My grandfather passed away many years ago at the ripe old age of 88. He left a legacy that included perpetual fruitcakes (not referring to my brother, but to a multi-year post-death pre-paid Christmas delivery of doorstop cakes to everyone in the family). Â This happening in the 1980s gave the family an annual holiday giggle and we wondered why grandpa did this (was it a six-year special or a legacy joke?). Since this was pre-Internet and, most likely, pre-credit card renewal, grandpa, likely wrote a check, mailed it and ultimately balanced his checkbook (a real book).Which gets me to 2012 and other types of legacies. How about the legacy subscription? I spent an hour Saturday morning trying to cancel my Wall Street Journal subscription on its website. It isnâ€™t because I no longer want the Journal, itâ€™s because they have offered me (by mail) a far superior offer than my perpetual subscription that renews with my credit card. As an aside, you would think that they had audience development and list managers who would de-dupe and catch this stuff.But my catching it on Saturday didnâ€™t much matter. And that is because unless I want to telephone the Journalâ€™s subscription department, there is no way to cancel my subscription on their website (or at least none that I could find). While I am not suggesting anything sinister in Murdoch-land, I am suggesting that there may be some folks trying to think of me as one of those perpetual fruitcakes.I am not picking on the Journalâ€”this is true for many publishers. I think it is time to own up to some not-so-great practices and adopt better ones. Auto-renewal is fine, but there does need to be an easier â€śoutâ€ť and an easier way to understand when you can get out without having to wait on a phone call or read endless Qs and As, particularly when you are given better offers. I do like the way some of the titles are set up in the iTunes Store. Esquire has nailed a very civilized way of getting in or out of a subscription online. So has the new Huffington. But then there is the always-elegant The Atlantic, which politely thanks me for my support for 10 issues but I canâ€™t figure out when my support began or ends.The Web should up the game for publishers and subscription management. Right?
During IAC's second quarter earnings call today, chairman Barry Diller provided some feedback on the future of Newsweek as a print magazine. While the print version's survivability has been endlessly speculated on, Diller took an opportunity in the call to put the issue in better, if not entirely clear, focus. In answering a question from an analyst on the outlook for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and whether there were plans to make it a "lighter asset," Diller noted that the brand is doing better overall. "The brand is now much better and stronger than when we acquired it," he said. "There has been a true improvement in the book and Tina Brown and her staff have done a superb job."However, the recent decision by the Harman family to stop investing in Newsweek has shifted the majority stake onto IAC, as well as more of the burden of managing what is still a money-losing operation. "The consolidation does put it squarely on our heads," said Diller who added that investments from IAC will also be scaling back. "Our investment next year will be considerably less than it is this year."And while Diller said the brand is stronger, its print operation is still a wrench in the gears. "So what is the problem? The problem is in manufacturing and producing a weekly news magazine and that has to be solved. Advertising in this category is entirely elective. The transition to online from hard print will take place. We're examining all of our options."From there, Diller tapered off on providing any specifics on when and how the transition might happen, but noted that things will begin to look "different" starting next year.Currently, Newsweek's web presence is relegated to a channel via the main nav bar on The Daily Beast's home page. For the first half, ad pages were up about 8 percent for the magazine, per PIB numbers, and as of the December 2011 ABC publisher's statement, single copy sales were up about 3 percent for the six-month period.
Update: Jim Romenesko has a staff memo from Tina Brown that douses some of the more aggressive reporting that Newsweek is going online only. She says: "Barry Diller would like to make it clear that he did not say on the earnings call as reported that Newsweek is going digital in September. He made the uncontroversial, industry-wide observation that print is moving in the direction of digital."
For more than 35 years, magazine media professionals have come together to at the FOLIO: Show, the largest magazine industry eventâ€”three times larger than the next-closest event, and the only one that attracts the best and brightest from all sectors of the industry, whether consumer, b-to-b, association, city and regional, enthusiast and more. The FOLIO: Show is also the only event designed to provide industry education to all the disciplines, including editors, salespeople, audience developers, marketers, Web strategists and more.
In an effort to evolve with the changing media landscape and deliver more insights, innovative research and cutting-edge solutions to the magazine industryâ€™s biggest challenges, FOLIO: is producing a completely rethought event this year: MediaNext.
The reinvented conference focuses on the transformation of digital media and the introduction of new platformsâ€”mobile, tablets, social media, marketing services, events, e-commerce and more. But itâ€™s about more than that: Itâ€™s about magazines, and where they fit in this emerging mix. Itâ€™s about running a successful magazine-media business in 2012 and beyond, whether your business is primarily print-dependent or whether your revenue is from a variety of sources. In fact, MediaNext was programmed with the understanding that new and emerging media forms already have much in common with traditional forms, and there is a new definition of the media industry that encompasses both. Thatâ€™s what MediaNext is all about.
Leading industry experts will show you how to keep a finger on the pulse of this media revolution, helping you to master it all at MediaNext.
This event will still enable you to gain the critical intelligence and insight you need to succeed in the years ahead. With over 50 sessions, four industry-leader keynotes, four extended-length workshops, master classes featuring best-selling authors, microsessions, and peer-to-peer unsessions, you will get the education you need to thrive in this dynamic environment.Â Not only do you choose the subject matterâ€”but also the learning format that works best for you.Â With 2,000+ expected attendees, speakers and exhibitors, MediaNext is the must-attend event for learning and seeking partnerships.Â Join your peers and experience MediaNext, the top industry conference. MediaNext is the best place to learn exactly thatâ€”whatâ€™s next in media.
Check out the 2012 brochure here. To register, click here.
T.J. Raphael is the associate editor of FOLIO:'s sister publication and supplement, Audience Development magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @TJRaphael1.
Itâ€™s an article of faith among digital publishers that content partnerships are one of the key levers for success. If youâ€™re operating a small site and you want to grow, you need to partner up with big distributors that can serve as megaphones, amplifying your content and, the theory goes, bringing a new audience back to you. If youâ€™re running a big site, you need partners to provide fresh content, and lots of it, to satisfy the millions of eyeballs arriving each day.Â And so we live in a partnership ecosystem. As a medium-sized player, we at The Atlantic have partnerships going in both directions. We send some of our best stories to sites that have huge traffic. We take smart stories from smaller sites that are happy to share their goods with our strong brand and relatively large audience.Â All of these partnerships raise the obvious question: Is it really a good idea for publishers to give away their content for free? The arguments cut both ways.Â The chief argument in favor of sharing content is that you can get direct traffic in return. If the partner site is displaying your logo and linking to other stories on your site, itâ€™s a fine idea to give away a story or two in return. This is a plausible theory that bears out on occasion. If, for example, Yahoo! runs a story from The Atlantic or one of our sister sites, especially on its home page, there can be a surge of traffic from Yahoo! back to our pages. Not always, and often the surge is more like a trickle, but it can be something.Â But what if The Atlanticâ€™s partner has a particularly strong presence in social media? If it rips an Atlantic article and then uses its social infrastructure to push that piece to the world, the inbound traffic from Facebook or Twitter goes to the partner site, not to us. (This assumes that the partner is linking to our article on its site, not our article on our site.)We donâ€™t worry much that when Yahoo! posts our story, theyâ€™re grabbing readers who would otherwise have read that piece on TheAtlantic.com. Those might be separate audiences. But if our partner was dominating Facebook, Twitter and Reddit with links back to our story on its site, our own social efforts might be drowned out. With social media now generating the plurality of our unique visitors, this could hurt.Â Now letâ€™s consider branding. This, some say, ought to be the tiebreaker. If you accept that there are gains to be made from direct links but losses to be suffered in social media (and maybe donâ€™t be too quick to accept either of those theories), then the branding benefit could be persuasive. The theory, of course, is that just having your logo on another site, even if there are no clicks back, is good exposure for your brand. Certainly thereâ€™s logic in that: A highway road sign provides branding, even if customers are cruising past at 60 mph. Maybe youâ€™ll stop at that pancake house not now, but in the next state over.Â OK, but thereâ€™s a case to be made that people have been trained to tune out the noise when theyâ€™re on websitesâ€”to avoid the blinking ads and the right-rail modules and the partner logos.Â If theyâ€™re reading defensively, if theyâ€™re tuning out the noise, then youâ€™re not getting exposure after all. And, if you were happily trading exposure for some losses in social media, well, maybe that trade isnâ€™t worth it anymore.Â I still believe in content partnerships. But we should be honest about the possible tradeoffs, and humble in our certainty about how exactly these arrangements work.
