Widely touted as a major engagement booster, article commenting features have nevertheless remained a prickly issue for many publishers, and it boils down to this: Are the trolls and spam worth the effort? Bonnier's Popular Science doesn't think so. Suzanne LaBarre, PopSci's online content director, announced this morning that the site has decided to turn off its article commenting feature. How this went over with the site's visitors is unknown because, well, there are no comments. But according to LaBarre, the issue goes way beyond the typical annoyances of managing inappropriate or spammed commentsâ€”science itself is at risk. Civility, or the lack of it, is one thing. Redirecting an article's conclusion is a whole new ballgame. Citing a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison that found uncivil comments not only had a polarizing effect on readers, they also changed interpretation, LaBarre pulled the plug to protect the science community at large."If you carry out those results to their logical endâ€”commenters shape public opinion; public opinion shapes public policy; public policy shapes how and whether and what research gets fundedâ€”you start to see why we feel compelled to hit the 'off' switch," she says.The phrase "it's a scientific fact" doesn't seem to carry the weight it used to. "Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to 'debate' on television," she continues.LaBarre says the often politically motivated nature of the rogue commenting chips away at an article's conclusion, hijacking the conversation into an anti-science framework and creating debates out of thin air.Â "And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science," she says.Nevertheless, LaBarre says readers will still be able to interact with each other and the brand, just not in such close proximity to the stories. The brand's social platforms will be the new conversation hubs and there will still be the occasional story that has the commenting feature turned back on.Â
Lately almost everyone in publishing has been talking about native advertising. Right? Well, the Federal Trade Commission wants to join in on the conversation, too.
On September 16, the FTC announced that it is holding a workshop on December 4 to "explore the blurring of digital ads with digital content." In an official release the FTC stated the following:
Increasingly, advertisements that more closely resemble the content in which they are embedded are replacing banner advertisements-graphical images that typically are rectangular in shape on publishers' websites and mobile applications. The workshop will bring together publishing and advertising industry representatives, consumer advocates, academics, and government regulators to explore changes in how paid messages are presented to consumers and consumers' recognition and understanding of these messages.
A conversation between the FTC, publishers, consumer advocates and academics about transparency guidelines gives native advertising the legitimacy it needs to become a new standard. What that means, however, is that publishers and advertisers have to work together to create dynamic advertorial content that is not deceptively presented as editorial.
Self-Regulation Still Rules
Some skeptics are viewing the workshop as a doomsday prophecy for native advertising, despite history showing the FTC's actions have put the public's best interests in mind. Goverment intervention has been historically minimal when it comes to media. That is, there has always been a great deal of freedom to self-regulate. But advertising is a different story, largely thanks to the rise of crooked radio ads in the 1920s, which lead to programs like FTC. In other words, advertisers were getting it over on consumers, but that's not how native advertising should be planned or perceived.Â
The government's reputation to initiate effective policies and actions has certainly waned in recent years. But the FTC has not proposed any plans to draft legislation that will upheave native advertising. On the contrary, instead it is looking to focus in on exactly what native advertising is.
Let's face it, even media "experts" can't quite define native, agree on what it should be called or, in some cases, identify it when they see it. So maybe it's time everyone was on the same page?
A July study by the Online Publishers Association revealed that 75 percent of its membership leverages native advertising, and even more plan to do so in the near future. What that means is this isn't an intermediate fad for generating more revenue; it's arguably the most important forward-looking trend in publishing. Therefore, figuring it out sooner rather than later is crucial for seamless adoption and scalable appropriation.
Regardless of history, some may still find government intervention as meddlesome. However, Pam Horan, president of the Online Publishers Association, maintains that the FTC's workshop should be embraced and viewed as a good opportunity. "The FTC regularly convenes workshops like these to identify industry best practices," she says. "And they typically use these workshops to act as a learning tool for their staff as they are thinking about what their role is, and ultimately how they may want to think about developing some form of guidance."
Horan points to recent similar workshops the FTC held which resulted in helpful industry guidelines that ensure everyone is playing fair. Specifically, with Search Engine Advertising Guidance, Dot Com Disclosures and the Endorsements and Testimonial Guides. Horan says, "These identify a set of best practices for the industry and really help establish what the FTC defines as unfair or deceptive practices, because that is what their role is."
Given that, the OPA doesn't view the workshop as a disruptive probe, but rather a necessary action to learn more about native advertising and how publishers can work together to self-regulate. Horan refers to the process as "a natural evolution."
