Brands and branding are funny things. They go back further than you might think, but have different meanings to us in media today than originally intended. In the earliest days, artisans would make their mark, or their brand, on their manufactured materials to identify themselves as the maker.
This process took an interesting turn later in history in the American Southwest as cattle ranchers put the mark or their brand on their cattle, identifying ownership instead of "makemanship." One of the Old West stories goes so far as to tell us about a gentleman named Maverick who didn't put his brand on the cattle, and since then unbranded cattle were known as mavericks.
Today brands and branding have somewhat different connotations. Now the brand identifies the company that made the product and in most cases the products themselves.
I have said for decades that humans, too, have brands and should always be working on their own branding. As we progress through our corporate careers we should remember that we are marked or branded by the way we regularly display our expertise. Remembering your personal or corporate brand is a strategy that will give you an edge in competitive situations, be they careers or marketplaces. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
The past Thursday evening High Times Magazine held its 40th Anniversary party. 450 invitation-only people attended the event at a club on Delancey Street in lower Manhattan. Among other things there was a lot of electricity in the air. In attendance were some old friends and fellow founding fathers. (Special note there were also founding mothers, but none in attendance at the party.)
It was great to see Ed Dwyer, the first editor of High Times, who went on to a fine career, as many High Times graduates did. Ed was a top editor for companies such as AARP the Magazine, Penthouse, Los Angeles Magazine, and Whittle Communications. Also enjoyed seeing Larry "Ratso" Sloman, another early editor at High Times, who made a career writing books on Dylan and Houdini and whose best-sellers were in collaboration with Howard Stern on the radio personality's Private Parts and Miss America. My best friend Andy Kowl, who notably was High Times' first publisher and helped it achieve much of its success, was also there making the rounds and meeting new friends and old. Andy has been a publisher many times over these past years and now is using his extraordinary skills helping other publishers generate increased reader engagement and profits online.
High Times was without a doubt a school of publishing. Many greats got their start there. Original graduating class Art Director Diana Laguardia won awards for best design while at Conde Nast and the New York Times, while the late, great Toni Brown became art director of People. Some have conquered ad agencies as Senior VP's. Glenn O'Brien ghost-wrote books for Madonna and is a mainstay at GQ. Shelley Levitt became a senior editor at People, west coast editor at Self, and has been featured in too many national magazines to mention. Susan Wyler became a best-selling cookbook author - even without including marijuana in her recipes. Production personal have developed, orchestrated, and retooled production techniques for many companies such as Time Inc, helping to implement "running to the numbers," a system that every printing plant uses today. One member of the class even publishes the world's oldest e-newsletter, not a small accomplishment in itself. And on and
There is an age-old phrase that claims that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, meaning in un-apple terms that one wrong person can negatively affect a whole group. I was wondering if the reverse can be true. Can one person or even a small number of persons show exemplary leadership and change the bunch in a positive direction?
Here is what I'm getting at. The latest reports from AAM on circulation seem dauntingly negative when viewed as whole. The last AAM report was filled with sad statistics such as: of the top selling 25 titles, only three improved their sales, and of the top 100, there were only 24 that showed positive momentum. It is those negative figures that everybody is focused on, and perhaps it is understandable to do so. As an industry trend, it isn't pretty. But what about the winners in that multitude of industry misery?
As reported by John Harrington of NScopy.com, the "Food Network Magazine was up 12.1% to an average of 448,734, and its dollars were $9.0 million, 15th among audited publications. Sports Illustrated grew 14.7%, an average of 68,132, and the dollars were $8.7 million, #16. Women's Health grew by one percent to 300,790, and its $7.5 million put it 21st." So, although the statistics seem to point to a whole bad batch, it is not really true for all. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
My Goodness, Rance Crain wrote a terrific, important and timely articledirected for the advertising world. And it is just as meaningful for magazine publishers as it is for ad agencies. It's time to stop the Bull. You can take all the surveys you want, but multiples of 25X pass-a-long for every magazine you produce is Bull with a capital "B". It doesn't really happen.
From the article:
"Bullshit is different from lying. Lying is willful. When you lie, you know what the truth is, but you intentionally misrepresent it. In a way, bullshit is more insidious, because people who bullshit often don't know what the truth is and don't care. We use it on consumers, we use it on our clients and we are now bullshitting ourselves."