Bob Cohn is editor of Atlantic Digital. In this role, he oversees all
editorial components of The Atlanticâ€™s digital and mobile properties,
including TheAtlantic.com, TheAtlanticWire.com, and
TheAtlanticCities.com, as well as the print publicationâ€™s integration on
Only 20 percent of sales and marketing executives are confident that their current demand generation campaigns are effective, according to recently released research from Corporate Visions, Inc., a leading sales and marketing messaging company.Â Based on a poll of more than 440 b-to-b sales and marketing professionals around the globe, the survey results arenâ€™t really surprising and highlight both a challenge and opportunity for publishers and their clients. While there is a lot of great data, which is detailed in Corporate Visions' Q2 2012 Sales and Marketing Messaging Report, I suggest publishing executives focus on three key takeaways:â€˘ The Content Gap: When asked to name the biggest barrier to successful demand generation campaigns, 37 percent of respondents said their content isn't engaging enough. This represents a prime opportunity for publishers to help their clients upgrade their content campaigns with offers that are relevant to their prospects.
â€˘ Off-Base Offers: 60 percent of respondents said their organizationsâ€™ demand generation campaigns focus too heavily on their own products, features and services, rather than focusing on their customers' pain points. With many of our clients in the high tech sector, we refer to this as â€śspeeds and feedsâ€ť disease. The natural inclination for sales and marketing is to talk about how much better their solution is, but prospects are more interested in talking about their own business challenges and how to solve them. According to the results of our recent 2012 Content Preferences Survey, 75 percent of the respondents want companies to curb the sales messaging in their content. Another 60 percent said theyâ€™re placing a greater emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source when they assess the value of a piece of content.Because publishers are dialed in to the issues that are top of mind within their communities and have experts on the topics, this represents another perfect opportunity to step in and bridge the gap from publishing one-way narratives to establishing a real dialogue with prospects. â€˘ The Disconnect Between Sales And Marketing: 65 percent of respondents said their sales teams use less than half of the demand generation content their marketing department produces. Over the years, Iâ€™ve worked on a lot of business publications where our sales reps were only talking to marketing executives. When publishers get closer to the sales team at their clients they can identify the pain points and gaps where the sales team feels like they need new and improved messaging. With many of our current clients, weâ€™ve been able to create e-books that are wildly popular with sales teams, in addition to being used as bait for lead generation campaigns. This should be the goal for publishers: Become a partner in driving the messaging that will help drive revenue. Iâ€™d recommend checking out the full survey from Corporate Visions, as well as some of the content work the company is doing. There are ideas publishers will want to adopt and bring to their customers.
Andrew Gaffney is the President of G3 Communications, Inc., a firm specializing in digital media and custom contnent. G3 Communications publishes DemandGen Report, Retail TouchPoints and Channel Marketer Report. In addition to its digital publications, G3â€™s Content4Demand marketing services division creates custom content optimized for lead generation and lead nurturing campaigns for more than 100 different clients ranging from Fortune 100 firms to venture-backed startups.
Do the names Hanley and Wood mean anything to you? They should. Mike Hanley and Michael Wood are the founders of one of the biggest b-to-b media companies in the U.S. And the two were reunited recently in a deal through Mr. Wood's investment firm, Redwood Investments. The firm bought CSP Information Group last week, a b-to-b media company that targets the convenience store and restaurant markets. The portfolio includes four magazines and associated newsletters, websites and events. The deal was brokered by Berkery Noyes, which represented Redwood.Wood's son, Mike Wood, Jr., who is president of Redwood, will become CEO of CSP, which he says has tripled its revenue in the last six years. According to Wood Jr., CSP will become a platform for further acquisitions in the convenience store and restaurant media space. "We expect to invest in and grow CSP's existing businesses particularly in the digital, mobile and information realms, and to become an active acquirer of c-store, restaurant and foodservice industry media, trade shows and businesses," he says in a statement. Michael Wood will become chairman of the new company and Mike Hanley, an investor in the company, will also join the board. Pair this deal with the recent acquisition of Northstar Travel Media by the Wicks Group and you get the sense that b-to-b media companies that effectively spread their revenue across print, digital and live events still have appeal. Marketing services may be where the action is, and banks definitely still have some troubled assets on their hands which has pinched financing and can wreak havoc with structuring a deal, but these types of transactions are still getting done.