It's All About Trust
Fearing how the FTC could transform native advertising implicitly suggests that publishers are once again engaging in deception. So here's the bottom line: if publishers believe in native advertising, and believe they are presenting dynamic ads that can be clearly identified, then they have nothing to worry about.
Conversely, if publishers are knowingly getting away with taking advantage of consumers, the FTC should step in. It's a case of basic ethics, in that no matter how successful something is, it should be changed or stopped if people are mislead or cheated.
Horan says that for publishers, "trust is at the foundation of the relation between consumers." Therefore, if native advertising is going to be one of the new standards for generating revenue, then publishers and advertisers must adhere to basic guidelines and best practices while maintaining transparency. Otherwise it will become nothing more than digital snake oil.
When I started out in journalismâ€”in daily newspapersâ€”every so often youâ€™d have a colleague opt out of the reporterâ€™s life and move into PR instead. It always seemed like a loss, because some of those colleagues were the most capable among us. But journalismâ€™s loss was PRâ€™s gain. Today, in 2013, thatâ€™s perhaps more true than ever, because of the disruption of the traditional media world. Letâ€™s be honest with whatâ€™s happening: The newspaper industryâ€”the industry dedicated to putting news on a paper product, which is printed and distributed every morningâ€”is dying. It will be gone in a generation or less. The magazine industry is less challenged than newspapers, but the trend is clear. Think about whatâ€™s happened: â€˘ Itâ€™s not just that new technologies have massively changed media-consumption patterns and expectations. â€˘ Itâ€™s not just that the Internet has destroyed many forms of revenue-producing classified advertising, which once was a staple of newspaper businesses. â€˘ Itâ€™s not just that itâ€™s become an extraordinary challenge to invest resources in highly qualified journalists to produce news, when that news is then redistributed online for free within minutes. How do you make money in that environment? â€˘ Itâ€™s not just that newspapers have become an inefficient and outdated vehicle for local advertising. Local ad revenue is soaring, but itâ€™s online, and going to contextual and ROI-oriented technology companies like Facebook and Google.Â â€˘ And itâ€™s not just that paid reader circulationâ€”an essential part of the revenue model for newspapers and magazinesâ€”is unpredictable, at best, online.Itâ€™s all those things, combined. And the pace of change is accelerating. One outcome has been a wave of downsizings in the newspaper and magazine worlds, with some journalists moving into PR. And ironically, what many of them are doing now isâ€”wait for itâ€”creating journalism! Theyâ€™re just doing it for all different kinds of brands, not just media brands. Theyâ€™re serving brand communities, not geographic or industry-specific communities.As media has changed, so has marketing and communications. The most significant change currently in brand marketing is content marketing, where brands engage audiences through traditional journalism techniquesâ€”they tell interesting and relevant stories that engage readers. This storytelling doesnâ€™t work if itâ€™s product pitching in disguise. Itâ€™s more sophisticated than that. And usually, itâ€™s the PR staff that handles content marketing.Is content marketing a threat to journalism? No. No more so than the bottom-feeder media companies that for 100 years neglected journalism and viewed content as â€śthe space between the ads.â€ťWhat is happening is this: As marketers increasingly engage in content marketingâ€”online, on social media, in videoâ€”they become a new source of competition for traditional media companies. And they also provide a new source of employment for those professional journalists whoâ€™ve found that career opportunities, good incomes and professional growth are no longer as plentiful in traditional media. Maybe those folks who went into PR when I was starting out were just a bit ahead of the trend line.
Just two of 22 b-to-b media verticals showed ad page increases in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latestÂ ABM BIN report.
Though the industry averaged an ad page loss of 9.7 percent year-over-year, the Resources, Environment and Utilities segment grew 6.3 percent, while Travel, Business Conventions and Meetings publications had a 2.3 percent increase. The Automotive and Miscellaneous segments took the biggest hits, each losing more than 20 percent of its ad pages.
Ad revenue numbers were kinder. The average industry loss hovered at just over 6 percent, with seven verticals posting gains. Total revenue for the quarter topped $1.7 billion.
The 9.7-percent average ad page loss is the worst Q1 performance since 2009â€”then, pages dropped close to 30 percent in the midst of the recession. Losses slowed in each of the following two first quarters before 2012, when b-to-b publications saw a 7.25-percent decrease. Monthly averages have typically ranged between 9 and 12 percent since then.
