Bosacks Speaks Out
As my long-time readers know I have a global interest in regards to the information distribution business formally known as publishing. The following article is obviously from India, but some of the dialog from India could be heard at any domestic media conference. And that is the point of sending this type of article out. Media with its multitude of nuances is global. One way or another every information distributor faces similar obstacles and successes. Keeping a world view on publishing helps me see trends that I might otherwise miss.
Speaking of missing a "print is not dying" moment, last week I sent out an article titled As Print Continues to Die, Why are Conde Nast and Hearst Launching New Magazines. That article discussed among other titles that Penthouse did away with its print edition. Both my favorite newsstand consultant and Kelly Holland, the CEO Owner of Penthouse Global Media, immediately contacted me with the correction that Penthouse is still on the newsstands and according to Kelly, "We are expanding from 10 issues annual to 12." Kelly and I had a conference call today where she briefly brought me up to speed with how they are working and revitalizing this classic brand. I didn't hear anything that couldn't work. Adult titles are one of many niche publishing areas of focus. As I suggested to Kelly, "It all sounds reasonable. The trick in any company or any niche is execution of the business plan." The caveat, of course, is that proper execution and a fair amount of luck is no easy task, but both are accomplished every day.
That, of course, doesn't condemn everybody. But there are too many examples of profit above truth to deny a strong resemblance that the accusation exists here and there. Women's magazines in particular have for a hundred years or more, fed on the needs and promoted unrealistic expectations on a very vulnerable public for a nice profit.
Take Doctor Oz for example. He has a very successful magazine. He is, as reported in Wikipedia, "a proponent of alternative medicine and has been criticized by physicians, government officials and publications, including Popular Science and The New Yorker, for giving non-scientific advice. In a Senate hearing on weight loss scams, Senator Claire McCaskill chided Oz, saying, 'The scientific community is almost monolithic against you in terms of the efficacy of the three products you call miracles.' An investigation by the British Medical Journal found that 46% of his claims were misleading or incorrect." Yet Doctor Oz has a very successful magazine.
I've been told that the good doctor's magazine "The Good Life" has editorial content that is free of any miracle medical cures. That is fine, but it is not free from the mascot protagonist about whom it has been stated that "46% of his claims were misleading or incorrect." It's not free from a spokesperson that faced an angry congress "for giving non-scientific advice."
I suppose it's possible to say that publishers are just giving the public what it wants. But I struggle with validating a TV personality who, as suggested by the British Medical Journal, has distributed malarkey for profit. It is worth repeating for the third time that this magazine is wildly successful. So none of the observations above matters either to the public or the balance sheet. FOR THE FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE
The Goldmine distribution story is a great lesson for every publisher and gives me some fond memories of publishing times past. My first two publications, one in New York called "The Express" and one in Arizona, called "The Mountain NewsReal" were from a media species then called the underground press. I was in my early twenties and we had no rule books or mentors, so my partners and I just made up "procedures" as we went along. One of the things we explored was not only publishing an alternative newspaper but also alternative distribution. Our papers were distributed not on newsstands, but in retail outlets, hair cutters, bars, clubs, college dormitories, rock concerts, head shops, and a dozen other non-traditional publication outlets.
The same theories held true later for us at "High Times" magazine. In the beginning no wholesaler would distribute the controversial title, so we needed to create alternative distribution outlets other than traditional newsstand. We did so to great effect and extremely high sell through numbers.
It is the non-traditional aspect of this story that modern publishers should consider. The old newsstand outlets are diminishing, with rare exception. Each sales report is down by double digits from the year before. It seems to me that creative new distribution outlets like the ones that Goldmine found are the way to offset some of the lost circulation. I know that many niche titles today do this very thing; they distribute their publications where their readers are rather then where their readers aren't.
I need your help. I am somewhat, but not totally, mystified by the current ad fraud situation. What kind of industry can afford to lose $7.4 billion dollars in a single year? Next question is what kind of industry knowingly can afford to lose $10.9 billion by 2021? Apparently advertisers can. WTF!
