If TIME's latest cover sets the newsstand a-buzz as much as it has the social web it should have a hit on its hands. The May 21st U.S. edition touts a cover story about "attachment parenting" by featuring a young mother nursing her 3-year-old son who's standing on a chair and attached to her left, mostly exposed, breast. Both stare straight into the camera with practiced ennui.With the main cover lines shouting "Are You Mom Enough?" the cover is casually confrontational while subtly daring you to judge the concept itself. Media writer Jack Shafer quipped on Twitter that TIME has "Businessweek cover envy," alluding to a steady stream of provocative covers from Bloomberg Businessweek. That magazine's recent cover story on private equity was illustrated by an "American Psycho"-inspired, chainsaw wielding financier and was called out for misrepresenting the pro-private equity piece. Similarly provoking, but really more funny, a February Bloomberg Businessweek cover features fornicating jetliners. Hey, sex sells. But a Continental-United business merger? Not so much.The Economist is another weekly title that has used its covers to make its readers think, and sometimes chuckle, rather than bashing them over the head with the obvious.Envy or not, the newsstand is becoming a grim place to do business. The temptation to be eye-catching by tickling a funny bone or challenging a single-copy buyer's social or moral boundaries is high. But it's a fine line between nudge-nudge-wink-wink and this. One step over that line and you've abandoned wit for poor taste.Done right, however, and with some consistency, you can serve up a level of anticipation among readers and an added layer of personality to the brandâespecially those with a weekly frequency.
As long as there has been celebrity culture, there have been women griping about the unobtainability of airbrushed perfection. The latest controversy is led by 14-year-old Julia Bluhm, whose online petition asking Hearstâs Seventeen to publish one Photoshop-free spread a month caught the attention of the nation. The petition on change.org now has over 49,400 signatures, and the crusade culminated in a protest outside Hearst Towers yesterday.
In response to a request for comment, a Seventeen spokesperson emailed, âWeâre proud of Julia for being so passionate about an issue â itâs exactly the kind of attitude we encourage in our readers â so we invited her to our office to meet with editor in chief Ann Shoket this morning. They had a great discussion, and we believe that Julia left understanding that Seventeen celebrates girls for being their authentic selves, and thatâs how we present them. We feature real girls in our pages and there is no other magazine that highlights such a diversity of size, shape, skin tone and ethnicity.â
One can only imagine the conversation between Shoket and Bluhm, and whether Bluhm felt as if her concerns were properly addressed.
Regardless of Seventeenâs resolution, the rest of the industry is slowly addressing the âreal womenâ controversy. Conde Nast International announced the 19 editors on its international Vogue editions will ânot knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder,â reports the Wall Street Journal. PEOPLE opened its âMost Beautifulâ Issue to reader submissions; though only those between the age of 20 and 59 are eligible for consideration. Ladiesâ Home Journal continues the trend of âreal womenâ integration into its pages, with audience contribution featured in the majority of editorial content.
Setting impossible standards for the everyday woman is a crime media is often accused of, be it magazines, television or movies. But on the other side, one has to wonder if those women demanding realistic depictions on glossy covers would continue to buy products if this came true: Fantasy is a large selling point for consumer magazines, whether readers realize it or not.
Blaming Seventeen, Cosmo, Vogue etc. for creating impossible stereotypes strikes me as an oversimplification of a complex matter. Expecting corporate-produced products with ad page and circulation quotas to serve as moral compasses is as silly as expecting pop stars to behave as role models.
As it was reported by FOLIO: on March 29th, our long-time competitor, Texterity, has been acquired by Godengo. That same day, actually hours later, a venture capital firm contacted me and asked if I had heard the news. They then wondered if they could help me "keep up with the great things that Texterity and Godengo were going to do together." The question made me pause and take stock in what indeed had happened. Then it brought a smile to my face.