April's numbers were also released with the Q1 report. Both ad pages (down 9.2 percent) and sales (down 5.5 percent) continued to fall in the month, but at a slower pace than the first three months of the year.
Meanwhile, consumer magazines posted a 4.5-percent loss in ad pages in Q2, according to theÂ first half numbers from PIB. The industry appears to be recovering however, reducing losses in eachÂ of the last three quarters.
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Last week, BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti published a long memo on LinkedIn. It was titled a memo to the staff, but really was only partly directed to the staff. It was also a message to all external stakeholders and to competitors. At any rate, it was brilliant. It was the most clear-headed, fully thought-out description of where media is going, and what attributes are necessary for success in a completely transformed media era, that Iâ€™ve seen. For those reasonsâ€”and because it serves as a great example of executive communicationâ€”itâ€™s worth discussing. First thing Peretti did was thank his team in what seemed heartfelt and was certainly gracious:â€śBefore anything I want to thank you for all your amazingly great workâ€¨over the last year. All of our success is because of you. BuzzFeed is on a significant roll, we have reached â€¨new milestones and our future looks tremendously bright.â€ťAnd thatâ€™s just the start. Peretti cited statistics illuminating BuzzFeedâ€™s staggering Web growth. He outlined non-Web initiatives, such as an app, a YouTube channel and live meetups. He indicated the things BuzzFeed will not be doing: Live paid events, print magazines, white-label versions of BuzzFeed. And he reveals that his company is profitableâ€”a rarity for Web-only startups.As part of his thank-yous, he cites the work of various content, technology, data and marketing teams. Then Peretti gets into some interesting territory. â€śMost other publishers integrate off-the-shelf products built by others, but this full-stack, vertically integrated approach was worth the significant, multi-year investment and is paying off fantastically today,â€ť Peretti said. â€śThere are greatâ€¨ tech companies and great editorial institutions, but it is very rare â€¨for one company to take both as seriously as we do.â€ťThis is a really important point. Very few traditional media companies look at their businesses this way. And that serves to ensure that they are perennially a half-lap or more behind technology companies like Google and Facebook, which understand the direct relationship between content and technology, and how it drives the new types of media consumption. Itâ€™s simply not about monthly magazines, with a front-to-back pattern, and traditional devices like the TOC, the front of book and the features anymore. This leads to the really interesting core of the memo, where Peretti pivots into a discussion of the characteristics and economic prospects of BuzzFeed compared to traditional media companies. â€śDespite the struggles of the traditional media, there remains an â€¨insatiable desire for great reporting, entertaining content, andâ€¨ powerful storytelling,â€ť Peretti said. â€śFacebook, Twitter, and the other Siliconâ€¨Valley-based social sites are amazing distribution platforms, but userâ€¨ generated content alone isnâ€™t enough to fill the hole left by theâ€¨ ongoing decline of print newspapers and magazines. The world needs â€¨sustainable, profitable, vibrant content companies staffed byâ€¨ dedicated professionals; especially content for people that grew up on the web, whose entertainment and news interests are largely neglected by television and newspapers.â€ťThis is all true. Itâ€™s important to hear, even if his point about the â€śSiliconâ€¨ Valley-based social sitesâ€ť ought to be looked at with skepticism, because the basic dynamic of social sharing undermines the profit-generating ability of news organizationsâ€”and because BuzzFeedâ€™s founding idea is about creating (and also finding and sharing) content for those same â€śSilicon Valley social sites.â€ť You canâ€™t have it both ways.Still, Peretti is pointing to a new future, and he elaborates in nine additional points, covering everything from news to mobile, international coverage and more. (The point about being an international brand is especially valuable. Old-school media companies launch international editions. Technology companies, and, Peretti says, BuzzFeed, are one brand, one content package, translated and presented to different markets.)One of Perettiâ€™s points is that his company is investing in news. â€śThere is a huge opportunity to be the leading news source for the â€¨social, mobile world,â€ť he writes. â€śAs we saw during the 2012 election, the Bostonâ€¨ bombings, and our LGBT focused coverage of the Sochi Olympics, a new â€¨generation of readers are turning to us for news.â€ťYou didnâ€™t need to search very hard last week to find a contrary perspective, one that Peretti never addresses. Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO who just bought the Washington Post for $250 million, gave his first interviewâ€”to the Post. Bezos: â€śThe Post is famous for its investigative journalism,â€ť he said. â€śIt pours energy and investment and sweat and dollars into uncovering important stories. And then a bunch of Web sites summarize that [work] in about four minutes and readers can access that news for free. One question is, how do you make a living in that kind of environment? If you canâ€™t, itâ€™s difficult to put the right resources behind it.â€ť Bingo. If BuzzFeed is truly going to succeed in homegrown news, it needs to crack that code. Nothing that Iâ€™ve seen indicates anyoneâ€”including anyone at BuzzFeedâ€”has figured that out. And then thereâ€™s advertising. â€śPart of being a great business is being a â€śmust buyâ€ť for advertisersâ€¨ who have many options,â€ť Peretti said. â€śThis means giving advertisers the fullâ€¨ advantage of our scale, our data, our creative team, our social and â€¨mobile reach, and our technology platform. We have moreâ€¨ expertise about social content than any other company. We can light up â€¨the social web for an advertiser across Facebook, Twitter, andâ€¨ YouTube, with content that is worth clicking and sharing.â€ťThe challenge with that is that BuzzFeedâ€™s own advertising model is based on a trend that works against media companies. BuzzFeed specializes in native advertisingâ€”advertising that looks and feels like and lives in the same format and in the same context as BuzzFeedâ€™s (and other media companiesâ€™) own content. That is innovative, for sure, but it plays into another major trendâ€”companies creating their own content and building audiences on their own, without the traditional absolute reliance on media companies. This, combined with the targeting capabilities social sites and Google, enables non-media brands to create content, engage audiences, identify leads and sell products and services without the same level of reliance on third party companies.I love the clarity of Perettiâ€™s vision. That doesnâ€™t mean there arenâ€™t significant trends playing against BuzzFeed.Â
If you've been following thisÂ running series, you'll recall that the last post focused on leveraging the editorial e-newsletter to drive audience growth. Since adopting this strategy at ALM, the e-newsletter has become the No. 1 driver of traffic to ALM's sites (yes, ahead of even search).
Driving this growth is a fundamental shift in our subscribers' reading habits-specifically, a move to mobile-first viewing. Click-throughs on our mobile optimized e-newsletters are up a whopping 120 percent in the past 3 months. We are seeing mobile devices replacing the desktop as the first place our readers connect with us.
Today, smartphones are ubiquitous parts of our lives. AÂ recent studyÂ completed by Harris Interactive found that 72 percent of people reported being within 5 feet of their smartphone at all times, 55 percent admitted to using a phone while driving, and believe it or not, 9 percent admitted to using it during sex. Equally as important, in 2013, average time spent on a mobile device (non-talk) outpaced that of online, for the first time ever.
Based on these changes, if you don't already have a mobile Web strategy, you'd better get one quickly because your users are already there.
In approaching the mobile Web, I recommend that you consider the following five key questions:
â€˘ Who should develop your mobile site-internal staff or should it be outsourced?â€˘ How should the site be built-as a responsive site or as a stand-alone?â€˘ Which devices should you support?â€˘ What content should be available on the site?â€˘ And most importantly, what's your mobile revenue model?
I will cover the first of these two of these questions in this article and the remainder in a later posting. I will also cover mobile app strategy in a later post.
In-house vs. Outsource
The first question to answer is who should develop your mobile website. Here you need to consider the following elements:
â€˘ Does your development team have mobile experience and coding skills? Keep in mind which skills you'll need: Are you building a responsive site? Are you building a site in HTML5? Are you looking to incorporate any unique advertising/sponsorship opportunities/code. On the other hand, if you outsource, do you have flexibility in the look and feel of your site, or are you stuck with choosing from just a few templates?
â€˘ Are you willing to have multiple CMS systems: one for mobile and one for desktops/laptops? This can have a lot of implications for your editorial workflow as well as your mobile content offering. At ALM, we chose a FIFO (first-in-first-out) model based on feeds from our CMS to an outsourced provider in order to get to market quickly, but there have been some serious tradeoffs with this approach. We continue to work closely with our mobile partner to improve the reading experience.
â€˘ What's your time to market? The sooner you want to launch, the more likely you'll want to use a mobile-focused platform provider who has a turnkey solution already in place. Depending upon who your partner is, as well as your need for more or less customization, you could be up and running within as little as four weeks.
