Online publishers of all stripes have invested heavily in search to drive reader acquisition. With a market size approaching $3B in 2013, the SEO industry has thrived on the data feedback loops created by analyzing the keywords that users enter into search engines before arriving at their sites or competitive sites. Yet despite continued growth in user search activity and increasingly sophisticated keyword analysis tools, 2013 is shaping up to be the first year that social media eclipses search as the leading source of referral traffic to publishers. How could this be?Two parallel trends are driving this sea change. The first is Googleâ€™s recent shift to encrypt search keywords for a significant segment of search referrals. This moveâ€”followed by corresponding browser updates in 2012 by Firefox, Safari on iOS, and now Chrome to use Google SSL search by defaultâ€”means that up to 39 percent of keyword data has vanished from publisher analytics systems. Less keyword data means fewer content insights, and fewer content insights means lower ROI from SEO. As publishers recognize lower yields from their search strategies, many will moderate their investment in this channel leading to reductions in search referral traffic.The second trend is the torrid growth of user-powered content sharing on Facebook and Twitter that has turned a trickle of social media traffic to publisher sites into a flood. Itâ€™s worth noting that social traffic is not a new phenomenonâ€”consumers have been sharing web content and URLs with friends and colleagues via email since the first Mosaic browser was released in 1993. What has changed is the way that social media sites structure and amplify a personâ€™s network connections. The New Yorker article URL that was emailed to 10 friends back in 2005 would today be posted to 500 friends on Facebook and 1,000 Twitter followers. And as the Likes, Shares, and Retweets pile up, the reach and traffic impacts get magnified. For example, The Atlantic recently reported statistics that measured social sources as 18 percent of total referral traffic across a basket of premium publisher sites. Search represented 22 percent of referral traffic. For an increasing number of publications, including The Atlantic, social traffic already far exceeds search in importance. As the quantity of search keyword data continues to declineâ€”and as the quality of social analytics continues to improveâ€”itâ€™s not hard to imagine a tipping point occurring in 2013 where much of the time and resources currently spent against SEO will transition over to optimizing social channels.A major wildcard impacting the relative importance of social traffic versus search is the steady growth in mobile content consumption. Specifically: Will mobile devices expand the overall amount of sharing and search behavior, or simply cannibalize existing desktop behavior? comScoreâ€™s November 2012 Search Query Report showed volumes declining by over 6 percent versus October 2011 on desktops. While growth in mobile search volumes offset those declines, the trend is clear: Consumers are substituting desktop queries with mobile queries. On the other hand, social network usage on mobile devices continues to explode, even as desktop-based usage also increases.Â According to a recent study by Nielsen, time spent on social media increased by 68 percent YOY on mobile devices versus a 24 percent increase on desktops.What can publishers do to tap into this trend? With social media on track to surpass search, 2013 is shaping up as a pivotal year when social networks leapfrog search algorithms as a more important source of user traffic. Publishers have an opportunity to gain insight into what content is being shared the most, as well as what types of articles drive the most referral traffic, in order to continue to grow their readership and engagement levels.
Days before last weekâ€™s debut of The New Republicâ€™s redesign, its new cover was posted and circulating around the web. The buzz was on, and people were tweeting and commenting on it before the magazine itself was even available for viewing. Today, every editor and art director thinks about creating a magazine cover that can go viral, that will work at multiple sizes on a wide variety of displays and platforms and create hype. Along with this, websites like Coverjunkie, NASCAPAS, and others are now providing a visual forum for magazine covers from all over the world to be displayed and distributed.The Coverjunkie site just celebrated its second anniversary. It was launched in late 2010, the brainchild of Dutch art director Jaap Biemans [pictured below], who has done cover designs for the weekly Intermediair and the glossy, Vanity Fair-like Hollands Diep, before moving over to art direct Volkskrant Magazine, the weekly magazine supplement of a large Dutch newspaper (itâ€™s basically The New York Times Magazine of the Netherlands). Biemans recognized early on that for many publications, the days of covers getting â€śheatâ€ť on the newsstand were a thing of the past. To date heâ€™s posted over 11,500 covers, and Coverjunkie has become a daily must-destination for magazine art directors around the world.Biemans interned at a design firm in NYC in the late 90s, and that New York experience has informed his design and editorial sensibilities. And while Coverjunkie has a definite global reach, he has a big soft spot for very American style-magazine cover design, as well as for the funky, gonzo-style designs of altweekly newspapers like The Village Voice.What sets Coverjunkie apart from other cover sites is both the quantity of posts, and the fact that itâ€™s well-organized and highly searchable. Biemans collects covers by publication, theme (9/11, split-run, premier issues), and art director, and he also publishes complete credit information, a rarity. His tastes are very egalitarian; thereâ€™s a healthy mix of consumer, mass market, enthusiast, trade, city and regional, and altweekly covers, with selections from Italy, England, Germany, Russian, and of course, The Netherlands. He also has a strong social media presence on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, which helps spread the Coverjunkie cover selects fast and far.Coverjunkie is a one-person labor of love for Biemans, but itâ€™s a project that is helping to redefine the essence of how magazines design and promote their covers. In a recent interview, Biemans gave the lowdown on how he puts the site together, and what makes a good Coverjunkie cover.Why did you start Coverjunkie?Biemans: I wanted to celebrate creativity in magazine design, to spread the love for ace cover design. And it was also a response to the â€śprint is deadâ€ť statement, which I think is a lot of rubbish! I think a cover is more than just about selling itself, itâ€™s also a reflection of our visual culture. On Coverjunkie you can see this reflection from all around the world, as well as from different decades.â€¨â€¨How do you find the covers you post?â€¨â€¨Biemans: I browse the good old newsstand and look online and on Twitter. Right now I get 10-15 covers a day by email, some good, some bad. The best thing about Coverjunkie is that some mags send me hard copies. I love that; it gives me a fab feeling. â€¨â€¨
How do you select what goes on Coverjunkie?Biemans: Posting everything would be impossible; I get too many covers sent to me. I post the most creative ones, the remarkable ones, the covers that stand out. The hardest part about Coverjunkie is editing the covers and then telling art directors that their covers are not creative enough, and that I canâ€™t post them. I try to email everyone to explain. I hate disappointing people because I know theyâ€™re trying to create sweet stuff. But again, I have to be rigorous; when there are weak covers on the website it loses its strength. â€¨â€¨
What makes a good magazine cover?Biemans: Itâ€™s the creativity that counts. My motto on the site is â€ścovers that smack you in the face or that you want to lick!â€ť I think the ace cover contains news, a vibe, and creativity. Most of the covers have only two out of three of these ingredients. But when it carries three out of three you have an epic one. For many magazines, newsstand used to be the big indicator, but it's increasingly not that important, at least not in the U.S. I think a cover these days is more about making a statement instead of selling. Itâ€™s about creating a vibe that the reader likes (or maybe dislikes). A magazine cover is part of a brand, a very important part because it has a soul and it can give feeling and depth to a brand.What magazines do you think consistently do the most interesting or memorable covers?
