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Bob Cohn

Hiring in the Digital Age

Bob Cohn Editorial - 09/20/2012-10:43 AM


Not so long ago, magazine and newspaper editors knew exactly what they were looking for when hiring young journalists. Certain jobs called for certain skills: Reporters had to report, researchers had to research, designers had to design.
These days, things are more complicated. Most of the new jobs in journalism are on the digital side, where a broader and somewhat different set of skills is required than we print hires possessed a generation or two ago. What editors need now is a new breed of journalist.
Over the last few years at The Atlantic, I’ve played a part in hiring several dozen young digital journalists—into new jobs, thanks to our web expansion, or into open slots created by departing employees. (We have, of course, brought on lots of experienced journalists, too.) What we’re looking for, I’ve come to realize, is people who can do a bit of everything: report and write stories; write headlines and deks; select and crop photos; fact check and copy edit the work of others; make charts and graphs; oversee social media; manage outside writers. (And hey, can you do some coding?)
The upshot: Today, everyone is an editor-in-chief.
This transition from vertical job descriptions to horizontal job descriptions is perhaps the most profound change in newsrooms that are full of change. I can’t say whether this is a sign of trouble or triumph for journalism. Probably both. But it is definitely a matter of fact.
As an industry, we’ve come to the point where we are asking a lot of relatively inexperienced twentysomethings, perhaps too much. The range of duties, combined with the need for speed, can lead to mistakes. But my sense is that there’s no going back. The new platforms and the new business environment demand a shift from more genteel times. The good news is that as much as we expect of these new hires, it’s been my experience that they can do the work. There’s a surprising amount of talent and energy and sophistication out there.
Finding this talent marries traditional recruiting methods with an eye toward the new realities. On the traditional side, it still pays to cast a wide net, even if that means sifting through more than a hundred resumes for every opening. And we’re still looking at customary markers of excellence: success in past jobs, intellectual curiosity, dynamic thinking.
But the new world prizes other skills, too. The best hires possess a kind of creativity and entrepreneurialism that my peers and I surely didn’t have at that age. Today’s young web journalists are learning to frame and write stories in innovative ways. And as smart at they are, they’re also playful, ready to bring some fun to the game.

We also look for a candidate’s ability to make lateral connections across topics. In interviewing business writers, we might ask about tax policy and retail trends but we’re most interested in how candidates think about non-business topics—and whether they have the instinct to apply a business or economics lens to everyday subjects. Likewise, we look for what Gabriel Snyder, editor of The Atlantic Wire, calls “keyboard presence.” Just as actors can have stage presence and athletes can have field presence, a good web writer is a natural in front of the screen.
And then there’s speed. Digital hires ought to be able to move quickly from task to task, keep active multiple windows—on their screens and in their heads. But not, alas, at the expense of accuracy. In a world where there’s typically one layer of editing instead of two or three (or more), you gotta get it right.

In pursuit of journalists with these new skills, we’ve found that it can pay to look in unlikely places. Alan Taylor, who oversees The Atlantic’s crowd-pleasing “In Focus” photo blog, was a web developer at the Boston Globe when he started assembling image galleries on the side. James Hamblin, The Atlantic’s new health editor, is a medical doctor who had just finished his internship in radiology when he joined us as a full-time editor and writer. Neither Alan nor Jim came to us with anything close to a traditional journalism background. But they have the right sensibilities—and the skills to succeed in a new age.


TJ Raphael

Magazine Publishers & The iPad: An Unrequited Love

TJ Raphael emedia and Technology - 09/18/2012-15:39 PM


If this were a bad teen movie, the magazine publishing industry would not be (surprisingly) playing the glamorous cheerleader, but Apple would still be the big man on campus.

It seems that the industry has a case of unrequited love with Apple, at least according to recent findings from research firm MagazineRadar.

Apple hasn’t advertised the iPad in an MPA member magazine since July 2011. Last summer, Apple made a brief appearance within the industry’s pages, with the latest iPad campaign in magazines appearing from May-July 2011. During that time there were 21 ad pages placed strategically among 21 MPA monthly magazines, all with the same creative.

Apple did also place 18 back page cover ads in 9 MPA weekly and bi-weekly magazines during the same period. The seeming coolness from Apple doesn’t stop in print—the company has not advertised the iPad on MPA magazine websites at all in 2012.

