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.
As you know the reports of digital advertising ad fraud are reaching epidemic proportions. It seems no report and no data stream can be trusted. There is a headline today from Ad Age that reads
CMOs Are Sick of Digital Ad Hype, and I can point you to literally a dozen others of the same kind.
Tempers are rising and advertisers are getting pissed off. Agencies are increasingly under the gun. And as I reported to you just a few days ago, the agencies are among the few who are having amazing growth. Apparently growth based on a substantial bit of known fraud.The irony of this as I was working today was to receive the latest The Magazine Media 360Â° Brand Audience Report for August 2016. "The report shows that the average audience for magazine brands is up 9.3% versus a year ago, the largest increase since early 2015." The report goes on to state, "As we have seen since reporting began, Mobile Web contributes the majority of new unique users and is the largest source of monthly magazine media growth (+28.5%)."
I have to ask how much of that report contains incorrectly attributed digital data? Now let me be positively clear here, I am not in any way accusing anyone at the MPA of intentional or unintentional fraud. They are just stuck in a digital situation where the truth is increasingly unclear at best. I know that the Magazine Media 360° uses data from what they say are leading third-party providers. I'm sure that is true and the third-party providers do the best they can under the given circumstances. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
There is a mystery wrapped in an enigma standing right before us in the media industry, and at first and second glance it just doesn't make any sense. Let me try and approach it this way - you walked down a block in your hometown many times and got robbed more than once, in fact, you get robbed every time. Knowing that wouldn't you change the way you traveled? Suppose you told the police about the ongoing robberies, and they told you, yes that is the way it is, but we think the trip is still safe because you were only robbed of 50% of what you had each time. Safe? By whose standards?
This parable to me parallels the current situation when it comes to the advertising industry. We read of ad fraud every day in the digital world, and yet the digital advertising budgets rise every quarter.
We are confronted with ad blockers, ad fraud, robotic ad clicking, totally fake CPM's and CMOs who don't believe they get a measurable ROI from social media, and yet they continue to spend more in the world wide web of murky digital swamps and total intentional fraud.
This rant has nothing to do with print, so let's just take that out of the equation. This is strictly a question of why this digital fraud is tolerated? There must be an ROI somewhere, but where is it? I get that advertising next to search works. I get that social influencers may actually help promote brands. I get that 50% of our time is spent in focusing on digital screens. I don't get why lies, deception, unseen ads and fraudulent statistics are given a second glance let alone increased ad buys. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
There was a time when you couldn't pick up a media trade journal and not have almost half the conversation about the paper industry. At the same time magazine manufacturing costs for print titles (there was no other option) were approximately 60% of the cost of doing business. In today's marketplace there is very little "talk" about paper, the one and only substrate for printed magazines, although we as an industry do have lots of dialog about "what is a magazine" or "how long magazines will be around."
As a case in point, I had a very challenging conversation - one of many - while on my trip cross country. My friend who is in our business took the position that magazines won't be around much longer. It is possible, even probable, that he was testing my opinions and was taking a contrary position just for fun. Nonetheless it was an exciting conversation. He showed me charts and graphs about our industry that were steeper in the negative than Mount Everest. I pointed out that those charts are an aggregate of everyone and, although they might be interesting, averages contain both winners and losers. There has always been death and destruction in the magazine business, but there have also always been winners, and I believe we need to focus on the winners. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
Every year I look forward to Mary Meeker's annual Internet Trends report. I suppose it's just a thing us futurists like to do for fun. For me trend analysis is a key factor in making decisions both large and small, and I'm always looking for the repeating patterns in life and in business. The report is always filled with fascinating data and, of course, trend analysis. One of the prized slides that I have closely tracked is the % of Time Spent with Media Vs the % of Advertising Spending in that particular media. Now as much as I like this report and I think it has important and meaningful data, I am not completely convinced that some of the conclusions in this particular slide are correct.
Here is what I mean, print now gets only 4% of time spent with any media. Mary Meeker's conclusion is that there is/should be an equivalent amount of ad spend to the amount of time spent with that media. There may, in fact, be some sort of correlation between the two data points, but I think the type of media in question should also be considered. The experiences of media to media are in fact very different. Print is not like radio and radio is not like TV and for sure print is not like digital.
This is not the whining observation of a bibliophile, but rather an experienced media professional who has tracked the industry for over 4.5 decades. It's my conclusion that the amount of attention/time spent doesn't necessarily mean that ad spending should be an identical % number. How does one measure the quality and richness of time spent? Where is that chart? CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE