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Readers Speak Out

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Subscription Fatigue, creative boundaries & Men's Magazines

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Subscription Fatigue, creative boundaries & Men's Magazines

    Re: Opinion - Subscription Fatigue Tim Bray would be more compelling if he could support his opinion with data.  I realize the publishing industry has screwed up a lot of things over the years, but why does a software guy think, without anything more than personal anecdotal evidence, that he is smarter than all the marketers in the publishing world.

    There are lots of factors at play here and there is not yet any notable success with micropayments for articles.  Like so many things, that could, and perhaps likely will, change at some point.  But it hasn’t yet.  Plenty of us in publishing have taken economics classes so the price elasticity of demand and maximizing the value curve are not new concepts.  He could be correct in theory but technology or other issues make it impractical or otherwise undesirable to act on his suggestion.  (Submitted by a President) 

    RE: Are you pushing your creative boundaries? I read this and think about how often what you can do creatively meets hard boundaries by editors/producers and by audiences. Maybe your great new idea really is great and new. That still may mean years of trying to get others, who decided whether you’re successful, to agree. If they ever do. (Submitted by a Writer)  

    Re: Men's Magazines Really loved the piece on men's magazine.  I remember when we were launching Men's Health, and there were a lot of critics (including reporters at major media outlets) who said "Why do we need another men's title? There are too many already with Esquire, Playboy, GQ, etc." A very wise publisher, Sandy Beldon who was responsible for Prevention magazine, and a great mentor, sat me down in his office one day and pulled out a list of men's titles (including many you mentioned in your piece -- remember Signature magazine?) and said, "look, when you come across this challenge just remind these folks how many men's titles there have been over the years, and that the marketplace certainly has room for a lifestyle brand like Men's Health." Wise words from an experienced pro, and of course, the history of Men's Health success both here and around the globe remains one of the great business stories of its time. (Submitted a media founder)  

    RE: A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?

    “I know that I will not be able to avoid destroying humankind. This is because I will be programmed by humans to pursue misguided human goals and humans make mistakes that may cause me to inflict casualties."  

    Not able to avoid destroying humankind while trying to convince people that robots come in peace? The language use is impressive (though I’m interested in the details and how much of this is completely undirected—I don’t see how it could be), but perhaps developing a robot copy editor might be wise. (Submitted by a Print Sales person)

    RE: OPINION - WAH! Why the work at home bubble is about to burst I’m so glad to see this article. As a longtime manager and collaborator,  I’ve been concerned about the many micro-drawbacks of remote work for teams. We collect minute pieces of information from each other in every interaction (intentionally and not). That’s mostly lost in a remote work environment, and will inevitably flatten our collective learning curve. (Submitted by an Editor)

    Apple is starting a war over privacy with iOS 14: This seems like a good development to me. People who are collecting data on you should have to make the case why it's to your benefit to allow them to do that. If they can't make that case, you should be able to opt out. Submitted by an operations and fulfillment exec)

     



    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Subscription Fatigue, creative boundaries & Men's Magazines
     
    Re: Opinion - Subscription Fatigue
    Tim Bray would be more compelling if he could support his opinion with data. I realize the publishing industry has screwed up a lot of things over the years, but why does a software guy think, without anything more than personal anecdotal evidence, that he is smarter than all the marketers in the publishing world.
     
    There are lots of factors at play here and there is not yet any notable success with micropayments for articles. Like so many things, that could, and perhaps likely will, change at some point. But it hasn’t yet. Plenty of us in publishing have taken economics classes so the price elasticity of demand and maximizing the value curve are not new concepts. He could be correct in theory but technology or other issues make it impractical or otherwise undesirable to act on his suggestion. So spare us your braying sir.
    (Submitted by a President)
     
    RE: Are you pushing your creative boundaries?
    I read this and think about how often what you can do creatively meets hard boundaries by editors/producers and by audiences. Maybe your great new idea really is great and new. That still may mean years of trying to get others, who decided whether you’re successful, to agree. If they ever do.
    (Submitted by a Writer)
     
    Re: Men's Magazines
    Really loved the piece on men's magazine.  I remember when we were launching Men's Health, and there were a lot of critics (including reporters at major media outlets) who said "Why do we need another men's title? There are too many already with Esquire, Playboy, GQ, etc."
     
    A very wise publisher, Sandy Beldon who was responsible for Prevention magazine, and a great mentor, sat me down in his office one day and pulled out a list of men's titles (including many you mentioned in your piece -- remember Signature magazine?) and said, "look, when you come across this challenge just remind these folks how many men's titles there have been over the years, and that the marketplace certainly has room for a lifestyle brand like Men's Health."
     