In my opinion, venture capital is definitely one direction a company can go when you need money and are growing a company. Many great companies have started that way and went on to do great things. However, I also believe this same strategy is a reason many companies have failed over the years. What follows the influx of cash from VC firms is generally a call to grow the company via customer acquisition, with little regard to making a profit. The model dictates that if you only get more customers, the rest will take care of itself.
Unfortunately, it doesnât work that way. Profits are really what allow that company to pay back investors or make the company so profitable that the venture capital people will get the payday they so desperately seek. If and when that doesnât happen, then you are expendable and subject to a merger, with the goal of the repackaged asset looking more valuable than it was before.
My partners and I determined long ago we were going to grow our business organically; taking anything we made and pouring it back into the company to grow Nxtbook into what we know it could be. Itâs not always easy to do that, given the promises of easy cash that can be achieved now through VC funding.
Since 2003, I have received calls or emails from 27 different VC firms, most of them multiple times over the years. These calls hit a frenzy in 2008 when we were named 303 on the Inc 500 list of fastest growing companies in America. Calls ranging from, "I just wanted check in and see if Nxtbook was ready for an investment yet," to "We will stay out of your way and let your team run the business" and my favorite, "You wonât even know we are around." Each time we turned them down because we knew what the investment would ultimately mean; we would lose control over our own business.
Like any industry, but especially prevalent in our industry, most of our competitors are funded by venture capitalists and seem to work hard at customer acquisition while not working at all to generate a profit. I draw this conclusion based on how many are providing software almost for free or charging very little for their product. Obviously customer acquisition is paramount to their play, since they long ago abandoned profit as a core to their business.
This lack of profit translates directly into a lack of customer service. How can you have any customer service, much less good customer service when you arenât making money to pay the people who provide it? Over time, this results in the changing of what was once a feared competitor. That change begins when the people who were the core of the company leave or are asked to leave because the company can no longer afford their talents. These people leave and the knowledge they have about the company and the industry is lost forever. Who sees it most are the customers who expected certain service levels to be maintained, yet those levels certainly erode over time.
I strongly believe that as a company your business life is made of choices, what you do and how you grow is all part of your business, your core fundamental belief in where you will travel as an organization. We as a company are here to make a profit. Not a crazy rich profit but one that provides an ability to grow as a company and keep up with the demands of the rapidly changing technology sector. We make that profit simply because that profit allows all things to be. Without it, we would be just another failed digital supplier being combined with another company with the hopes of something relevant coming out the other side.
We know that we are relevant right here and right now. Our customers depend on us to have a great product backed up by service that is second to none. Iâm not saying we always hit the target exactly in either area but I assure you we have and will continue to do our best in both regards. That is what makes us a great company, always striving to be the best partner to our very valuable clients.
Our employees depend on us to be around a long time and provide great benefits and good solid living potential for each and every one. This is a responsibility that we donât take lightly. They commit to give us with their best and they certainly deserve the same consideration in return.
Lastly, our community depends on us to be a light or shining example of a technology company right here in Lancaster, PA. We have no intention of shying away from that responsibility. We work in the community to show young people what is possible in technology without having to move away from home. We provide students job-shadowing opportunities, fund classrooms, and provide speakers to classes or invite teachers to Nxtbook to see us for themselves.
We feel all of these things are important to us as an organization but most important to us are you, our customers. We want you to know that we will continue providing strong product offerings backed up with customer service that is the best in the business. We are built for the long haul and I want to personally assure you that we will be here for you as our industry continues to move and shift. We wonât let you down.
Michael Biggerstaff is the chief inspiration officer at Nxtbook Media.
Does the homepage really matter? Yes -- but not, perhaps, for the reasons you may think.
The homepage is the single best way for editors to convey the sensibilities and values of their websites. Everything about the page â the design; the selection of stories and images; the treatment of features and widgets; the language and cadence of the headlines; the typeface; the frequency with which the page is updated; even the ads â is a statement about what matters to the publication. With one glance at the page (literally, a 10-second glance), a reader can get answers to these questions:
â˘ Whatâs this site about? News? Analysis? Service? Gossip?
