I was at the Folio: show this week in New York City. I spoke at the conference and was spoken to by many a strong, free thinking, radical member of a still evolving re-energized publishing community. It was, as usual, a thought provoking event, and I was delighted to attend.
Before I continue I want to explain something important about me that will come into play when I discuss my reaction to David Carey's keynote at the day-long C-Summit of the conference. I try to attend this C level meeting each year because of the excellent nature of the dialog between the C members in attendance. It is all high level nuts and bolts.
Here is where I tell you a short and I think relevant piece of Bo-history that circles back to the above mentioned conference. I started out in publishing with my life-long friend and original business partner Andy Kowl.
We started a newspaper together in 1971. Neither of us was trained for this adventure in publishing, but as it turns out fortunately we were both by our natures entrepreneurs, although we didn't know that at the time. We knew nothing of the established rules of business or publishing and just made it up as we went along as most entrepreneurs do. The only rule we understood was survival, and in this case survival by continuous ingenuity. We were, to say the least, true mavericks with unconventional approaches to the issues at hand. Andy and I have gone through the ranks of the publishing industry solving complex problems with simple, rule-breaking, alternative solutions. That is what we do. Our motto "There is no rule not worth seeing if it will break or at least bend." CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
Yesterday I wrote about the developing style of corporate risk taking place at Hearst, let's call it tower entrepreneurism, envisioned and shared by Dave Carey. Today I want to suggest another great and often missed sector/movement in successful publishing. It is the City and Regional titles. It is my pleasure to speak every few years to the City and Regional Magazine Association (CRMA). They are a feisty group of owner/operators leaping beyond traditional publishing platforms and creating as many new revenue streams as there are pages in a cross-country Fodor's travel book. Let's call the CRMA cottage entrepreneurism as opposed to tower entrepreneurism. Each is a powerful edifice.
Each time I go the CRMA event the air is charged with excitement, brothers and sisters sitting in a conference room sharing new ideas and divergent internal employee motivational strategies. Every time I go I remember how much I love being there. If my career had taken another course, there is no doubt I would have been a member having started several local publications in my early career. Perhaps that is why I feel so comfortable among them. That and the fact that they are consummate never-say-die, scrappy entrepreneurs. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
There is all sorts of articles and technologies revolving around the development of virtual reality(VR) devices. It is indeed a pretty amazing technology with probably thousands of wide ranging, thoughtful applications. It can entertain, educate and offer amazing "life-like" simulations of entering another room, mountain top or alternate universe. But it isn't real and it requires an interesting amount of anti-social isolation to perform its magic. You are essentially seeing something that appears real to your eyes and yet you are at the same time completely blinded to anything or anyone in your current geo-location. Essentially you still can't be in two places at the same time. Here or there, but not both.
Let's go back a second and see where in the publishing media portfolio VR might fit in. One of the common threads to understanding media today is the formula developed by Mary Meeker of time spent with media. It is usually broken down by an average person's total media usage - how much time is spent with TV, Radio, Print, Desktop and Mobile.
These sectors of media usage have been a moving target for many years, with print diminishing in just a few years from 8% to 4%, radio staying flat around 13%, TV down slightly from 42% to 39%, desktop slightly down from 25% to 22%, and mobile like a rocket on the rise from 8% to 25% in just a few years. So, the digital experience is approaching 50% of time spent with media. There is another report that suggests that by 2021, 90% of all internet traffic will be from smartphones. (Dazeinfo)
Here is my question about VR. Where in the formula of media usage does VR fit in? Will people ride trains and planes in the isolation of a blinded VR headset? Will commuters put them on while driving cars? Hopefully not till cars are self-driving. Will the public no longer go to movie theaters and just sit at home with their families each into his or her own VR world, sitting next to each other yet on completely different planets.CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
I have been tracking this story and its many tangents for years. It is important that we get some consumer protection and ground rules as the internet of connected things progresses and weaves into our lives.
It is clear the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) will fight this and other obvious personal intrusions with all the verve, singlemindedness and deceitfulness they can muster. When one's moral barometer is solely measured by greed, you are freed from common decency.
"It's the consumers' information," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "How it is used should be the consumers' choice. Not the choice of some corporate algorithm." The rules also force service providers to tell consumers clearly what data they collect and why, as well as to take steps to notify customers of data breaches.
Taking my personal information unknowingly is at best a form of burglary and an intrusion into the sanctity of my home. Jimmy Breslin once said, "The number one rule of thieves is that nothing is too small to steal." So, too, is the incremental theft of my data. Little by little it is the death of personal privacy by a thousand cuts into our families' lives and safety.
As you know the reports of digital advertising ad fraud are reaching epidemic proportions. It seems no report and no data stream can be trusted. There is a headline today from Ad Age that reads
CMOs Are Sick of Digital Ad Hype, and I can point you to literally a dozen others of the same kind.