As the industry moves forward with the MPA's 360 program I implore you all to avoid the bullshit. Our new effort at creating the complete magazine media picture is not necessarily the wrong thing to do, because we need to do something. But relying on fraudulent digital data, which is everywhere, is a very dangerous thing to build our evolving new media businesses upon. Claiming media reach is a dicey and sometimes meaningless expression when using digital statistics.
Here is just one example, Facebook itself says at least 67.65 million fake accounts were used last month. That number can go as high as 137.76 million, if the company's higher-end estimate is to be believed.
The criteria for ad visibility on the web is beyond a joke. Did you know that a web ad seen for one second "counts" as an ad seen? Did you know that in many and most cases a web ad run "below the fold", as in at the bottom of the page, counts as an ad seen? HUH?
Yes, I understand the strong impetus to get away from the factual counting of ad pages that are printed. But moving our industry into the digital sweepstakes swamps of web metrics is a dangerous arena to slog through cleanly. I suspect the we will eventually all get caught in our own morass of bull.
So here in the 21st century the major publishers no longer wish to publicly broadcast one of the two major stats that are actually verifiable - printed ad pages and actual copies sold.
Of course, we also used to broadcast the bull of ad revenue with the ad count, but no one believed that number anyway. Everyone knew that the revenue portion of that data was full of bull-oney. At least the ad page count was based on actual printed pages. In truth, how many of those ad pages were make-goods, free, some kind of in-trade deal, or some other cross-pollination subterfuge was never actually known. But at least they were printed and verifiable as ads. And at the end of the day, I didn't/don't care how the ad got there, just that it was an ad, clearly distinguishable from the editorial. Of course, native advertising is another bag of worms, but that is a rant for another day. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
You would think that a guy who goes to a dozen publishing conferences a year and is also the writer/publisher of a daily newsletter on the subject of media, would find it easy to explain why the annual ACT magazine events at the University of Mississippi are so compelling. My problem is that it is hard to exactly define magic, and this special event is filled with magic and marvel. It is hosted by my good friend and industry debating partner Professor Samir Husni, who continuously attracts a world-wide concoction of diverse speakers. But it is not exactly the diversity of the presenters that makes it so special. If that was all it took, it would be easy to replicate, but nobody has an event quite like this one.
Perhaps the most unique thing about the conference is the intimacy of the event along with the interchange with the students. As conferences go it is probably the smallest by population, yet the biggest in comradery and geniality. The auditorium is filled with 40 professional speakers and about the same amount of journalism/media students. We are an intentionally mixed group sitting randomly in the journalism school's cozy auditorium, senior publishing professionals hobnobbing side-by-side with the next and soon to be leaders of the noble enterprise we call media. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
An interesting professional sobriety hit the magazine business this week that was a long time in its maturation. The MPA moved us off the teat of accounting for print ad pages as our franchise enabler and instead offered a solution of cross-media oversight. Concurrent with this move was the decision to no longer make public printed ad page stats. This move attempts to take the consistently depressing news about declining page counts off the front page and to make them available only to MPA members and their affiliates.
I understand the desire to camouflage the dissent, as the information is depressing and, I think, often times misleading. I have stated many times in this newsletter that trends do not reflect the specifics of individual titles or companies. Many print magazines are doing very well. But the overall trend of the industry continues to quickly head south. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
3 factors that will lead to digital's eclipse of print as the dominant source of magazine media revenue
There is an odd form of delusion in the publishing world, characterized by a resistance to reason in the face of actual facts. This inability to recognize modern business trends is easy for most Millennials to understand, but hard for many magazine traditionalists to reconcile. It is the concept of print's current and future position in the grand scheme of revenue production in the information distribution industry. You see, the cause of this misunderstanding is that print is still the major source of revenue for most traditional publishers and that colors their thinking, even as paper-produced revenues on the whole continue to steadily decline.
To be very clear, the future of our industry and our ability to make an honest living is digital. The only real question on that subject is when the watershed moment of digital supremacy will arrive. I think that when we look back at the end of 2014 we will see that that moment is happening now.