â˘ Whatâs the sensibility? Serious? Playful? Quirky? Geeky?
â˘ What are the subject areas that matter most to its editors? Washington? Wall Street? Hollywood? Silicon Valley?
For these reasons, the homepage is, as the marketing team would put it, the ultimate brand statement. And, by the same logic, all this is true for the home screen of a magazineâs tablet app, too.
Thereâs one thing, though, that the homepage is not much good for: driving traffic. While I donât have data on this, itâs my sense, anecdotally, that many editors continue to believe that one of the primary goals of the homepage is to guide readers to the articles on the site. I know thatâs what I long believed. But the evidence â and here there is data â suggests the homepage is overvalued as a mechanism for generating visits to interior pages.
Across The Atlantic sites, the fraction of visits that begin on the homepage is surprisingly small. About 13 percent of visits to our flagship TheAtlantic.com start on the homepage. That figure is about 8 percent for The Atlantic Wire and 10 percent for The Atlantic Cities. That means, of course, that roughly 9 in 10 sessions begin on an article page or, much less frequently, a channel or author landing page.Â
It is the case, of course, that getting promoted to the homepage can give a boost to an article. Just not as much as we might have thought â and not the way we imagined. In the ongoing cubicle game to puzzle out the Google algorithm, our editors have noticed that a story that gets a big burst of traffic in a short period of time tends to fare better in search returns. The overall number of readers to the piece may not be huge, but if they come to the article within a narrow band of time, that may be enough to affect search returns, even days later. And, naturally, a story that does well in search tends to attract a larger audience.
So hereâs a traffic lever: a homepage tease can, in certain circumstances, generate a concentrated burst of readers to an article, which can tickle the Google algorithm and improve the storyâs performance in search. This peculiar bankshot is one way that a storyâs placement on the homepage can bring substantial traffic.
Still, with 90 percent of visits starting on a page not considered the homepage, one conclusion is obvious: Every page is a homepage. However readers arrive at our site â from a Yahoo link or a Facebook post or a Google search or a mention on YourMomsBlog â we need to find ways to keep them there. That means designing article pages to drive the next click: related content headlines, video boxes, most popular modules, most shared modules.
Many sites are good at this, but, paradoxically, being too good can be a problem. Iâve seen article pages on popular and respected sites with pop-ups, oversized social buttons, and right rails that look like Times Square. Donât forget why the audience came in the first place: to read the article.
For big media companies, all this can be scary. As powerful as the brand may be, itâs disconcerting to realize that each article lives out there by itself and has to succeed on its own. This is more true than ever in the atomized world of social media, where the individual post, photo gallery, and infographic is untethered from the brand and shared as an independent unit.
You can post that unit to your home page â and if itâs good, you should. But thatâs not how readers will find it.
Bob Cohn is editor of Atlantic Digital. In this role, he oversees all editorial components of The Atlanticâs digital and mobile properties, including TheAtlantic.com, TheAtlanticWire.com, and TheAtlanticCities.com, as well as the print publicationâs integration on digital platforms.
Frank Cutitta, CEO of the Center for Global Branding, speaking at the American Business Media Annual Meeting in San Francisco Tuesday, offered an insight into the relationship of IT and Marketing. With a slide showing a road sign warning drivers to slow down next to another of a rocket careening out of control, said: âIT is the land of slow and no. Theyâre like, âFrank, we have to really think this through.â And marketing is the unguided missile. Like me.
âThere are few people with âdouble-deepâ skills, expertise in IT and in marketing,â he concluded.
MORE 2012 ABM ANNUAL MEETING COVERAGE:
ABM Annual Meeting CoverageJack Griffin at ABM Annual Meeting: Not Enough Advertising to Support All of Us
The Western Publishing Association had its annual conference Friday in Los Angeles after a layoff of a couple of years. Called WPA Media Publishing Conference 3.0: Navigation. Innovation. Growth, the event was lightly attended, with perhaps 100-120 total attendees, including speakers and exhibitors. (Pictured to the right is the closing panel: Rick Calvert, CEO, BlogWorld & New Media Expo; Jordan Gold, VP, products & content, Freedom Interactive; Dan McCarthy, partner, DeSilva + Phillips. Pictured below to the right is the closing panel audience.)
