Samir Husni, aka Mr. Magazine, held his annual ACT 7 conference at the University of Mississippi in late April. The program was a good round up of what is going on in publishing, what our hopes and fears, challenges and opportunities are, and what the most forward-looking publishers, large and small, are doing to create success in their businesses. And on the last day, drawing together the threads of what had been discussed and adding fresh thoughts in his usual outspoken way, Bo Sacks gave his take on it all in a presentation entitled "The Truth About Digital Lies."
Some of the current dialog about magazine publishing, Bo believes, stems from simple nostalgia, a yearning for the grand old days of the past. That's all well and good unless, by looking backward, we fail to look forward, and by remembering what once worked - but doesn't any longer - we fail to move past traditional thinking, we fail to break new ground, and we fail to challenge our own long-standing assumptions.
Because, like it or not, most of the reading public is leaving print behind. We spend more time with digital devices, where we get instant access to any and all information, than we spend with the printed word. Time spent on digital has exploded, from less than an hour in 2010 to over five hours in 2016. By 2021, nearly 90% of all internet traffic will come from smartphones.
A corollary to the reality of this shift in attention is this: attention can be monetized, but publishers are failing to monetize it effectively. The companies making money from the changes in audience attention flow are Google and Facebook. Well over half the digital ad spend goes to Google and Facebook, with no other digital publisher enjoying even 4% of the total revenues. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
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
For some, Bo Sacks is their guru, consulting on how to affect change in their newsroom. For others, Bo Sacks speaking out may leave them hot under the collar. And for many in the industry, Bo Sacks is an old friend, his newsletter a welcome sight in their inbox every day.Bo runs the world's longest-running journalism newsletter on the internet. He started it in 1993. We're speaking with the man who frequently 'speaks out' on issues, events, news upheaval and other changes in the industry. Bo's career has spanned various facets of the industry. He now speaks internationally, he gives lectures, he travels, he writes, he consults. He reads voraciously about the industry. He attends conferences around the globe to give him a broad range of perspectives and insight on latest, cutting-edge developments.
The first newspaper Bo started was called The Express. He was 19. The Express was a weekly tabloid with a circulation of 50,000 that went to every college in Suffolk and Nassau counties in metro New York. "It was a product of its time," he recalls. "It was pro-pot, anti-Vietnam war, and intellectual. We did that for two and a half years." At the time, he was just fooling around, he says. "I didn't know I started a journalism career. Two friends and I were sitting around one day and one of them said, 'let's start a newspaper,' and I said, 'what do you know about it?' and he said, 'nothing.'
And I said, 'in that case, let's do it."
Thus began his career. FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE
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
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
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.