When the Jim Pattison Group, owners of the largest wholesaler group in North America, first became a co-owner of the Comag Marketing Group, one of Americaâ€™s four major national distributors, benefits that were mentioned included â€średucing redundancies.â€ť I didnâ€™t have a clue what that meant, unless it was a special code for triggering layoffs.Last week I got an announcement from Glenn Morgan, President of Coast to Coast Newsstand Services. Coast to Coast isnâ€™t on the radar of a lot of U.S. publishers, but it is a major Canadian national distributor. Also, its ownership structure has some things in common with Comagâ€™s. Namely, the Jim Pattison Group.Coast to Coast announced that itâ€™s going to outsource its billing, collection, print order and galley prep, and other back office functions to Genera, the Pattison- and Hudson News-owned company that does Comagâ€™s back office.Coast to Coast is also contracting with Comag for their North American field work. Some Coast to Coast field reps will join the combined team.So this is a step in the reduction of redundancies, and it makes sense to me. Iâ€™m not a fan of consolidation for consolidationâ€™s sakeâ€”or, in fact, consolidation at all, necessarilyâ€”but believe me, I am a fervent convert to taking costs out of a wildly expensive newsstand distribution system.How will this partnership affect the relationship between Comag and Coast to Coast? Will the two companies grow ever closer, with C2C eventually acting as Comagâ€™s Canada arm? Will the savings implied by the reduction of redundancies find its way back to publisher clients? Will all this vertical integration give Comag/Coast to Coast an edge over the other national distributors?I donâ€™t really knowâ€”I just read the press release, and am passing it along to you. But as soon as I have inside knowledgeâ€”at least the kind inside knowledge that a blogger is allowed to pass onâ€”I will share that knowledge with you.
Weâ€™ve been focusing on fine tuning our 2014 integrated marketing campaigns here at New Bay Media. When I thought about how to start this process it occurred to me that when we think about an integrated marketing campaign we usually figure that itâ€™s for our brands with a paid model and mostly for new business. Since I have a handful of trade (controlled only) titles as well, I thought about what I could do to create an effective integrated marketing campaign focused on requalification. Below Iâ€™ll take you through the process of how I started my integrated marketing campaign for 15 trade titles.The answer is in the cover tip message/design.â€¨â€¨Yes, thatâ€™s where I started. We do A LOT of requal emails throughout the year and we go from soft messages to stronger, building on the urgency as we get closer to our goal dates (May 31 for May books or November 30th for November books). But what we weren't doing with these email messages was taking them all the way across the different marketing methods within the same time that the email goes out, thus capitalizing on the roles of various marketing methods like banner ads, interstitials, etc. to provide our audience with clearer picture of what they need to do to keep their free issues coming to them.Once I had my cover tip efforts set in place, I had to decide what other marketing channels I wanted to include and how I was going to keep the message consistent throughout the efforts.Â 1. Start with when the print issue will be mailed with the cover tip.2. If the February issue with the cover tip mails in January, then all of the other efforts related to this cover tip should go live in January.3. This will help keep the messaging consistent. The idea is that the person who gets the print magazine with the tip should have received an email a couple of days before announcing the tip. And if they visit the website during January, they should see the interstitials and banner ads with the same messaging and design. If they get a newsletter in January, there should be a banner ad projecting the same message. And lastly, for those brands that offer free access to the iPad/iPhone apps, weâ€™ll have banners ads in the container app and push notices.My goal with the integrated requalification marketing campaign is to build this awareness with the reader that we want them to do something. Thereâ€™s an action they need to take in order to keep getting their free issues.We are ready to start this integrated requalification marketing campaign with 2014. Obviously these cover tip-based integrated marketing efforts are not the only efforts that we are going to be using, but Iâ€™m projecting that building on the message of the cover tip with other traditional and nontraditional marketing efforts will increase the overall requalification responses related to that messaging. We are going to have unique tracking code for each marketing channel and I promise to follow up next year in the fall to let everyone know how it did.