â€¨â€¨Biemans: I definitely prefer magazines that use a different approach with each cover, who use their cover design to make a statement or to spark and surprise their readers. I like The New Yorker when they put newsy items on their covers. And I think The New York Times Magazine and New York rock it hard. Bloomberg Businessweek, theyâ€™re crazy, and what I like about them is that creative director Richard Turley and his team take charge and are very brave. I love all the altweeklies from the U.S., like SF Weekly and San Antonio Current! They donâ€™t have big budgets but they create extraordinary stuff. Thereâ€™s Spanish Metropoli, Texas Monthly, Vice, IL from Italy, Wired from the U.S., UK and Italy, Suddeutsche Zeitung Magazin from Germanyâ€¦.What advice do you have for editors, art directors and others to create great magazine covers?â€¨â€¨
Biemans: Three things: guts, guts, and guts. Mix that with talented designers with soul and a fab editor to create the best headlines. Iâ€™m a strong believer that creativity brings great pleasure to readers, whether itâ€™s on an iPad, website, magazine or even cellphone. I donâ€™t care as long as itâ€™s well-designed and made with soul.Â
Any company that's grown up targeting the magazine business the past few decades has no doubt had to come to terms with the new media landscape, particularly if its name is directly tied to print media. Heck, we're mulling through this now with FOLIO:, which is still "The Magazine for Magazine Management."The main associations that serve the industry have already rebranded, as did ABC recently. MagazineRadar, a data service that has helped magazine publishers know more about brands and the people that buy them, got caught in the same dilemma. It's just rebranded itself as MediaRadar. Not a particularly big stretch, but it's definitely symbolic of the changes happening all around us. As an example, the company has been tracking just over one million brands that are buying online ads and in the process of doing so has uncovered some interesting patterns in how those digital buys overlap, or don't overlap, print. "The number-one discovery was the size of the online ad market is much larger than we understood," says co-founder Todd Krizelman. "If we just look on the consumer side of MPA titles, out of the people who buy MPA magazines, only a third of those are showing up on [the brand's] website. We're 20 years into the web and only one-third are buying on the same set of websites."Surprisingly, there appears to be very little overlap, or integrated sales, going on. In the third quarter of 2012, for example, MediaRadar found that about 9,000 brands advertised in the MPA-member consumer magazines it tracks. There were 12,000 brands that advertised on those titles' websites. But only 3,000 were integrated buysâ€”leaving about 9,000 advertisers that were only buying digital with those brands.There are some brands that have done particularly well through integrated buys, but that discrepancy is one reason digital-only publishers have done as well as they have, says Krizelman. "One of the reasons they've been successful is not that they've stolen clients, but exploited the knowledge that there's thousands of advertisers that buy only online."
Talking to your customers is always a good thing, and at the moment telemarketing seems to work very well for many publishersâ€”but be careful as you can overstay your welcome.Â Avoid the temptation to ask your customers everything in one go. This will confuse some, annoy others and may result in an order not being completed. This is true for both paid and controlled publications, but for different reasons. If someone is receiving a magazine free of charge it is reasonable to elicit some information from him or her; this is the reason they are getting the magazine free, after all.Â However, if you ask too many questions it may result in a firm but call-ending hang up. Ask the subscriber if you can send a follow up email with some more questions that it would be useful â€śfor us to know, so that we can serve you better.â€ť If they say yes, the telemarketing company can probably send the email out straight away.Â If the person you are calling has paid for a subscription, be careful when asking for information. Many subscribers feel paying for a subscription also pays for their privacy. However, people are also very flattered when you seek their advice or opinion, so how you phrase your question can be the difference between getting the information you want and the aforementioned call-ending hang-up. Flattery is almost always a good thing.Â When choosing a telemarketing company, take time to review the references you got from them. Talk to people in the industry to see if they have an opinion. The company you choose is going to represent you in a one-to-one conversation with either your subscribers or prospectsâ€”this will reflect on your company so choose wisely.Â There are very few methods of promotion where we have direct interaction with our customers or prospects. Telemarketing is one, and you only get one chance to make a good first impressionâ€”do not let price be the only factor that dictates your decision. There will always be at least one caller who complains, that is normal. If you are conducting a large program, probably more than one complaint will be received. Calmly call the account manager at the telemarketing company, have them review the call with you and make a decision together on how to resolve any issues. Â If you are prospecting for new orders, review the results the telemarketing company sends each day and after a few days of calling, prioritize the calling so that you can get the maximum number of orders for the least amount of moneyâ€”especially if paying by the hour. Ensure you key each list correctly and that you do measure like for like. Comparing a list that has a 30 percent conversion with 5,000 names called cannot really be compared to a list that has a 10 percent conversion but only 1,000 names called. Many a bad decision has been made on too little information.Â For many years, telemarketing was considered the â€śbad boyâ€ť of circulation. Nobody really wanted it on his or her Publisherâ€™s Statement. Now, just like black coffee, eggs, chocolate and red wineâ€”all in moderation, courseâ€”telemarketing has a good reputation and can be a splendid source of circulation and revenue for publishers.
Â Roy Beagley is Director of Publishing Services for Tyson Associates Inc. Roy started his career at The Economist and then The Spectator in London. He moved to the United States in 1992 and since then he has worked with Tyson Associates handling many controlled and consumer publications. He is editor of Circspot.com, a website for circulation and audience development professionals.
When a publication decides its earthly existence as a print life form is no longer a viable option and instead takes on a digital-only presence, is it really a heaven-sent opportunity or is it actually a gentle nudge by the minions of magazine hell to push it into its final resting place? If your print product isnâ€™t connecting with an audience, is it really going to flourish among a billion more nondescript URLs or a million other apps?Think about it, please. And take a look at a few lost souls while youâ€™re at it.Flashback 2006When Teen People closed its print magazine in 2006, it decided to make digital confetti out of the pages and toss the remnants on the print productâ€™s grave in celebration. With a still healthy circulation of 1.5 million in the second half of 2005, Teen People displaced about 50 employeesâ€”with the promise of finding them spots within the companyâ€”and, according to Ann Moore and John Huey, set about to â€śinvest in the brand through Teenpeople.com, which shows promise and growth.â€ť
Flash Forward 2013 The only presence that remains of Teenpeople.com today is at the home of the magazineâ€™s parents: PeopleMagazine.com. Apparently, when living on its own didnâ€™t quite pan out, mommy and daddy allowed their child to come home.Too bad some of the other print magazines that went digital-only didnâ€™t have parents quite so affluent. Going digital-only screams salvation to some print products that are battling low ad pages and declining circulation, but the question remains: If youâ€™re not selling ads in your ink-on-paper magazine, what in the world makes you think youâ€™re going to make gazillions of dollars on the web? Even with automated ad sales systems, consumer magazine sites arenâ€™t garnering all that much from their digital counterparts.Flashback 2009Gourmet in print became another headstone in the â€śInk-on-Paper Cemetery,â€ť when CondĂ¨ Nast killed it in 2009. Just the previous year, Gourmet had had a circulation of around one million, but its ad pages had dropped. And the magazine wasnâ€™t doing as well as its sister magazine, Bon AppĂ©tit, which was also owned by CondĂ¨ Nast. But it would soon be reborn as an app for iPad called Gourmet Live. Flash Forward 2013Gourmet Live is officially done, as far as any new content is concerned. According to a spokesperson for CondĂ¨ Nast, the app itself will remain intact, but it wonâ€™t be updated. However, Gourmet.com will continue to be updated as the main platform of the brand.Where have we heard that before?Flashback 2011American Media, Inc. (AMI), a leading publisher of celebrity magazines, announced the launch of Reality Weekly, the first magazine devoted only to Reality TV shows and its new mega-stars. Included in the hype around this blockbuster idea was the companion website for folks who just couldnâ€™t get enough of the inside info that must surely abound on television shows such as these.The launch was fan-fared with the fact that the magazine would sell at all the mass merchant locations: Wal-Mart, Kroger, Dollar General, Kmart, A&P and Rite-Aid and would be priced a mere $1.79 (â€śLess Money, More Funâ€ť). Really.â€śIâ€™m proud to introduce a magazine that gives readers the news they want about televisionâ€™s most popular genre. Print remains one of our most effective mediums, which is why Reality Weekly will be a showcase launch of 2012,â€ť said David J. Pecker, AMIâ€™s Chairman, President and CEO, at the time.Flash Forward 2013Before 2012 was over, the magazine folded. The website hasnâ€™t been updated since July 2012. However, that same month AMI folded the magazine, it announced that it was naming Joe Bilman as its first chief digital officer and set the lofty goal (at the time Mr. Bilman was hired) of building its digital revenue to $50 million. Accordingly, AMI resolved to try Reality Weekly as a free tablet app that summer.They followed that with a big splashy ad that screamed at the consumer: â€śReality Weeklyâ€¦Weâ€™re Going Digital.â€ťBut where are they now? The magazines mentioned here are not the only ones. What about Elle Girl, Cosmo Girl? Digital brands such as PC Mag and Sporting News, while still breathing that oh-so thin digital air, are mere shadows of their former print selves.When you lose contact with the people who matter, your customers, and treat them as numbers instead of members of this community of experiences you have created for them, youâ€™re going to lose them, whether the neighborhood is print or digital.And what about Newsweek?As the New York Times put it so eloquently: From the start, it was an unwieldy melding of two newsrooms: a legacy print magazine, Newsweek, combined with an irreverent digital news site, The Daily Beast. Now the 79-year-old, once highly-respected news magazine must co-exist next to an entity called â€śThe Daily Beast,â€ť its new significant other.The sacred vow that some publications make with their new life partner, digital, is usually a last-ditch effort to save a customer and product bond that was broken many times earlier. When you have a brand so highly known in print and you suddenly jerk that trusted and cherished product out from under your customersâ€™ feet, why do you bemoan your fate when, one day, you have to take that digital shingle down for good?Right now, Newsweek is looking for digital heaven, as others are. Letâ€™s just hope the abyss that lies before them doesnâ€™t lead to purgatory instead.The Moral of the Story?At the end of the day if we donâ€™t we create a community where we make our customers feel like members instead of just numbers after a dollar sign, we wonâ€™t have anything to publish in print or digitalâ€”no long-lasting relationship, anyway, merely a one-night stand.The minute you lose your connectivity with your customers (readers, users, viewers, listeners, whatever you call them), youâ€™re in trouble. And if you fail to connect with them time and time again, even going to that digital heaven online canâ€™t save you. Cut your losses, let your magazine die in peace and donâ€™t torture it anymore. Stop being in the game of numbers and change to a game of members instead.
