Itâ€™s 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 â€śdeleted mob.â€ť
Iâ€™m 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 itâ€™s 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:
Letâ€™s be chums: Why do publishers think it is okay to personalize e-mail blasts to, among others, â€śDear Warren N,â€ť or â€śDear W,â€ť or â€śDear (insert name) or â€śWarren?" Iâ€™m a formal kind of guy so, â€śDear Mr. Bimblick,â€ť is fine for me. Or if you really prefer the familiar, â€śYoâ€ť works for me more than these just plain wrong salutations.
The sneak attack: Thatâ€™s those publishers who run webinars that I donâ€™t sign up for and then email me â€“ â€śYou missed our client-sponsored webinar on a topic.â€ť Only problem is they donâ€™t always tell me the topic.
Speaking of webinar pitches: â€śTop 15 reasons why . . . â€ś or â€śA free checklist of the 7 things . . .â€ť Couldnâ€™t the marketers of these things be more original. How about, â€śYour 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 canâ€™t 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 yearâ€”hitting $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 â€śwall of worryâ€ť 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 todayâ€™s 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.
Weâ€™re 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 â€śDataâ€ť:
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 â€śall-you-can-eatâ€ť 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 letâ€™s 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 CondĂ© 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. â€śChurchâ€ť may be considered holier, but â€śstateâ€ť 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:â€™s March Roundtable.
â€śWe 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€ť says DVorkin.
DVorkin then stated that Forbes â€śdoesnâ€™t focus that much on page viewsâ€ť 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.
â€śNow 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: itâ€™s open on who the top performers are,â€ť says Horowitz. â€śWe have to value the people making the content more than ever before. Itâ€™s about the product, more than it is the sales story.â€ť
Vance installed an editorial audit board to keep the process fair as possible. â€śThey help make sure the editors arenâ€™t using search bait,â€ť 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.
Vanceâ€™s 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.
â€śE.T.: The Extra Terrestrialâ€ť was playing at the movies, Michael Jackson had just released â€śThriller,â€ť the average cost of a home was $82,000 and gas was 91 cents a gallon. It was 1982. TIME declared the computer its â€śMan of the Yearâ€ť and CRN published its first issue under the name Computer Retail News.
For three decades, CRN has been reporting on technology news, and these advancements have certainly forced publishingâ€“an industry that had seen few substantive changes in the prior 200 yearsâ€”to rapidly adapt to new platforms, new mediums and new business models.
Thirty years ago, reporters and editors were using a fluorescent-green terminal called Atex to file stories. Today reporters use their phones to Tweet, Skype to conduct video interviews and Facebook to elicit comments or story suggestions from their followers. Until very recently those who produced the content distributed the content. Today social media and mobile apps provide a new distribution model where the producers no longer have complete control.
It would be an understatement to say that the Web forever changed publishing. Over the past two decades, business models have been disrupted, publishers have gone out of business and a new breed of online sites has entered the market. For editors, an unprecedented sense of urgency was born. In just the past few years, we have seen yet another dramatic change in journalism, again all in reaction to the incredible pace of technology. Enter citizen journalism, crowdsourcing and blogging; then throw YouTube, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Stumbleupon and others into the mix.
While technology has helped deliver the news, it also has delivered shortcomings in news reporting. Today a mistake can be corrected and a story reposted in a minute, with less consequence than in yesteryear. But whoâ€™s to notice, anyway? Todayâ€™s readers donâ€™t consume newsâ€”they sniff it, take a nibble, and move to the next item in an endless buffet of shallow dishes hastily prepared. Scroll, scroll, click. Scroll, scroll, click. On the other side of the buffet table, frenzied reporters dish out the news as quickly as they can.
But the innovations that have made us sloppy could save b-to-b journalism in the future. Tablets and the subscription-based modelâ€”as opposed to qualified circulation and the current advertising model many of us haveâ€”could force b-to-b editors once again to write content that is not only timely, but that is accurate, unique and consequential. Readers will pay for such content, just as they once had. Nondifferentiated content can remain free; differentiated content can command a price.