But the content was often quite strong, and as with all face-to-face events, there are always important snippets of insight and business approaches worth holding on to. Following are some of the highlights.
â˘ Paul Miller, CEO of UBM Electronics and UBM Canon, on the future of his business: âI donât think advertising is the future for us. Weâre engaged in marketing services and e-commerce.â
â˘ Also from Miller: âThe tech-publishing sector is the front seat of the roller coaster.â
â˘ Dan McCarthy, partner at DeSilva + Phillips, in the executive forum: âThe holy grail is to push your way into your audienceâs workflow. Salespeople need the tools to say, âThis is exactly what Iâve given you, but what are you giving me credit for?â Counting outcomes is the single biggest practice that needs to move from digital to print.â
â˘ 1105 Media CEO Neal Vitale, during the same session: âPrepackage what it is you want your client to know.â â˘ McCarthy in the same session: âClients stop doing business with you not because your results are bad, but because your customer service is bad.â
â˘ McCarthy during the closing session: âThere are three trends in companies that are doing really well. First, demand value for the things they think are valuable. They sell something. Second, they build their companies around technology, including emerging ones. And third, they have people of all ages working at their companies. They donât need young people, they need smart people able to learn new things. And hereâs another: They are increasingly willing to partner.â
â˘ McCarthy during the closing session: âThe position of âchief digital officerâ is window dressing. It makes me cringe. The guy or woman who runs the company should be responsible.â
Expanding the b-to-b audience is something all publishers in this demographic are trying to doâgrowing circulation beyond traditional bases is essential in 2012 and something Nick Cavnar, vice president of circulation for Hanley Wood Business Media, understands.
When looking at new media versus a qualified model, media professionals can see that the results provide somewhat of a schizophrenic audience model, Cavnar told an audience of about 30 at a recent meeting of the National Trade Circulation Foundation, Inc.
Print circulation sticks with the old rules, Cavnar said. The cost of print, paper and postage favors the highly qualified audience model, while new media focuses on new metrics of tracking what an audience views, opens, clicks and likes as a way to validate qualifications.
The question of breaking with the traditional, said Cavnar, is worth considering.
âAdding additional âexpandedâ circulation by sending the digital edition to newsletter lists, event attendees and others normally means going to a broader list that isnât as tightly qualified as the print circulation,â he tells AD. âExpanded circulation might include business groups outside of the core advertising marketâsmaller companies, distributors and manufacturers as well as end users. Expanded circulation may also show up as non-request sources in a BPA statement thatâs always been 100 percent direct request, or might include 3-year dates.â
Cavnar is right. Looking beyond your traditional audience to target and convert newsletter recipients, trade show and conference attendees, and Web visitors as part of your qualified audience is an easy and effective way to expand reach. But, what about less obvious means of expansion, and not just with digital editions?
Young people in colleges and universities around the United States could be a perfect source to expand your b-to-b audience, capturing an entirely new generation of professionals while they are in the beginning stages of their careers. While converting new bases and young professionals can be an effective way to expand reach, there can be some issues associated with breaking from the norm.
âThe âproblem and concernâ here is whether sales people and advertisers will understand the added value of these broader audiences, when for so long theyâve focused only on very tightly qualified print circulation,â says Cavnar. âThe challenge for publishers is to show that they are still delivering the tightly qualified core, but can offer additional broader coverage to the advertiser at very little or no additional cost, due to the lower cost of delivering the digital version.â
What about taking it a step further, beyond just the digital edition? A b-to-b magazine about construction, for instance, could contact college and university level architecture and design programs around the country and offer a subscription to students that could be incorporated into the course curriculum. Courting college professors could grow circulation--they could position a publication as a vital information source on the current market climate in a particular industry and secure new demographics for years to come.