Min wrote about John Suhlerâ€™s retirement last week. Other than that, and some mentions in the financial-industry media, his retirement didnâ€™t make much news. To me, thatâ€™s an oversight, because John Suhler is certainly one of a dozen or so major figures in the magazine industry in the last 40 years. That group includes people like Bill Ziff, who founded two major magazine companies; both had brands that live on today. It includes people like Peter Diamandis, who in the eighties bought CBS Magazines for $650 million and flipped it to Hachette less than a year later for a $100 million in profit. It includes iconic editors like Helen Gurley Brown and Tina Brown. And IDGâ€™s Pat McGovern.For a bunch of reasons, John Suhler belongs in that group. Suhler and his partner, John Veronis, created the category of boutique media investment firm in 1981, with the launch of VS&A, a brokerage firm specializing in the magazine industry. It was VS&A that managed the $3.2 billion sale of the TV Guide to News Corp. in 1988. More recently, TV Guide sold for $1.And it was VS&A (later renamed VSS when a third partner, Jeffrey Stevenson, was added) that led the way for a host of other firms, including JEGI, DeSilva+Phillips, Berkery, Noyes, and others that operate in the media-industry space. More than that, Suhler and his partners anticipated the private-equity boom in the magazine industry. VS&A began private-equity investment funds in the mid-eighties. By the mid-nineties, with the acquisition of Ziff Davis by Forstmann Little, the private-equity boom was onâ€”a boom that with its spectacular successes and equally remarkable flameouts has transformed the industry.But Suhlerâ€™s major impact might have come before even those milestones. Early in his career, he was a circulator, and because his father was also a magazine circulator, Suhler says, â€śThe dinner table was a circulation bootcamp. I wasnâ€™t bathed in football,â€ť he says. â€śI was bathed in the language and the people and the activities of large-circulation magazines.â€ťSuhler took that education and transformed an industry. He pioneered an analytic approach to circulation, developing mathematical models to figure out costs and volumes necessary to maintain ratebases, solicit new subs, estimate renewals, factor in cancellations, payups and all of the many moving parts associated with paid circulation. Suhlerâ€™s work on circulation modeling predated the famous Lighthouse Model. He had a hand in developing the game-changing Kobak Model. And in his mid-twenties, as publisher of Psychology Today, Suhler used those analytic skillsâ€” And marketing planning and creative subscription offers like, â€śtry a subscription for no cost, but if you like the magazine, we will bill you at our best introductory offerâ€ťâ€”to push that magazine to an unlikely circulation of 900,000. By 2004, VSS got out of the brokerage business and became a pure investment firm. And hereâ€™s another numeric measurement of Suhlerâ€™s success. In 32 years, VSS created four private-equity funds, two mezzanine funds, with about $3 billion in committed capital and invested in a total of about 70 operating companies with a combined enterprise value of $14 billion. Not a bad career.
I love Google. I believe it to be one of the greatest American businesses ever launched. For the last dozen years, I have been a partner as well as competitor to Google. I have seen firsthand the incredible breadth of engineering talent and resources they bring to the market. As a publisher, I was a long-time customer of syndicated Google search advertising as well as embedded, contextual text advertising.Google is brilliant at serving and monetizing text advertising. Whether done on the search result page or via contextual mapping to page level content into a dedicated module, these are solutions that no publisher can directly offer. These are solutions based on mapping scale of advertisers to scale of potential keywords, something no individual publisher can possibly replicate. The money generated from these placements is incremental and does not compete with the publishersâ€™ own direct efforts to sell a similar product.Display is a different ballgame. A premium publisherâ€™s core business is in selling a high-value display placement into their curated environment at a premium price. While programmatic buying is surely challenging the value of this model, it still represents a significant market with hundreds of top-tier brand marketers placing value on the age-old premise of the right ad delivered to the right individual in the right environment.Googleâ€™s core display product undercuts this model in damaging ways. Google will serve what its algorithm perceives to be the best possible ad at that given moment. It does not discern the appropriateness of the ad content itself or the economics involved. This often defaults to the lowest common denominator served into a premium display positionâ€”a text ad, from a direct response marketer, sold for less than 10 percent of what the publishersâ€™ direct sales force is trying (and succeeding ) to get for that same inventory.This is particularly damaging in emerging areas like mobile. Because most premium publishers donâ€™t sell their mobile inventory yet, you often see Google text ads appearing in prime display mobile real estate. Because many of these publishers are using DFP as their first party ad server, Google wisely makes it very easy for them to automate their Adsense backfill.Here is the prime example. This is a screen shot of The New York Times mobile home page from a few months back. The NYT has not sold this position so it defaults to a backfill solution from Google. This is what served:
Now Iâ€™m an old digital guy and still view the home page of the NYT as a very premium buy. I see top 50 brands paying top dollar to get that position. Google has done a great service to the Counseling Anxiety in Miami advertiser. I wonder if they even know they owned the homepage of the NYT. For the NYT, this is a horrible result. Never mind the poor quality of the ad content and how that sullies the environment for the reader; Iâ€™m not sure how their sales team can go to market selling the exclusivity of the placement to their top-brand advertising partners when this is whatâ€™s running there.So what can you do if youâ€™re a premium publisher with lots of unsold inventory?1. Put the right resources in place to sell it yourself, and in the way it needs to be soldâ€”as a high-value, high-impact display unit.2. Work with specialist networks that focus on premium inventory and premium brands.3. If youâ€™re going to backfill, do it via an SSP (Pubmatic, Rubicon, or even AdMeld, which Google owns), where more competition for the inventory should produce better ads and better economics.4. If youâ€™re going to just run Google ads, then have somebody at the switch watching to make sure there are minimum standards of ad content quality and yield.Donâ€™t get me wrong; Google is a great and critical partner to the publisher and would be the first to point out they give the publisher control to manage their inventory. The reality is that most publishers donâ€™t have the resources to do this, so they default to something that in the long run undermines their business.Â Â Â Be smart. Protect the premium value of your brand and inventory.Â
FOLIO:'s MediaNext event concluded today in New York. With about 1,000 in attendance the show examined all the ways publishers are evolving into true multiplatform media companies. With keynotes from LinkedIn's Dan Roth, Business Insider's Henry Blodget, Vox Media's James Bankoff and Meredith's Tom Harty, as well as four tracks dedicated to the various strategic channels publishers are leveraging, event content sat right at the intersection of where "traditional" meets digital.