For good or for ill, digital is here to stay. I have no doubt it is good for many readers, I am not sure how good it is for publishers because there are still too many variables concerning digital circulation. These variables are being worked out, slowly in some cases, but as an industry we have to make sure we understand the results and interpret them correctly, and not as we would like them to be.Just because the recently released version of the iPad sold in the millions does not mean digital circulation is going to increase as a direct result of the release. Most people I know who purchased the latest iPad did so to replace the iPad they already had. Over the next weeks people will receive some sort of reader for the holidays, but the total in sales will not see a similar increase in digital circulation.It is important to recognize why digital circulation increases. Many controlled publishers are shifting their three-year old-circulation over from print to digital, not because the reader desires this, but because the publisher does. We have found that re-qualification response rates of digital subscriptions are lower than those on the print file. I believe this is because digital magazines are not as readily accessible as their print cousins. Therefore, you will probably have to send digital subscriptions more efforts to get the same net response as print. There is nothing wrong in this, just remember that you will have to send more efforts and this may affect your promotion budget. What you are saving in printing and mailing costs can be used to send additional efforts, although in reality these savings are almost never passed on.Do not get hooked on the general belief that digital subscriptions will respond better to electronic methods than more traditional methods; there is no rationale to support this thinking, and until you have tested all formats and gained meaningful resultsâ€”results supported by facts, not opinionsâ€”tread carefully.The digital world is upon us, and as promoters, marketers and indeed users, we should embrace the new technology and make it work for us. Digital circulation is a small part of total circulation. It will grow over the next few years, although the growth will slow down, but for all that it would be dangerous to make assumptions based on opinion rather than test results. Yesterday, on one of the networks, an expert said, â€śPeople feel more confident in the market than they did a few years ago.â€ť On the same show, another expert said, â€śPeople are not confident concerning their financial futures.â€ť Facts based on opinions have no value, but opinions based on facts are worth their weight in a ton of iPads!
Over the past week I have spoken about little else than the new fees coming in from TNG, formerly The News Group, the largest wholesaler group in North America and responsible for over half of the continentâ€™s magazine newsstand distribution. The fees, imposed unilaterally and to be implemented right away, range from two cents a copy to eight cents a copy, with 131 publications exempt.Â TNG is imposing these fees in a move that is eerily reminiscent of the fee-for-distribution that Anderson News Company attempted to impose in 2009. The fee imposed then was opposed by publishers and resulted in ANCO going out of business. There are differences now. And whatever the outcome is, it will be very different from that of the ANCO affair.Which is good, as no one wants another wholesaler group to go out of business. No partner in the newsstand distribution supply chain could afford that today. As an industry, we need to try to create a situation where every member of the distribution channel is healthy and profitable.But the situation troubles me, a lot, and for many reasons. Some aspects of this TNG mandate are game changers. Some are not. But the businesses most vulnerable to the consequences of these changes are the independent publishers.I have heardâ€”and probably so have youâ€”comments made by some that this industry will become stronger, healthier, and more profitable by the removal of the â€śclutterâ€ť of the little guys from the newsstand. The irony is that the growth and stabilization of revenues in our business over the last two decades or so has come from the rise of special interest publications. Havenâ€™t these guys been paying attention?I am troubled by the ironies. And I am troubled by the game-changing aspects of this, and by the aspects that are not game-changing at all.I am troubled that the extra fees are not being negotiatedâ€”they are being applied. Thatâ€™s a game-changer. Now, is there a possibility that a publisher could talk to TNG to discuss other ways of skinning this particular cat? There might be. But to do so each publisher needs to take his or her own initiative to bring a plan to TNG. The initial wave of correspondence doesnâ€™t include an invitation to show up at TNG to discuss. But I would encourage you to do so.The fee is expected to be updated every six months. That means that publishers cannot know what they should expect to pay for distribution of their newsstand copies throughout the coming year. They will be charged at the will of TNG. Budgeting for revenues for a year will not be possible. Planning for what might come down the pike is impossible. Thatâ€™s a game-changer. The formulas used for imposing the fees are not to be shared with the publishers that they affect. Consequently, publishers have no say in how these fees are imposed, no way of improving their financial picture in the agencies. Thatâ€™s a game-changer.