Many media reps who sell both print and on-line media lead their client conversations talking about print. Since it can take as much time to sell a $7,000 print ad as a $1,000 banner ad, this can look like the fastest way to meet quota...or is it?
I have found the opposite is true. Starting with print can lead to lower print sales. Sound crazy? Here are three reasons why:1. Advertisers would rather talk about digital options than talk about print. Digital media is new and more interesting for them. Honestly, what is there to say that is new and exciting about print advertising that can compare?
2. When calling on smaller and mid-sized accounts there is a very real opportunity to be a hero by helping them understand the chaos that is digital media today. Many of the organizations you call on don't have on-staff expertise who keep up with the changing digital marketplace. If you keep up, you can be of real service to them.
3. Finally, digital media is more strategic than print because of the metrics that show up after a campaign. When you can look at the results together, a great detailed conversation can result.
If focus your client time first on where their interests are, you will simply have a better conversation and make a better connection which will be more rewarding for both of you.
I find that by talking about digital options first I become far more valuable to my clients, find out more about their needs, and uncover far more opportunities.
When more client understanding, trust, and opportunities are developed far more productive ways to work print into the media budget present themselves. Â
The best way to sell more print advertising is to have client conversations directed by what is most interesting and useful for your customers, not commissions. Most often, this means starting your conversation about digital.
This post originally appears on Josh Gordon's Ad Sales blog.Â
Speculation on a potential sale of digital magazine and newsstand provider Zinio has been swirling for some time now, and Fortune reported Monday that the company had indeed put itself on the block: "The San Francisco-based company has hired investment bank Montgomery & Co. to manage the process, with one source saying that the company is seeking between $50 million and $100 million. No idea yet if there is buy-side interest at that price."Since that report, we put in a request for comment and Zinio has released a statement, telling Folio:, "Committed to growing the company, we have retained Montgomery & Co to facilitate capital raising strategies and discussions. While the company has been engaged in similar discussions in the past, Zinio has never had a stronger vision, strategy and roadmap to engage the right set of potential partners."The timing of Zinio's capital raising efforts comes on the heels of the sale of Texterity, a digital magazine services provider, to Godengo, a company that has roots in regional magazine web development and now builds content management systems. It's not necessarily a coincidence, but it is a very crowded market out there for digital magazine services and newsstand providers. In Texterity's case, the company ran out of money before it could take the necessary next steps to fund growth plans.Further speculation over a potential buyer could zero in on a technology company or, say, a company like RR Donnelley, a printer that's been rapidly expanding into digital content services. The company, with $10 billion in 2011 revenues, has made a series of acquisitions over the last year. Importantly, the company bought LibreDigital last year, which provides digital magazine content production, analytics and distribution services. It's also bought Journalism Online, maker of the Press+ paid content platform; scooped up EDGAR Online for $70.5 million; and invested $2.5 million in catalog shopping app CoffeeTable, which lets readers make purchases directly from within the application.
With 'traditional' publishers quickly making inroads into nontraditional content sales and development, their suppliers have only had to follow suit and acquisitions are the quickest way to play catch-up.
This post originallyÂ appearedÂ on Josh Gordon's Ad Sales Blog.Â
If you follow the traditional publishing business model in an ever more digital world, it is inevitable. The traditional magazine business model is based on creating content to attract eyeballs, and then to sell exposure (advertising) to them. This basic plan has kept magazine publishers profitable for over a hundred years. But this model faces harsh challenges in today's digital media world. The problem is a far more efficient way to deliver eyeballs online, called "search." Every marketer knows that they can get far more eyeballs and clicks per dollar for their website by buying â€śsearchâ€ť instead of digital media from traditional publishers. Why every publisher does not know this is a mystery to me.