All of this, of course, has begun to happen with digital subscription-based models and Appleâ€™s Newsstand feature. Thatâ€™s where CRN finds itself after 30 yearsâ€”offering even more targeted content to give our readers a better perspective.
But, where will CRN and b-to-b publishing find themselves in 30 years? Artificial intelligence and data mining will enable even more precise data on what readers are interested in. Contextually relevant audiences will find us. And new companies that arenâ€™t in existence today will force us to rethink how content is delivered. Never again will we have 200 years with basically the same model. Disruption will be the norm.
Kelley Damore is vice president and editorial director for CRN.
For 35 yearsâ€”mostly living in Manhattanâ€”I have owned a car. This past weekend I gave up my car at lease-end and did not replace it. I realized that in four years I hadnâ€™t driven 9,000 miles and the cost and annoyance of owning was not worth it. I could rent when needed.I decided to use the cathartic experience to think of what else I donâ€™t need (another glass of wineâ€¦wellâ€¦). Could I give up magazines? Iâ€™m a magazine junky (I've had a New Yorker sub since 12). I counted. I get 28, mostly monthlies, meaning likely 300 issues in my mailbox each year. Itâ€™s staggering and impossible to get through.Then I thought about my day and what I do. My iPad is always in my hands and Iâ€™ve prepared two icons to sort my magazines (plus those that annoyingly insist upon going into the â€śNewsstandâ€ť). They range from some highly unsatisfactory replicas of print to some innovative replicas (The Economist) to very robust offerings that have expanded my love of a brand (my favorite is The Atlantic).
I do still read many magazines in print, but far fewer than I used to (indeed, it is often the ads that turn me to print over digital). My tablet content has become my first place to read while many magazines have become coffee table decorations. To me, the future belongs to the media companies that get out ahead with the technology and really understand how audiences are consuming their content and serve it up to individuals in the manner they want it. Yes, individuals. At Penton, we are meshing metrics and asking subscribers about what experience they want. We thenâ€”sometimes not easilyâ€”develop product around it. Moving the revenue dial is going to be about moving with the users and coming up with the experiences that will make them need youâ€”wherever that is. It is where that triumvirateâ€”publisher, editor and audience developmentâ€”need to come together and solve user experiences.Clever serving of content can be about pushing the needle on print, too. This Sunday morning, New York experimented with delivering this weekâ€™s issue to my front door testing a â€śVIP hand delivery service.â€ť Now thatâ€™s brilliance. This wasnâ€™t about technology, it was about strategy and figuring out the right time to reach me. And, by the way, they got me to re-up, too.
Thereâ€™s been a lot of chatter on the Web this past week about the impact the new iPad (with its retina display and four times the pixels) might have on digital publications like those created on Mag+ or Adobe DPS, which render most of the content as images to present a pixel-perfect design experience, since this approach creates â€ślargeâ€ť files.
Thereâ€™s no question that higher resolution images take more space, but in tests with our plug-ins, weâ€™re seeing closer to a 2x or less increase. And since most of our issues are 150-200mb, weâ€™re only talking about retina issues of around 300-400mbâ€”smaller than many non-retina magazines and far smaller than, say, a half hour of TV.
That last comparison is, I think, an apt one. Because while no one likes to sit around and wait for a file to download, far more important than the physical size is what that file offers. In other words, itâ€™s not about megabytes, itâ€™s about value.
"The Walking Dead" is the top selling TV show on iTunes. The HD version is not only more expensive than the SD version, itâ€™s 2.5x the file size: 1.8GB for a 62-minute show. Try keeping a whole season of that on your 16GB iPad. Weâ€™ve seen in surveys that more than 40 percent of digital subscribers spend 60 minutes or more with an issue (80 percent spend 30 minutes or more). One of the most successful apps of 2010 was the book â€śThe Elementsâ€ť from Theo Gray (a PopSci columnist), which cost $13.99 and takes 1.7GB of space. Whatâ€™s an hour of a great experience worth in bytes?