Â Experience tells us that once those fees are imposed, we cannot expect them to be rolled back. Wholesalers are not known to reverse fees, once imposed. This is not just me grousing about life. This is an explicit policy on the part of the wholesaler community. That would be the same old game. However, I have been told on excellent authority that this game is changing as well, and not for the worse. The six-month re-evaluation is formula-based. If a publisherâ€™s standing changes for the worse, per the formula, the fee gets higher. If it changes for the better, the fee gets lower. So thatâ€™s another game-changer.Of course, once the fees are imposed, they will obviously not be restricted to TNG. They will spread to other wholesalers, of which there are mostly only two. That is the same game. Iâ€™ve heard from some industry sources that these changes are expected to succeed because the business models of publishers donâ€™t rely on newsstand as a source. Publishers, I am told, discount subscriptions dramatically, so they donâ€™t need the circ cash. They make their money from advertising, so they can afford to pay higher circ fees. But the publishers for whom these outdated business models still hold true are in many cases the ones exempted from the TNG fee. Many of the publishers taking the brunt of these changes depend on each revenue-generating channel to be profitable in its own right. Creating assumptions based on business models of the very publishers that arenâ€™t hit by the consequences? Thatâ€™s both an irony, and the same old game.Where we are now is not any one companyâ€™s fault, but the fact remains: There are deep paradoxes involved in the concurrent consolidation of the distribution channel and the fragmentation of publishing and its consumption. I take the wholesalers at their word that they canâ€™t afford to stay in business under the current model. And we ignore this reality at our peril. With a 10 percent loss year over year on a fixed-cost business, the agencies need to find a way to bring their business models into alignment with todayâ€™s newsstand realities. The costs of maintaining their truck fleets are huge; the costs of maintaining their merchandising teams are huge. Revenues are slipping. And we as publishers need for them to stay in business. But from the supplier side, publishers also need to stay in business as costs keep rising and revenues keep slipping. Iâ€™ve done the math. Many of the publishers affected are already getting the thinnest slice of remit for the newsstand sales of their products. From the point of view of the wholesaler, the game is not changing as much as it needs to. The fees levied are not enough to create the profit. They are not enough to fix a system that no longer works. They are seen as a bridge. Something to keep the distribution channel alive while the game is truly, finally changed.So here we stand, yet again, on the brink of big sweeping changes, on the brink of a whole new way of doing business, and we still donâ€™t know what itâ€™s going to look like. But for today the changes are going to be about who can afford to stay in the game, who is going to leave, what counts as a â€ślittleâ€ť publisher and what the medium-sized publishers who donâ€™t make the top 131 are going to do.Some are going to go with TNGâ€™s plan. Some will talk about alternative plans, ones that meet the goals of the suppliers as well as their distribution partners, ones that keep the balls in play for at least a while longer. And some are already speaking to book distributors, direct distributors, and retailers directly. Companies are going to disappear from the system as we know it. Mostâ€”but not allâ€”will be publishers. One thing that will not change is that publishers will continue to produce quality content that people want to read. And they will continue to find a way to get it into their audiencesâ€™ hands.The details of how that will happen are under advisement.
It's no secret that social media has become a bastion for sharing content. But what's interesting now is how shares are allocated from platform to platform, category to category and channel to channel.
The infographic below was created by MAZ Digital Inc., and the data was collected form 124 newsstand magazine apps to determine how users are sharing magazine content on their tablets. It's evident by the results that when it comes to shares, content categories and channels mean everything.
Twitter has gotten more attention lately, but Facebook still has massive advantages in content consumption.
The latter is a news portal for close to a third of all American adults, according toÂ latest studyÂ from the Pew Research Center's Journalism Project. Used for news by 10 percent of Americans, YouTube is actually a more-viewed source than Twitter (8 percent).