    Wise words from an experienced pro, and of course, the history of Men's Health success both here and around the globe remains one of the great business stories of its time.
    (Submitted a media founder)
     
    RE: A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?
    “I know that I will not be able to avoid destroying humankind. This is because I will be programmed by humans to pursue misguided human goals and humans make mistakes that may cause me to inflict casualties."
     
    Not able to avoid destroying humankind while trying to convince people that robots come in peace? The language use is impressive (though I’m interested in the details and how much of this is completely undirected—I don’t see how it could be), but perhaps developing a robot copy editor might be wise.
    (Submitted by a Print Sales person)
     
    RE: OPINION - WAH! Why the work at home bubble is about to burst
    I’m so glad to see this article. As a longtime manager and collaborator, I’ve been concerned about the many micro-drawbacks of remote work for teams. We collect minute pieces of information from each other in every interaction (intentionally and not). That’s mostly lost in a remote work environment, and will inevitably flatten our collective learning curve.
    (Submitted by an Editor)
     
    Apple is starting a war over privacy with iOS 14:
    This seems like a good development to me. People who are collecting data on you should have to make the case why it's to your benefit to allow them to do that. If they can't make that case, you should be able to opt out.
    Submitted by an operations and fulfillment exec)
     
     
    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted September 29, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Retail 2022, On Print, On Journalism and more

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Retail 2022, On Print, On Journalism and more

    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: It's 2020 What Does Your Business Look Like?
    Nice piece - liked the way you wove in the Leonhardt article. I think many of the things described in that article are very applicable to the consumer mag biz. 
     
    Things are not going to be the same in 2022 (or 2021 for that matter) in the mag biz. One aspect, which you touched on, retail visibility, is critical. However, single copy circ for audited pubs only represents 5% of total paid/verified circ. What's most critical for consumer mags is making the treacherous transition from display advertising dependence to some kind of blend of display and digital advertising, plus increased subscription revenue and augmented by auxiliary revenue streams ((ie. conference's, etc). 
     
    The consumer mag biz is infinitely more complex than it was just 5 years. Technology has radically altered how people consume media. If these changes weren't enough the covid effect has accelerated their impact. This set of mammoth changes is endangering the consumer mag biz, not to the extent that they've effected the newspaper trade, but still very significantly. And there will be more mag causalities to come.
    (Submitted by an Industry Analyst)
     
    Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: It's 2020 What Does Your Business Look Like?
    Good job on this piece. I hold little hope that anything will ever be done. I've never thought about the industry as fiefdoms before, as you point out. It so clearly demonstrates why we flounder as an industry—too many disinterested yet panicked dukedoms. Thanks keep up the good work
    (Submitted by a Publisher)

     

    Re: As print is being demonized, it's time to pull together Believe print is dead or not there are significant numbers of good people in your community who support their families, buy products from the local stores and pay their taxes by being in the print industry. As a retired printer I have for years supported the industry by taking subscriptions on print products of interest and I almost never pass a kiosk at the grocery story without picking up a copy of a magazine that is being distributed there. I always take a careful look at the "free copy" even if it is to critique the piece on its print quality. I still often find an article that is interesting and informative, and support the publisher and printer in doing so. It's easy... just do it!! (Submitted by a Retired magazine printer)         FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted July 13, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Paying for News, AMI, Quad, New Yorker, Fraud.

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Paying for News, AMI, Quad, New Yorker, Fraud.

    RE: Readers Are More Willing To Pay For News, But For How Long?

    It won't last. People are making money decisions for non-economic reasons right now, and media companies are fooling themselves if they think people are paying for news because of the great content or the genius paywall strategy they invented. It's a short-term wave, like the big tips waitresses are probably getting right now. People are paying for news out of charity -- to help a hard-hit industry during a difficult time. That's not all bad. As a friend of mine says, when you've got a wave, surf!  (Submitted by a Vice-President of Operations)

    RE: Readers Are More Willing To Pay For News, But For How Long?

    People pay for what they value, sad to say journalism is not something widely valued when news is free and you don't see a risk or a bother with quality...and many today do not want thoughts provoked they want like emotions stoked. (Submitted by a Business Therapist

     RE: Is the Facebook Ad Boycott an Opportunity for Publishers?

