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Matt Kinsman

When Blogs Go Bad

Matt Kinsman emedia and Technology - 03/06/2007-03:00 AM

Few examples of blogging gone wrong are as prominent as the recent case of Jim Zumbo, former hunting editor of Time Inc.’s Outdoor Life the second largest outdoor magazine in the U.S. In a February 16 blog post (since removed from the Outdoor Life site), Zumbo expressed his thoughts on so-called “assault rifles” by saying, “Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. As hunters, we don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them…I’ll go so far as to call them ‘terrorist rifles.’” The response was swift, and not just from the NRA. The post generated more than 2,000 comments, most of them negative. Hunting and shooting chat rooms buzzed all over the Internet. The post was made on a Friday evening, and by Sunday afternoon, Zumbo had posted an apology. Unfortunately for Zumbo, the damage was done. His TV show, “Jim Zumbo Outdoors” on the Outdoor Channel, was put on permanent hiatus. His longtime corporate sponsor, Remington Arms Co., dropped their relationship with him. And Outdoor Life, pressured by advertisers and readers alike, accepted Zumbo’s resignation. Zumbo has since apologized, but of course that doesn’t have as much impact in the blogosphere as the original comments. Zumbo, a longtime hunting and outdoors personality, has had his career severely damaged. Outdoor Life has a black eye, both for being the conduit for comments perceived as insulting by its readers and its advertisers, but also for caving to the pressure and severing ties with one of its longtime editors so rapidly. With blogging now a de facto part of just about every editor’s job, expect this scenario to play itself in other publishing categories, again and again.

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Internet Aggregation Etiquette

Marrecca Fiore emedia and Technology - 02/16/2007-03:00 AM

In the Internet space, there are no competitors. Publishers have realized that to best serve their audiences online they must aggregate their own content, as well as the content of others, including their competitors. However, one rule of thumb remains, if you’re going to aggregate someone else’s content, you must link back to the story you’re citing.

Let’s face it. None of us want to drive traffic off our sites. However, if readers come to know our Web sites as the place where they can get all of the news and information they’re looking for, they’ll visit us daily AND hit the backspace key after reading the articles we link to.

I bring this up because a couple of weeks ago Folio: ran a story in its newsletter that received a lot of pick-up from bloggers and news Web sites – for this we’re grateful. However, one site referenced our story, gave us credit, but didn’t link to the story itself.

To me, this does both a disservice to the site’s readers, as well as to the news organization (in this case us) that wrote the story. Look at it this way, if they had linked to the story, the reader could have hit the link, read the story and then gone back to the news aggregator’s site. Instead, if they wanted to read the story, they had to physically leave the aggregator’s site and go on to Foliomag.com. If anything, the aggregator probably hurt themselves by neglecting to link to the story.

The other day I picked up a story from a competitor (I’m a former newspaper reporter so it pains me to do this) and I linked to the story. It’s common courtesy. We got scooped. It happens. But it would have been a disservice to our readers had we not shared the news with them. Publishers: Keep aggregating. It’s clearly the best way to keep your readership informed. But when you do it, give credit where credit is due.

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Matt Kinsman

Stumbling Into Video

Matt Kinsman emedia and Technology - 02/13/2007-03:00 AM

Don’t have video on your site? That’s so 2005. Or at least, that’s the popular thinking. SI.com re-launched last month with a video-heavy design (including a video box moved to the top of the page) and CarandDriver.com recently debuted a program that lets viewers take a virtual test drive.

However, turning video into a sustainable business model is proving to be a challenge. Even Google has stumbled by briefly featuring an Allstate ad in a Charlie Rose clip that blogger Scott Karp called “as interruptive, untargeted and utterly old school as anything mass TV advertising has ever inflicted on viewers.”

Video may offer a temporary spike in both viewers and advertisers but video by itself won’t keep them coming back. “Video for the sake of video will yield very modest increases in new visitors but most b-to-b video isn’t very good,” says Paul Calento, vice president of marketing at InfoWorld.