And I think itâ€™s important to remember that great experience matters in this space, especially if you expect people to pay for your app. The iPad (and certainly the retina iPad) is a vessel for premium content, and youâ€™re not just competing against other magazines hereâ€”youâ€™re competing against games, TV shows, 200,000 other apps and the Web. If you donâ€™t offer a packaging and presentation of your content that wows people, it wonâ€™t matter if your magazine is 50mb or 500mb; people will find something better to buy and spend time with.
A real-world example: Popular Photography+ is indisputably a niche publication for camera and photo geeks. Most of the information thatâ€™s in it you could find on the Webâ€”there are no shortage of photography and camera-review sites. And yet, PopPhoto has 30,000+ paid digital subscribers on the iPadâ€”thatâ€™s 10 percent of its total rate baseâ€”and is adding hundreds more every month. And its digital business has been profitable for a long time. People are finding value in a curated experience optimized for that canvas and the magazine is making a real business from it.
Thatâ€™s an indication that premium curated content has an audience here, but it represents only a tiny slice of whatâ€™s possible. For instance, why not instead of just delivering "Walking Dead" as a video file, make it an â€śissue.â€ť In it, you could have interviews with the actors, slideshows of behind the scenes photos, an interactive game, a live feed of news from the show AND the actual episode itself, playable in full-screen and over AirPlay. And because itâ€™s a â€śpublication,â€ť you could subscribe to it! The total file size would be 1.82GB and it would probably see more downloads than any single issue or a magazine.
The retina iPad, with its print-like resolution and rich backlit color is giving an industry whose value proposition is built on beautiful imagery, careful design and readable text the most amazing platform itâ€™s ever had for all of those things. Its introduction should not be a cause for fretting about the death of an experiment thatâ€™s just begun on the altar of file size, but a moment to ask ourselves: what are we doing with it?
Mike Haney is the chief content officer for tablet solution provider Mag+.
Last fall, at the American Business Mediaâ€™s Executive Forum, I joined IDG Enterprise CCO John Gallant and SourceMedia EVP/CCO David Longobardi on stage for a panel about the future of content and editorial and, much to my surprise, my introduction of the â€śbrandividualâ€ť concept turned into a lightning rod for subsequent hallway conversation (see FOLIO:'s blog on the topic here).
When was the last time you saw a billboard for one of your local news programs? Have you ever stopped to think about how those billboards essentially subjugate the brand of the station to the brand of the news team? Thatâ€™s because the most important currency that any media property can spend for audience is its credibility. And, like or not, with few exceptions, the trust relationship is really between the audience and the newscaster.
Brandividualism is nothing new. The brandividualized billboards have been around for decades. But prior to the arrival of social networks, the media brands themselves got to be the sole arbiters of brandivdualism. There were no other practical ways to keep in touch with your favorite newscaster, weatherperson or columnist other than to tune into the media brands that employed them. How else were you to follow Peter Jennings other than to watch ABCâ€™s World News Tonight?
Then along came Twitter and Facebook: two services that have not only up-ended the media industry in well-chronicled ways, but ones that have also reinforced the principles of brandividualism.
In a double-whammy, not only are Twitter and Facebook disintermediating media brands as the sole channelers of the trust relationship between audience and brandividuals, theyâ€™ve become the platforms upon which new independent but highly trusted brandividuals have risen. The latter phenomenon and its potential to dilute audience is the more oft-discussed challenge to modern day media. But the former should be just as interesting to us students of the media.
At the time this article was written, ESPN had 3,335,412 followers on Twitter. However, Erin Andrews, one of ESPNâ€™s most popular commentators had 1,200,905 all to herself. By the time you read this, CNN will have more than 3,980,000 followers. But more than 2,304,000 people will be following one of CNNâ€™s biggest brandividuals â€“ Anderson Cooper. In perhaps the closest margin, without having even tweeted one tweet, Brian Williams has 93,786 followers. Meanwhile, the show that he anchors --- NBC Nightly News --- has 104,786.