To understand the problem let's look at a rough example with the math:
Say you publish a magazine that charges $6,000 for a page of print advertising and gets $1,000 for a banner on it's website. What if running either a print or newsletter ad gains exposure to many eyeballs and results in 75 click-thoughs to an advertiserâ€™s website? Depending on the expense of appropriate keywords, a click-through generated by Google, or another search engine, could cost as little as 20 cents or as much as $5. So, Google would charge between $15 to $375 for the same number of clicks you are asking advertisers to pay $1,000 or $5,000 for. Argue all you want about the quality of your clicks. With this big of a price difference, it is going to be hard to make it stick.
If you donâ€™t think the online advertisers in your niche are impressed by this math, think again. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) [chart below], almost half of all online ad dollars (46.5%) now go to search. A recent analysis of where Google gets its ad dollarsÂ shows penetration into niches traditionally held by publishers.
But there is a better way to compete. The core strength of digital media is not in its ability to deliver exposure to eyeballs, but in its ability to deliver interactive experiences. Why sell one-way communication (eyeballs) for what is a fundamentally interactive medium? With this in mind, a new model for publishers is emerging:
Use content to build data on potential customers. Use that data to build sponsorable interactive customer experiences.
In this context, a piece of data is either the location of an individual (address, phone number, name, company name, e-mail address, zip code, etc.) or information about the individual that explains his or her behavior (buying intentions, current products owned, income, demographics, sex, ethnicity, political orientation, type of car owned, etc.).
What can you do with this kind of data? Letâ€™s look at that rough magazine example where they are charging $5,000 for print ads and $1,000 for web banners. With the right data, what else could they sell?
Targeted sponsored webinars.
Cost of sponsorship: $7,500 to $15,000
Live sponsored events.
Cost of live event sponsorships: $5,000 to $15,000
Market research to sell.
Cost of market research: $2,000 to $15,000
Market consulting opportunities.
$7,000 and up
Highly focused direct marketing based on opt in lists (e-blasts).
$2,000 to $4,000
These are not digital dimes.
IAB online ad revenue for 2011 shows the continued growth of search.
The Economist Group this week released its annual financials, ending March 31, and the numbers looked good, with revenue and profits up (4 percent and 6 percent), as well as circulation.
But while the overall circ of The Economist is at 1.6 million, says the company, only 123,000 subscribe digitally. But according to Oscar Grut, managing director, Economist Digital, that could change dramatically in the next year.
In a recent blog post, lifted from his comments in the annual report, Grut notes that reader studies have revealed that long-form content continues to be valued, especially in digital form:
"We are fortunate because tablets, e-readers and smartphones allow our readers to enjoy the ritual, lean-back, immersive experience of reading The Economist that they love in print. Many of our readers tell us that this experience is, in fact, even better than print, because as well as being lean-back, digital editions are delivered immediately and reliably (much more so than via the postal service)."
Grut adds that a majority of American subscribers noted in another survey conducted last year that print was the preferred format, but 60 percent of those respondents said by 2013 they'd likely change that preference to digital.
Grut's full post, where he digs into The Economist's broader digital strategy, is available here.
