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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: MPA-IMAG, Focusing on the Consumer Rather Than The Advertiser

    BoSacks Speaks Out: MPA-IMAG, Focusing on the Consumer Rather Than The Advertiser

    There is a trend in the publishing media conferences that has been growing for the past few years, and when I tell you what it is, you'll say, of course.

    It's a conversation I've seen growing around the world in publishing conferences. I've heard it in Berlin at The Digital Innovator's Summit and at MagNet: Canada's Magazine Conference. I've heard it in London and Oxford, Mississippi. It was repeated in NYC at the AMMC-MPA annual event and now playing out at MPA-IMAG last Wednesday and Thursday in Boston, Massachusetts. I'll eventually tell you what this "new" revelation is, but not just yet. I want to build up to the simple epiphany.

    It is usually reasonable to start at the beginning when explaining damn near anything. So, I figure I'll start with Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO of the MPA who opened the IMAG event. Since her arrival at the MPA, I have seen an era of advanced messaging for the magazine industry. Today was yet another step in the right direction and I suppose a tangent to the campaign: Magazine Media. Better. Believe it.  

    Linda's presentation at IMAG was titled Credibility By The Numbers. It was an insightful look at the making of a magazine and the carefully researched and rendered articles within.

    Linda shared data on several articles from several magazines. I'll just tell you about the article that ran in Parent's Magazine called "I think there's something wrong with my child". It took two years of research with 7 moms, 1 fact checker, 2 photo editors, 1 photographer, 1 production Manager, 8 print editors, 4 digital editors, 2 copy editors, 4 psychiatrists/psychologists, and 2 lawyers. You get the point.

    Magazines have credibility with the public partly due to the amount of time, research, personnel, money and energy invested in them to make them credible. No, not all magazines can afford to perform to the level of excellence of Parent's Magazine. But I will submit that most print magazines do try to the best of their ability and monetary war-chest to give their readers words and ideas not only worth reading but also worth trusting. With all the Sturm und Drang of the internet, print has over its 600-year history created longtime trust in our products. Just being in print adds the aforementioned credibility, even to some titles that don't deserve it.

    As many surveys tell us, it is true that traditional media is more trusted than online media. But let's be honest the advertising agencies of the world don't seem interested in our credibility and are still deeply attracted to the digital placement of advertising dollars. And that brings me back to the trends I've seen in the publishing media conferences, literally everywhere on the planet. It's as simple as this: "Let's have the readers pay for our content." I told you you'd say "of course." 

    Yes, that is what we should have been doing all along. Advertising revenue should be the gravy on the meat adding just a little something extra to the dish and not the unreliable and indigestible thing it has become. Everywhere I go the conversation is about two things: giving the readers the information that they want, when they what it and, through various means and programs, having them pay for it. 

    Again, totally obvious, but to our industry only in hindsight. The industry has now made that turn and is doing exceeding well in many areas. All this was in evidence at IMAG and is being discussed everywhere.  

    This focus on alternative revenue and the creative ways publishers are achieving it is very uplifting to an industry that was struggling for quite some time.  

    Sure, we will still get print advertising revenue and lots of it, but it is fast becoming just one of many revenue streams and the not the sole addictive Goliath it once was. 

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
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  • 	BoSacks Speaks Out: Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And 'Media Influencers'

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And 'Media Influencers'

    When I was at High Times magazine I fully expected the government to have a file on me and my coworkers. I was in my twenties then, and I just didn't care that the file existed. Over the years since then I've thought to use the freedom of information act to obtain that file but never got around to making the request. It still might be an interesting read.
     
    Now much later in my career when I have nothing to hide, I am extremely concerned that our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has come up with a plan called "Media Monitoring Services."The details of the Statement of Work outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers at a time when the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide, and our own leader has called the press "the enemy of the people."
     
    As part of its "media monitoring" the DHS intends to watch "any and all media coverage," which includes "online, print, broadcast, cable, radio, trade and industry publications, local sources, national/international outlets, traditional news sources, and social media." That means that each and every one of you will be on the governmental media watch list. How does that make you feel? 
     