That's good news for publishers with a lot of "likes," but it doesn't mean the other channels can be ignoredâ€”content probably isn't going to reach people on multiple channels. Two out of three of U.S. adults get news from one, and only one, social network.
Younger, richer, lefty: Most of the platforms in the study skew younger with mid- to high-level income users who are predominantly left-leaning politically, but distinctions did emerge.
Notably, Facebook's user base is 58-percent female, while YouTube (57 percent) and LinkedIn (67 percent) cater to male audiences; Twitter is 50-50. LinkedIn also stood out in ageâ€”half of its users fall in the 30-49 year-old demographic; just 18 percent are under age 30â€”and incomeâ€”63 percent of LinkedIn users earn at least $75,000.
Where else do they look: Twitter users are the most insular when it comes to consuming news content, according to Pew. Out of all social network users, they're the least likely to turn to print, TV or radio.
Twitterers will look down at their phones when they want news thoughâ€”54 percent "often" consume their news content via mobile devices. LinkedIn was the second-most mobile news source (51 percent), with Facebook (38 percent) and YouTube (37 percent) failing to crack 40 percent.
reddit...America's No.1 source for news: By one measure, reddit was the most popular news site of allâ€”more than 60 percent of its users get news on the site, Pew says.
Despite the high percentage of news consumers, its small baseâ€”Pew puts the figure at about 9 million users; for comparison, they say Facebook has 202 million and Twitter has 50 millionâ€”means that just 2 percent of the U.S. population gets its news there.
I was at a rest stop off the Atlantic City Expressway on Saturday when I noticed something peculiar: On sale at a Starbucks of all places, right next to baskets of limited edition coffee beans, was a commemorative reprint of the Dallas Morning Star from the day President Kennedy was shot.I am intimately familiar with the headline. My father saved the copy of the New York Times from 1963. It is now framed and hanging in the basement of our house. This is something I have inherited. I keep print clips. I have an unsettling fear that I will forget a moment if I bear no tangible evidence of it. Moments were documented as chosen flashpoints in time, important events that we could remember even when we forgot. They help to form both our national and individual identities. Now, with the advent of social media and reality television, we document everything and anything, from bombings to breakfasts. We have created hyper-detailed accounts of our mundane lives, marking them â€śmomentous.â€ť But what happens when we saturate our world with details of our everyday lives? Do newsworthy moments even count anymore to the formation of identity, or do they become cultural jetsom, byproducts on our way to becoming the next Snooki or Honey Boo Boo? What makes a President's assassination any more important than, say, buying a prom dress or taking your first cab ride?How do we determine what is meaningful?Obviously, magazines struggle with this. At The Nation, we are in a constant uphill battle against a glut of information and practices. Our competitors in the digital space aren't even our traditional competitors anymoreâ€”we're competing with Mother Jones and The Atlantic, sure, but we're also competing with non-print media (MSNBC, Alternet), YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, BuzzFeed, Netflix, and Google News. And we're no longer competing in a niche universeâ€”because of the aggregated nature of online content, our stuff is out there. EVERYONE'S stuff is out there. But what can we put out there that people can only get from us, by paying us? We're not competing for eyeballs; we're competing for eyeballs that will pay for the privilege of seeing.What's interesting is that though people have amped up their newsfeeds, they haven't stopped looking for intelligent information. TV and books have become smarter, and people have proven that they will commit to long series or writing if it holds their interest. eReaders have created a space for longer books, because people don't mind reading long pieces that they're not lugging around. The length itself doesn't bother people, as long as they can commit to it on their own time.The trick is to create meaningful experiences for people living in a world glutted with information, through carefully selected (buzzword alert: â€ścuratedâ€ť) content and longer, more introspective pieces. Long form journalism in digital outlets? Absolutely. We've seen a return to long form narratives, in literature and journalism, which may seem anachronistic in a world dominated by short attention spans. Even BuzzFeed and Business Insider recently started their own investigative journalism units, focusing on long form. As Tom Junod wrote for Esquire, â€ś...taken as a trend, the persistence of long form at a time when it's been declared dead is a hopeful thing, not a trend at all but evidence that humans, as a race, are at last learning how to take our own complexity into account as we stumble into infinity, digital and otherwise.