Obviously there are many digital only publishers today who are already making a fortune in territory that was once a print-dominated field. Newspapers, news magazines, and assorted niche publications used to rule the info-sphere. Now sites like Buzzfeed, Vox, Upworthy, Flipboard, and many others satisfy the public's thirst for news as it happens. It makes perfect sense that "news" would be the first to fall to the digital axe and behead journalism as we once knew it. Over time our perception of news has changed. Now news isn't news if it is in any way not of an immediate nature. It wasn't always that way. In colonial days news took six weeks to cross the Atlantic and when it got here, it was well received as real news, true, and valuable. Now we receive news of events as they happen in real-time, which is something that no paper-sourced delivery can ever hope to contend with.
Yet even taking those new successful news sites into consideration, the predominant method of generating revenue for traditional publishers is, for the moment, their print products. There are three main contributors to the headspace of this pulp addiction and all are easy to understand.
Five Strategies to Integrate Data and Editorial at Publishing Companies
For publishers today, data has become the key to competitive advantage. But executing against data has traditionally been a challenge. Only in recent years has the publishing industry invested in the technology required to make sense of data's complexity and volume. It speaks to a culture shift, with publishers realizing the need to be more than just content players. We must be technologists in order to survive. We're seeing that pay off now, through data-first publishers like Vocativ and BuzzFeed.
Data is ushering in a new wave of benefits for the publishing industry, including the ability to help publishers identify relevant content, create better content and develop a true user-first approach. For legacy news media, the ability to identify and break stories that drive traffic and scale is critical. Data teams can analyze web patterns and other online activity to determine and even predict stories in their infancy that might have been overlooked by a team of editors.
A year ago last week, it seemed as if print newspapers might be on the verge of a comeback, or at least on the brink of, well, survival.
Jeff Bezos, an avatar of digital innovation as the founder of Amazon, came out of nowhere and plunked down $250 million for The Washington Post. His vote of confidence in the future of print and serious news was seen by some - including me - as a sign that an era of "optimism or potential" for the industry was getting underway.
Turns out, not so much - quite the opposite, really. The Washington Post seems fine, but recently, in just over a week, three of the biggest players in American newspapers - Gannett,Tribune Company and E. W. Scripps, companies built on print franchises that expanded into television - dumped those properties like yesterday's news in a series of spinoffs.
The recent flurry of divestitures scanned as one of those movies about global warming where icebergs calve huge chunks into churning waters. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
It has been a very interesting and active week for publishers everywhere. The news of Source Interlink ceasing operation and the release of 6,000 workers is dramatic and traumatic to say the least. To those that track the industry the news of SID closing is not a surprise, but perhaps the speed of the demise was. Time Inc.'s announcement this week combined with the Bauer Publications' decision about three weeks ago to pull out of SID put the final nail in the coffin.
As reported many times in my newsletter and in the New York Times recently, "In the last five years, the retail magazine business has shrunk 50 percent, to less than $3 billion. And while there were hundreds of magazine wholesalers in the 1990s, the industry has consolidated into just a few major players in recent years: Source Interlink, TNG and Hudson News."
This turmoil has no end in sight. The sales we have lost as an industry in the last five years have little likelihood of returning. What we need to do is somewhere finally reach a sales plateau from which we can work on growth as an industry and as individual titles.
For my part there is ongoing and absurd doggerel from some members of our industry that the newsstand is a small part of the publishing business and its fall has little to do with the health of the magazine business. This thinking is part of a larger identity problem we are having and is patently not true, at least not true for most of the magazine industry.
The big guys -- you know who I mean -- don't really need the newsstand and have the bucks and the infrastructure to create and do as they will, and they will survive nicely, at least for a while. I do think their hugeness and current profits blind them from long term generational thinking. A newsstand presence gives a magazine and an entire industry visibility as an industry with the consumer. And conversely a lack of visibility breeds long term irrelevance. But perhaps that's the plan. The demise of an infrastructure not thought be needed by the current giants.
Jill Davison, a Time Inc. spokeswoman, said recently, "The regional markets that Source Interlink served -- Southern California, Chicago, and the Mid-Atlantic States -- might face shortages of popular Time magazines like People and Sports Illustrated for up to 12 weeks."