    To my associates in media, obvious enemies of the people, I am concerned and - what else to call it? - outraged. How has it come to this? These are not the normal actions of a functioning democracy. Am I needlessly sounding an alarm? Am I being overly sensitive to "media monitoring"? I don't think so. Do you?
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On the Scariest Chart in Mary Meeker's Media Slide Deck

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On the Scariest Chart in Mary Meeker's Media Slide Deck

    Anyone who has seen a "Bo-talk" knows that I always spend some time and a few slides with Mary Meeker's work and analysis of the media industry. It is not the be-all and end-all of data analysis, but it is something to understand and acknowledge as we proceed. The charts you see below that track print and ad buys since 2010 to the present are exactly what I have brought to my audiences and with the same conclusions for the last seven years.

    What is not mentioned here but is worth noting is the fact that many magazines are bucking the obvious trends and are doing quite well. As I also suggest in my talks, aggregates only tell part of the story. Averages being what averages are, 50% of the titles are above the trend line. As I said in my last lecture at Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association a month ago, "I postulate that the 4% of time spent with print are valuable and precious minutes off the grid. Our strength is the total focus that print provides.

    The question is, can we convince young media buyers of the quality and worth of precious minutes off the grid?

    Does science matter in making media decisions?


    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 digital experience does.  


    With print the expectation is built right into the product as linear and fixed with no possibility of "surfing" beyond the next page. This firm foundation is in the background of your brain. Those particular expectations make for different reading experiences.

     Here is the science of what we know:

    1) Paper stimulates a stronger emotional response.

    2) Paper is more action-oriented than digital, because its physical format stimulates mental processes that guide consumer behavior.

    I think a case can be made that reading on the web requires a modern kind of discipline to actually finish the article you started to read, whereas in print there is no place else to go but finish what you picked up to read. Not everybody finishes every article regardless of the substrate. But to get readers to finish anything containing words requires good writing, good editing and a compelling subject.It is addictive content properly constructed and distributed that brings success to any magazine in print or on the web. It is that simple . . . and that hard.

    FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: North Carolina's Our State Magazine Sold to Employees

    BoSacks Speaks Out: North Carolina's Our State Magazine Sold to Employees

    My friend and the publisher of North Carolina's Our State Magazine, Bernie Mann, has done something fascinating in the business world of publishing. He has done something I deem kind of wonderful. He wants to sell his successful magazine, but not to just another entrepreneur. Rather he wants to sell it to the people who have helped him build the publication into a regional powerhouse over the last several decades.

    For the record, Our State has 170,000 fully paid subscribers with no discounts and sells another 35,000 copies on newsstands every month. The only statewide magazine that's larger is Texas Monthly. And I would note in this era of depressed print advertising the page counts are astronomical in each issue. That is, indeed, a success.

    Somehow Bernie navigated his way through the convoluted legal process that creates an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). How many loyal employees anywhere get such an opportunity? Well, there may be some others in the publishing world, but this is the only one I can think of.

    The following charming and informative editorial from the latest Our State magazine penned by its editor-in-chief, Elizabeth Hudson, discusses Bernie's business style and the revelation of the ESOP to the staff. 

    Bravo Bernie! And congratulations to the new owner/employees! I wish them luck and continued success. My hope is that this becomes a map for other successful publishing entrepreneurs. For the complete article click here
     

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
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  • A Response to Baird Davis'  Protecting the Newsstand (Part 2)

    A Response to Baird Davis' Protecting the Newsstand (Part 2)

    I could quibble over a long list of essentially minor points in Baird Davis' "Modest Plan", but the fact is the underlying message - something must be done about the newsstand - is undeniable.

    Two questions hang over the future:

    Can and will publishers make aggressive steps to create a manageable distribution channel? And; If yes to that, can the apparently inexorable decline in sales be halted so that a manageable channel can survive?

    As I have said on many occasions, there is little history that indicates publishers are willing to embark on a cooperative effort to revamp the channel, but perhaps staring into the abyss may rattle their long-demonstrated reluctance.

    As for sales, magazine retail dollar volume was $5 billion in 2007 and is likely to be little more than $1 billion by the end of 2018. For years, everyone was asked the question, "Where is the bottom?" For years, the response has been, "Who knows?" Which translates as zero, and which leads to the question, "Why would anyone commit to an effort to restructure, if the market will, like the old soldier, just fade away?