Why would they? Magazine publishers have been doting over the product and Apple not only with each other at industry events, or to media journalists like this reporter, but they have, essentially, been running ads for them.

Magazines (trade or otherwise) are not just writing about the iPad, says MagazineRadar, but they are showing it off—in 2012, about 32 percent of all edit credits, which the research firm considers a “single mention or image of a brand in a magazine’s editorial,” appeared as images rather than text.

Apple’s apparent lack of enthusiasm for magazine advertising extends beyond the iPad, too. From September 2011 to August 2012 there were 216 ads for the iPhone placed in 200 MPA magazines. In comparison, the iPad received 1,847 edit credits so far in 2012. Additionally, Apple dominates other technology brands when it comes to editorial mentions (see below).

Apple is likely undertaking a strong advertising campaign for its new addition—the iPhone 5. Whether or not they pay attention to the adoring magazine industry remains to be seen. MagazineRadar, however, says one thing is certain: publications will continue writing about Apple and its products.

 T.J. Raphael is a FOLIO: magazine Associate Editor. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael1.



Robert Newman

George Lois Featured in Fast Company App

Robert Newman Design and Production - 09/12/2012-10:45 AM


Fast Company’s annual design issue celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first cover that legendary art director George Lois created for Esquire magazine. This photograph, by noted photographer Platon, is available only in the iPad app version of Fast Company’s October 2012 issue, which is out today, September 12.

On the October 1962 cover of Esquire (which Lois is holding), he accurately predicted that boxer Sonny Liston would defeat Floyd Patterson in their upcoming heavyweight championship fight. That opinion at the time was decidedly in the minority, so much so that the publisher’s letter inside the magazine disavowed Lois’s prediction, saying “we’d prefer to believe that Liston can be stopped, and that Patterson is the one that can do it.” (Note: Liston knocked out Patterson in the fight’s first round). Says Lois, “The press wrote about the chutzpah of calling a fight on a magazine cover, and the issue was a sellout.”

Read more by George Lois on his first Esquire cover (and many others) here. The Fast Company October 2012 iPad app is available here. The October issue features Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann on the cover. (Photograph: Art Streiber, creative director: Florian Bachleda.)




Michael Rondon

Folio: Taking Content-Creation Summit Series on the Road

Michael Rondon B2B - 09/11/2012-15:50 PM


FOLIO: unveiled a one-day, nuts-and-bolts training workshop this week focused on presenting essential new skills for content creation and deployment. The workshop will be conducted three times in 2012—in Los Angeles (October 10), New York (November 14) and San Francisco (December 4).

Called C2, the workshop is built on more than 70 case studies and best practices from around the media industry. FOLIO: general manager Tony Silber and editor Bill Mickey will host the event.

“There’s never been a more exciting time to be in media,” Silber said. “There are new channels, new formats, new expectations and new opportunities. The basic relationship between content creators and content consumers has evolved.”

The workshop's core curriculum is an analysis of case studies that show how media companies are leveraging social, cross-platform tactics, video and much more to build content creation strategies that address today's reader behavior. Learn what’s on the minds of the innovators in consumer, b-to-b, association media, city and regional, and hear what’s right around the corner.

To register and to learn more, click here.

TJ Raphael

Cosmo’s Chance With Joanna Coles

TJ Raphael - 09/06/2012-14:39 PM


Hearst Magazine’s resident PR guru, Jessica Kleiman, hit the nail on the head when prepping newly appointed Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles for an upcoming interview (see video below), asking the question on the minds of several media reporters:

“Given the direction you took Marie Claire, do you have plans to make Cosmo more sophisticated?”

This could be a seminal moment for Hearst Magazines, Cosmopolitan and Coles herself. The title has been slammed recently by Victoria Hearst, the granddaughter of Hearst Corp. founder William Randolph Hearst. According to a press statement released in June, Ms. Hearst partnered with founder Nicole Weider in an “Anti-Cosmo Mission.”

“About 11 years ago, I contacted Frank Bennack and the Board of the Hearst Corporation and told them that what they are publishing in Cosmopolitan magazine was pornographic. I had the support of two female psychologists and counselors who attest that this content hurts young girls. Like Nicole (Weider), I also asked that the magazine be sold only to adults 18 and older,” said Ms. Hearst in the June statement. “When I heard about Nicole’s campaign, I knew I needed to join in her mission to put Cosmopolitan in a bag and make sure that its pornographic content cannot be sold to minors!”