The good news, as can be seen from some of the follower counts to the media brands exemplified above, is that the media brand still counts for something. The challenging news if youâ€™re a media brand is that your audience is also taking its trust relationship with your brandividuals into channels you donâ€™t control.
Many media executives are naturally driven to perceive this brandividual independence as a threat; not just to their brand, but, as if theyâ€™re pimps, to their way of life. However, the risks of resisting or ignoring the realities of this new, brandividual-led world are greater than if you embrace them. Embracing brandividualism in a socially networked world is not only about supporting the idea, but driving it to new levels.
First, make sure you have the right brandividuals; journalists or bloggers who are domain experts, whose expertise and reputation engender trust and loyalty, and who understand the importance of immersing themselves into the social networks that matter.
Second, donâ€™t be shy about leading your online editorial product with your brandividual(s). If you visit two of UBM TechWebâ€™s sites for IT professionals --- DrDobbs.com and BYTE.com --- you will notice how both of those sites are graphically and spiritually led by the editors in chief of those sites (Andrew Binstock and Larry Seltzer, respectively). They arenâ€™t just front-in-center on their the websites. Theyâ€™re also front-in-center in the periodic email newsletters for both sites.
Third, in addition to providing the necessary buttons and icons for connecting to your media brand over social networks (you do have that, donâ€™t you?), be sure to offer all of the available means for your audience members to connect directly with your brandividuals .
As ludicrous as these ideas sound, the goal is to heavily promote trust in your brandividuals so that that trust will eventually lead to more readership. Or, you can try swimming against the tide and see how far that gets you.
David Berlind is the chief content editor at UBM TechWeb.
In between last weekâ€™s DMA Circulation Marketing Day and the upcoming MPA Digital: Swipe conference on March 20, I thought it may be appropriate to reflect on a pattern forming in the magazine publishing industry. It doesnâ€™t require expert sleuthing skills to deduce how much the industry has changed over the past year; a massive shift in focus is evident.
Digital used to occupy a session or two at any given conference, though the open Q&Aâ€™s at the end of panel discussions showed this is where audience concerns really lie. In 2012, by hosting and participating in a plethora of digitally focused events, publishers are confirming digital is not an add-on or afterthought, but a necessary part of strategy (albeit a frustrating one, as publishers attempt to pin revenue models on the slippery suckers called apps).
I donâ€™t think this means that print is doomed in 2012, as the rest of the world is predicted to be. What I do think it means is that print is a medium the magazine industry has more or less mastered, and peers are looking outward for guidance in the new digital terrain.
And one of the biggest concerns is digital revenue. At Circ Day, Meredithâ€™s chief digital officer Liz Schimel explained her companyâ€™s app portfolio is a mix of paid and free offerings.
â€śWhere they are free: we believe that getting scale to platform is most important, rather than monetization upfront. We monetize through advertisers, upselling packages and sampling for our magazine,â€ť says Schimel. â€śWeâ€™re looking at contribution to circ, advertising details and discreet paid content. Getting out to the broadest possible audience is the main driver, rather than getting the most money up front.â€ť
Katelyn Belyus, circulation fulfillment manager of The Nation, says their app is available to subscribers for an additional $10. She says the publisher is considering creating another paid non-replica app, but explained, â€śWeâ€™re not convinced apps are the future.â€ť
Nina LaFrance, vice president of consumer marketing at Forbes, broke down Forbesâ€™ current digital strategy. â€śOur digital strategy is different than the rest of the community. We donâ€™t have a tablet app for the magazine. The apps we have in market are free apps designed to support Forbes brand content,â€ť LaFrance said. â€śWe have to decide which platforms will be paid or free. With the size of our audience, we canâ€™t drive them through a paywall. The question is, is ad revenue high enough so Forbes Web content can remain free?â€ť
What may be more interesting than current rev models is the uncertainity of presenters at DMA's Circulation Marketing Day. Those winning in the digital space looked visibly relieved their strategies are actually working; while others revealed how fluid current digital models are.