Furthermore, if offering a subscription at cost, a reduced price subscriptionâmaybe $100 a yearâis considerably cheaper than the majority of academic textbooks and something the majority of students and educators would likely be open to. Take the New York Times as one example. While it isn't b-to-b, the paper offers journalism and communications students a discounted subscription, and the news reported in the publication is leveraged into classroom discussions and courses.
Whatever the avenue, the market is ever changing and looking beyond the traditional audience is not only an effective way to expand circulation, but vital to capturing overlooked bases of professionals.
T.J. Raphael is the Associate Editor ofÂ Audience Development Magazine.Â
Itâs 6 p.m. on a typical Monday and my office e-mail box has logged in 110 e-mails today. As is true of most workdays, about 20 percent of them were from people or businesses I knew or people or products I want to know. The rest were solicitations or introductions from those who shall be know as the âdeleted mob.â
Iâm not complaining, mind you . . . I can tie a chunk of my own compensation to efficient and targeted e-mail as can most modern day publishers. We live by the marketer who wants to use our qualified readers to target, often in some sort of adjacency to content. But does anyone else think itâs just gotten out of hand?
Here are just a few of the things that some publishers are doing today that really irritate me and, I think, help us devalue our brands and our relationships with our readers:
Letâs be chums: Why do publishers think it is okay to personalize e-mail blasts to, among others, âDear Warren N,â or âDear W,â or âDear (insert name) or âWarren?" Iâm a formal kind of guy so, âDear Mr. Bimblick,â is fine for me. Or if you really prefer the familiar, âYoâ works for me more than these just plain wrong salutations.
The sneak attack: Thatâs those publishers who run webinars that I donât sign up for and then email me â âYou missed our client-sponsored webinar on a topic.â Only problem is they donât always tell me the topic.
Speaking of webinar pitches: âTop 15 reasons why . . . â or âA free checklist of the 7 things . . .â Couldnât the marketers of these things be more original. How about, âYour business will self-destruct unless you listen to tips on how not to do email?"
Lousy house ads: So many e-letter published populate their e-letters with house ads for subscriptions or events that are clearly picked of from somewhere else. You canât read the date of the event. Or, there are nine typefaces crammed into a tiny space. And the clip art.
Anyway, time to go home and get through my personal e-mail box.
Warren Bimblick is senior vice president, strategy and business development, at Penton Media.
The IAB released its Internet Advertising Revenue Report yesterday, which details full-year 2011 results and was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers. As it has for the last ten years, except for a slight dip in 2009, annual revenue easily beat the previous yearâhitting $31.7 billion in 2011, a 22 percent increase over 2010 and an all-time high. In the last decade, revenues have shot up $25.7 billion at 20.3 percent CAGR. Even so, mobile got recognition as a format that came into its own in 2011, jumping 149 percent to $1.6 billion for the year. 2011 also marked the first year in the report that mobile was broken out as a standalone format. Its revenue increase drove 3.7 percent of the overall 22 percent advertising growth for the year.While mobile's 5 percent slice of the full-year digital advertising pie is a tiny one, it's passed email (1 percent), sponsorship (4 percent) and rich media (4 percent) in share of revenues. Mobile is now tied with lead generation. It's likely been singled out due to its big jump over 2010's $641 million, by far the fastest growing segment. Plus, the platform has traditionally been bemoaned as one that's not been capitalized on nearly enough. Nevertheless, digital video (6 percent)Â and classifieds (8 percent) are still slightly ahead, as are display and banner advertising which command the highest share of revenues at 22 percent and 47 percent respectively.
For the full report, click here.
Annual Internet Ad Revenue (in billions)
Source: PwC and IAB, April 2012
Bring your own device (BYOD) is one of those big changes currently sweeping through the tech sector. Instead of the new employee being handed an aging laptop much abused by the three previous employees, the newbie is being told to use whatever device they want and the IT staff will do the work of connecting the BYOD to the corporate network. Would that it be that easy, but the idea is powerful: the newbie gets to use his or her favorite device, the company doesn't have to keep shuffling around dinosaurs and that agonizingly embarrassing moment when you have to present your media company's hot new cutting edge capabilities on a laptop from the past decade is avoided.