SEE ALSO: Post-Photoshop Crisis, Hearst Receives Shrink Wrap Demand

You would be hard pressed to find any issue of Cosmopolitan from recent memory whose content didn’t prominently center on sex. Cosmopolitan is so synonymous with sexual content that when reporting on the new Fifty Shades of Grey Magazine (which is based on erotic literature), the Huffington Post’s Julie Gerstenblatt said:

“This magazine is like Cosmo with fewer articles about sex.”

Cosmo's sex focus has worked well for it. It's the biggest selling beauty/fashion title on the newsstands. But that same formula focus could wear thin in the longer term (the magazine did slide 15 percent on the newsstand in the first half, after all), which may be an opportunity for Coles, who's Marie Claire was turned not only into a fashion staple, but a place where women can actually learn something other than “50 Kinky Sex Moves.”

Under Coles, the Marie Claire @Work content department was turned into a new polly-bagged quarterly magazine supplement, focused on tips and strategies for women juggling work and life, career advancement and employment challenges. The magazine also launched a series of career panel luncheons to engage women, and a mentorship program that will be executed around the country. LinkedIn was also being used to increase the buzz around Marie Claire @Work—the publication designed the Marie Claire Career Network on the social platform to give women an avenue for digital business networking and discussions.

Cosmo is a huge global brand empowering women,” Coles told Klieman.

Cosmo does empower women—to hop in bed. It is true that the brand covers other topics of interest, but its ace in the whole is always sex. Marie Claire, on the other hand, is more representative of a true general interest magazine, consistently exploring multiple aspects of women’s lives, and not just as a backdrop.

According to MagazineRadar, Marie Claire exceeded their previous all-time single issue ad-page record this September, earning the sixth spot of the top 10 women’s fashion magazines with the most increased ad-pages. Further, according to min box scores, Cosmopolitan posted ad-page losses for seven months when comparing 2011 to 2012 figures from February to September. On the other hand, Marie Claire saw two months of losses, and six months of growth over 10 percent when comparing the same periods.

This post should not imply that Coles should turn Cosmo into Marie Claire—they each need their own distinct voice for their own distinct audiences. It will be interesting, however, to see the direction the new editor-in-chief takes the brand. Historically, when a publication gets a new leader the first thing they think of is a redesign, an examination of content sections and the direction they wish to take a brand in order to receive appropriate recognition. With eyes watching the behemoth that is a legacy brand like Cosmopolitan, expect Coles to make her mark.

T.J. Raphael is an Associate Editor at FOLIO: Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael1.


Bill Mickey

The U.S. Loves Its Social Smartphone Apps

Bill Mickey Consumer - 09/04/2012-15:37 PM


A new report conducted by app store analytics firm Distimo finds that the United States is the most "socially savvy" country by virtue of its download volume of social apps.

According to Distimo, out of the most popular apps downloaded, 20 percent of the volume is apps from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like. In countries in Europe and South East Asia, social app download volume doesn't exceed 10 percent.

These findings are part of a larger look at how social media app downloads compare to other apps. As an example, the report finds that while download volume among the 100 most popular apps in Apple's App Store increased 43 percent over the last two years, the top 100 social applications increased 193 percent between July 2010 and July 2012.

Further, Facebook lost its prominence by July 2012 as the top downloaded social app, falling to the third spot behind Instagram and Twitter (as measured across Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Korea, United Kingdom, and the U.S.).

For the full report, click here.

Bill Mickey

Folio:'s 15 Under 30 Is Back

Bill Mickey Consumer - 08/29/2012-13:57 PM



Some of us "older" publishing pros often quip it's the "digitally-savvy youngsters" that are driving the new publishing era—not just as consumers, but as talented members of the magazine publishing community.

In that spirit, it's time once again to turn the FOLIO: spotlight on the younger set and profile the next group of rising stars and innovators across traditional publishing roles, never-before-seen positions in new lines of business, and market-shaping start-ups: FOLIO:'s 15 Under 30.

Last year's list featured a cross-section of talent responsible for social media, interactive marketing, community management and new digital companies. These are all excellent, and we're equally impressed with individuals who are leading the way in defining new competitive opportunities for existing, more traditional products.