Al DiGuido, president of Optimus Publishing, kicked off the Magazine Media Core Skills track with a lesson he learned at his first job as a 13-year-old store clerk in Brooklyn. DiGuidoâ€™s storeâ€”surrounded by larger, cheaper competitorsâ€”would put a Tootsie Roll in the bag of each customer. Donning an apron and doling out candy, DiGuido reminded publishers to offer a unique selling proposition.Â â€śLegacy media has not been aggressive enough in modifying value proposition,â€ť he argued.
Samir Husni, the director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi, presented an optimistic view of the industry, despite its tendency toward the negativeâ€”â€śNobody talks as much as we do about our own demise,â€ť he says. Husni ran through the more than 800 magazine launches of the past year, stopping to highlight several of the more amusing. His point was larger though. Though many were alarmed print been passed by other forms of media, that doesnâ€™t mean it will go away. Print ad revenues bypassed radio in 1935; television bypassed radio in 1955â€”after playing third-fiddle for more than a half-century, radio is still relevant.
In sales and marketing, Stephen Acunto, account manager with Hearst Menâ€™s Group, and Jackie Ghedine, associate publisher with Ad Age, echoed the comments of Beth Tomkiw, EVP and chief creative officer at what is now TMG/McMurry. Content marketing, they agree, will emerge as a go-to marketing solution in 2013.
During the Data, Sales & Audience Monetization track, a heavy emphasis was placed on building a highly engaged community of readers, followers, fans and customers to reach business objectives that support generating revenue and capturing valuable insights.
From paid online content models, to generating revenue from Twitter engagement, the track aimed to deliver specific takeaways to help professionals leverage their key asset: their audience.
One particularly interesting session was lead by Steve Ennen, president and chief intelligence officer for SocialStrategy1. He contented that magazines are the stagecoaches from yesteryearâ€”an outdated vehicle for spreading information. Ennen argued that publishers must rethink and restructure their businesses at every level. Distribution is no longer about the mailman, he said, but about network effects, sharing, and the fluid channels of social media.
â€śSocial media is so powerful it topples governments,â€ť said Ennen. â€śWhy would you think it couldn't help your media company?â€ť
The opportunity, he said, is a proliferation of revenue channels and readers, empowering publishers in ways they still cannot imagine.
In the session "Integrated Sales in a Three-Screen Era" in the Media Mashup track, Elena Sukacheva, The Economist's vice president of strategy and client solutions, noted that her team primarily drives the creative process of building an integrated package. "Agencies give us big ideas, they don't care what it is. They just want us to make it big and unique," she said.
Accordingly, the team leverages all of The Economist's brand platforms. A recent campaign for BMW, for example, included print, digital, video and live eventsâ€”as well as a partnership with Bon AppĂ©tit.
Later in that session, Cygnus Business Media's senior vice president of business development Blair Johnson described the company's new Engagement Report, which leverages detailed analytics to measure the exposure and consumption of each of a client's messaging elements. The company then carefully trains the sales team to present the report to the client in an effort to help them better steer the campaign to the client's actual goals. "At the very least, the Engagement report is getting our sales people in the door," said Johnson.
One session in the Content and Brand Marketing track featured Betsy Frank and Barry Martin, who are â€śresearch and insights officersâ€ť with Time Inc. Their jobs are to figure out how Time Inc. editors can relate better to readers. Explaining one recent research project in which they used biometrics, they took a group of Digital Natives (people under 30 who presumably were born into a digital world) and another group of Digital Immigrants (people over 30 who had to get used to it), gave them glasses with video cameras built in and recorded every type of media they used during their non-working hours.
As a consequence of their research, Frank and Martinâ€™s best advice to Time Inc.â€™s editors about how to engage their Native readers? â€śMake it quick, make it easy and make it emotional.â€ť
It may not be the advice their Immigrant editors want to hear, but itâ€™s what theyâ€™re going to have to do if they want to keep their publications alive.
Two publishing executives noted that their events programs generate substantial revenue, serve their readers in a way that print and digital publishing canâ€™t, and extend and reinforce their brands.
In the conference session titled â€śConferences, Meet-ups, Mixers and Summits,â€ť The Atlantic Editor-in-Chief Steve Clemons and Computerworld Vice President and Publisher John Amato agreed that the wide variety of events they hold are all profitable.