â€˘ What's your capital budget and risk propensity? Another good reason to consider a mobile platform provider is if you don't have the upfront capital dollars to invest in a mobile site. Many mobile platform providers will partner with you on a revenue share basis. Two off the top of my head are Verve Mobile and Polar (albeit, I'm not specifically endorsing either in this post). An additional advantage of these platform providers is that they have integrated ad serving platforms and mobile ad networks in their operations, which will help your monetization model from Day One and lower investment risk.
â€˘ Do you want your apps and mobile website to be under the same CMS and managed by the same team? Here you need to be even more thoughtful in your overall strategy. If you plan on creating mobile apps one day, you should consider the challenges and benefits between outsourcing vs. insourcing.
Responsive design is all the rage right now, using one code base to deliver experiences across multiple screens (from smartphones to tablets to desktops). But is it the solution that ails all digital woes? In my humble view, responsive design, has a place in your digital strategy, but it's not the ultimate solution.
The main advantage of responsive design is that it lowers site maintenance costs. Maintaining just one code base ensures that each new update and/or change will be "automatically" replicated across all platforms. Additionally, responsive design makes ad management easier as every ad on your website will also have a place on smartphones and tablets.
The main disadvantage to responsive design is that it creates what I like to call "the endless scroll" on smaller screen devices (i.e., smartphones); the page seems to just go on and on forever. This is especially problematic for sites that have a lot of content.
My personal view is that using a combination of responsive and native design lead to best-in-class reading experiences at the lowest cost. More specifically, use responsive design for online and tablets, and then create a separate native experience for smartphones.
In my next update, I'll address the three remaining elements of a mobile Web strategy: which devices you should support; what content should be available on the site(s); and how to drive to a positive ROI.
What should a metrics report include? One thing is for sure: it needs to be more than what we report in our BPA statements. But how do we decide what that 'more' is and who should have access to the data? Here Iâ€™ll highlight what a metrics report is and how to create one with all the data points needed to make it a complete report that almost everyone in the company will love.First, a metrics report is a method of measuring the results obtained from different sources. In this case we are looking for our audience numbers. The kinds of sources we use in the metrics reports depend on how big of a picture, by brand, we want to see of our audience. At NewBay Media, our metrics reports include monthly numbers from our websites, newsletters, social media, digital platforms and print distribution. It was important for us to have one central report that provides a big picture of our audience from all of these sources. This helped us determine if it made sense to report them in the brand statements for BPA, but also to keep track of how our audience might be growing on one end and decreasing on another. Starting a Metrics Report
1. It doesnâ€™t matter when you start, youâ€™ll need to go back and gather all the numbers from December 2012 to current. 2. For the Google Analytics, you can either look the unique visitor and page views by month or you can select the time period you need, the metrics you want, and download to Excel.3. Most of our brands have weekly or daily newslettersâ€”we add an average for the month in the metrics report. 4. For Twitter youâ€™ll need to capture this data at the end of each month, unless you pay for access to twittercounter.com or other service. If you are capturing this data to report on a BPA statement, youâ€™ll need to do screen grabs of each month and save them for audit purposes.5. If you have admin access for your Facebook page, then you can easily log in and download the metrics for the time period needed. If you are not an admin (if you arenâ€™t, you should be) then youâ€™ll need to create screen grabs as well.6. Donâ€™t forget to add your LinkedIn group metrics as well. You just need to create a screen grab at the end of the month.7. Remember to include all your iPad downloads. This is important if you are going to be reporting iPad downloads on your BPA brand statement. The good thing is that all you need to do is either take the numbers from your Apple raw data reports or create an account with AppFigures and grab the numbers from there.Once we had these reports created and up to date we were able to meet with the publishers and have them decide what they wanted to report in the new BPA brand audits. The most impressive thing that came out of these meetings was that the publishers wanted to see these numbers not just for BPA reporting purposes, but on a monthly basis for all of their brands, even those without a print component. Why? Because of the â€śbig pictureâ€ť and how they can monetize this data by selling Facebook posts and tweets from the editors on behalf of the advertiser. This can also be done with LinkedIn groups. A discussion can be set up about a product and links on where to get more information. This will turn into leads for the advertisers. And last but not least iPad downloads show the audience we have with the container app, and this gives the publisher the ability to also sell to this audience.