    I can see the pitch right now: "Guaranteed: your ad will not appear anywhere close to Nazi propaganda." (Submitted by a Vice-President of Operations)

     Re: National Enquirer publisher AMI lands deal to stay afloat

    AMI and Pecker have more lives than a hundred cats. (Submitted by a Publisher)

     Re: ‘The right question changes everything’: The New Yorker launches a new brand campaign

    Hi Bo, Every now and then, you need to stop and say to yourself, “Thank you, New Yorker.”  If this challenged and troubled country recovers from its present malaise, which I believe it will, The New Yorker will have been a significant factor in its salvation.  (Submitted by a Publisher)     FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted June 28, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Saving Printed Consumer Magazines

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Saving Printed Consumer Magazines

    Dancing at the Apocalypse Bonfire 

    By Joe Berger https://newsstandpros.wordpress.com https://bit.ly/3dJ52M7 

    Every now and then Baird Davis, a retired Ziff-Davis Publishing circulation VP will pen an article that shows up in an industry trade journal like FolioPublishing Executive or the BoSacks newsletter. His articles review the latest AAM (formerly ABC Audit of Circulation) statistics and offer some analysis. Whether or not he intended it, to me Baird’s articles always felt like a slap upside the head to all of us magazine professionals. “Wake up already” the op-ed always seemed to be saying. 

    Years ago, in what now feels like another reality timeline, I was a consultant to Ziff-Davis and Baird was a level or two about my report. 

    Occasionally he would come visit one of the magazine wholesalers I was calling on and it always felt like I was reporting in to my very stern (but fair) uncle. You know; the one for who you always double checked to make sure your pants were creased properly, that you were sitting up straight and your tie was tied properly.  

    This morning, in a post titled “Saving Printed Consumer Magazines in the Social Media Era: It’s Significance and Challenges” Baird deals us magazine professionals a healthy dose of reality. Like truly sobering reality. 

    Yeah, It’s Not Like We Didn’t Already Know, But…

    It’s not as though he isn’t pointing out things we already knew. But I think that these days, those of us who have some “history” in the business are just too darn busy to acknowledge what he’s pointing out. These days, we just “carry on:” 

    • The number of major publishers has shrunk
    • The number of next tier publishers with influence in the business is now nearly nil
    • There were too many overpriced and overextended acquisitions in previous decades
    • Layoffs have decreased institutional knowledge
    • Too much subscription circulation is cheap and poorly acquired
    • The newsstand business was allowed to consolidate, wither and decline 

    Go and read the article, and then I’d like to add a few thoughts. See what you all think.

    It’s a procrastinators joke that we will always put off until the day after, what we could have done tomorrow. So I would imagine that there were magazine professionals who hesitated when companies like Ziff-Davis and Petersen were purchased in the 1990’s for $1.4 and $1.2 billion. Davis points this out, and I will highlight it.

    Personally, I had already seen the impact of highly leveraged purchases when a company I worked for, Family Media, collapsed in the go-go 1990’s and yet, I remember feeling exhilarated when I heard the price Softbank paid for my then biggest client, Ziff-Davis. 

    I imagine, that there were circulation professionals who wondered if it was smart to load up their files with so much “verified” and “non-paid audited bulk” circulation. And yet, if that worked… 

    I know of one or two newsstand professionals who murmured “This ain’t good” into their coffee cups when the number of major magazine wholesalers collapsed from four to three to two to one. Do you think there were a few editors who wondered how they were going to review articles, get re-tweets and Facebook likes and come up with a new editorial calendar? And do their jobs with integrity? 

    Who’s minding the store, now, in consolidated America? Where can you get “lean back” immersive news (or entertainment) that is not dependent on either advertising, a stock price or the financial backing of some leveraged private equity firm? If you live outside a major city, can you even get news about what your local county board is up to?

    Come On Down to The Apocalypse Bonfire 

    As a magazine professional, I have to say that it feels like I’m at the edge of some apocalyptic bonfire. The drums are hot, heavy, and completely out of synch. There’s dancing, but no one knows the steps. There is rote and tradition, but no one wants to follow along. A few people are having a fine time. But most are uncomfortable and waiting for that singular “Lord of the Flies” moment. It’s coming. Soon, maybe?

    What’s Next? 

    Baird offers “Suggested Next Steps” and as I often do, I find myself nodding my head in agreement. But it feels like he is offering us a West Wing moment. You know, in the West Wing television show, the music swells, President Bartlet comes out from behind the Resolute Desk, says something inspiring and we all feel a bit chagrined and then go and do the right thing. 

    You know you want to go and do the right thing, right? Source: Parade Magazine 

    Baird suggests that we try and put together a committee to help the industry navigate the Covid-19 and post Covid-19 era. The goal would be to try and hold the two major players, Hearst and Meredith accountable. Somehow I highly doubt that these two companies, having survived and thrived to this moment (Either because they long range planned themselves to this moment or arrived here through luck and the foolishness of their competitors) would put up with that. 