Disruption in the newsstand field for 3 months at least is lost sales, the kind that will never come back. Humans are creatures of habit. This disruption will no doubt create new non-newsstand habits in some of our old and trusted readers, thereby hastening an already depressed newsstand. Is there another interpretation that I am missing? CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
German news publishers are escalating their fight to get a cut of the ad revenue that Google makes when it republishes parts of their news articles. The publishers' society VG Media has started legal proceedings against Google after the...
In an unusual partnership, The Washington Post, the New York Times and software developer Mozilla will team up to create digital tools that will make it easier for readers to post comments and photos on news sites and to interact with journalists...
For many magazines, creating multimedia to complement their print editions used to be an awkward addition to their long-refined print publication process. But today, many magazines have at last redesigned their workflows to smoothly...
Three-year-old longform website Byliner has been struggling of late, with news leaking out a couple weeks ago that it was seeking investors or a partner. It now appears that the end for the highest profile of all the...
Jennifer Hitzges has been named fashion director at Redbook. She was previously a celebrity stylist. Also, Petra Kobayashi has been named art director. She previously held the same role at SELF. Maura Fritz has been named editorial recruiter at Hearst Magazines. She was previously with RealSimple.com as deputy editor.
Time-based metrics are used by almost every leading publisher to measure themselves, but there's been hesitancy to transact on the basis of numbers like time spent and ad exposure time. That could change soon though as a member
Here is the most crucial thing a marketer needs to know about so-called Gamergate."You cannot win. This is a lose-lose situation."That's according to one advertiser who has been caught up in an ongoing fiasco that's pitted various factions of gamers against one another, and against publishers and advertisers. Continue reading at AdAge.com
Pandora Media's user growth slowed to 5.2% in the third quarter, the company said in its latest earnings report.Active listeners for the Oakland, California-based company grew to 76.5 million from 72.7 million a year ago, when Pandora reported user growth of 25%. The figure stood at 76.4 million in June, after 7.5% growth in the second quarter.Listener metrics are a focus because the company is...
"You've got an iPhone," said Brian Jausurawong. "You're probably due for an upgrade," gesturing to a display shelf stacked with Amazon Fire smartphones.As it turns out, the interlocutor with Mr. Jausurawong, an Amazon sales representative, works for the tech giant, too (she was shooting a promo video). But Amazon did host actual customers in its 'pop-up' store at the ground floor of a downtown...
Amazon.com forecast sales and profit for the holiday quarter that missed analysts' projections, underlining the limits to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos's strategy of spending big to fuel growth.Revenue for the current period will be $27.3 billion to $30.3 billion, the Seattle-based company said in a statement today, while profit excluding some items will range from a loss of $570 million to...
The HuffPost Offers Lessons in Content Creation The Huffington Post is teaming up with Leo Burnett to help the creative agency produce content for its clients. The partnership will see a couple of HuffPost employees embedded in Leo Burnett's office. The agency will also have access to HuffPost's social dashboard to keep track of performance. This partnership is the latest in a growing trend of...
BoSacks Speaks Out: Hope for Magazines The MPA just announced that it will not make magazine printed ad page stats available to the public to avoid depressing industry stats making headline news. Instead, these numbers will only be made available to MPA members and their affiliates. Bo wrote: "I understand the desire to camouflage the dissent, as the information is depressing and, I think,...
Hubspot recently posted a great article that outlines how to get long-term ROI on content. The secret is to create content that is evergreen. The reasons being: Evergreen content produces consistent traffic It will also produce more conversions for a longer period of time Evergreen content remains relevant for the long-term and this creates a sense of trust with the reader It...
What is the BoSacks FREE newsletter all about?
It is purely a very "personal" and slanted collection of news gathered daily over the Internet, which to me seems relevant and useful about the publishing industry. I do this as a labor of love and to keep myself as up to date as is possible with the ever changing and advancing "Information Distribution Industry" formerly known as "Publishing".
And how much does it cost?
The price for this service is nothing. It is Free. It is just as easy for me to copy three or four of my industry friends as it is to carbon copy the current list of 16,500 publishing professionals.