â€śIn fact, it generates more revenue than anything else we do,â€ť Clemons said, â€śincluding the magazine.â€ť
For specific keynote session coverage, visit:
â€˘ MediaNext Show: Thriving in the Age of Transformationâ€˘ MediaNext: LinkedIn Executive Editor Dan Roth Sharesâ€˘ MediaNext: From Upstart to Powerhouseâ€˘ MediaNext: Scaling Quality Journalism
Add the USPS to the list of unfinished business left by the now-adjourned 112th Congress. As it muddled its way through negotiating terms for avoiding the fiscal cliff, the legislation the Postal Service was looking for fell by the wayside, prompting Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to voice his disappointment in an official statement. Even with hearings, lobbying from ABM and MPA and a raft of restructuring initiatives done over the last two years, the USPS is still in major crisis mode. And any major operational or pricing changes going forward could have a significant impact on publishers.Â
Ranks have been reduced by 60,000 carriersÂ and 70 facilities have been consolidated, but the USPS is still losing massive amounts of money, to the tune of $25 million per day. And it's already defaulted on its $11.1 billion Treasury payments and has no money left to borrow. "As we look to the coming year, we are on an unsustainable financial path," warns Donahoe. "We will be discussing with our Board of Governors a range of accelerated cost-cutting and revenue generating measures designed to provide us some financial breathing room."For the full statement, click here.
In what's become an annual tradition from Hearst Magazines president David Carey, a post-holiday letter to employees highlights some of the company's successes in the last year and points to new initiatives for 2013.While there were definitely highlights for the company, Carey noted the days of consistent performance across brands are over. This is a nod to a recognition that while the external media landscape continues to fracture, so goes the internal performance of brandsâ€”strategies that used to work consistently across the platform are now maddeningly hard to predict from one brand to another. "While in the past our businesses tended to move in unisonâ€”collectively, up or offâ€”I believe that the variability and volatility of performance is here to stay, which puts a greater emphasis on the impressive can-do spirit and creativity of our teams," says Carey in the letter.Nevertheless, Carey is continuing his push for entrepreneurial thinking within the company, noting international, digital and commerce-oriented growth initiatives. By the end of the year, for example, Cosmopolitan's partnership with jcpenney was producing $1 million in weekly sales. Also notable is Carey's claim that Hearst Magazines now has the highest number of paid monthly digital subscriptions across tablet devices in the industryâ€”at nearly 800,000. The subscriptions are generating profits and 80 percent of the subscribers are new to the file. Here's the letter in full: Dear Colleagues,Â Happy 2013! Welcome back after what I hope was a wonderful holiday break for each of you. If you were minding business at the office last week, I trust you also found it a peaceful place to be.Â As we begin a new year, I want to take stock of our companyâ€™s accomplishments in the last year and look forward to whatâ€™s on tap for the coming one.Â We have been thrilled by consumer response to the new print products we introduced, led most notably in the U.S. by HGTV Magazine and, globally, by 10 new Hearst international editions, including Esquire in Singapore and Colombia and Harperâ€™s BAZAAR in Poland. Weâ€™re also enthused by the pace at which our content is ricocheting around an increasingly mobile world. At the end of 2011, we had 39 million monthly page views on mobile devices; by the end of 2012 that number had grown to 186 million.Â But no question, 2012 will not be remembered as mellow in either media or meteorology.Â Many of our businesses soared and produced record results. Others faced challenges, and the teams behind these brands have put in place fresh thinking for 2013. While in the past our businesses tended to move in unisonâ€”collectively, up or offâ€”I believe that the variability and volatility of performance is here to stay, which puts a greater emphasis on the impressive can-do spirit and creativity of our teams.Â Whether you were doing business in sunshine or in storm, so many of you pushed aheadâ€”continuing the enormously imaginative work of expanding our companyâ€™s reach and influence. I want to thank all the teams that make Hearst Magazines great.Â The barometer of our 2012 performance marked important developments. Our core print brands were honored with a raft of prestigious awards: three National Magazine Awards, total domination of Advertising Ageâ€™s A-List, including Magazine of the Year Marie Claire and Publisher of the Year Nancy Berger Cardone, numerous Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Awards, and an Adweek Hot List nod for HGTV Magazine.Â More of our greatest brand hits last year:Â â€˘ ELLE had very strong growth in its first full year of Hearst ownership, gaining market share and becoming our second-largest business in the U.S.Â â€˘ HGTV Magazine, created in partnership with Scripps Networks, ended its first year with nearly 700,000 paid subscribers, producing average monthly newsstand sales of more than 250,000 and strong reception from advertisers. This year, the title will move to 10 issues annually.Â â€˘ Harperâ€™s BAZAAR had a perfectly executed redesign that has been a hit with readers and advertisers, and Good Housekeeping introduced a new look and feel in its January issue, a front-to-back revamp driven by extensive consumer research and testing. Now under way: a dramatic restyling of Road & Track and a new direction for Redbook.Â â€˘ Marie Claireâ€™s powerhouse publishing team delivered the most revenue ever in the magazineâ€™s 18-year U.S. history.Â â€˘ Already the No. 1 epicurean magazine on the newsstand, Food Network Magazine had a sales jump of 18 percent last year and earned the top spot for ad pages in its category. Projected FNM circulation for 2013: 1.55 million.Â In keeping with our UNBOUND positioning, we made impressive gains in digital media. By the end of the year, we counted nearly 800,000 monthly digital subscriptions in the U.S. across iPads, NOOKs, Kindle Fires and Android devicesâ€”the highest in the industry. Those subscriptions are now generating profits after 24 months of investment. And how exciting to see how this business is developing organically: More than 80 percent of our digital subscribers are new to our files, and their engagement levels meet or exceed the high levels we see from our print products.