch, but it's definitely symbolic of the changes happening all around us. As an example, the company has been tracking just over one million brands that are buying online ads and in the process of doing so has uncovered some interesting patterns in how those digital buys overlap, or don't overlap, print. "The number-one discovery was the size of the online ad market is much larger than we understood," says co-founder Todd Krizelman. "If we just look on the consumer side of MPA titles, out of the people who buy MPA magazines, only a third of those are showing up on [the brand's] website. We're 20 years into the web and only one-third are buying on the same set of websites."Surprisingly, there appears to be very little overlap, or integrated sales, going on. In the third quarter of 2012, for example, MediaRadar found that about 9,000 brands advertised in the MPA-member consumer magazines it tracks. There were 12,000 brands that advertised on those titles' websites. But only 3,000 were integrated buysâ€”leaving about 9,000 advertisers that were only buying digital with those brands.There are some brands that have done particularly well through integrated buys, but that discrepancy is one reason digital-only publishers have done as well as they have, says Krizelman. "One of the reasons they've been successful is not that they've stolen clients, but exploited the knowledge that there's thousands of advertisers that buy only online."
Talking to your customers is always a good thing, and at the moment telemarketing seems to work very well for many publishersâ€”but be careful as you can overstay your welcome.Â Avoid the temptation to ask your customers everything in one go. This will confuse some, annoy others and may result in an order not being completed. This is true for both paid and controlled publications, but for different reasons. If someone is receiving a magazine free of charge it is reasonable to elicit some information from him or her; this is the reason they are getting the magazine free, after all.Â However, if you ask too many questions it may result in a firm but call-ending hang up. Ask the subscriber if you can send a follow up email with some more questions that it would be useful â€śfor us to know, so that we can serve you better.â€ť If they say yes, the telemarketing company can probably send the email out straight away.Â If the person you are calling has paid for a subscription, be careful when asking for information. Many subscribers feel paying for a subscription also pays for their privacy. However, people are also very flattered when you seek their advice or opinion, so how you phrase your question can be the difference between getting the information you want and the aforementioned call-ending hang-up. Flattery is almost always a good thing.Â When choosing a telemarketing company, take time to review the references you got from them. Talk to people in the industry to see if they have an opinion. The company you choose is going to represent you in a one-to-one conversation with either your subscribers or prospectsâ€”this will reflect on your company so choose wisely.Â There are very few methods of promotion where we have direct interaction with our customers or prospects. Telemarketing is one, and you only get one chance to make a good first impressionâ€”do not let price be the only factor that dictates your decision. There will always be at least one caller who complains, that is normal. If you are conducting a large program, probably more than one complaint will be received. Calmly call the account manager at the telemarketing company, have them review the call with you and make a decision together on how to resolve any issues. Â If you are prospecting for new orders, review the results the telemarketing company sends each day and after a few days of calling, prioritize the calling so that you can get the maximum number of orders for the least amount of moneyâ€”especially if paying by the hour. Ensure you key each list correctly and that you do measure like for like. Comparing a list that has a 30 percent conversion with 5,000 names called cannot really be compared to a list that has a 10 percent conversion but only 1,000 names called. Many a bad decision has been made on too little information.Â For many years, telemarketing was considered the â€śbad boyâ€ť of circulation. Nobody really wanted it on his or her Publisherâ€™s Statement. Now, just like black coffee, eggs, chocolate and red wineâ€”all in moderation, courseâ€”telemarketing has a good reputation and can be a splendid source of circulation and revenue for publishers.
Â Roy Beagley is Director of Publishing Services for Tyson Associates Inc. Roy started his career at The Economist and then The Spectator in London. He moved to the United States in 1992 and since then he has worked with Tyson Associates handling many controlled and consumer publications. He is editor of Circspot.com, a website for circulation and audience development professionals.