I am [spoiler alert!] a woman. But womenâ€™s magazines have nothing for me. Theyâ€™re great when Iâ€™m in the salon, but when it comes to reading magazines with bones, with guts, with something to say, the men take it every time. Iâ€™m not talking about lad mags, those British imports from 15 years ago. Iâ€™m talking about â€śgentlemenâ€™s magazinesâ€ť: namely Esquire and GQ, but I also love Details, the dandier kid brother of the other two.I have subscribed to these Big Three for years. I first started reading my fatherâ€™s Esquire when I was a teenager. Its commentary on music, film and literature was second to none, and its tone was hilarious. Plus it was so cleverly wrapped: a high-end glossy chock full of honest, no-nonsense stuff that I felt smarter for knowing. Sure, it was peppered with self-indulgent photos of female celebrities barely concealing their ladyparts. But to me, it was an obvious statement on American consumerism: that to get people to read smart content, youâ€™re going to have to sell it with sex.
My girlfriends were engulfed in the world of Self, Glamour and Marie Claire. Some of us even dabbled with Sassy, and later, Jane and Bust. They were the cool smart chicks of the bunch, but I always felt they were just...lacking. Sassy and Jane fell under (but Jane Pratt is going strong on xojane, and though Bust is still chugging along, its voice has gotten younger, cheekier and hipster. It may be the major magazine for a good pop-feminist read, but Iâ€™ve outgrown it.Consider the sequence of a typical womenâ€™s magazine: letters, trends, fashion spreads, maybe an interview with a celebrity, more on trends (fashion, beauty, exercise), some obligatory group of â€ślightâ€ť recipes, along with a longer editorial on A Serious Topic like genital mutilation or being catfished by a prisoner. Itâ€™s content crafted to make women feel guilty for not knowing whatâ€™s hot, smart for knowing that this magazine will reveal it, then ashamed for not being able to afford whatever this magazine has revealed. Itâ€™s cyclical, and itâ€™s boring. I thought perhaps I was in the minority, being a woman who loves menâ€™s magazines. All of the Big Threeâ€™s media kits boast audiences with 30 percent women, so Iâ€™m clearly not the only one. Do women read menâ€™s magazines differently from men? In a very unscientific survey (of my two brothers in their twenties and my friend Greg, in his forties), I asked what they liked about Esquire and GQ. My brothers prefer GQ and its fashion tips, the profiles of the women and food. Greg only reads Esquire. As he puts it, â€śEsquire is not about being a well-dressed, cool man. Itâ€™s about being the best man you can be. And even though you can't necessarily glean any of that knowledge from a magazine, it does a valiant job of trying.â€ťMenâ€™s magazines revolve around cultivating taste: fashion, music, film, books, food, celebrity, sports, cars and (in Detailsâ€™ case) design. They review where weâ€™ve been and where weâ€™re going, culturally speaking. Theyâ€™d do better to incorporate more female writersâ€”Stacey Grenrock Woods is a shining example of excellent menâ€™s writing by a female and Jessica Pressler has pushed out some decent profiles for GQ. They donâ€™t always get it right, but the point is: they dare. Yes, they, like womenâ€™s magazines, often commoditize gender and make money on reinforcing certain gender stereotypes. But theyâ€™re just so glib about it. Where womenâ€™s magazines champion us, trying to help us channel our inner sisterhood and answer our Burning Questions, menâ€™s wryly acknowledge that, like most Americans, theyâ€™re just stumbling through this crazy mixed-up world, and even they donâ€™t have all the answers. I have plenty of female friends who read womenâ€™s mags because theyâ€™re mindless entertainment, and I get that. More than anything, Iâ€™m an advocate of reading what you enjoy.But thatâ€™s just the point that menâ€™s magazines make: entertainment neednâ€™t be mindless.Menâ€™s magazines donâ€™t curate culture; they curate content. They tell me whatâ€™s going on culturally and how they feel about it. Womenâ€™s magazines ignore whatâ€™s going on, because they themselves donâ€™t know how to feel about it. They seem stunted, like the world is just too big for them to comment onâ€”or worse!â€”that we wonâ€™t appreciate a woman magazineâ€™s commentary on larger cultural paradigms. So womenâ€™s magazines overcompensate for telling us nothing by telling us everything about nothing (the healing powers of purple fruits! animal prints!). Menâ€™s magazines have their share of frivolity, but they give me the thought stuff tooâ€”the national budget, war and PTSD, robotics, a profile of the Vice President. One of the best articles I read was Chris Heathâ€™s coverage in GQ about the massacre of the escaped exotic animals in Zanesville, Ohio. It was a tragic story brilliantly told; and the story of the war between GQ and Esquire competing for the story was just as good. Both magazines published accounts of tragedy; both had writers (Chris Jones for Esquire) on site in the same hotel chasing the same story; both ran in eachâ€™s March 2012 issue. I read both articles voraciously, and came out in favor of GQâ€™s coverage. To my happiness, GQ got an ASME nomination for its story; Esquire didnâ€™t. Thatâ€™s the other thing I like about menâ€™s magazines: theyâ€™re nominated for awards for their journalism, like actual awards, against giants such as The New Yorker, the Atlantic and Rolling Stone. GQ and Esquire are for literary-minded people, for people who care about the actual words on the page. Womenâ€™s magazines donâ€™t say anything interesting about the state of culture, they just buy into it. They donâ€™t have a sense of humor about themselves.Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m sticking with the menâ€”theyâ€™re funny, self-effacing and have some of the best editorial content around. None are offering the keys to the universe, but they have a good time trying.