    Clearly, if publishers are going to recreate the channel, they must also commit to improving the sales environment. It's a two-part project.   

    I will once again express my skepticism about the likelihood of publishers undertaking the challenge. However, if such an ambitious task were to be initiated, I offer my modest suggestions about what elements it might have to contain.

    Baird's suggestion of establishing a newsstand public utility is right on. Players on each side - publishers and wholesalers - would have to put some ego aside, but when the alternative is the abyss, that shouldn't be too difficult. Perhaps publishers, at least some of the largest, might be able to partner in some fashion with the two remaining wholesalers [1]. If such a utility could be established, it might operate on a modification of the a so-called "pay-for-service" model that was part of the industry discussion back ten or fifteen years ago, and it would be available to all publishers willing to pay for the offered services. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    by John Harrington
    Posted May 16, 2018
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  • Protecting the Newsstand Channel - A Modest Plan (Part 1)

    Protecting the Newsstand Channel - A Modest Plan (Part 1)

    The original intent of the recent newsstand articles that John Harrington and I did, at Bosacks' insistent urging, was to inspire a vigorous discussion about the often misunderstood process of selling magazines at retail. In that regard we hit a nerve - the response has been hefty and spirited. Thank you to everyone that joined the discussion.

    Now that the discussion has begun in earnest I want to offer some more grist to the dialogue mill. In this note I'll present a rough-hewn plan for protecting the embattled newsstand channel. It combines ideas gained from recent reader feedback with those based on my own experience as a circulator and long time newsstand observer.

    Publishers Troubling "Blind Eye" Approach

    There have been many attempts at newsstand channel reform and continuous warnings, twice a year from me, of the dangers that lay ahead for the channel. All of this to no avail. The reform efforts never came to fruition and the warnings have fallen on the deaf ears of publishers.

    What appears to have happened is publishers adopted a fait accompli attitude toward the newsstand; seemingly content to live with decreasing sales and higher newsstand service costs. This doesn't mean, however, that publishers weren't acutely aware of the adverse economic effects of - declining sales, reduced efficiency, increased processing costs and less service from national distributors and wholesalers. They knew there was a problem, but, as always, they seemed perplexed about what to do. 

    In retrospect it's become obvious that publishers seriously underestimated the effect of the dynamic changes occurring to the channel infrastructure. In 2009 major wholesaler Anderson News dropped out of the business. In 2014 mega-wholesaler Source Interlink followed suit saying the business wasn't profitable and hadn't been for a long time. These two wholesalers at one time represented nearly 50% of the magazine retail distribution volume. A total meltdown was averted in 2014 when The News Group (TNG), with support from Hudson News*, scooped up the Source Interlink leavings. In doing so they "won" the long brutal wholesaling war of attrition.

     *It should be noted that Hudson News remains in the magazine wholesaling business, but in a non-competitive manner with TNG. 

    The result - TNG emerges at the top of the newsstand wholesaling heap, controlling 75% to 80% of the magazine wholesaling volume.  Click here for the complete article

    by Baird Davis
    Posted May 16, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Saving Our Precious Newsstand

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Saving Our Precious Newsstand

    If you know that there is danger in the bushes, that's a good thing, right? Isn't it best to know what confronts you whether in a business or personal situation? In most cases I would say yes. But apparently not the magazine business when it comes to magazine sales figures. Don't get me wrong, I fully understand the discomfort of the data and the ripple effect that publicizing that data across to members of our community and associated sectors can have. Bad news generally begets continued negative momentum.

    Here is what I'm getting at. I think it is time for an honest discussion about the current state and future possibilities of the American magazine newsstand. As a frequent attendee and speaker to media trade shows across the country, I constantly talk with publishers about our business and many times about the newsstand.

    Just yesterday a friend/publisher e-mailed me the following, "The newsstand system is becoming increasingly irrelevant to most magazine publishers. Big publishers now create covers more with the goal of getting clicks and social-media buzz than selling copies. I can't say that I disagree with them. The newsstand system is a shit show of incompetence and inefficiency." Do you agree with my friend? 

    And this is just one of the many skeptical notes I have gotten concerning the remote possibility of publishers saving the once beloved newsstand.