When a publication decides its earthly existence as a print life form is no longer a viable option and instead takes on a digital-only presence, is it really a heaven-sent opportunity or is it actually a gentle nudge by the minions of magazine hell to push it into its final resting place? If your print product isnâ€™t connecting with an audience, is it really going to flourish among a billion more nondescript URLs or a million other apps?Think about it, please. And take a look at a few lost souls while youâ€™re at it.Flashback 2006When Teen People closed its print magazine in 2006, it decided to make digital confetti out of the pages and toss the remnants on the print productâ€™s grave in celebration. With a still healthy circulation of 1.5 million in the second half of 2005, Teen People displaced about 50 employeesâ€”with the promise of finding them spots within the companyâ€”and, according to Ann Moore and John Huey, set about to â€śinvest in the brand through Teenpeople.com, which shows promise and growth.â€ť
Flash Forward 2013 The only presence that remains of Teenpeople.com today is at the home of the magazineâ€™s parents: PeopleMagazine.com. Apparently, when living on its own didnâ€™t quite pan out, mommy and daddy allowed their child to come home.Too bad some of the other print magazines that went digital-only didnâ€™t have parents quite so affluent. Going digital-only screams salvation to some print products that are battling low ad pages and declining circulation, but the question remains: If youâ€™re not selling ads in your ink-on-paper magazine, what in the world makes you think youâ€™re going to make gazillions of dollars on the web? Even with automated ad sales systems, consumer magazine sites arenâ€™t garnering all that much from their digital counterparts.Flashback 2009Gourmet in print became another headstone in the â€śInk-on-Paper Cemetery,â€ť when CondĂ¨ Nast killed it in 2009. Just the previous year, Gourmet had had a circulation of around one million, but its ad pages had dropped. And the magazine wasnâ€™t doing as well as its sister magazine, Bon AppĂ©tit, which was also owned by CondĂ¨ Nast. But it would soon be reborn as an app for iPad called Gourmet Live. Flash Forward 2013Gourmet Live is officially done, as far as any new content is concerned. According to a spokesperson for CondĂ¨ Nast, the app itself will remain intact, but it wonâ€™t be updated. However, Gourmet.com will continue to be updated as the main platform of the brand.Where have we heard that before?Flashback 2011American Media, Inc. (AMI), a leading publisher of celebrity magazines, announced the launch of Reality Weekly, the first magazine devoted only to Reality TV shows and its new mega-stars. Included in the hype around this blockbuster idea was the companion website for folks who just couldnâ€™t get enough of the inside info that must surely abound on television shows such as these.The launch was fan-fared with the fact that the magazine would sell at all the mass merchant locations: Wal-Mart, Kroger, Dollar General, Kmart, A&P and Rite-Aid and would be priced a mere $1.79 (â€śLess Money, More Funâ€ť). Really.â€śIâ€™m proud to introduce a magazine that gives readers the news they want about televisionâ€™s most popular genre. Print remains one of our most effective mediums, which is why Reality Weekly will be a showcase launch of 2012,â€ť said David J. Pecker, AMIâ€™s Chairman, President and CEO, at the time.Flash Forward 2013Before 2012 was over, the magazine folded. The website hasnâ€™t been updated since July 2012. However, that same month AMI folded the magazine, it announced that it was naming Joe Bilman as its first chief digital officer and set the lofty goal (at the time Mr. Bilman was hired) of building its digital revenue to $50 million. Accordingly, AMI resolved to try Reality Weekly as a free tablet app that summer.They followed that with a big splashy ad that screamed at the consumer: â€śReality Weeklyâ€¦Weâ€™re Going Digital.â€ťBut where are they now? The magazines mentioned here are not the only ones. What about Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl? Digital brands such as PC Mag and Sporting News, while still breathing that oh-so thin digital air, are mere shadows of their former print selves.When you lose contact with the people who matter, your customers, and treat them as numbers instead of members of this community of experiences you have created for them, youâ€™re going to lose them, whether the neighborhood is print or digital.And what about Newsweek?As the New York Times put it so eloquently: From the start, it was an unwieldy melding of two newsrooms: a legacy print magazine, Newsweek, combined with an irreverent digital news site, The Daily Beast. Now the 79-year-old, once highly-respected news magazine must co-exist next to an entity called â€śThe Daily Beast,â€ť its new significant other.The sacred vow that some publications make with their new life partner, digital, is usually a last-ditch effort to save a customer and product bond that was broken many times earlier. When you have a brand so highly known in print and you suddenly jerk that trusted and cherished product out from under your customersâ€™ feet, why do you bemoan your fate when, one day, you have to take that digital shingle down for good?Right now, Newsweek is looking for digital heaven, as others are. Letâ€™s just hope the abyss that lies before them doesnâ€™t lead to purgatory instead.The Moral of the Story?At the end of the day if we donâ€™t we create a community where we make our customers feel like members instead of just numbers after a dollar sign, we wonâ€™t have anything to publish in print or digitalâ€”no long-lasting relationship, anyway, merely a one-night stand.The minute you lose your connectivity with your customers (readers, users, viewers, listeners, whatever you call them), youâ€™re in trouble. And if you fail to connect with them time and time again, even going to that digital heaven online canâ€™t save you. Cut your losses, let your magazine die in peace and donâ€™t torture it anymore. Stop being in the game of numbers and change to a game of members instead.