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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Review and thoughts on the Digital Innovator's Summit in Berlin 2016

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Review and thoughts on the Digital Innovator's Summit in Berlin 2016

    I go to a dozen or more media conferences each year. Many I speak at and others I report on as a media analyst and journalist. I always hope to learn something new or hear different perspectives. I have seen the best and the not so great. Having attended the good and the bad, it is fair to say that I have a broad perspective on the subject of conferences and their worth to the attendees. After all, if there is no real intrinsic value to the "customer", what's the point? 

    That being said I recently attended for the fourth time FIPP'S Digital Innovator's Summit (DIS) which is held each year in Berlin.  It is by far one of the best shows I attend each year. I always look forward to it, because I walk away with greater insights into our business then when I arrived. Where some shows are about industrial cheerleading, this show is about practical insights and new media methodologies. This meeting had more than 600 attendees from over 30 countries. Just having the opportunity to meet and chat with these publishers from around the globe is a meaningful experience in and of itself. But there is much more to this event then schmoozing with peers. 

    There is nothing at this event that is not near perfect. The organization, the setting, the clever timing of the speakers, and the overall rhythm of the show is smooth, filled with professional insights and enjoyable. I'm not sure how they gather such excellence in presenters, but other organizations could learn a thing or two by observation and replication. I know as I write this that it sounds like hyperbole on my part, but it ain't. I don't lightly travel to Germany for three nights and then quickly return unless there is a strong reward, and here there is.

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 15, 2016
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On PRIMEX and the Proven Haptic Power of Print

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On PRIMEX and the Proven Haptic Power of Print

    Leo F. Buscaglia (1924 -1998) was a teacher at the University of Southern California in the late 1960s when one of his students committed suicide. This so greatly affected Professor Buscaglia that, in his pursuit for meaning of the sad event, he formed a non-credit class titled Love 1A. As you might expect, there were no grades for Love 1A, because how could you possibly fail someone in this class on that subject?

    He became a cheerleader for Life, and he was most closely associated with the topic of love and human relationships, emphasizing the value of positive human touch, especially hugs. He once said, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

    You might ask, what this has to do with media and especially my review of the PRIMEX Conference held in New York City two weeks ago? Well, it was the professor who came to my mind when my good friend Daniel Dejan, who is the Print & Creative Manager of Sappi Fine Papers, opened the event.  I know a world full of nice and wonderful people, but I'd have to rack my brains to find a man or woman with more glowing love for life and humans and the pure joy of creativity. I know Daniel quite well, so it was no surprise that his presentation that day was "The Haptic Brain/Haptic Brand and the Neuroscience of Touch." And, as Professor Buscaglia said, "... too often we underestimate the power of a touch..." 

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 15, 2016
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Newsstand Sales Fall 16% and it still Ain't Armageddon

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Newsstand Sales Fall 16% and it still Ain't Armageddon

    So here we are again with some dreary numbers and a continuation of print's adjustment from King-o-the-Hill to mere but honored participant in the multiverse of the world's communication network.  Last year I gave my perspective on the subject, and it still holds true.

    I have many friends who are publishers and many friends who are printers. Most of these compatriots, that I know, despite the generally negative numbers, are doing well, and some are actually thriving. That's the funny thing about aggregate numbers - even if the overall analysis is bad or even terrible, and it is, it doesn't mean a damn thing if your printing plant or your publication is doing well. So there ya have it - the only meaningful bottom line in this period of stressful monetary communication wars is, how are you doing?

    As the printing pond gets smaller and smaller, which it obviously is by any standard of reporting, what is left by Darwin's publishing laws of supply and demand should become increasingly more expensive and therefore more valuable. All you have to do is to survive the current Armageddon and put out the most outstanding products possible for those who are still addicted and still hungry for printed reading products. Give the readers what they want, on the substrate that they want, and when they want it at that moment in time. Simple really. Just be beyond  excellent in every part of your enterprise.  