    I state today that I am not a skeptic. Well, actually I am, but not on this subject. My first business partner, Andy Kowl, was the first person to explain to me that business abhors a vacuum. If there is room to make a buck, a buck will be made by entrepreneurs finding the holes in any commercial system. In this case, I suggest if the newsstand that we know implodes, someone somehow will fill the vacuum created by the implosion and deliver magazines to a new "newsstand" and make the proverbial buck in the process. But I think that would be, at least in the beginning stages, very inefficient and costly and take years for a rebound in sales and outlets. It can be done, but should it? Can't we fix the "shit show of incompetence and inefficiency"?   CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 10, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Hey, Alexa, What Can You Hear? And What Will You Do With It?

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Hey, Alexa, What Can You Hear? And What Will You Do With It?

    BoSacks Speaks Out: I have four Alexa devices in my home. And I use them every day. When I wake up I ask Alexa for first the local weather report and then for my personal news brief collected from news organizations that I choose from the Alexa app. My list contains, NPR, the Economist, the BBC, Associated Press and I finish it off with a little humor from The Daily Show and the Tonight Show. Not a bad way to start an informed day.  

    But when I read about Jamie Court, who is the president of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit advocacy group discussing new patent ideas from Amazon: "When you read parts of the (Alexa) applications, it's really clear that this is spyware and a surveillance system meant to serve you up to advertisers." Well that makes me wonder how far this is going to go. The article below goes on and states, "That information could then be used to identify a person's desires or interests, which could be mined for ads and product recommendations." 

    There are so many layers to this I don't know where to begin. As a media professional who sees intrusive advertising everywhere, this is another big leap into the weaponization of intrusion ad-warfare.  

    When you combine Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Google, Alexa and all the other information intrusion activists you get a very scary picture of corruptibility. Well, you should get that picture, although none of this is yet illegal. Yes, we are all targets, and there are two advertising bullseyes on the head and heart of every individual on the planet. They will pull the strings of your heart by listening to the stirrings of your brain.

    And, worst of all, this is just the beginning, as Alexa was launched in November 2014 just a little over three years ago.  

    What do media professionals think about this subject?

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 06, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: When should a publisher adopt a membership model?

    BoSacks Speaks Out: When should a publisher adopt a membership model?

    I can't recall if I have ever publicly discussed membership schemes for magazine revenue. It's not a new idea and sometimes it's really just semantics. When I was young, and I bought a subscription to the National Geographic they called me a member of the Society. I can't recall if I received anything special beyond the best printed magazine of its day, other than pride of being a so-called member of the National Geographic Society, but that seemed pretty cool at the time. And then there was Consumer Reports - that, too, was always called a membership. I have always been a fan of membership enterprises. In 1999 I was the COO of a membership organization called YAPA, the Young Adult Professional Association. Our plan was to be like AARP but instead of retirees as members we cultivated college graduates, with discount programs, job guidance and of course a magazine. We raised multiple millions of dollars and died an untimely death in the dotcom doom of 2000. It's still a great idea.  

    But here we are in the 21st century, and membership models are a "thing" again, but unlike the traditional publishing model, which is based on a transactional relationship of you give me money and I'll send you a magazine for a year or two. The new membership plans usually contain special offers, discounts, and many times a chance to meet your favorite editors and writers at events. I guess you could call it a 360 approach. I'm sure someone else already has. As American Express has said for years "membership has its privileges." The membership approach drives an affinity with the brand.  

    The New York Times has Time Plus, and the Wall Street Journal oddly has WSJ Plus. Both successful membership programs. 

    If ever I was to start another magazine, I would explore the membership model. It wouldn't work unless the magazine and the content was something special. With unlimited content everywhere on the planet why go into a new publishing business, if what you have to offer isn't excellence itself?

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 06, 2018
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: NME's demise shows pressure on consumer magazines

    BoSacks Speaks Out: NME's demise shows pressure on consumer magazines

    Today I'm headed to Berlin, Germany to attend one of my favorite publishing events, FIPP's Digital Innovators Summit which starts Monday, March 19th. It is a wonderful cross-planet collection of modernizers and theorists making sense and profit from the still evolving phenomenon we once called publishing.