Tempers are rising and advertisers are getting pissed off. Agencies are increasingly under the gun. And as I reported to you just a few days ago, the agencies are among the few who are having amazing growth. Apparently growth based on a substantial bit of known fraud.The irony of this as I was working today was to receive the latest The Magazine Media 360Â° Brand Audience Report for August 2016. "The report shows that the average audience for magazine brands is up 9.3% versus a year ago, the largest increase since early 2015." The report goes on to state, "As we have seen since reporting began, Mobile Web contributes the majority of new unique users and is the largest source of monthly magazine media growth (+28.5%)."
I have to ask how much of that report contains incorrectly attributed digital data? Now let me be positively clear here, I am not in any way accusing anyone at the MPA of intentional or unintentional fraud. They are just stuck in a digital situation where the truth is increasingly unclear at best. I know that the Magazine Media 360° uses data from what they say are leading third-party providers. I'm sure that is true and the third-party providers do the best they can under the given circumstances. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
There is a mystery wrapped in an enigma standing right before us in the media industry, and at first and second glance it just doesn't make any sense. Let me try and approach it this way - you walked down a block in your hometown many times and got robbed more than once, in fact, you get robbed every time. Knowing that wouldn't you change the way you traveled? Suppose you told the police about the ongoing robberies, and they told you, yes that is the way it is, but we think the trip is still safe because you were only robbed of 50% of what you had each time. Safe? By whose standards?
This parable to me parallels the current situation when it comes to the advertising industry. We read of ad fraud every day in the digital world, and yet the digital advertising budgets rise every quarter.
We are confronted with ad blockers, ad fraud, robotic ad clicking, totally fake CPM's and CMOs who don't believe they get a measurable ROI from social media, and yet they continue to spend more in the world wide web of murky digital swamps and total intentional fraud.
This rant has nothing to do with print, so let's just take that out of the equation. This is strictly a question of why this digital fraud is tolerated? There must be an ROI somewhere, but where is it? I get that advertising next to search works. I get that social influencers may actually help promote brands. I get that 50% of our time is spent in focusing on digital screens. I don't get why lies, deception, unseen ads and fraudulent statistics are given a second glance let alone increased ad buys. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
As I look around at all the news sites and major media companies an interesting phenomenon is appearing. I am beginning to think of it as the final step to desacralize print. With rare exceptions most current media transactions of major companies are about creating digital footholds with the reading public. Time Inc., Hearst, Conde Nast, Meredith all are focusing on creating new digital platforms for revenue, and, with some rare exceptions of new print titles, the majority of the focus is all about a digital future.
So what is happening? Print newsstand sales continue to drop and so do subscriptions. For those who need to hear it one more time, this not in any way the death of print, as some companies and some print titles are bucking the industry trends and doing very well. But it is a recognition and reassessment of the media pecking order. Print is still strong and powerful, but it is no longer on the top of Olympus. It is a process with partial or lesser divine status than it had a mere decade ago.
I think that as we desacralize print, some people are left with a strong case of nostalgia for times and substrates of yesterday. And this makes me think of the possibility that the current upcoming generations will soon be experiencing nostalgia or a sentimental, wistful yearning for the happiness felt in a former digital place, time, and/or situation. This is, of course, generational. But it seems to me that the transfer of nostalgic experiences from print to digital is already in effect.
In the early part of my publishing career one of my first supervisors showed me how the magazine production professionals could actually see into the future by observing the newspaper industry. It was suggested to me that newspapers were the canaries of the media industry. Whatever happens in our industry happens first in their sector. When I was a major paper buyer I used to track how well the newspaper advertising was doing and adjust my paper inventory up or down predicated on how the newspaper industry was doing. It was at the time a six-month lead indicator or vision of the future, and for quite some time it was pretty damn accurate. Over time things may have changed and I don't buy paper anymore, but I'm guessing there is still a strong time-machine correlation between magazines and newspapers and that it still happens first in the newspaper business and then trickles down to the magazine industry. CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL STORY
There is a quote in an article about print magazines that really troubles me. It is the following:
"It comes back to the idea of a bit of curation, really. That's the thing we can do that you can't really get online. That's the trouble, really... in the media landscape in general. There is too much information, too little context, not enough shaping of the material to give you anything other than a sense of complete chaos."
To say that the web and web sites can't have curation is dangerously mistaken. It can and in many places it does. It is borderline hubris to think that a web site can't be professionally edited, correctly curated and wonderfully designed.
I put forward that sole difference is in the medium and not the content or potential lack of curation.
The haptic experience between print and digital is mainly a different feel, a different sensation and, perhaps above all else, a different expectation. Print doesn't offer distractions other than the words and thinking on the page, while the web does. Just knowing that you can click and go elsewhere is seductive. Even if you stay focused you know in the background of your brain that you can travel beyond your current involvement. With print the expectation is built right into the product as linear and fixed, with no possibility of "surfing" beyond the next page. This grounding, too, is in the background of your brain. And those particular expectations make for different reading experiences. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
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