â€ťIn a world humming with â€śmeaningful moments,â€ť how do we maintain that meaning? How many shootings before we rally for gun control or just forget it's a problem altogether? How many natural disasters need to decimate a country before we start thinking critically about global warming or we decide it's â€śjust one of those thingsâ€ť? It's no longer media 's job to just deliver meaningful moments; instead, we need to deliver meaningful commentary and analysis on those moments.In 1963, my parents were both ten years old, and I was not even an imagining. Yet I understand the importance of marking that storied day that â€śAmerica lost its innocence,â€ť particularly for the media. JFK's assassination was a betrayal of national consciousness, a curtain slashed through to reveal a dark underbelly of reality. A moment, a heartbeat, in a gunshotâ€”we were a nation young, smart, and cavalier, ready to take on the worldâ€”and then, we were not. People wept openly in the streets. Walter Cronkite famously teared up.
What I don't understand is my reaction to the commemorative paper. I wish I'd bought a copy, only to prove it was real, but it felt wrong. It didn't feel right to share the assassination of a president from 50 years ago with no context, no handholding, no exposition. Seeing it now, in print, pretending to be just another part of my everyday news cycle, made me feel more of an outsider, a person sharing a memory that isn't her own, like I was some interloper, a person who didn't have a right to someone else's memory.Yet, how do we learn, if not from sharing memories and stories? Since the dawn of civilization, history has been preserved through story-telling. But what will it mean when we no longer have physical artifacts from a story, when there is no newspaper clipping, when a URL is tweeted in one second and lost a second later? How will we record time and memory? How will we build lasting identities? We will need directionâ€”content and analysis that helps us discuss meaning, since we're too saturated to create our own.President Kennedy's assassination is a story worth re-telling, and the media has been all over the fiftieth anniversary. Has it only been fifty years? To me, it feels like a century ago. To my folks, it could have happened yesterday.
Iâ€™ve been thinking lately about how media is moving increasingly toward a greater technology dependence. Iâ€™ve read about how investment dollars, especially in Silicon Valley, where so much media-related innovation is occurring, steer towards technology solutions for media consumers. New utilitiesâ€”new ways to interact with contentâ€”seem to be more important than the content itself.Think about the major social media and many of the new online-only media businesses like TripAdvisor and Yelp. User interfaces, tools, analytics and more are the difference-makers. They create no content on their own, really, but they have massive audiences. Google commands more ad dollars than the whole magazine and newspaper industries combined.Which for me raises an interesting question: Should media companies be technology companies first and content companies second? Has some paradigm shifted in the media world?Now, before you dismiss what Iâ€™m saying as just simplistic nonsense, consider that not only is Google an advertising giant, but so is Facebook. So is YouTube. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and others will rise in ad spend, and they all depend on users for their content. They pay no content creators, but they create extraordinary technology-based environments for people to post their own content.And if youâ€™re looking for consistency in the argument, consider that most media companies acknowledge freely that the one-way form of communication is dead. The old-school model of, "we-create-content-and-you-consume-it" is simply incomprehensible to modern media users. They take cellphone photos and videos, and share them easily. Even media companies say that they want to create a platform for community interaction.In that context, then, should we be focused on contentâ€”or technologies that enable the sharing of content? Itâ€™s a fascinating question.There are those who say that without content, thereâ€™s nothing. No Google and no Facebook. Which is true. But that doesnâ€™t really address the question of whoâ€™s doing the creating.
New York--WIRED magazine rounded up some of the most elite healthcare professionals on November 5-6, to discuss how technology--and more specifically, data--will change our future at its Data | Life conference. This is the second installment of the conference and WIRED's second gathering of thought leadership in 2013, following its Think Bigger business conference in May.