Calento says there is a four step process to making multimedia work: 1) start with the Deliverable of what you want to sell—video, podcasts, mobile; 2) The Measurable, the ROI component; 3) The Nice To Have—things like co-marketing that add to scale of program and sometimes validate the price point; 4) The Gotta Have—such as incorporating a piece of an advertiser’s existing buy that they already understand into the multimedia program. “If you do that, you’re not selling $5,000 programs, you’re selling $50,000+ programs,” Calento says.

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Bill Mickey

Google Dumps Mags From Print Ad Sales Program

Bill Mickey Sales and Marketing - 02/12/2007-03:00 AM

Remember last winter when Google announced their print ad sales program? The search company bought ad space in magazines and newspapers, chopped it up into smaller sizes and began selling it to its AdWords customers. Well, Tom Phillips, with the somewhat incongruous title of director of print ads at Google, sat for an interview with Paidcontent.org’s Rafat Ali at the DeSilva + Phillips Media Dealmakers Summit last week and revealed magazines no longer fit the formula.

Phew, I think.

Newspapers, however, have become the preferred partner for their program. “One of the things we learned was high frequency was better. Daily newspapers are a better partner for us than other media,” said Phillips.

Phillips added that the program is about to graduate from alpha to beta mode sometime this spring, with roughly 30 newspaper companies, and their large metropolitan dailies, on board. The program has, he said without offering details, “exceeded our own benchmark by two-and-a-half times.”

He also noted that just because newspapers are in a slump doesn’t mean there’s no potential left. “This is a $47 billion market in the U.S. We think it’s been beaten down so much there’s some value we can bring back.”

The value of the program, says Phillips, will essentially be twofold. Newspapers potentially get advertisers that wouldn’t normally think to use that medium, and the marketers will be able to fine-tune their campaigns with better impact measurement tools.

According to Phillips, the newspapers enter available inventory into the program and sit back and wait for the bids to roll in. The papers are offering inventory sizes and sections that don’t already have national advertisers in them.

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Online Ad Spending Expected To Increase, Time To Monetize The Web

Marrecca Fiore Sales and Marketing - 02/06/2007-03:00 AM

Marketing firm Outsell’s 2007 ad spending report shows that online ad spending is expected to grow almost 18 percent this year and, as I’ve said before, now is the time to monetize the Internet.

Among the findings of the report, which surveyed more than 1,000 ad executives, are that advertisers are expected to boost their spending on sponsored content by 38 percent, on trade or b-to-b Web sites by 30 percent and on Webinars by 28 percent. Advertisers are also moving their money into vertical search, to grow by 18 percent, and their own Web sites, to grow by 17 percent.

But the survey also found that advertisers are planning to reduce spending slightly on pay-per-click advertising, in part, because of the click fraud problems that have surfaced. This serves as a message to publishers that now is the time to find meaningful ways to measure Web metrics and to come up with a meaningful system for pricing online advertising. As advertisers gravitate away from print and into the online arena, publishers should stop offering online advertising as an addendum to print and look for ways to fully monetize the Web for what it is worth. More...

Linda Zebian

We Could All Learn A Little Something From Gq, And I'M Not Talking Shirts

Linda Zebian Consumer - 02/01/2007-03:00 AM

Yesterday I interviewed Scott Carlis, executive director of marketing at Conde Nast’s GQ, for an event marketing story for the March issue of Magazine Event Strategies. GQ really has it right. It knows its audience and it knows what its readers want and what forms of media they are most responsive to.

GQ has not one, but two Web sites, men.style.com/gq and GQ Connects. The GQ Web site is fairly traditional— chock full of editorial content and ads. But it’s the GQ Connects Web site that’s leading edge. This completely promotional site is where GQ readers can go to find out about promotions, contests and events, get style advice from an expert and download weekly podcasts.

GQ Mobile is a huge part of the GQ Connects site. The magazine polled its readers and found that 100 percent of them own a cell phone so it’s no wonder that after it launched in March of last year, GQ Mobile became one of the magazine’s strongest event marketing tools. GQ sends “text-vites” to readers who submit their mobile phone numbers online, keeping them up to speed on GQ’s latest events and contests. They extend their marketing efforts even further into vertical marketing programs by targeting various regions sorting by area code.