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 15, 2016
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  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On  IAB's Rothenberg, Ad Blocking, Native Ads & more

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On IAB's Rothenberg, Ad Blocking, Native Ads & more

    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: - IAB's Rothenberg Blasts Adblock-Plus

    Many thanks for sending Rothenberg's IAB speech.  What gas!  It's been a long time since I've read anything that was so wrong to begin with and then got worse.  I've never understood the kerfuffle over ad blockers... but now I'm thinking that if this fellow hates them so much I should probably get one. (Submitted by a Publisher and Official BoSacks Cub Reporter) 

    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: - IAB's Rothenberg Blasts Adblock-Plus

    How about freedom of privacy? I'd think that would include the freedom to go onto the Internet without being stalked. (Submitted by a Writer)  

    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: - IAB's Rothenberg Blasts Adblock-Plus

    Bo, there are so many news and magazine sites i've stopped going to because videos start playing automatically or windows start opening in my browser. there are many sites that have so much multimedia going on that browser caches fill and never load properly or degrade the site performance. it's ugly. so guess what? whenever i learn of something of interest in an e-newsletter or in a news search, and i see that it links to a site that does that, i look for that topic elsewhere. (Submitted by an Industry Analysist)

     

    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: - IAB's Rothenberg Blasts Adblock-Plus

    Mr. Rothenberg is wrong. No one wants to see ads. They are intrusive and unwanted. And, I would hope that the companies that are developing Ad Blockers are pro-profit. (Submitted by a printer)

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 15, 2016
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  • Ad Blocking is Our Reward for Abusing Reader Trust

    Ad Blocking is Our Reward for Abusing Reader Trust

    Full disclosure: I may or most likely may not be the normal reading consumer on the internet, and for the record I do use ad blocking software. Without it my day on the web was increasingly a painful, slow and a terribly intrusive experience. Also for the record, and most importantly, I am willing to pay for the reading material I want and need. I pay for the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and Texture (formally known as Next Issue Media) among several others.  In fact, it is no secret that most of my working day is either reading on the web or writing about what I read. So I am something of an expert about the on-line user experience.

    Here is my take on the situation. Ad blocking is serious business brought upon us by our own misuse of trust given to us by the reading public, the trust we had correctly build up over the last 100 years as the guardians of publishing and of print.  I have always felt that the publishing community and the rest of the advertising internet infrastructure has from the outset abused the privileges of permission on-line.  I don't want to be tracked by companies that want not only a large slice of my wallet but also the uninvited intrusion into my mind and how I'm thinking and where I am at any given moment. I am also offended that these unsought intrusions that slow down my web experience with bloated and unwanted downloads.  FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 26, 2016
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper

    There is a recent article titled Print vs. Digital: Another Emotional Win for Paper, that came across my info-radar today. Articles like these are always popping up. They are interesting to me, because science must do what science does, question everything. As a geek-at-heart, I am all for the pursuit of knowledge. I sometimes think that all good production people are geeks, but that is a story for another day. 

    There are several things that must be pointed out in this article. The headline is click bait appealing to paper lovers and trying to confirm what they think they already know. However, the data here is not as overwhelming for the paper lovers as the headline suggests. The biggest issue is the supposed edge in the emotional response to paper as opposed to digital.  To me that is much more generational than a universal law of astro-advertising. 

    The main thing to remember here is that in a very meaningful way none of this digital-does-this-and-paper-does-that-science will matter as we proceed further. Why, you wisely ask? Because, we aren't ever going to go back to being a major paper transmitting society. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    Posted October 06, 2015
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out:  The MPA, the Association of Magazine Media, is looking for its next CEO.

    BoSacks Speaks Out: The MPA, the Association of Magazine Media, is looking for its next CEO.

    These are indeed turbulent times for a transforming industry, and forward thinking leadership is critical for the industry to help us adjust to these changing times.  Newsstand sales and subscription sales in general continue to diminish.  Are there standouts bucking the overall industry trend? Yes, most assuredly.  But overall, the trends are down for the industry.  Clearly we need to develop and broadcast a strategy that plays to our strengths and comes to grips with our weaknesses. Being in continual denial of our current position in the media wars just won't work. 