Data | Life is another indication that the brand is looking to be more than just a techie-lifestyle magazine. Of course, with so many industries leveraging technology the question from a business perspective is: why healthcare?
The Connection Between Data and Design
Since Scott Dadich took the reigns as editor-in-chief, he has been committed to rethinking the design of WIRED. Throughout the conference he and his team of editors made it clear that design goes beyond the layout of a magazine or website.
"Design is about aesthetics, but at its core it's also about solving the problems people live with everyday," says Cliff Kuang, senior editor of design. And of course the latter can also be said about data.
Dadich weaves it all together when he says, "At WIRED we get to think a lot about the future, and we get to report about the progress enabled by momentum of technology and design. But nowhere is that progress more profound, and that change so exciting, than in the fields of health and healthcare."
The day's first speaker, professor of Medicine and Engineering at the University of Southern California David B. Angus, MD concurs, "We [healthcare professionals] use almost every technology first, because we have to."
In other words, many technologies that people use on a day-to-day basis now--both personally and professionally--were likely designed, developed and tested with healthcare in mind
Thought Leaders Start Conversations that Shape the Future
The event's content was a mix of more than a dozen healthcare and tech speakers. Topics included genetics, fertility apps, sensors and several other data applications that leverage information to improve the quality and length of life. And a packed room of over 100 invitation-only healthcare thought leaders listened in.
"The quantified-self movement has exploded," says WIRED's vice president and publisher, Howard Mittman. "Personal data capture--whether its apps or wearables--is sparking conversations and driving ideas." He also attests that the movement is important no matter what your industry.
Why It Matters
The conference's core theme is an important in that data tells the most accurate and vital stories and has the ability to predict the future. So whether you're looking to learn more about the health of your body or uncover who your who your audience is, data is the best portal for discovery.
The objectives of a healthcare professional may be drastically different from that of a publisher, but the modes for collecting, analyzing and making data actionable are similar. Thus, publishers who talk about leveraging "Big Data" should be keeping one eye on what is happening in the health space, because it could forecast their own future.
At the end of the day, publishers should find comfort in a shared challenge--there is too much data out there and filtering it efficiently and effectively will be an ongoing endeavor for everyone.
When selecting content delivery channels, a digital-first publisher canâ€™t ignore the mobile app. Todayâ€™s digital-savvy readers expect a market leading publication to have a mobile app. Moreover, advertisers expect to be able reach the most loyal subscribers via the publisherâ€™s app. This said, as mentioned in an earlier post, the ROI on a mobile app should be carefully evaluated. The key challenges with apps are discoverability and the higher expenses related to building and maintaining the app. While apps are generally superior reading experiences for subscribers, app discoverability is difficult due to the sheer size, fragmentation, and limited search functionality of app stores. As a result, launching a new publication app today requires significant marketing expense to grow an audience. Similarly, building and maintaining an app can be quite expensive, and native apps by definition are not cross-platform solutions, so youâ€™ll need to build separate apps for each operating system that you want to support (iOS, Android, Windows 8, etc.).Assuming that you are committed to building an app, here are some suggestions on how to keep costs down:Â Third-Party Provider
First, consider working with a third-party mobile platform provider that is willing to build and host a mobile app for you on a revenue share basis. These platform vendors typically have template solutions that you can leverage to get to market quickly for little cost. Their offerings normally include the key features that youâ€™ll want already built in (e.g., push notifications, sharing functionality, and rich-media advertising). Additionally, these providers will ensure that your apps continually work even on the latest operating system releases, leveraging their scale to quickly update their platform and app environment. The main downside of these solution providers is that their templates may limit your creativity. Additionally, supporting a different CMS can create editorial challenges.The 'Native Wrapper'
Another approach to building an app in a cost-effective way would be to consider rebuilding your website in HTML5 and then placing it in a â€śnative wrapperâ€ť rather than building a pure native app. Some consider this approach the equivalent of â€śhaving your cake and eating it too.â€ť Three key benefits of HTML5 are that it is operating system agnostic (e.g., code works for Android and iOS), it offers offline reading capabilities, and, depending upon how it is architected, you can make updates without app releases. HTML5 code in a native wrapper allows you to access native features such as push notifications, in-app purchasing, and native sharing capabilities. You could also consider building this â€śappâ€ť using a responsive/native HTML5 design which could reduce future development costs. That said, I would caution that this approach is not necessarily the panacea some purport it to be in that itâ€™s challenging to build an HTML5 mobile site and there are a lot of nuances that will require an experienced programmer (which are hard to come by). If itâ€™s done wrong, users will see a degradation of app experience in terms of speed and functionality. Â Pick One OS
The third cost-effective approach would be to build a native app for only one operating system (e.g., iOS) using your CMS and internal platforms. The value of this approach will depend upon both the concentration of your user base (i.e. is the majority of your readers using one platform over another) and your access to skilled developers, either in-house or contracted). In the next article, Iâ€™ll address some best-in-class approaches to driving app revenue as well as provide some stats on ALMâ€™s app performance.