Sure a publishing house like Conde Nast has the resources and funding to launch new initiatives at their leisure, but mobile programs are quickly reaching medium and smaller-sized publishers. The truth is, if your readers have cell phones, then you should be looking into mobile options that best suit you and your advertisers.

Check out the March issue of MES when it comes out next month to see how mobile marketing has paid off for GQ, and what other tools they use for marketing and promoting their events.

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Matt Kinsman

2007 Neal Awards: The Usual Suspects?

Matt Kinsman Design and Production - 01/30/2007-03:00 AM

American Business Media announced the finalists for its 2007 Jesse H. Neal Awards today. Considered the “Oscars” of business journalism, the Neal Awards, now entering its 53rd year, represent the best of b-to-b journalism.

So how come “the best” always seems to be the same handful of large publishers? A look at this year’s finalists reveals some familiar names: Nielsen Business Media (seven nominations), Hanley Wood (10 nominations), McGraw-Hill (eight nominations), Crain Communications (five nominations) and Advanstar Communications (12 nominations?!?). Some of the usual magazine standbys are here as well: Ziff Davis’ Baseline (Grand Neal Winner in 2005), Nielsen’s Editor & Publisher and Advanstar’s Medical Economics.

I’m not writing this because these aren’t worthy finalists (they are, and all do excellent work), nor because Folio: didn’t make the list (well, not entirely anyway). But aren’t there more b-to-b publishers doing notable work than the same old big guys?

Two years ago, when covering the 2005 Neal Awards, an attendee told us, “I’m not saying they’re not deserving but it’s getting to be like the Academy Awards. It would be nice to see some new blood up there.” Doesn’t seem like much has changed.

The Neal judges should be commended for including some fresh faces this year such as Phoenix Media Network’s Produce Business (nominated for Best-Staff Written Editorial or Opinion column) and James Informational Media’s Aggregates Manager (nominated for Best How-To Article or Subject-Related Series of How-To Articles). But it’s time more smaller b-to-b publishers start feeling the love.

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Bill Mickey

Online Revenue At What Cost?

Bill Mickey emedia and Technology - 01/29/2007-03:00 AM

Fellow b-to-b magazine blogger, Paul Conley, emailed me a note about his latest post. It seems Ziff Davis’s eWeek has begun using IntelliTXT’s keyword linking technology in its Web site editorial. I’ve written about this before, as has Conley, who this time suggests that pressures stemming from owner Willis Stein’s efforts to sell Ziff Davis have resulted in a revenue-at-all-costs Web site strategy:

Ziff Davis has had a dismal performance of late in print. But online revenue has risen. And that has given investment bank Lehman Brothers, which is advising Ziff Davis on a sale, something to push. And when you have a private equity company and an investment bank both intent on boosting online revenue in the short term to help drive the sale of the company, you’re going to wind up with some embarrassing behavior.

I don’t know what the magazine’s motivation is, beyond “monetizing” their editorial in a rather overt manner, but, as I’ve said before, it absolutely detracts from editorial integrity. But here’s another spin that you might find interesting: After a cursory look at the ways eWeek is using the linking technology, I found a review on Softek’s Storage Manager 2.5. The word “Storage” is hyperlinked to an IntelliTXT pop-up ad for Sun’s Solaris 10 operating system (in subsequent refreshes the link did not show up). Likewise, in a breaking news story about IBM’s purchase of Softek Storage Solutions, the words “Storage Solutions” link to a pop-up for HP’s DL 380 G5 server. As a publisher, I don’t think I’d want one vendor’s name linked to a pop-up ad for a competing vendor’s product.

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Time Inc. Frenzy Ends?

Marrecca Fiore Consumer - 01/26/2007-03:00 AM

So the excitement is finally over. Maybe. Between its layoffs and the sale of 18 of its magazines, Time Inc. has had no shortage of headlines over the past few months. Whether the company is done laying off remains to be seen, but at least the question of who will buy the magazines from its Time4Media and Parenting groups has been answered. And the sale of the publications to Bonnier Magazine Group and their merger with World Publications is good news for Time Inc. and for the magazines it's shedding.

For one, it gives Time Inc. executives the opportunity to focus their full attention on repositioning the company for multimedia growth. Time CEO Ann Moore has had to deal with a tremendous amount of pressure in the past few months from the media, from her employees and most of all from Time Warner executives who have been pressuring her for the better part of a year to boost profitability in the company’s publishing segment.