But for b-to-b firms, as well as just about all media companies, the question is what will be the preferred media being displayed on all those BYOD devices? In other words, is BYOD just the first step in BYOM, as in bring your own media? The question is not insignificant as b-to-b media has just recently found its footing in the mixed format worlds of Web, video and digital presentations and is now juggling tablet expectations, smartphone proliferation and a generation reared on social networks. I'm going to argue that BYOD will indeed lead to BYOM and end up with another BYO: Build Your Own Community, which represents a great opportunity for b-to-b publishers.
But first, take a look at the present state of epublishers. The first e-books from the likes of Amazon and Apple were simply more efficient ways to shuttle the words from the author to the reader. Although bookstores, printers and author's agents suffered mightily in that shuttle, the ability to get the book to the reader in digital format was just one more example of that digital intermediation we have been hearing about since Esther Dyson outlined what was in store for the music industry in 1994.
However, now simply e-publishing that printed book in digital format is passe. As a WIRED article recently pointed out, publishers are now racing to make their ebooks more immersive." Immersive in the sense of providing multimedia, video, associated interviews and just about any other information relevant to the book and sticky to a reader that wants to really understand the full spectrum of the author's intention. The publishers that are successful in creating that immersive experience will develop a reader community loyal to the publisher and looking for more from that publisher and author.
The current b-to-b segment, particularly in the tech area, is undergoing great change as trends such as BYOB are being bolstered by other big developments such as cloud computing, big data analytics and mobile deployment. Smart publishers -- and I definitely put ourselves at UBM TechWeb and InformationWeek in that category -- are doing very well with readers and sponsors by developing robust communities around those topics.
The next step is to develop ebook-like immersive platforms that allow community participants to drill deeper into their preferred topics in the format they prefer -- in essence being key players in building their own community. And of course that ability to show community engagement along with enhanced multimedia formats also presents a new and exciting range of sponsorship revenue opportunities. Will BYOD lead to build your own communities? I think so and I'd be happy to hear from you on the topic, just remember to BYOB.
Eric Lundquist, vice-president and editorial analyst for UBM TechWeb, provides analysis and commentary on the hottest topics in enterprise technology including cloud computing, mobility, social networks for the enterprise and corporate and personal hardware and software trends. He writes regular commentary and analysis articles and videos on current technology trends as well as conducting interviews with senior industry and customer executives. He is especially involved in the Global CIO content.
On Wall Street, it is often said that stocks must climb a âwall of worryâ before they can reach new and sustainable highs. Unemployment, escalating interest rates, a poor housing market and deficit spending â these represent just a few of the worries in todayâs investor landscape. But if history is any guide, the next bull market is right around the corner as investors scale the wall and reach new levels of value.
The magazine industry today faces its own wall of worry. The traditional world of print is in a slow but steady decline and advertising dollars continue to migrate from print magazines to television, web, social media and other non-traditional channels. However, just like Wall Street, the publishing industry has the means to overcome this wall of worry and deliver new value. Enter: digital editions.
Weâre still in the very early days, but it is clear that magazine digital editions represent a massive growth opportunity for the entire industry. But as the opportunity becomes more tangible, it is equally clear that publishing industry executives must execute against some key value drivers.
Be the Master of Your âDataâ:
The publishing industry must take the lead in defining the performance, engagement and consumer-based metrics that will drive the digital business and build value in magazine brands. What consumers are browsing, reading or sharing; when, where and on what device; and across which titles and categories â are just some of the data available. Maintaining control over this data is a critical factor in the long-term vitality of the industry and its premium advertising model. If access to data is limited by technology, distribution or other partners in the consumer value chain, our bright new digital future will most certainly dim.
