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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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  • Thought’s on the IMAG-MPA Conference And Samir Husni’s Love Letter to IMAG

    Thought’s on the IMAG-MPA Conference And Samir Husni’s Love Letter to IMAG

    Professor Samir Husni and I both love the magazine industry, yet we come to that affection from completely different directions. He is enamored withprint on paperOpens in a new window, while I am enamored by the global power of content distribution in/and on any platform that the consumer/reader wishes. The differences of our perspectives are very significant, but don't preclude a decades-long, great friendship. Conversations between us are at the very least dynamic, as one young man found out when he was sitting between us at dinner on the first night of the IMAG Conference in Boulder. He got an earful from both sides.

    Samir's takeawayOpens in a new window from the IMAG conference is a product of his affection and belief in print. Although I, too, believe in the moderate longevity of print, I also believe and fully acknowledge that it is continuing to take a second seat to other platforms and other paths of sustainable revenue.  In fact all the IMAG conference subject lines were how to make money and grow your company in every possible way other than print. And that to me is ironic in the extreme. Allow me to explain the irony.

    In the early 2000s I was publicly very critical of the MPA Conferences. In my mind there was a digital revolution about to happen and there was little to no dialog in the annual meetings about the juggernaut I saw coming directly at us. Now in the most interesting of turnabouts the reverse is in play, and most, if not all, of the convention is about digital. Digital is the only thing talked about with little to nothing about traditional magazines and how to make them better and sustainable. No sessions about how to make a great cover or distribution tricks to improve circulation or news about paper and/or printing trends - pretty much nothing about the print part of the magazine media business. CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted May 22, 2015
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  • The Answer to Publishing's Enigma of Survival

    The Answer to Publishing's Enigma of Survival

    Many of the people who read this blog are in one way or another devoted to the process of print. Some of them are printers, some of them are publishers and most of them have a strong and deep bias, which is clearly and understandably centered around making a profitable living. In fact, we all, regardless of what our profession is, have a biased point of view that is skewed by our need to make a living. In this discussion I am not in any way saying a bias is wrong, just that it exists and aids us in forming our opinions.

    Actually this bias comes twofold. Not only is it based on our need to make a living and feed the family, but also to be in our comfort zone. This comfort zone is, for the most part, like Mom's cooking. By that I mean that the things we learned early when we were growing up are filled with a nostalgia that makes us feel most comfortable with what we knew and experienced then, something along the lines of Mom's cooking.  If you didn't grow up in an internet era your comfort in it is less than the screenager who has never experienced lack of instant access to any and all information.

    CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 28, 2015
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  • Why Print Ain't Dead!

    Why Print Ain't Dead!

    Why Print Ain't Dead!
     

    Too many times in the last decade pundits, printers, publishers and workers in the ranks have heard or have talked about it themselves - the inescapable, oft repeated mantra that print is dead. I am so tired of it that it boggles the mind.


    Here is my statement and you should repeat after me, "Print is not dead or dying. The facts plainly show otherwise." Let's agree right here and now to get on with the necessary process of information distribution for a profit and forget about fear mongering old wives tales.  


    In today's marketplace print is one of the largest industries in the world. Print eclipses auto-manufacturing in employment. Did you know that? Did you know that print is a $640 billion dollar business and has been reported to drive $3.8 trillion in related services? That ain't death, nor near death.

     

    If we can finally accept that print is far from dead, we can move on to the truly confused ideological problem of our industry - incorrectly assuming that print and magazines are the same thing. They are not and never have been the same, and their trajectories are not tied together.  Printed magazines, in fact, are a very small part of the entirety of the print business.  CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    -


    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 21, 2015
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  • Truth in Advertising - Magazine Statistics, Magnet, MIN and MPA 360.

    Truth in Advertising  - Magazine Statistics, Magnet,MIN and MPA 360. 