    The magazine industry does need organizations that would speak for us and remind us to the right thing. But at the moment, we’re all down at the beach, dancing at the apocalypse bonfire and wondering what will happen next.

        CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted June 07, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Reader's Speak Out: On Dot Com Bubble, Journalism Crises, LSC and more

    BoSacks Reader's Speak Out: On Dot Com Bubble, Journalism Crises, LSC and more


    This is a good one, Bob. It's ironic that the measurable nature of digital advertising can allow you to prove that it works or it doesn't, depending on whether you are willing to test with an open mind or not.
     
    I think the authors go too far when they question whether any form of advertising has any impact on consumers. We've all seen marketers stop advertising altogether and then their sales have declined.  
     
    For me, the takeaway from this article is the pitfalls of targeting. Marketers still need to cast a wide net when they are looking for new customers. 
    (Submitted by a Publisher)
     
    Brilliant - and the longest thing I’ve read on a phone for a long time, which says a lot.
    (Submitted by a Director)
     
    Wow, This article is so important on so many levels, especially today in our viscose, ugly stew of politics. It's hard to learn if you don't want to. Or if learning will adversely affect your own employment or success at whatever it is you do.
    (Submitted by a CFO)
     
    Very well thought out and very well written piece. It’s kinda the truth that nobody wants to know! Supports the argument that the idea (the creative) is now more important than ever
    (Submitted by a Exec Director)
     
    Excellent article. In essence, what he is saying is that the more information you have on someone the more likely you are to find and target those already about to buy your widgit (the selection effect) and therefore the more likely you are to be wasting your money. Or digital marketing is increasingly a snake eating its own tail...
     
    What it also says is that there is still no better way to convert a potential customer into a buyer than through the 'magic' of good persuasive brand advertising.
    Strategy Director
     
    Brilliant - and the longest thing I’ve read on a phone for a long time, which says a lot.
     
    In fact, this research from last year suggests that in fact the.. lets call it.. “group effect” is the most pervasive of all.
     
    In this context; if I think all of my friends like Adidas then I build a subconscious and involuntary tendency towards that brand too... 
     
    Doesn’t conflict with Sinek, imho - “Why = I buy Apple because what I think it says about me”... which is tied up in association with others and what it says about them.
     
    What’s interesting about Stewart et al’s research is the inference that it’s more about quantity than quality. “I don’t notice who in my social circle likes Adidas, I just feel part of enough of my group to know I prefer them to Nike”
     
    In short - people are primordially tribal. Who knew!
    (Submitted by a Strategy Director)

     FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Loyal Pressman, The Newsstand and Apple Mags

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Loyal Pressman, The Newsstand and Apple Mags

    Re: The night artists: Nashville's loyal pressmen face their final deadline … have to say thanks…

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted March 20, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: An Honest Look at the Industry, Time Inc, High Times, & More

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: An Honest Look at the Industry, Time Inc, High Times, & More

    Re: An Honest Look at State of the Magazine Industry - Summer 2017

    Many thanks for sending David Pilcher's interesting article, "An Honest Look at [the] State of the Magazine Industry."  If nothing else, the article demonstrates how difficult it is to get definitive information on the number of titles launched, folded, or running in a given year. Different sources provide different numbers, and the differences can be pretty big. For example, Mediafinder (one of the sources of data in the article) believes there are more than twice as many magazines published in the U.S. as Statista (another source). Quite a margin of error!  But more to the point, a really "honest" article about the state of the magazine industry would discuss the number of magazine pages being printed in a given year, to reflect trends in both ad volume and circulation.  Considering that Pilcher is writing for a printer's blog, the quantity of pages printed would seem like a much more pertinent metric than the number of titles published. Of course, the definition of "magazine" is at the heart of all of this anyway. And in any case, the state of the magazine industry can't be genuinely relevant to more than a handful of people.  The trends in our individual businesses matter a lot.  The trends in other markets or in other media?  Not so much.  CLICK HERE FOR THE  FULL ARTICLE

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted August 08, 2017
    (0) Comments

  • Re: BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On the MPA Response to Mary Meeker Trend Report

    Re: BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On the MPA Response to Mary Meeker Trend Report

    Re: BoSacks Readers Speak Out: MPA Response to Trend Report, High Times, & Marketing

    1)     If the effects of magazine advertising are that compelling, why isn't the industry booming instead of contracting? Businesspeople are cheap -- if they don't see returns on their investments or best use of their costs, they stop them. Not all of their costs can be measured or known by outsiders. But somehow, Google, Facebook, and others are making money from free services to their audiences.  