The nomination process is officially open—tell us who you think deserves to be on the list by filling out our simple online form. Our list-makers will appear in the October issue.

The only catch? All nominees must be younger than 30.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, September 10. Good luck and thanks for participating!


Brian Stoller

Why Does Mobile Seem Immobile?

Brian Stoller Consumer - 08/28/2012-09:51 AM


Why has mobile yet to, well, mobilize? There are a number of reasons—a few of my favorites are:

Economic Downturn: As mobile was ramping up, the economy slowed down. Advertising budgets, particularly test budgets for new media, became difficult to acquire.

Growth of Social Media: The development of Facebook and Twitter stole some of the spotlight. Coupled with the tight economy, advertisers sought lower-cost ‘social media,’ perceived to be viral and free in nature. Ironically, mobile has been silently driving much of the traffic behind social media, which was confirmed when Facebook released mobile figures in advance of their IPO.

Lack of Consumer Data: Handset penetration, publisher audience figures, demographics, response rates, install rates—the list of complaints from advertisers seems endless.

Fortunately, the industry has made steady progress despite all of these obstacles. In fact, the marketplace for mobile ad inventory is as advanced as its cousin in the wired world. Mobile ad exchanges, Mobile DSPs and a host of buying models now offer advertisers unrealized opportunities while simultaneously providing publishers with the ability to monetize the mobile channel.

The Real Challenge
Premium mobile media CPMs may still be a challenge for most advertisers to swallow, as the industry has one final obstacle that stands before it: An understanding of how mobile relates directly or indirectly to overall media consumption.

‘The role of mobile’ in the marketing mix has been a discussion topic Mindshare has been exploring for some time. Recently, it has picked up tremendous speed as we enter into 2013 planning season. Client inquiries suggest a positive outlook for the industry and growth looms on the horizon. To spur spending, many publishers have offered cross-media studies, to help advertisers understand the duplication and effects of advertising within mobile, digital, and print properties. Most of these publisher opportunities are passed over, but not without extreme gratitude for making an effort to solve the advertisers concerns.

The truth is the industry requires a solution that spans multiple publishers and multiple channels. The advertiser needs information that allows them to allocate budgets accordingly, allowing them to feel confident that their return on investment will be maximized toward the best performing media. (Remember, the economic downturn is no distant memory; savvy CMOs have learned to scrutinize every dollar spent in the new economy.)

A Solution Exists
The technology to solve our channel attribution concerns already exists. Google, Apple, and Microsoft have all hedged their bets by building multiple mechanisms that will enable cross-device targeting within their operating system ecosystems. Additional work is being completed by independent companies to provide a more holistic series of tracking mechanisms that will align a user profile across channels, publishers, and devices. The real obstacle is the potential for pending privacy legislation by Government agencies.  

This past spring, the White House released its consumer privacy bill of rights in a whitepaper tilted Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), has begun establishing a privacy policy code of conduct, which could be proposed as a bill to congress as early as this winter. (NOTE: The NTIA is the same U.S. Department of Commerce governmental organization that oversees wireless spectrum management, allowing it considerable clout in the ecosystem.) Since the advertising industry is prone to self-regulation, the likelihood of this passing as law is questionable. Still, the industry remains hesitant to make any large-scale moves toward full cross-channel tracking while ‘a code of conduct’ policy is still being written. The European Union is considering similar policies backed by laws that could have considerable teeth.

The result is the industry now coming to a near standstill while we wait for privacy definitions to be constructed and agreed upon. As consumers become more sophisticated in their understanding, and to some extent mistrust, of data collection via the Internet, nearly everyone from publishers to advertisers, OEMs to carriers, and developers to politicians have had to manage consumer privacy issues. All sides have the desire to reach the same goal. The NTIA has done a good job of engaging all the stakeholders in a very democratic discourse. Yet we may need to wait a little longer for ‘the year of mobile’ as election year politics are certain to keep this far from widespread public debate.

Mobile stands to benefit everyone and everything—advertisers, publishers, even other media channels. Privacy and tracking is now the single largest obstacle. We all need to participate in developing the regulatory policies to stop the standstill and move the industry forward.   