    This article about UK's NME's demise suggests various pressures on consumer magazines. The article reminds me of some things I've said before. There once was a time when there were rules and an established pecking order. If you were in TV, Radio or Print, you knew the process and the possibilities of your profession. Each method of communication had pluses and minuses, boundaries and well-trodden logical pathways to reach the consumer and make a profit in the process. One might also say there was once relative business stability.

    I've also noted before that what makes the current state of affairs so different is the evaporation of boundaries, rules and stability. There is little distinction between publishing, TV and radio because they are all streamed. Print or off-line media is obviously not streamed, and that is its problem. It is stuck in an old-style world of rules and boundaries while connected, digitized communications are completely free range. For many the nostalgic rules of print are deemed a blessing and satisfying in their permanency. But the old rules also limit print's value most importantly to the vagaries of young, inexperienced media buyers. We have proof that print is still a good buy, but in aggregate they buy less of it each year. Nevertheless, there are plenty of print sectors doing quite well. (CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE)

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 06, 2018
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Publishing Executive E-Media

Folio

  • Condé Nast Traveler Combines U.S. and UK Teams, Names Melinda Stevens EIC | People on the Move

    [caption id="attachment_133621" align="alignright" width="150"] Melinda Stevens[/caption] Condé Nast announced this week plans to merge the U.S. and UK editions of Condé Nast Traveler, with Melinda Stevens, editor-in-chief of the UK edition since 2012, taking over as EIC for the newly combined titles. Pilar Guzmán, who has lead the U.S. edition as EIC since 2013, will finish out her role with...

    August 16, 2018 Read More

  • Are We Asking the Wrong Questions About Magazines? Linda Thomas Brooks Thinks So

    Although magazine media got plenty of attention earlier this year due to the blockbuster deals made by Meredith and Hearst to acquire Time Inc. and Rodale, respectively, as well as the ripple effects each deal caused, the months that followed were relatively quiet. And as the expression goes, no news is good news. But for decades, August has ignited conversations in and around magazine media...

    August 16, 2018 Read More

  • Digital-to-Print SIPs Are Kalmbach’s Key to Attracting New Readers

    Kalmbach Media’s Discover, a consumer-facing science magazine, is producing its first digital-to-print special interest publication (SIP), called Strange Science, which will feature 52 unusual, yet true, science stories, curated from some of Discover’s more popular digital articles. Published as a 100-page digest, the SIP will aim to be a portable source of information that capitalizes on...

    August 14, 2018 Read More

Adage Digital

  • Amazon is ready to take on Apple and Spotify in streaming music

    Amazon is turning up the volume in the music business.The world's largest online retailer will mount the first national TV campaign for its music-streaming service, featuring ads with songs from Ariana Grande, Kendrick Lamar and Queen. They're part of a larger effort that will extend to billboards, online video and radio, and to three countries -- the U.S., U.K. and Germany.Music has ascended the...

    August 17, 2018 Read More

  • Tearful Elon Musk tells NYT nobody reviewed his bombshell Tesla funding tweet

    Elon Musk said no one saw or reviewed his tweet about the plan to take Tesla private before he posted it, The New York Times reports, citing an interview in which the billionaire frequently teared up and discussed the personal strain of leading the electric-car maker.Musk, Tesla's chief executive officer and chairman, typed the tweet as he drove himself to the airport on Aug. 7, the newspaper...

    August 17, 2018 Read More

  • MoviePass just made it harder, again, to see movies

    MoviePass has changed its terms yet again, making it even tougher for subscribers to see films.On Thursday, the company said in an email that the number of films would be narrowed to six, though a weblink listed seven movies. That followed an earlier announcement that members would be limited to three films for $9.95 a month, ending an earlier offer that let subscribers see a picture every...

    August 16, 2018 Read More

  • Facebook clears Crimson Hexagon of abusing user data

    Facebook has given a clean bill of health to Crimson Hexagon, the data analytics firm that set off alarm bells over a Russian client with ties to the Kremlin.The social network last month put its work with Crimson Hexagon into review after a report revealed the worrisome client and raised other questions about the type of data the company could access. Facebook said it would investigate whether...

    August 16, 2018 Read More

Unbound Media

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    August 19, 2018 Read More


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