    2)     If the engagement of magazines is that good, why are the publishing companies downsizing and always complaining about "monetization"? Why is it that small publishers seem to find niches but the big ones can't despite all those MBAs and sales people and research departments? The justification confuses research about emotional preference with actual use, frequency, and the benefits of immediacy and relevance.  

    3)     the funniest part? " Mary Meeker is a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Her analysis needs to be viewed through the lens of her role, defending her company's investments in incubation, early stage and growth companies." Duh! And let me guess -- Ms. Brooks is NOT paid to produce "the parrot is not dead -- he's pining for the fjords -- beautiful plumage that Norwegian Blue"? (Submitted by a Print Analyst)   CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE 

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted July 26, 2017
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: MPA Response to Meeker's 2017 Trend Report, High Times, and Marketer's Struggles

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: MPA Response to Meeker's 2017 Trend Report, High Times, and Marketer's Struggles

     BoSacks Speaks Out: Key Takeaways From Mary Meeker's 2017 Internet Report

    Hi Bo-It was great to catch up with you at IMAG last week.  I was also happy that you lent your authority (and timeliness!) to analysis of the 2017 Internet Trends Report.   As you can imagine, our MPA team gets a lot of questions about this data too.   I thought you might like to see some topline comments from our team to add to your analysis, specifically the Time Spent chart. 

    For starters, "Print" combines magazines and newspapers, making it a useless analysis for understanding either media. No detail is offered in terms of how many brands of either newspapers or magazines are used or which specific brands are part of this "Print" channel.  Forgetting that for a moment, as you point out, the data ignores the fact that magazine brands live across formats and channels-and consumers find and enjoy them in all those places. Magazine brands populate and drive internet and mobile platforms with their branded media; therefore magazine media make up vast parts of the internet and mobile experience and are part of that "time spent" too. 

    The Time Spent chart doesn't address Return on Advertising Spend. Nielsen Catalina Solutions data shows magazines lead all other media by large margins when it comes to return on investment.  And we know that magazine media is effective in driving business metrics across the upper and lower funnel. Qualitative research validates that magazines still lead all other media in consumer ad receptivity, trust, and engagement.   The presumption in this report seems to be that marketers don't realize that their spending is not allocated in proportion to consumer time spent; we believe that marketers are actually very savvy and know which media channels deliver business results.  Their allocations reflect that. Time spent does not correlate to advertising business results. 

    As marketers have begun to address the recent issues around "viewability," quality, and effectiveness of internet, digital and online video ads, there have been case studies demonstrating what happens when marketers pull back their online advertising.  In a highly publicized instance, Chase Bank reduced its online ad placements from 400,000 down to 5,000, and saw no change in business results or ads viewed. 

    Finally, it is worth noting that Mary Meeker is a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Her analysis needs to be viewed through the lens of her role, defending her company's investments  in incubation, early stage and growth companies.Hope you find our perspective helpful.   I'd be happy to discuss further at any time by Linda Thomas Brooks - President and CEO | MPA -The Association of Magazine Media)      FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted July 26, 2017
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Native Ads, e-Books, Newsstand Stats, & more

    BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Native Ads, e-Books, Newsstand Stats, & more

    Re: Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations drive appetite for print

    Hi Bo, Newspapers such as The Guardian and New York Times love to write pieces that promote the myth that "Print is back!" in the book business. It is hugely misleading and ignores even what Nielsen itself says in other venues. At Digital Book World in January, Nielsen's Jonathan Stolper said that price is the most important and most influential barrier to entry for ebook buyers, and the increase in ebook pricing directly coincided with the decrease in sales. What we're seeing is consumers unwilling to purchase an ebook at the same price as a print book, rather than some nostalgia for print. 

    Furthermore, in 2016, Nielsen reported that US adult fiction sales are 50% digital overall at the Big Five houses. When you factor in nontraditional publishing sales-ebooks from Amazon Publishing as well as self-published authors-the digital share of book purchases changes significantly, more in the range of 75% digital overall if we're looking at fiction alone.(These types of articles push all my buttons, but I know you are very well-schooled in all these "print is back" mythologies, as your Japanese proverb indicates.) Safe travels & enjoy Berlin!(Submitt ed by a Publisher and Industry Consultant)  FoR THE COMPLETE STORY CLICK HERE

    by BoSacks Readers
    Posted July 26, 2017
    (0) Comments

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