Bosacks Speaks Out
I have several media conferences that I relish and greatly look forward to each year, and IMAG-MPA is one of the best of them. Imagine what is like for a long-time publishing enthusiast like me to be in a room filled with like-minded entrepreneurs who happen to be in the magazine business. Intoxicating yes? Here we have publishers whose companies range from $5 million to $100 million in revenues, and yet they play very well together regardless of pecking order.
The opening night was a smashing success when we all hopped aboard busses and attended opening night cocktails and dinner at TEN: The Enthusiast Network Headquarters. The TEN building is huge and row upon row of computer work stations almost as far as the eye can see, generating and executing the placement of content in the automotive media sector. TEN covers the automotive in-market and automotive after-market services. Perhaps their most famous tile is Motor Trend, but there are dozens of other media enterprises under the hood at TEN. It was quite a display of energy and success in these troubled media moments.
One of the constant threads of the whole IMAG-MPA event was kicked off by a discussion by Mike Benson, Head of Marketing, Amazon Originals. Right out of the box and continuing for the next few days from many speakers was a conversation about magazine media and video. (I wrote last week that my reaction to the video conversation was that video was of course a revenue thing but not the revenuething for the future of our business depending upon what sector your franchise is in.)
Tuesday morning, Scott Dickey, Chief Executive Officer, TEN: The Enthusiast Network, opened the main part of the conference with an interesting and sober comment. He said, "We know what it's like to be down 21%, but we also know how to survive." Bravo for such honesty in an open forum and, Indeed, TEN is not only thriving but sharing how to do so. Scott suggested that in next few days, "We will share information and we are in some way partners." He went on to say, "This big ideas showcased here is transferable to your businesses." Within reason I think that is correct. Not every idea is transferable to any and all businesses, but with creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit, most good ideas are worth "borrowing" and bending to your own enterprise's needs. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
My friend Esther Kezia Thorpe, whom I met in a London rooftop pub a few years ago when she interviewed me, makes some interesting observations here. But I think the survival or death of Airbnb magazine will rise or fall like any other publication: on its excellence or the lack therein and of course the uniqueness of the information provided. There are unlimited travel information opportunities everywhere in print and on-line. What separates success from failure are the rarities and qualities of the information provided combined with the format that the information resides upon. Digital is relatively cheap to produce and to sustain, and it has the advantage of being accessible literally everywhere at any time. Even inferiorly produced printed products, which Airbnb won't be, are quite the opposite as they are relatively expensive to produce and distribute. So, the chance of survivability many times depends upon the expense to produce the product. Hearst is not known for half-way measures, so I expect that Airbnb with have both editorial and production excellence. That doesn't assure success, but it does offer a reasonable chance for one.
Esther states that a possible problem for continued success is the mixed message between the two lead agents in the projects. She points out that: "A far more serious issue at the heart of Airbnb mag is the vast gulf between the two companies' views on the purpose of the magazine. Compare these two statements from Chesky and Coles on how important revenue on the magazine is to them: CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
Bosacks Speaks Out: Call me a skeptic if you will, but I don't yet have much trust in the…
There was a time, and it doesn't seem like it was that long ago, when no matter where your company was in the hierarchy of publishing, the most common denominator to the magazine franchise was that we all published printed magazines. That is no longer the case, and the magazine industry is almost unrecognizable from its past lifetimes. For 600 years we put thoughtful ink on paper and sold it to a willing public who were in the need to know. Now as we reallocate resources and streams of income, print, although it is still about 75% on average of the revenue pie, gets little of the conversation and only a small amount of the love.
This reaction comes from just attending the IMAG-MPA conference in Los Angles. It was a great show filled with important media conversations, and I highly recommend you go if and when you can. It seemed to me without looking at my notes, that at this event 90% of the conversation was about video. This is clearly what everyone expects to be the next big thing when it comes to new revenue streams. I personally have my doubts. Will it be a thing? Absolutely! But THE thing? I am not so sure.
Success and with it the resulting revenue clearly depends upon what your franchise is based upon. Ten, The Enthusiast Network which was the IMAG host publisher in LA and which is to auto industry lovers as Bayer is to pills, is a perfect candidate for success in the auto action/instruction video gambit. I see ample opportunities for major success for them. At the IMAG conference and at the tour of their offices they demonstrated that success and power. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
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