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Bosacks Speaks Out

  • An Airport Sans Newspapers

    By Edson Atwood
     
    My cherished ritual just ended.
    Thank you, Hudson News—I mean Hudson! (Hudson News rebranded as Hudson a few years ago.)
     
    Its slogan: “We Are The Traveler’s Best Friend.” Well, not my best friend. My best friend would have newspapers.
     
    Whenever I travel for business or otherwise, I always pick up a local newspaper. I usually try to pick it up in town. If it’s a longer trip, it’s fun to read local news while you’re in the area you are visiting. You can refer to local stories to the people you are temporarily living among.
     
    But often I forget to pick up a paper in town. So, I buy a newspaper in the airport on the way out of town. And I can read it at home at a later time, as a unique reminder of the vacation or business trip, and to understand a different news narrative than I’m used to at home, albeit news as recent history.

     

    But flying out of Charleston recently, I went to a Hudson newsstand and was told they didn’t sell newspapers. I went to a second Hudson store and asked again. They said they stopped selling newspapers about a year ago and that there were no newspapers in the airport.

    I am devastated by this. How is there an airport without newspapers?

    A newspaper is the baseline for existence, for providing information needed to accomplish your day and be able to have an understanding of what’s going on in the wider world. I don’t know if other airports are also sans newspapers. It’ something I may research at a later date.
     
    People are getting their news now from apps, or websites, or posts. I realize that. But there is such a large, overwhelming volume of that content. It’s not organized, vetted, and taught. Newspapers have editors. Editors clean it all up. And print it on a limited number of pages.

     

    Not unlimited screen after screen, scrolling down and left and zooming in and over, and turning the phone vertically, horizontally, and back to vertically, all while advertisements keep popping into view. Yes, websites and social platforms have a different outlook that is reflected in their presentation of the news—of the Truth, ultimately. But as I understand it, and have witnessed it, editors try hard to be fair, to be truthful, to be honest, and transparent. They have a mission to transmit Truth to the world. That’s why I got interested in Publishing. That’s why I pursued my degree in Journalism—because Truth, or Beauty, or Understanding—should be curated—curated—and shared, by trusted sources.

    Some of the loss of newspapers in the Charleston airport may be attributable to the pandemic and the loss of foot traffic. And assuming many people who used to buy newspapers in the airport would just leave them at their seats or on the floor, maybe now there is a lot less mess to clean up, and less garbage to cart away. An understandable result of not selling paper.

     

    But still…
     
    Still, I want my newspaper in the airport. I like the feeling of turning pages and making progress from page to page, section to section. When reading a newspaper on a mobile phone there is no sense of progress, just an endless stream of news and advertisements and words and advertisements and pictures and…advertisements. You never really finish news on a mobile device. And all day long you feel your knowledge is incomplete. You are incomplete because there is more clicking and scrolling you could have done, and you will still do.
     
    When you reach the last page of a newspaper, however, you fold it up and know you are “finished” with the news. You now have a foundation of information to build upon. You go forward, perhaps pursue more news in selected areas, but you’ve graduated from News of the Day 101 and can go forward from there.
     
    I do recognize the benefits of reading the news on a mobile device. When sitting at a table eating a meal, it’s a lot easier and neater to scroll through your phone than to turn pages. As long as you can keep the ketchup off the phone, a phone is a great lunch or dinner reading device.

     

    But when sitting on a rocking chair in the house, or in a hotel lobby—or in an airport or on a plane—a newspaper is the perfect platform to deliver news, and to keep you gainfully occupied.

    People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath. (Marshall McLuhan quote, from The Book of Probes)
     
    I don’t think anyone would ever describe a news app like a hot bath. (It’s more like a cold shower drizzling throughout the day.)

     

    So, my trip to Charleston is over. Really over. I have no memento, no week-old newspaper sitting in my computer bag or backpack to retrieve and read through, Charleston in mind. Hudson (News) didn’t allow me that simple pleasure, to have paper in-hand to understand my environs during my trip, nor as a sweet reminiscence reading the paper when back to my normal routine at home, post trip.

    Here's an idea, at least for local newspapers. What if you took a local newspaper, and in airports and tourist gift shops, rebranded it not as today’s news in paper form, but as a postcard of a time and place you visited, that you could browse at and review at a later time? More like an elaborate news-related postcard?
     
    See what happens without a newspaper in the airport? If I were browsing my Charleston newspaper now, I would be reminiscing more about the Charleston trip. But no. There was no newspaper. And that leaves me with time on my hand to concoct retro-focused ideas to rescue the newspaper industry.
     
    Hudson—my friend—I’m available to talk.

     

     

    Posted August 08, 2022
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Thoughts on Dotdash Meredith and the “Data Industrial Complex”

    I've been getting many industry reactions from my subscribers about the Dotdash Meredith news of shutting down venerable and, to my eye, successful print publications. We are talking about taking out of service 9.1 million print editions. I try to make it a habit of not criticizing another person’s business plan unless hired to do so. And I won’t here. Dotdash has a plan, and it doesn’t matter what we think about it.
     