As for Time4Media and the Parenting groups, they have a home with a new magazine company – and a growing company at that - that plans to leave them in New York and leave the employees – at least the non-executive employees – in place. World Publications also will give magazines like Field & Stream, Parenting, and the Transworld publications an opportunity to grow that they didn’t have at Time Inc. As one M&A source put it, “If you have Surf magazine and Field & Stream competing with People magazine for online resources, who do you think is going to get them?”

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Linda Zebian

On Working With Competitors

Linda Zebian Sales and Marketing - 01/24/2007-03:00 AM

Talk to any smart magazine marketer, and they will tell you that working with competitors is one of their top marketing methods. They trade subscriber lists with competitive magazines and even buy booths at competitor’s industry events. Most magazine marketers understand the value of working with the other industry powerhouses, whether they have a directly competitive magazine or not. Being a part of an industry means having relationships with all associations, organizations and vendors, and if you are confident enough about your product, you won’t feel threatened by a little healthy competition.

According to the latest installment of Folio: Publishing Technology, Reed Business Information has launched a new vertical b-to-b search portal. Though the portal, called Zibb.com, was originally designed to drive traffic to Reed’s Web properties, it has become an open platform for all publishers, including direct competitors, to participate in for free.

Publishers who continue to operate without working with competitors need a reality check. Reed has it right. With the loads of free information available on the Internet, especially in the b-to-b space, it’s all about getting the information to readers in the most efficient way possible, and the way to do that, is through a solid search function online. More...

Matt Kinsman

Open Source Options For CMS

Matt Kinsman emedia and Technology - 01/23/2007-03:00 AM

The online software options can be dizzying for publishers who are just beginning to take their sites to the next level. Amanda Hickman, a media and nonprofit specialist, offers her advice on open source software.

* I love Drupal and WordPress but probably only because I know them better than some of their peers. I know folks who work with Joomla and Plone are just as content. WordPress is (or can be if you let it) dead simple, lightweight, blogging software. Joomla, Plone and Drupal are much more comprehensive content management systems.

* http://cmsmatrix.org is a great resource for evaluating content management systems, proprietary and GPL alike.

* http//opensourcecms.com only rates free and open source content management software. They will let you test-drive a handful of PHP/MySQL driven content management systems but you’ll miss some really solid open source options if you use them as your only source, including Bricolage and Plone.

* Bricolage (http://bricolage.cc) is great for periodicals, as are some of the tools from the Center for Advanced Media, Prague (http://www.campware.org/)

* The NGO-in-a-Box series includes an AV Box (http://ngoinbox.org/boxes/audovideo), which has reviews and links for an extensive list of free and open source audio and video software

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Bill Mickey

You Know You’Re Old When…

Bill Mickey emedia and Technology - 01/22/2007-03:00 AM

Interesting blog commentary and reporting out there recently involving Gawker Media and Weblogs, Inc. -- networks started by Nick Denton and Jason Calacanis that share a famous rivalry. The upshot? How both of these early movers in blog network business models are suffering old-media growing pains. It’s an art-imitating-life moment.

Valleywag, a Gawker Media blog, is reporting that AOL, which bought Calacanis’ Weblogs Inc. in 2005 as the first major blog M&A transaction for an estimated $25 million, is shutting down a collection of its smaller blog sites to focus attention on bigger revenue bread-winners like Engadget, Autoblog and Joystiq. Calacanis points out in a comment reply to the Valleywag post that “Niche blogs are great, but when you're running a scale business like AOL is you're better off focusing on your HUGE winners like Autoblog, Engadget, Joystiq, etc.” Sound familiar?

As for Denton’s Gawker Media, its namesake blog recently shuffled top editors as outgoing Chris Mohney will end his six-month tenure to be replaced by a returning Choire Sicha, who ran the site three years ago. In a Wall Street Journal Online story, Denton points out that, in some ways, his growing new media company is very much like an old media company. “Gawker Media is increasingly like a mainstream media company, where writers are reassigned, or leave the company, stay in the orbit and return, later.”

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