Here is one of the many intricacies in the ad debacle. According to a survey conducted by Advertiser Perceptions Inc., Nearly Half Of Ad Execs Don't Know Or Care About Using 'Fake News,' Big Brands Most Prone as reported by Joe Mandese. Joe went on to report that "Remarkably, the survey, conducted by Advertiser Perceptions Inc. among advertisers and agency executives, found that 7% willfully plan to advertise in -- and 8% said they don't care either way about -- advertising media outlets they deem to be publishers of 'fake' news content."
I have been pointing out to you that the ad agencies are at the root of the problem for years. To me it is simply obvious that commission is the only holy grail, and those with a moral barometer need not apply. It's not that the marketers are not to blame, too, but the real core of the fraud is knowingly, willfully buying into it. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
BoSacks Speaks Out: Evan Esar once said that statistics is the only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions. So it goes each time a new newsstand report comes out. Don't get me wrong, we need those reports. How else would we keep score? Are there winners and losers? Of course, and there always have been. It is a historic cycle, some die and whither so others can live.
There has been a decade long slide in the overall sales of magazines on the newsstand. Only an idiot would argue the case. But the key word in that statement is overall. Many magazines are doing quite well and will continue to do so for quite some time. There is no single title or publisher that is tied in a meaningful way to the industry average. All that matters is how you are doing, not your distant cousins.
Look at it this way. Media has an invasive species problem. 20 years ago we lived in a communication jungle that had settled into a balance of revenue survival. The existing media types shared the rewards of a bountiful landscape. Radio, print and TV all had their fair share of the fruits of revenue paradise. There was little cross-breeding and all were happy. Then the invasive species of digital distribution dropped into paradise and nothing has been the same since. The aggressive new arrival attacked the balance of power in the jungle indiscriminately. As Darwin said, it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Click here for the full article
I am in Berlin, Germany attending one of my favorite publishing events, FIPP's Digital Innovators Summit which starts Monday, March 20th. It is a cross-planet collection of modernizers trying to make sense and profit from the still evolving phenomenon we once called publishing. If you ever get the chance I recommend it.
As I sit here Sunday night in The Arcotel John F, my hotel for the next few days, I am reflecting on our businesses. 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 relative business stability.
What makes the current state of affairs so different is the evaporation of boundaries, rules and stability. There is little distinction between TV, publishing and radio because they are all streamed. Print 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 to the vagaries of young, inexperienced media buyers and a distracted pubic. FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE
BoSacks Speaks Out: With all the articles and suspicions about fake news, fake ads and fake people (bots) and the fears contained within those concepts, I thought this article, although distant from a direct connection to the usual topics I cover in this newsletter, is still about information distribution, which is exactly what everyone on this list does. We all distribute information in one way or another.
For the two of you on this list of 16,000, who don’t know what an Amazon Echo – or like devices – are, here is my explanation. They are the actual representation of the long ago promised Star Trek technology of verbally communicating with a computer. Yes, they are like Siri. But from my experience, Amazon Echo is 5x better in understanding context and, more importantly, the delivery of sought-after information requested in the question. I have two in my home and am considering getting another. I happily use them every day. FOR THE FULL ARTICLE CLICK HERE
Here is a fascinating statement from Rob Silver, Senior VP of Media at SapientRazorfish. I'm trying to grapple with the implications and the possible insanity of it.
"We are not seeing any of our clients pull away from digital platforms and shifting to TV or more traditional channels. The audiences and targeting enabled through digital are simply too important."
Yes, I get the wish here that targeting audiences through digital systems might be simply too important. But is it? By most accounts more than 50%, some say 90%, of the digital ads placed in the market are fake, unseen, seen by bots, of malicious intent, blocked and/or ignored. How is it that there is still this unbroken trust by the agencies in the efficiency of a medium that is not yet proven anywhere near trustworthy?
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