Like most show managers, you probably view sponsorship sales as an opportunity to increase revenue for your event. As we all know, well-positioned sponsorships can enhance the look and feel of your event and, at times, impact attendee perceptions of your event. This is especially true when you think of banners in common areas that can impact how an attendee views your event before even setting foot on the showfloor.
In understanding the importance of sponsorships, are you thinking strategically about the development and fulfillment of your sponsor offerings? Have you taken a close look at your approach to sponsorship sales? Here are a few things you should consider before your next event:
â€˘ Have you reviewed your menu of opportunities recently?Â You should review your past sponsorship menu and pull off items that have run their course or that no one is buying. In this case, less really is more.
You should direct your customers to the items that are most popular and most profitable. You can always bring things out of the vault if there is an opportunity, but overall you should keep it simple.
â€˘ Have you recently reviewed your pricing model? Is it high or low, based on the health of your event and competitive set? Are you only charging rights fees, or are you positing your offerings as a turnkey program?
You never want to gouge your customers, but donâ€™t be afraid to publish your offerings at a premium. It is always easier to go down in price instead of up midway through a cycle.
You should strive to charge a â€śrights fee onlyâ€ť for as many of your offerings as possible to avoid variable costs like printing, materials and installation. If the customer wants a turnkey program, you need to charge a premium for that service, as it will require resources to fulfill.
â€˘ When creating a custom program for an exhibitor, what sort of elements do you include? Of course, you want to create an offering that meets the customerâ€™s specific needs, but consider adding elements that carry little additional cost to your event P&L.
This could include logos on kick panels, directory advertising, list rentals, publication distribution, blog posts, etc. If planned properly with enough lead time, you can leverage these low- or no-cost items and maximize your return.
â€˘ Often overlooked are programs and offerings for the smaller exhibitor. While not the big-ticket items, a few modest program offerings can drive new revenue streams from your customers with smaller budgets.
Take another look at your sponsor offerings and their price points. They can have a significant impact on sponsorship revenues at your next event.
Brian Pagel is a vice president at Emerald Expositions, where he runs The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. Since re-joining Emerald Expositions (formerly Nielsen) in 2001, Pagel has also served as a vice president in the Decorated Apparel Group. A 15-year veteran of the publishing, convention and exposition industries, Pagel has also held senior account executive positions with Leader Publishing and Bill Communications. He can be reached at Brian.Pagel@Emeraldexpo.com.
While the evolution of the magazine media business often rests on the shoulders of experienced executives, the younger generation is a constant source of innovation and change. Here at FOLIO:, we're always on the lookout for new ideas that change the way magazine publishers do business and in that spirit it's time once again to turn the spotlight on the younger set with our 15 Under 30 list.Â With this annual recognition franchise, we profile selected rising stars and innovators across traditional publishing roles, never-before-seen positions in new lines of business, and market-shaping start-ups. Last year's list featured a cross-section of talent responsible for ad ops, editing, technology and design.Tell us who you think deserves to be on the list by filling out our simple online form. Our list-makers will appear in the October issue.The only catch? All nominees must be younger than 30.The deadline for nominations is August 30. Good luck and thanks for participating!