Content is (Still) King:
The digital media world is full of free, on demand aggregator apps that scrape the web and deliver personalized streams of news and information 24 x 7. Many of these apps also serve as useful access points to the busy world of social media. However, it is important to remember that the foundation of a bright digital future for magazines is different; that future is founded on curated, authoritative content that people will pay for and is delivered to them by trusted brands. As such we must protect the value of our digital content and brands when considering our approach to such things as print/digital bundles, website paywalls and enhanced vs. transcribed editions.
The digital magazine platform can provide readers with multiple product and pricing choices for engaging with their favorite brands and content categories. Print/digital bundles and digital subscriptions are two areas of recent innovation. At Next Issue, we have introduced an âall-you-can-eatâ unlimited access plan that allows readers and their families to access any of our magazine titles, including back issues, at any time, for one low monthly price. This type of offer also naturally leads to innovation around search, recommendations and personalization, which in turn, will deliver deeper reader engagement.
In many ways, the magazine industry faces a similar challenge that confronted the television industry over a decade ago with the introduction of TiVo. In that instance, for the first time, viewers and not programmers were in charge of their television viewing experience, and the industry had to adapt. And from a data reporting perspective, not only did we learn what programming and advertising were actually viewed in TiVo households, but we also knew exactly when it was viewed; for how long; and if it was skipped, rewound, liked or disliked.
Since that time and despite dire predictions to the contrary, the television industry successfully adapted to these and other technology changes to grow bigger and more profitable today. With leadership, commitment and alacrity, there is no reason why the magazine industry cannot duplicate this success and achieve its own greatness in the digital realm.
So letâs climb our own wall of worry to a bigger and better future â as an industry we can do this!
Morgan P. Guenther is President and CEO of Next Issue Media, the digital publishing initiative of CondĂŠ Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. Joining the venture in June 2010, he brings deep entrepreneurial, management, legal and deal-making experience in the technology, wireless and digital media industries, where he headed and advised innovative companies rooted in Silicon Valley.
In the world of publishing, it is expected that sales teams are rewarded for performance with commission; but for a long time, there was no opportunity for editors to earn outside of their base pay. âChurchâ may be considered holier, but âstateâ tended to be greener.
That is, until now. Recently, a few publishers began to compensate their editors based on performance. Performance is a relative term in this case: two publishers implementing this model chose difference audience indicators as the determiner of top editorial performers. Forbesâ chief product officer Lewis DVorkin expanded on how his company is rewarding writers at FOLIO:âs March Roundtable.
âWe had two individual contributors, not staff members, who drove one million unique visitors each and they were incentive-based. They were incented to drive audience, not incented to drive page views, and they are further incented to drive repeat users per month,â says DVorkin.
DVorkin then stated that Forbes âdoesnât focus that much on page viewsâ when quantifying successful articles.
On the other side is Vance Publishing Corporation, which launched its editorial rewards program in January. Dean Horowitz, vice president of e-media and market intelligence, details how Vance is rewarding top editors based on page views, or impressions, during a FOLIO: 40 interview.
âNow the editors who said they were posting and are not really posting are seeing how transparent it is, and how it affects their compensation. Initially, there was pushback: itâs open on who the top performers are,â says Horowitz. âWe have to value the people making the content more than ever before. Itâs about the product, more than it is the sales story.â
Vance installed an editorial audit board to keep the process fair as possible. âThey help make sure the editors arenât using search bait,â says Horowitz.
Both of these models seem to be in beta stages, but progressive nonetheless, in leveling the publishing payment field. At first glance, there are a few hitches that may or may not outweigh the positives. What constitutes a quality article may not always make it the most popular; for those tasked with more mundane subjects in any given niche, paychecks may suffer.
Vanceâs transparent model is commendable in its honesty, but may inspire an increased amount of jealousy and rivalry among employees. While a bit of healthy competition is welcome in any work atmosphere, pitting co-editors against each other for dollar reward (in the already cutthroat industry of magazine publishing) seems to be an inevitable and dangerous outcome of this system.
Of course, no new system is without flaw. Cheers to empowering editors, however publishers choose to do so.