Â We achieved important digital milestones all across the company:Â â€˘ The number of unique monthly visitors to our websites grew by more than 30 percent. Our brands have driven an explosion in social engagement with their audiences; Hearst has 7.7 million Facebook fans, 4.7 million Twitter followers and 5.5 million Pinterest followers, including the No. 1 brand on Pinterest, Harperâ€™s BAZAAR.Â â€˘ Cosmopolitan doubled the size of its digital edit team in December, with the goal of reaching 20 million monthly unique visitors. The magazine also used a multi-pronged social media strategy engineered by iCrossing to welcome new editor in chief Joanna Coles: 18 million tweets announcing Joannaâ€™s move were sent in just a few hours. (The brand is also active on the TV front: Watch for Cosmo as a star of a new Mark Burnett series debuting in February.)Â â€˘ Jumpstart, a key asset from our LagadĂ¨re acquisition, had the most profitable year in its history. Jumpstart grew to become the No. 3 website for auto shoppers, with more than 9.5 million monthly unique visitors.Â â€˘ Innovation flows in all directions in our halls: Hearstâ€™s popular foodie destination Delish.com introduced a print special that was sold with the November editions of six titles at Wal-Mart, producing a 22 percent lift in single-copy sales.Â We welcomed new faces last year and, in some cases, rearranged places. Chief Technology Officer Phil Wiser, who joined Hearst Corporation last January, quickly became a key resource for our technology teams. In addition to Joanna at Cosmo, we named three new editors in chief: Susan Spencer at Womanâ€™s Day, Larry Webster at Road & Track and Anne Fulenwider at Marie Claire. We were also pleased to welcome Carine Roitfeld as global fashion director of BAZAAR, who, in an industry first, will create fashion editorial that will run in all 26 international editions of the magazine at the same time. This high-profile creative initiative with Carine is among my favorite rule-breakers of 2012 and paves the way for more global content sharing.Â Benchmarking industry leadership took a number of creative forms at Hearst in 2012:Â â€˘Â We created the Hearst Design Group by consolidating the editorial staffs of ELLE DECOR, House Beautiful and Veranda under Newell Turnerâ€™s leadership, bringing a streamlined, nimble, European publishing model to the U.S.Â â€˘ Again, in the spirit of not holding onto established orthodoxies, we changed the business models of some titles, including Womanâ€™s Day and Veranda, shifts that have dramatically improved bottom-line performance.Â â€˘ You will see more brand extensions this year based on last yearâ€™s success; Cosmopolitan for Latinas, Delish and ELLE Accessories will all increase their frequency in 2013.Â â€˘ From its genesis as a column in Good Housekeeping, 7 Years Younger is now a book and a website with extensive social media presenceâ€”and the launch has been a collaborative effort across our company.Â Always looking for new ways to connect with our readers, Hearst developed fresh, effective commerce initiatives last year, including ShopBAZAAR.com and the House Beautiful Marketplace, a partnership with HSN.Â After a year of close collaboration, the Cosmopolitan Collection debuted in September in 700 jcpenney stores nationwide. At yearâ€™s end, consumer sales were running more than $1 million per week. (Operating as entrepreneurs entails taking chances: Our 2011 partnerships CLAD and Gifting Grace were discontinued. There will be some swings and some missesâ€”we learn and move forward.)Â As you know, Hearst is the largest publisher of monthly magazines around the world, with 284 of our 304 editions outside the U.S. Iâ€™m pleased to report that in 2012 our international business grew by more than 50 percent. European shortfalls resulting from the ongoing turbulence in the economy were offset by the strength of earnings from our businesses in Russia and Asiaâ€”China, in particular, where ELLE has seen so much success that it moved to a semi-monthly publishing schedule.Â Our other lines of business also made bold inroads in new areas. Hearst Integrated Media had its biggest year ever in 2012, selling more than 30 custom programs.Â We welcomed new leaders, in the U.S., the U.K. and Latin America, to boost iCrossingâ€™s digital marketing leadership. In 2012, iCrossing won two out of every three pitches and signed 30 new accountsâ€”with its average deal size now 250 percent larger than two years ago. iCrossingâ€™s fourth quarter revenues were the highest in its history.Â CDS Global celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012 and successfully focused on transforming its technology to offer new digital and e-commerce services and diversify its business across industries. CDS Global is a key part of the magazine industryâ€™s tablet media infrastructure and at the same time is building business beyond mediaâ€”it ended 2012 with nearly 20 percent of its revenue from non-magazine clients.Â One thing thatâ€™s distinctive about Hearst is how important partnerships are to driving our growth, a key strategy established long ago by our CEO, Frank A. Bennack, Jr. Weâ€™re fortunate to operate joint ventures with many of the worldâ€™s leading corporations. (These ventures not only generate earnings, but also bring great talentâ€”our just-named Hearst president, Steve Swartz, originally came to the company via a joint venture with Dow Jones). Because of our reputation of being such a good partner, we regularly receive inbound concepts from media companies looking to jointly create new products with Hearst. (So donâ€™t be surprised if we test yet another new magazine by yearâ€™s end!)Â Finally, a sad note and a heartfelt tribute: Helen Gurley Brown, the Hearst magazine editor who first made Cosmopolitan famous and single women proud to be smart and sexy, died on August 13 at the age of 90. She led Cosmo for more than three decades, leaving an indelible, personal imprint on several generations of womenâ€”and their men. Helenâ€™s re-creation of Cosmopolitan produced profits that were quickly reinvested into a diversified set of businesses that helped build the modern Hearst Corporation.Â Which brings me to 2013: Every member of the team has the chance to make a Helen Gurley Brownâ€“level contribution, one that can have a long-lasting, positive impact on our company and colleagues.Â Many are hard at work on achieving exactly that.Â Esquire Editor in Chief David Granger and Publishing Director Jack Essig will soon announce a bold new partnershipâ€”an initiative that will dramatically expand the Esquire franchise. The brand also has big plans in the works to celebrate its 80th anniversary this year.Â Our consumer marketing colleagues are collectively rethinking how we bring our titles to market by striking new partnerships with retailersâ€”as they cast aside the â€śsame old wayâ€ť of doing businessâ€”and building world-class digital marketing capabilities.