From print publishers to pureplays, the magazine media community gathered at the Marriott Marquis in New York this week for MediaNext.
Â They listened to Google's Daniel Alegre describe the marketing funnel of the future and Glam's Samir Arora explain how he's built one of the largest media companies in the world without creating a single piece of content. Elisabeth DeMarse spoke to them about how TheStreet uses its "free front porch" to generate paid subscriptions, while Roy Sekoff highlighted HuffPost Live's raw video play. Andy Weber detailed Farm Journal Media's transformation from a print-centric, debt-laden publisher, into a rapidly-growing, digital-first enterprise. Meanwhile, one hundred of their most innovative peers were honored at the inaugural Folio: 100 Awards Breakfast on Wednesday.
Â Media is changing too fast to predict what the topics will be at MediaNext 2014, but we can't wait to find out.
The relationship between magazine publisher and technology is becoming ever more complex. For some, technology is so central it's easy to begin to think that it's what defines you. The issue calls up the classic argument: What's more important, content or technology/delivery?At this week's MediaNext conference in New York one session attempted to tackle that question, though the two presenters came at it from different perspectives.Blair Johnson, senior vice president, business development, at Cygnus Business Media, noted that the technology that social networks, and advertisers themselves, were creating were beginning to disintermediate the company. "The disruptions were allowing the brands to go directly to the consumer," he said. "If we can't get [technology] right for ourselves, how are we going to get it right for our advertisers?"For Cygnus, which subsequently built a proprietary CMS, created an integrated database and began aggressively using responsive design, the idea was technology would not only enable new business, it would keep advertisers from going off the reservation. In addition to its capabilities, it became a calling card."If all we are is a company that talks to an audience, then we're at risk," he said. "We need to be a partner that has technology on the bleeding edge that can best help our marketing partners."That sentiment was echoed later during the lunch keynote from Glam Media founder Samir Arora, by the way, who made no bones about describing Glam as a technology company.But Johnson's co-presenter put the focus back on content. "Unless you're literally licensing software, please don't call yourself a technology company," said John Siefert, CEO of Virgo Publishing. "If you're a media company, that's not what you do. You're creating content and then people are advertising around that content. For us, the software that runs our business is critical, we would not exist without it. But what we are is a media company that creates content."Siefert warned that industry trends can be prematurely exaggerated into mission-critical strategies. "People become so focused on the sex appeal of the technology that they don't focus on the content and how it works inside that technology."He pointed to marketing automation technology as one area where many publishers are potentially devaluing their audience. "We've gotten to the point where we're way too reliant on automating the process of lead-gen, instead of listening to the audience and engaging. We've over-teched it. We want to be thought drivers for our audience instead of just looking at them as leads."The way out of that trap, suggests Siefert, is to put process before technology. "A lot of times technology defines the process," he said. "What we try to do is define the process and find our build technology to support it."Â