Bill Mickey

Bonnier Launches Media Company Start-Up Accelerator

Bill Mickey M and A and Finance - 08/23/2012-12:53 PM


Once derided as Johnny-come-latelys to the digital media game, traditional publishers are now becoming enthusiastic start-up accelerators, buying or incubating early-stage companies that aim to disrupt the media market. Bonnier has just joined the club with its own Innovation Lab, a 14-week program seeking applicants who are interested in "developing revolutionary products and services that will change the way major media companies engage with their audiences." The idea being that Bonnier, like other publishers, has already waded its way into the modern media world and knows a thing or two about digital business and audience development, marketing and content strategy.

Not quite an ownership-based incubator, such as Hearst's Interactive Media unit, the Innovation Lab is more like an educational program that helps entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground and into the market.

The brainchild of David Rich, Bonnier Corp.'s director of digital innovation, the program features a dozen mentors. Some are from Bonnier's ranks, including CEO Terry Snow, digital audience and analytics director Jennifer Anderson and VP of corporate communications Dean Turcol. And some are from VC firms and other start-ups.

Four start-ups will be selected for the first program and each receives a pretty generous set of perks, including a minimum of $25,000 in seed capital, $5,000 in PR support, $10,000 in PayPal transaction fees and about $79,000 in hosting credits from a variety of services including Amazon, Rackspace and Microsoft Azure.

For its part, Bonnier will get an equity stake in the startups if they make it from drawing board to real company—and presumably first dibs if it's a concept uniquely appealing to Bonnier. But how much that ends up being depends on the progress of each start-up and what is ultimately negotiated as they progress through the Lab.

Brian Pagel

Three Core Elements Marketers Want From Tradeshows

Brian Pagel B2B - 08/21/2012-15:39 PM


Like most of you, I pay close attention to what is going on in the event space. I find myself particularly interested in trends and the overall outlook for our industry. Not surprisingly, some events are up, others are down and many find themselves relatively flat. However, being internal optimists, we always look for the silver lining—exhibit space was off, but attendance was up. We had more exhibitors, but the average booth size was down. We are the masters of the spin for our customers, but what is really in store for trade shows?

The Center for Exhibition Industry Research recently released research on “The Role and Value of Face-to-Face Interaction.” Even during the “Great Recession,” and now in the midst of an increasingly digital world, in person events remain an important tool for many marketers. Your customer’s still have a desire to show their products and services to a highly concentrated group of targeted influencers. 

This is the good news, but there are still many risks to our overall business. Budgets are decreasing and every dollar is being scrutinized. Simply put, you cannot afford to rest on the historic influence the event industry has had as a marketing tool. We need to challenge the norm and look to adjust our model for the future. Savvy marketers want a simple, measurable and hassle free experience. So what does that mean?

Simple: Everything from the contract process to payments to registration needs to be easier.  Consider an alumni program that will take basic information (address, phone, contact, product category, directory listings, etc.) and carry it over year to year.  Give them the opportunity to update that information, but why should you ask your returning customers to recreate the wheel with every event?

Measurable: We all deal with question on ROI. Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all approach, but if your staff understands a marketers objectives in advance of the event, you can work to formulate and define what is or is not a realistic outcome. How will you ultimately be graded?

Hassel Free: If you have been in the business for any period of time, you know the single biggest complaint is drayage, labor and other variable costs.  Most exhibitors do a poor job of planning, and far too often they are surprised by their invoice.  Make it easy and look at “all in” packages that are inclusive of drayage, basic utilities, etc.

What are you doing differently to make for a better customer experience?

Brian Pagel is a Vice President at Nielsen Expositions, where he runs The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. Since re-joining Nielsen in 2001, Pagel has also served as a vice president in the Decorated Apparel Group. A 15-year veteran of the publishing, convention and exposition industries, Pagel has also held senior account executive positions with Leader Publishing and Bill Communications.


Baird Davis

Publishers Fiddle While the Newsstand Channel Burns

Baird Davis Audience Development - 08/16/2012-08:40 AM


To paraphrase Senator John McCain—let’s have some straight talk. The newsstand as we know it is nearing endangered species status. How much further do newsstand sales have to decline before publishers take corrective action?  

It’s well known that newsstand sales are in the dumper, but the depth of the audited publication sales slide in the first half of this year is even greater than has recently been reported by the media. A 9.6 percent sales decline (reported by the media) is huge, but the extent of the actual slide is more than 20 percent greater.