In the midst of all the reflecting and forecasting of the conference, it was refreshing to hear Bonnier's Bruce Miller (who was inducted into the DMA's Circulation Hall of Fame) reinforce what the industry sometimes seems to overlook, "We can do what we want in digital. We write our own ticket."Â
Creating and serving digital content across multiple devices typically requires a somewhat grueling conversation with your IT team. Unfortunately, Iâ€™ve been on the serving and receiving side of those painful discussions that focus on strained resources, support and the infamous â€śapproved project list,â€ť but they are quickly becoming a thing of the past. New products have emerged into the marketplace that will have your IT team singing your praises; not because itâ€™s one more thing they need to help you build and support, but because itâ€™s one less thing they need to worry about.
Over the past year, SaaS based solutions have been introduced into the marketplace and are designed to work seamlessly with the products your creative teams have been working with for decades. Typically, the authoring tools use some type of plug-in designed to work within the application, as opposed to alongside it. The creation of the files, and the subsequent storage and delivery, is all done in the cloud on a secure, scalable, truly multi-tenant platform.
Even with some of the ongoing debate associated with the cloud (like security and up-time), I think we can all agree these platforms are designed to remove the limitations of what you can achieve using your in-house IT hardware and support.
Simply put, these solutions put control back into the hands of your creative team and helps empower them to create great, interactive content with far fewer obstacles. By no means am I suggesting that you try to work in a black box; but when your overextended/understaffed IT group can stay focused on more mission-critical, back office functions and still act as an advisor for new business initiatives like digital content, everyone wins.
To that end, weâ€™re also seeing companies use their IT groups in a more strategic/advisory capacity. This requires far less technical bandwidth of these staffers, but still allows them to be part of something thatâ€™s revolutionary on many levels. Through these changes, the adversarial relationship that sometimes exists between business and IT begins to dissipate. From my experience, many heads of IT still battle with this inside their organizations; anything that helps bridge this gap will be more supported then you may think. Additionally, less time required from IT resources helps keeps the overall internal costs of a project down, which certainly helps to build a successful ROI model.
Craig Morrow is Director of Strategic Accounts at MEI. MEI was founded in 1990 as Managing Editor Inc., with the goal of providing innovative software solutions to the rapidly evolving publishing industry. Today the company delivers a comprehensive package of digital publishing, editorial workflow and automated ad layout systems for magazines, newspapers and other print and electronic publishers and communicators. Visit the Managing Editor website to learn more about their services.
For our March issue cover story, we convened a Folio: Roundtable to deliberate on the current state and future of content. Itâ€™s a topic that can easily get overlooked while we get distracted by the various technologies and platforms that enable its production and distribution. Content is not the same old product weâ€™ve been producing anymore. In no particular order, hereâ€™s why: 1. New Access DynamicsWhere our content gets delivered to and consumed from has not only enabled greater access, it has changed the way itâ€™s produced, demanding a new skill set from its creators. We donâ€™t simply pour identical content from one platform to another.2. Social MediaMore than just a content marketing vehicle, social media, and the audience feedback it fosters, directly influences the kind of content we emphasize and the kind we dial back.3. Audience DataThe more platforms our content appears on, the more data that gets kicked back that influences the subject matter, frequency, length and any number of characteristics. Weâ€™re incredibly more informed about audience likes, dislikes and preferences. 4. Content CreatorsYouâ€™ve heard it a million timesâ€”everyoneâ€™s a publisher. Your audience and your advertisers are becoming a larger and larger part of the content supply chain. Both have a valuable position in the creation phase and both can contribute to the economics of content.5. The Role of the EditorThe curatorial power of the editor has diminished. Thatâ€™s not as bad as it sounds and because of the way weâ€™ve allowed our audiences into the process to drive deeper engagement, itâ€™s inevitable. Editors certainly still drive what gets created, but the other 5 factors presented here have profoundly altered their role.6. EconomicsPaid versus free only scratches the surface. Cost pressures, cross-platform pricing configurations, bundling, a growing array of media platforms and audience data are all keeping the revenue formula in flux.