    For the record I am not a pessimist for the magazine media industry, nor a detractor of the print product. What I am is an unashamed realist. Print can accomplish things that digital can't and can provide a sizable ROI while doing so. At the same time it is obvious digital can accomplish feats that print products can only dream of. The downside with digital thus far is its slow growth of monetization for the magazine industry.  What we need is the marriage of the two disciplines combining digital's creativity and its accountability gained from increasingly reliable metadata with the comfort and traditions of print.  CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted October 06, 2015
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  • Dissecting the 1% Prediction of Magazine Sales

    Dissecting the 1% Prediction of Magazine Sales

    We keep reading and hearing about the reading public's love of print. Why then don't they show that love at the newsstand? Every year newsstand drops double digits in sales. If that is love, I'll take something else. We keep hearing how advertisers get better ROI in print. That may be true, but then why does advertising in print diminish every year? We keep hearing of the many new titles each year. Why then do all magazine sales show a steep drop in magazines sold? In the same vein why are print subscriptions dropping as well, (if not as fast as newsstand)? In the end, it doesn't matter how many magazines we print, the only relevant statistic is how many we sell.
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 26, 2015
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  • BoSacks on addictive content and the audience of the future

    Bo Sacks on addictive content and the audience of the future
     
    Legendary publisher and one of the founding fathers of High Times magazine, Bo Sacks, was in London recently to take part in a tweetathon hosted by What's New in Publishing. FIPP caught up with him at the event to get his take on the current developments in digital media, and what's coming next for the industry.

    More competition than ever before (0:06)
    The thing is - in the 70s when I started out - there was only three ways to communicate: there was print, there was radio, and there was television. Each had its place. And each had few competitors in their sphere. The difference now is that there is more competitors than ever before. And it doesn't take a big bank roll to be a competitor. 

    BuzzFeed, Vox, Upworthy (0:41)
    They've come out of nowhere. And they've taken, what used to be called market share, but I prefer to think of it as time spent with media. And that's the new big equation. How much time the public spends with each, individual type of media.  

    Is it harder or easier to start a publishing company in the digital age? (1:02)
    No it's easy to get in, and it's actually easy for some to make money. The thing is - and it's not unlike print many years ago - not everybody makes it. Some do, some don't. Those that do make the addictive content will survive just great, won't be a problem.   

    There's no relationship between success and the format that you choose (1:35)
    Could be television, could be print, could be digital. If you have addictive content, you'll probably do very well. 

    Soon for all we know, we're going to project on the air (1:46)
    There'll be new formats. Right now we have cell phones as a format. We have desktops and laptops as a format. Soon for all we know we're gonna project, on the air, and we won't have a sub-straight at all. And we'll project words, and visuals - that's a different kind of sub-straight for a different kind of reader/viewer, and maybe we'll call them something else? 

    Not the Holy Grail (2:12)
    Video has a place in the media sphere, but it is not the Holy Grail. It is another way to communicate and absorb information. And the information you need is system specific: video is great for learning how to cook... learning how to play golf...maybe even learning how to do brain surgery. But along with the video has to come words, long form words. 

    And finally, what advice would you give to an aspiring publisher about what content the audience needs to see? (2:50)
    How we define content, is important to your question. And how we monetise that content is also important. I'm increasingly believing that just supplying content is not enough, you need alternative revenue streams besides your content.
     
    Jamie Gavin
    Posted September 26, 2015
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  • With A Strong Brand, A Magazine Can Be Anything

    With A Strong Brand, A Magazine Can Be Anything

    Active Interest Media serves as role model for extending magazine brands and businesses.

    As we all know, the magazine industry is transforming from a print-focused concept to a broader, more media-diverse, "branded" approach to content distribution. In the new approach there are many extensions of the branded experience that lead to revenue success, and in many cases better, broader, and more stable empires than in the past. Active Interest Media (AIM) is a perfect example of brand extensions and off-the-page thinking.

    AIM has five distinct publishing groups and publishes some of the country's leading consumer enthusiast magazines, such as Yoga Journal,BackpackerVegetarian TimesYachts InternationalBlack BeltAmerican CowboyPractical HorsemanLog Home Living, and many more. I think the key phrase here is "consumer enthusiast" magazines. Look at the diversity of this publishing house and the broad reach they have. No single-topic concentration in this publisher's large enterprise, but rather five main categories each with a broad range of brands that satisfy passionate readers and their very particular interests.

     

    A few months ago I had a conversation with AIM's president and CEO Andrew Clurman. Andy said, "Today's operative words at AIM are diversification and proliferation. We are continually finding seams within the verticals we're in of unfilled audience interests and needs."

    What Andy is saying here and what all publishers large or small must be considering is the revenue extension possibilities of your readers/consumer's passions.

    CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE

     

     
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 01, 2015
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