Given the changing landscape of content publishing, it's no surprise that a social media community like Pinterest has emerged as a power player for driving traffic, growing communities and fostering reader engagement. For some, Pinterest drives more than 20 percent of website traffic, topping legacy referrers such as Google and Yahoo. Others are seeing follower acquisition on Pinterest increase at a strong-and-steady 15 percent month-over-month.Â Recently I participated in a Pinterest webinar with social editors from Martha Stewart Living, Menâ€™s Health, Womenâ€™s Health, and media agency Huge. Here are the five common themes that emerged. 1. Pin During Active TimesRather than dumping 30 pins into Pinterestâ€™s news feed a couple times a day, use a tool such as Piqora or Curalate to schedule 10 to 12 pins across several time zones. This way, content is surfacing when users are most engaged. For example, when I shifted pin times for SELF, we were able toÂ increase re-pins and click-through rates by nearly 30 percent. 2. Collaborate and Co-pinConnect with on-brand partners, whether a celebrity cover star, a contributing blogger, a chef or an entertaining expert, on a co-branded board.Â Youâ€™ll leverage the built-in followers from their Pinterest footprint and expand both profiles. Also consider organic co-pin opportunities with advertisers and brand sponsors. While â€śpin it to win itâ€ť contests are popular, look for meaningful ways to activate your most influential or active pinners. The goal is always more re-pinsâ€”theyâ€™re like a simple yet powerful social â€śthumbs up.â€ť 3. Realize the Lifespan of a PinA pin lives longer than any other piece of social content. A Tweet can disappear within minutes, and thanks to Facebookâ€™s algorithms, a post might not even be seen by 70 percent of your audience. But with Pinterest, a site might experience a spike in traffic from content pinned 30 days ago.Â 4. Pinning Indicates Purchase IntentIn a recent survey, about 35 percent of users under 35 said that pinning led to a purchase and 24 percent said they found the item they eventually purchased on a strangerâ€™s board, not a brand or retailer. This suggests the power of a brand placement on an editorial board or, better yet, a Pinterest userâ€™s board. Your editors also play a role here when recommending a product on their personal boards. And itâ€™s worth thinking about what Pinterest can do for ad partnerships or value adds. 5. Leverage Insights to Inform Editorial ContentTake a cue from top-performing pins and incorporate them on your site, either within a newsletter or as a slideshow (with proper crediting back to the original source). You can also think of Pinterest as another avenue for A/B testing. Trying to decide whether to lead with a food or a fashion image? Look at the native Pinterest analytics or those within your third-party tools to help you make that choice.
A few weeks ago, we reviewed some of the things you can do with gift offers, especially within your own magazine, and it can be very easy to lose sight of what you are trying to achieve.
Offering a gift subscription is not the same as creating a house offer, although many people do fall foul of this. When creating a house offer, be it an off-the-page advertisement, blow in or bind in card, you are trying to sell the magazine to the person reading your promotion; when creating a gift offer, you are selling the idea of giving someone a gift-the offers are not the same.
Copy for a gift promotion should be about the product and why your gift will give pleasure to the recipient, so avoid words like "you" and use "they" instead. A little flattery never hurts either, so copy such as "...they'll thank you for your generous gift all year long" could certainly be in order. And gift acknowledgement cards sent toÂ recipients are much prized by gift givers, so be sure you mention that you send them to recipients in the donor's name. It you have price savings for multiple gifts, be sure to mention that in your gift ad, as well as how to enter multiple orders by phone.
The gift offer should not be over-designed (actually, nothing should ever be over-designed, but you know what I mean). The important things on a blow in card are the "from" and "to" address boxes, an offer that is clear, concise, easy to understand and an uncluttered form. You do not need covers galore, in most cases you don't need a cover at all-which is just as well, because there is not much room on a card measuring 4.25 x 6 inches.
Because of the information you have to include on the form, avoid using too much reversed-out copy. Stock for blow in and bind cards can soak up ink like crazy and with fonts tending to be smaller size, you can end with a fuzzy mess on your hands. If you are running an advert in your magazine, just about the reverse is true. You can drop out copy because fonts are generally larger and the paper stock usually better.
Bind in cards can be stacked so that you can have at least two cards andÂ even three gift cards if you wish. Design the bind in so the bottom of your card gets trimmed off. That means there is one less perforation you have to worry about. Your run-of-the-page advertisement, blow in and bind in cards do not all have to have the same design, they can all be different.
Recognize the difference between gift ads and house ads, otherwise you may lose out on a lot of orders and at a time of giving, who wants to do that?