The reason for the difference is that the numbers reported by the media only represent the sales status of titles that were audited in both the first half of this year and the first half of last year. It doesn’t, however, include titles audited a year go, but have either ceased being audited and/or have discontinued being published. Examples include; Soap Opera Weekly, Soap Opera ABC, Soap Opera CBS, Cooking with Paula Deen and Spin. If sales data from discontinued/no longer audited titles are included in the calculation, the overall unit sales decline is estimated (based on preliminary ABC reports) to be a breath-taking 12.8 percent and a corresponding 12.2 percent fall in revenue.

The Newsstand Channel Is Being Hollowed Out

The devastating first-half sales are, as we’re all aware, not an anomaly. The steep decline began in the first half of 2008 and has essentially continued unabated since then. A brief recap illustrates the accumulative depth of the sales slide:


The unit sales of audited publications have declined nearly 45 percent in the last four and a half years. Since 2007 it’s estimated that by the end of 2012 the annual unit sales of audited publications will have fallen from about 930 million to 510 million—a staggering annual sales loss of 420 million copies. The revenue will have declined from $3.2 billion to approximately $2.4 billion.

What’s Gone Wrong?

There are many explanations for this decline—the great recession, fewer store visits and a more cost conscious consumer. But the most significant has been the impact of technological change that has increased the proclivity of consumers to acquire news and information on a range of mobile devices that are offering better and better user experiences. Together all of these things have contributed to the decline.

Should the Decline Have Been So Steep?

In this 4-year period of unprecedented change a substantial sales decline would certainly have been expected. But should it have been so severe? I would argue the decline has been exacerbated by a timid publishing community and the restraints of an antiquated newsstand channel distribution system. The channel has, in effect, been held hostage by a costly, inefficient system loaded with duplication of effort. This is largely a product of its two-middlemen (wholesalers and national distributors) configuration.

Years ago the channel probably required a two-middlemen check and balance approach in order to meet the needs of accommodating a vast distribution network with over 500 independent wholesalers. Today just three wholesalers control the majority of all magazine newsstand distributions and the two-middlemen configuration seems seriously out of date. However, the corrosive often adversarial nature of this configuration continues to persist, which has seriously thwarted the prospect for channel reform.

As I indicated in a February story (after the audit bureaus reported last year’s second-half sales) the magazine newsstand had reached viral conditions and it was clear that the desperately persistent decline was now feeding on itself. Six months later the first half results (the steepest sales decline in recent history) only confirms the viral nature of channel conditions.

Publishers and Wholesalers: Coping in the Age of Newsstand Austerity

For years publisher’s newsstand actions were dictated primarily by competitive self-interest. They largely ignored the health of the supply chain and the financial sustainability of its wholesaling “partners.” These actions, although seemingly counter productive, were precipitated by the huge diversity of the publishing community (like herding cats) and by the knowledge that they had a range of other alternatives (not just newsstand circ) for delivering readers to meet their circ level requirements.

The trend to less single copy circ has been continuing for many decades, but the recent 4-year newsstand sales decline, coupled by the advent of digital (replica) circ, has intensified the effect of the newsstand sales decline.

Let me give you a current example of how this works. People Magazine, the undisputed newsstand sales leader, experienced a nearly 19 percent decline in newsstand sales in the first half of this year. This translated to a 214,000 drop in newsstand circ. But People’s total paid circulation (nearly 3.6 million) remained virtually the same as it was in the year previous period (actually it was up about 6,000). To compensate for the “lost” newsstand circ, the subscription circ was increased by 220,000—this included a 77,000 increase in verified circ. Additionally People reported (for the first time) 37,000 replica circ.

The point here is publishers have alternatives for compensating for “lost” newsstand circ. But it comes with some serious tradeoffs. Adding subscribers to meet circ level requirements generally increases reader acquisition costs and, of course, the added subscribers remove potential newsstand buyers from the market, which has a subtle, but real, impact on future newsstand sales.

On the other hand wholesalers have far fewer alternatives for compensating for declining newsstand sales. Essentially those alternatives come down to reducing costs and increasing scale (growing market share). That’s exactly what’s happened. Wholesalers have lowered costs by reducing staff, consolidating distribution management at central locations and curtailing much needed system improvement investments.