Did you see the new Apple Newsstand magazine called Huffington.? Arianna (I donâ€™t know her but that is how she signed the introductory editorâ€™s letter so I guess we are on a first name basis) tells us that â€śHuffingtonâ€™s content will emphasize the richâ€”and richly rewardingâ€”interactions that come from uninterrupted time spent in the company of creative minds.â€ť Oh, dear. That grand statement comes after a 2-page ad for Prius V that, because as in true print magazine format, Huffington. must be read vertically (no turning of your iPad, please), we canâ€™t read the copy that goes across the gutter. Follow me? That's because there is no gutter on an app that canâ€™t be turned.Anyway, it is really pretty. There are great photos and some snappy graphics to highlight data and charts. But then it has these annoying little headlines that say, â€śEnter,â€ť which, because I assume that it is beckoning me to do so I push and push and push and all that happens is I get the table of contents (again and again and again). And then there are the similar â€śVoices,â€ť where I keep thinking Iâ€™ll find audio (love my New Yorker app issues that have poets reading their works). Nope, no voices here. There is some clever use of reader comments and a good article or two including the cover piece called, â€śObamaâ€™s perilous relationship with young voters.â€ť Â I guess the ad snafu aside, I am not appalled to be spending yet another 20 bucks for an annual subscription to something. But what is this something? Who is it for? I canâ€™t find that demo that should be so evident in a magazine. And why in a world where legacy publishers are trying to find life after print would a successful digital-first entity imitate print in the most sophisticated digital medium, the tablet? What am I missing? Are they going to sell a ton of print-like ads (note to sales team: 86 the spreads from the rate card)? Have they modeled that one percent of their supposed 80 million unique users per month will spend $20 per year? That would be a $16 million revenue stream. Hmmm. Or is this just one of those, â€śI did it because I could?â€ť
Warren Bimblick is senior vice president, strategy and business development, at Penton Media. Follow him on Twitter @wbimblick. Â
Granted, thereâ€™s not many things more certain than death and taxes but I found one more: any time I started off a declaration with the phrases â€śBack in my dayâ€¦â€ť or â€śWhen I was YOUR ageâ€¦â€ť with one of my classes of Introduction to Writing & Reporting at the University of South Alabama, I could pretty much guarantee a room full of collective eye rolling. â€śIs that when you drove your Model T to school?â€ť one of the class clowns would invariably smirk.
In this particular instance I was explaining to the room of Gen Y-ers that in my first job as a newspaper reporter I went to what is known as a public library and did researchâ€¦in BOOKS! Well, they were largely unimpressed, and why shouldnâ€™t they be? For the uninitiated itâ€™s much easier to simply Google a topic or go to Wikipedia to get the information you need to write a fairly comprehensive story. The problem is that by no stretch of the imagination can that be considered â€śreportingâ€ť or â€śjournalism." At best, itâ€™s simply laziness. At worst, itâ€™s plagiarism.
Google Journalism actually reared its ugly head when I was a judge for the Eddy Awards in 2010. One of my categories was association publications and I was perusing the pages of a travel associationâ€™s magazine when I came across an article on European cruises. The alleged writer of the article was clearly guilty of not picking up the phone to find out more information and it was obvious by what I was reading; the story read like promotional copy gleaned from minute upon minute of research on the cruise lineâ€™s website. Worse yet, it was terrible: it wasnâ€™t until five or six paragraphs into the piece that it stated exactly where the ships sailed to and from, pretty basic information, if you ask me. Not only was this lazy writer just Googling his research, he had never heard of our friend, â€śthe inverted pyramid.â€ť
At the risk of being called a hypocrite, I must confess to my own dalliances of Googling info and putting it into a story. It occurred when I worked at a dysfunctional publishing company where the left hand (editorial) seldom if ever knew what the right hand (sales) was doing. One of the sales assistants walked into the editorial suite and asked if one of us could write up 1,200 words on skiing in West Virginia. I stupidly volunteeredâ€”I had neither skied nor been to West Virginiaâ€”because I thought I would have the luxury of time to make some calls and do some research. â€śWhen do you need it?â€ť I asked. â€śUmmm, around lunch,â€ť was the reply. This editorial was to go around ads in a special advertising section in a national magazine so time was of the essence in order to meet the magazineâ€™s stringent deadline.
I called and emailed West Virginiaâ€™s bureau of tourism. Nada. So in order to meet my deadline I had to resort to the very practice I loathed: Google journalism. Not a proud moment but I think I was able to put the info into my own voice enough so that it would not be a direct rip off of www.skiwestva.com or whatever site I came across. In this case, it was more of a challenge as a writer to take unfamiliar material and reinterpret it in your own voiceâ€¦or at least thatâ€™s how I justified it to myself at the time.
The best stories occur when youâ€™re able to get out there and meet and mingle with people and get the lowdown on what it is youâ€™re covering. As I told my students, you need to become an expert on what it is youâ€™re writing about so that the reader wonâ€™t have any questions about the story they just read.
Google has its place, but mainly to find sources and background information. It is a crutch that threatens to retroactively cripple our industry, especially the next generation of budding journalists. Cue eye roll.
Mark A. Newman is a Senior Editor with Hanley Wood's Remodeling magazine. He has spent close to two decades in the publishing world and has been everything from Editorial Director to Editorial Assistant and literally everything in between.