     

    nullAs the most recent MAGNET reports came in, I started to ponder other recent changes in reporting on the magazine media industry.  You will remember that the Media Industry Newsletter (MIN), which had until recently been chronicling the magazine industry's ad page performance for almost 70 years, was asked to stop tracking and distributing "sold" ad page data to media professionals with its legendary Boxscores. MIN editor-in-chief Steve Cohn reported that publishers were being discouraged from turning over their numbers as the MPA, the Association of Magazine Media, was getting ready to unveil a new way of calibrating the industry's performance called Magazine Media 360. Now that the Industry has done away with MIN's Boxscore reports, what do we know about the performance of our industry?

     

    As I read the most recent chart derived from the 360 numbers in MIN there was not a single negative number of followers for any magazine, nor was there a difference in the % of Differential in Followers from September to October.  So, Bravo to all! Web followers have not gone down in a month and in some cases they have grown considerably. According to the report, there are now mostly positive numbers for the magazine industry.


    We also now have the ability to track the number of e-shares, e-posts and e-reply's on any given month. How are ad pages doing? That information is no longer distributed to the professional public at large. We can guess, but we do not know. Is guessing better than knowing? Perhaps in some cases it is.  

     

    At the same time as we all know, almost every magazine media company still counts on their print editions and not the web for the majority of their revenue. There has been some progress in gaining some web dollars in this exchange, but in most cases, they haven't come close yet to a print replacement. I believe eventually digital revenue will supplant print as a major revenue source, but clearly not quite yet and at least not yet for most titles.

     

    Which brings me back to the MagNet report which noted that U.S. magazine newsstand sales fell 27% in third quarter of this year, a larger loss than usual, but for clearly obvious reasons - Source Interlink's bankruptcy.  I thought I would try and discuss the industry's understandable wish to camouflage the continuous array of bad stats and sublimate them with always positive web-only engagement data. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

     

     
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted November 30, 2014
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  • Without Print, There IS No Magazine Industry

    Without Print, There IS No Magazine Industry

    By Bob Sacks  

    My friend David Pilcher, of Freeport Press (please note he is a printer) wrote a passionate article last Friday titled Hyperbole and Hysteria in the Magazine Industry  in which he claims that Without Print, There IS No Magazine Industry.  In the article he argued that print is inextricably linked to the definition of what a magazine is and print magazines are here to stay. 

    I applaud all passions when it comes to this subject, and perhaps it is time once again to revisit and reconsider the question, what is a magazine? But at the end of the day it doesn't really matter. The death of magazines, which isn't really happening, is a red herring when considering how we keep score. The only viable score card, when one is in a business dialog, is revenue. Many printers are doing very well in these trying times, while at the same time the magazine business on the whole isn't. Ad revenue on an industry wide basis is down, newsstand sales are down, and subscriptions are down. Down is not equivalent to death, but it is a leading indicator of the change in direction for the reading public. It is because of all the documented data above that the MPA has chosen to change the statistical score card and track total magazine media engagements, rather than just pages printed and ad revenue reported.

    The real culprit in this dialog is time. How much time does anyone have and where are they spending their time? Time spent with magazines is decreasing and has decreased more than 1% per year for the last 5 years. The last report from Mary Meaker showed that when compared to all other media, magazines received about 6% of time spent with any media. Is there any reason to think that it won't be at 5% percent this year? No!   FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted November 10, 2014
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  • Magazine Industry Hits Reset on Measuring Its Own Health

    Magazine Industry Hits Reset on Measuring Its Own Health

    An interesting professional sobriety hit the magazine business this week that was a long time in its maturation.  The MPA moved us off the teat of accounting for print ad pages as our franchise enabler and instead offered a solution of cross-media oversight. Concurrent with this move was the decision to no longer make public printed ad page stats.  This move attempts to take the consistently depressing news about declining page counts off the front page and to make them available only to MPA members and their affiliates.