Although it’s difficult to measure the sales effect of these cost-saving initiatives, by all accounts the cost containment strategy of wholesalers has definitely contributed to the sales slide. In the process the three remaining wholesaler groups continue to battle for market share. The News Group, one of three major wholesaling groups, has recently taken the Kroger account (a major seller of magazines) from another super-wholesaler, The Source. The News Group and Hudson News teamed to buy CMG, a large national distributor, from Hearst and Condé Nast. It’s still too early to read the results of this precedent-setting move, but I suspect it’s quietly resonating in the market. All of this appears to be setting up the inevitable battle for wholesaler survival among the three remaining wholesaling giants. This battle may come to nothing, but in the interim it’s helping keep the fragile newsstand channel in an unsettled condition.

In a declining newsstand market publishers have options, albeit they’re often costly. Wholesalers have a lesser number of viable options for coping in a down market. They are desperately trying to keep their financial ships afloat, while fighting a market share battle, which could eventually reshape the newsstand channel.

It’s Up to Publishers to Save the Newsstand Channel

Publishers have alternatives for replacing “lost” newsstand circ. This, however, has provided a false sense of security that has partially blinded them to the perils of a newsstand channel with greatly diminished capabilities. Yes, the prospect of more digital circ is in publisher’s future, but let’s be clear about the realities of consumer magazine publishing—for many years to come publishing survival will continue to be based on producing quality print products, attracting a cadre of advertisers, cost effectively acquiring print readers and protecting prime sources of circ (reader) acquisition.

None of the many circulation sources is more important than the newsstand. Without a viable newsstand sales market the prospect for the survival of consumer magazines will be seriously diminished.

Wholesalers and publishers, whether they like it or not, are bound at the hip. Publishers desperately need a viable newsstand channel and wholesalers need publishers that are fully committed to producing product with retail sales appeal.

What Can Be Done to Slow the Sales Slide?

At this juncture it’s not a matter of growing sales, but slowing the devastating 10 percent rate of annual decline. It’s no secret that channel efficiencies can be improved, duplicate effort eliminated and costs reduced. If that happened it could go a long ways towards stemming the severity of the sales fall.

If publishers and wholesalers needs are mutually dependent why aren’t these things being done?

Resolve the Scan-Based Trading Issue

There is no simple answer. But if I were to pick the major sticking point it involves the publisher/national distributor/wholesaler battle over how to adjust to the effects of scan based trading. Scan based trading now dominates wholesaler relationships with their major retailing clients. However, publishers/national distributors have not fully accepted this reality. It’s too complicated an issue to fully discuss in this note, but the gist is it revolves around publishers accepting scanned sales data, shifting inventory control to publishers and coming to grips with the so called “shrink” factor (the difference that may occur between scanned data and actual counts). There are also some audit bureau issues involved.

Scanned-based trading is a thorny issue, but resolving it may hold the key to unleashing the prospect for improving efficiencies and reducing channel costs. Publishers and wholesalers should be encouraged to resolve the scanned-based trading differences, which, in turn, will enable them to get on with the task of working more cooperatively to address the more important issue of stemming the sales slide.

I believe the ball is in the publisher’s court. They must step up to bat and get this done. If not the future for the newsstand looks very gloomy.


Bill Mickey Changes to Metered Paid Access Model

Bill Mickey B2B - 08/14/2012-12:37 PM


An announcement went out today, but if you haven't seen it, we've decided to put on a metered paid-access model. Here's why:

Our mission has always been to provide you with the most up-to-date and in-depth resources to help media companies succeed. Our news and analysis lead the industry. Our blogs, columns and more offer the context and perspective you need to optimize your business.

At the core of our decision was this: We felt that it's very important to place a clear value on our content, and to recognize the value that our best customers see in what we do. Also, as a brand that covers the digital-media transformation, we seek to not just reflect what the industry is doing, but to lead it as well.

This paid-access initiative will also allow us to invest in—to significantly improve it over time. We'll be adding regular multimedia features, more voices, more connectivity and more content.

Our paid-access model begins immediately. Here's the way it will work: Each month, you'll get to read eight stories on a complimentary basis. You'll be reminded as you get closer to the eighth report. After that, you'll be given the option of buying an annual subscription to for $69.95. Alternatively, you can gain full access to the site on a monthly basis for $14.95.

As a leader of the digital-content marketplace, we to need to adapt to the changing times. Our new format allows you, our most loyal customers, to choose the level of information you need.

Feel free to comment below; you can also email me at bmickey at