Â The companyâ€™s digital leadership team is working on plans to â€śfuture-proofâ€ť our digital business models for a world where more than 50 percent of our traffic will be on small screens, and our readers will demand fresh, high-quality content from our brands around the clock.Â The team at Hearst Magazines International is readying another dozen launches in 2013, from France to Australia.Â And thereâ€™s so much more.Â Iâ€™m also pleased to announce that in 2013 we will put greater emphasis on the training and development of our team. In the last few weeks weâ€™ve had the good fortune to welcome to Hearst Tower inspirational executives like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and HSN CEO Mindy Grossman to talk about how they are managing change at their companies. In 2013, we will significantly step up these programs and our exposure to some of the business worldâ€™s smartest minds. We will also invest more in digital training of all kinds.Â Regardless of the headlines, change in GDP or cyclical trends, our teams are pushing ahead to create a successful 2013. This is the spirit that has put Hearst at the forefront of the industry.Â Like you, I get a lot of e-mail newsletters. A few months ago, one contained an especially insightful passage that succinctly sums up the opportunities for our company and industry:Â If one thing is clear, itâ€™s that over the next 20 years the shortest distance from A to B is going to be anything but a straight line. To survive, much less to thrive, will require being both clever and smart. Clever means a willingness to try new thingsâ€”be scrappy and make bold bets, even if they may not pay off. Smart means keeping your eyes on the year-2032 prizeâ€”be ready to cut off the experiments that arenâ€™t working and cultivate your willingness to let go of the legacy as the time comes.Â I am so proud of all the talented and smart men and women at Hearst who work to empower, educate and encourage our readers, advertisers and partners. In picas and pixels, you are simply the best, through all kinds of weather. And I know you are not aloneâ€”supported by family and friends who encourage you to do your best work and reach for the stars.Â Thank you, again. I wish you a new year filled with personal and professional success and happiness.Â Sincerely,Â David CareyPresidentHearst Magazines@CareyAtHearst
After an acquisition, some staff turnover is expected. But when that acquisition also means moving the brand halfway across the country, you'd better be ready to do some significant rebuilding of personnel. This rings especially true when a magazine relocates from, say, New York to Wisconsinâ€”as happened with Discover magazine after Waukesha-based Kalmbach bought it. Privately-owned Kalmbach, an enthusiast, craft and hobbyist publisher with titles such as Astronomy, Model Railroader and Cabin Life, among others, picked up Discover two years ago from private equity backers WallerSutton and Sandler Capital Management. At the time, Discover had revenues of about $14 million. Less than a year later, Kalmbach outsourced the sales operation to James G. Elliott, Co., a partnership that's still in place. Which left the edit team (production and back office operations were already set up in Waukesha) still in New York. In August this year the company finally announced that it was closing the editorial offices and moving operations to Wisconsin. At the time, about 20 edit and design staff were faced with the decision on whether to move. All opted outâ€”except former editor-in-chief Corey S. Powell, who was with the brand for 15 years and will continue as editor-at-large and columnist, and executive editor Pamela Weintraub, who remains in a consultative role. Today, Discover announced a completely rebuilt edit and design team. The magazine has hired 13 new staff members.The magazine's new editor-in-chief is Stephen George, who was last with Reader's Digest at the Greendale, Wisconsin branch as its executive editor in the book and special publication group. Former managing editor of Kalmbach's Trains magazine will take the same title at Discover. From there, two senior editors, a photo editor, four associate editors, a senior graphic designer, staff writer, editorial assistant and copy editor have also come on board. Still open is a design director spot, says vice president-editorial and publisher Kevin Keefe.
NEW YORKâ€”At MPA Digitalâ€™s Social Media Summit Thursday, Ethan Grey, vice president of digital with the association, revealed results from its latest study slated to be released in January.
The data, which was conducted with Gfk MRI and surveyed 796 adults aged 18-plus who owned a tablet, shows that in general, tablet owners prefer to buy yearly subscriptions to digital magazines. About 56 percent of respondents prefer to purchase a one-year subscription, 31 percent prefer to buy monthly subscriptions, 11 percent normally buy half-year subscriptions and just 2 percent prefer multi-year subscriptions.
When asked about the type of digital magazine content they prefer, more than halfâ€”55 percentâ€”say they read current and back issues. The remaining 45 percent prefer to only read the most current issues.
â€śThis is an avenue for increased dollars in revenue for magazines,â€ť Grey said.
Additionally, respondents find the price of digital magazines to be fairly reasonableâ€”about 49 percent said they â€śagree somewhatâ€ť that pricing of digital magazines is fair.
When it comes to bundling, 34 percent of respondents â€śsomewhat agreeâ€ť that they are only interested in a digital subscription if it comes with a free print subscription. The second highest group of respondentsâ€”30 percentâ€”â€śsomewhat disagreeâ€ť when asked if they are only interested in a digital subscription if it comes with a free print subscription.
Many respondents (44 percent) say they â€śsomewhat agreeâ€ť that the automatic downloading of their magazine subscriptions is convenient. About 36 percent â€śstrongly agree.â€ť
When it comes to loading times, 59 percent say they â€śsomewhat agreeâ€ť that the time it takes to download a magazine app is reasonable, with 27 percent saying they â€śstrongly agree.â€ť
The all-you-can-eat magazine model of Next Issue Media, said Grey, could become more popular, at least based on this data: 27 percent of respondents â€śstrongly agreeâ€ť when asked if they like having the ability to pay a flat subscription fee for a large library of magazines. About 46 percent â€śsomewhat agree.â€ť
When rating five digital newsstands, respondents thought most highly of Apple, with 90.8 percent saying the Apple Newsstand is excellent or good. When it comes to a browsing experience for new titles, Apple tied with Barnes & Nobleâ€™s Nook at 81 percent.
More information on digital magazine reader preferences will be released this January by the MPA.