    I understand the desire to camouflage the dissent, as the information is depressing and, I think, often times misleading. I have stated many times in this newsletter that trends do not reflect the specifics of individual titles or companies. Many print magazines are doing very well. But the overall trend of the industry continues to quickly head south.  CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted October 15, 2014
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  • Is Publishing On the Verge of Digital's Watershed Moment?

    Is Publishing On the Verge of Digital's Watershed Moment?

    3 factors that will lead to digital's eclipse of print as the dominant source of magazine media revenue

    There is an odd form of delusion in the publishing world, characterized by a resistance to reason in the face of actual facts. This inability to recognize modern business trends is easy for most Millennials to understand, but hard for many magazine traditionalists to reconcile. It is the concept of print's current and future position in the grand scheme of revenue production in the information distribution industry. You see, the cause of this misunderstanding is that print is still the major source of revenue for most traditional publishers and that colors their thinking, even as paper-produced revenues on the whole continue to steadily decline.

    To be very clear, the future of our industry and our ability to make an honest living is digital. The only real question on that subject is when the watershed moment of digital supremacy will arrive. I think that when we look back at the end of 2014 we will see that that moment is happening now.

    Obviously there are many digital only publishers today who are already making a fortune in territory that was once a print-dominated field. Newspapers, news magazines, and assorted niche publications used to rule the info-sphere. Now sites like BuzzfeedOpens in a new windowVoxOpens in a new windowUpworthyOpens in a new windowFlipboardOpens in a new window, and many others satisfy the public's thirst for news as it happens. It makes perfect sense that "news" would be the first to fall to the digital axe and behead journalism as we once knew it. Over time our perception of news has changed. Now news isn't news if it is in any way not of an immediate nature. It wasn't always that way. In colonial days news took six weeks to cross the Atlantic and when it got here, it was well received as real news, true, and valuable. Now we receive news of events as they happen in real-time, which is something that no paper-sourced delivery can ever hope to contend with.

    Yet even taking those new successful news sites into consideration, the predominant method of generating revenue for traditional publishers is, for the moment, their print products. There are three main contributors to the headspace of this pulp addiction and all are easy to understand. 

    CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted August 22, 2014
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  • How Data and Editorial Teams Can Work Together

    How Data and Editorial Teams Can Work Together

     

    Five Strategies to Integrate Data and Editorial at Publishing Companies

    For publishers today, data has become the key to competitive advantage. But executing against data has traditionally been a challenge. Only in recent years has the publishing industry invested in the technology required to make sense of data's complexity and volume. It speaks to a culture shift, with publishers realizing the need to be more than just content players. We must be technologists in order to survive. We're seeing that pay off now, through data-first publishers like Vocativ and BuzzFeed.

     

    Data is ushering in a new wave of benefits for the publishing industry, including the ability to help publishers identify relevant content, create better content and develop a true user-first approach. For legacy news media, the ability to identify and break stories that drive traffic and scale is critical. Data teams can analyze web patterns and other online activity to determine and even predict stories in their infancy that might have been overlooked by a team of editors.

     

    http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/data-editorial-teams-work/294566/


    Antoine Boulin
    Posted August 22, 2014
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  • NYT David Carr - Print Is Down, and Now Out

    NYT David Carr - Print Is Down, and Now Out

    A year ago last week, it seemed as if print newspapers might be on the verge of a comeback, or at least on the brink of, well, survival.

     

    Jeff Bezos, an avatar of digital innovation as the founder of Amazon, came out of nowhere and plunked down $250 million for The Washington Post. His vote of confidence in the future of print and serious news was seen by some - including me - as a sign that an era of "optimism or potential" for the industry was getting underway.

     

    Turns out, not so much - quite the opposite, really. The Washington Post seems fine, but recently, in just over a week, three of the biggest players in American newspapers - Gannett,Tribune Company and E. W. Scripps, companies built on print franchises that expanded into television - dumped those properties like yesterday's news in a series of spinoffs.

     

    The recent flurry of divestitures scanned as one of those movies about global warming where icebergs calve huge chunks into churning waters. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    David Carr
    Posted August 22, 2014
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