    They are the owners of the titles and can damn well do as they please. As I’ve said many times in these pages, nostalgia is a terrible business plan. And the closing of large circulation magazines is nothing new but rather historic.
    Here are just a few comments I have received on the subject:
     
    “After reading the stunning announcement from Meredith today, I was chilled to the bone. It’s a never-ending avalanche of bad news for print…“
     
    “I find this both inevitable, scary and disheartening.”
     
    “This is what happens when you hire a plumber to do electrical work. The subtleties of the different disciplines do not mix well. Dotdash is all about “clicks” and knows nothing about print, nor do they wish to.”
    “Killing the leading Hispanic magazine should give you a clue to where things are heading… no more scared cows anymore, just cash cows… keep on milking them until they die from starvation…”
     
    For Dotdash, a member of the Bo-named “Data Industrial Complex”
    (DIC), it is just business as usual with no appreciation of history or the impact their business moves might mean to the rest of the "off-line" industry of publishers. The closure of 9.1 million magazines is part of a diminishing publishing infrastructure.
     
    Advertisers continue to spend less on print publications; printers continue to print fewer magazine pages; staff is hard to find and keep; prices for ink, paper and distribution continue to climb. Trucks run on fuel and the shipping costs are rising rapidly too.
     
    Speaking of distribution, did you know that Walmart is decreasing its display space for magazines and that is of course not helping with the sales of magazines.
     
    My friend James Hewes, CEO, FIPP said the following recently in an interview:
    “From a business point of view, we’re in the middle of an interesting transition. The number of publishers that you can find these days who are prepared to say that they are “magazine publishers”, you could count on the finger of one hand. It is not a business that people want to be seen to be in. Now, the big secret, of course, is that they all still make a large proportion of their revenue and enormous proportion of their profits from their print business, even the ones that are digitally successful. So there is this kind of – almost a duality – in the industry, which is being pulled between two different poles. On the one hand, the print business is still so fundamentally important to the current financial status of the business. But from both an investor point of view and for the futureproofing of the business, the publishers know that they need to have a digital hat on… they need to have digital investments and show digital growth.”
     
    From James observation we go to Neil Vogel, the chief executive of Dotdash Meredith who wrote:
     
    “We have said from the beginning, buying Meredith was about buying brands, not magazines or websites,”…
     
    …“It is not news to anyone that there has been a pronounced shift in readership and advertising from print to digital, and as a result, for a few important brands, print is no longer serving the brand’s core purpose.”
     
    On the other hand, Vogel said the company plans to invest in its 19 remaining print magazines — which include People, Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living — by enhancing paper quality and trimming sizes. Dotdash Meredith also plans to invest $80 million in 2022 in content across all brands.
     
    Vogel said the company has more than 100 open jobs in editorial, engineering, product, design, and e-commerce, some of which it hopes to fill with people whose roles have been eliminated.
     
    Vogel said during a November 5th IAC earnings call, "We're not the guys that are going to change the secular advertising decline on print.”
     
    From the New York Times:
    “The end of the print editions follows a now familiar industry trend: Many magazine companies are looking for ways to cut costs as the circulation of physical copies continues to drop and competition for advertising dollars becomes more fierce. Shape, a women’s fitness magazine owned by Meredith, stopped print editions at the end of last year. In September, the U.S. print version of Marie Claire, owned by the British publisher Future Media, was shuttered. Hearst discontinued regular print editions of O, The Oprah Magazine, in 2020.”
     
    And let’s not forget last week’s announcement that Cosmo USA is downing its frequency. In 2019, there were 12 issues, now it’s down to 8 issues. Each issue is now a themed “collection” issue. The issues will be numbered and not have a date.
     
    Where do we go from here? Answer, nowhere but onward. Magazines will continue to rise and fall as they always have done. They will be more expensive to produce and distribute, that is a given. Magazine circulations will continue to get smaller and more deeply into niches.  The smaller the niche, the better the chance for survival in an industry in flux. It is specialization that is important, readers want something that they cannot find elsewhere. Indeed, so long as you consistently produce “editorial excellence” in you chosen niche, your magazine can do well.
     
    We are indeed living through truly extraordinary times with the plagues, innovative technology, and unexpected business curves growing at unprecedented rates.
     
    I remain optimistic about the power of the publishing industry to perform and grow.
     
    The pandemic has proved if nothing else the power and value of quality journalism and the importance of trusted media. As we move further into 2022 with all the changes still ahead of us, remember our purpose. We have the power to make our customers laugh, cry, or become more knowledgeable on any and every subject and on any substrate. At the end of our efforts, we hope our work is appreciated, valued, and fairly paid for.
     
    If your company stays with print as the main product, you too can have your share of the billions of dollars that are still left in the field. 
     
    The trick will be to stay smart, agile and very demanding – demanding of your staff and co-workers – as only the very best can and will survive. It doesn't matter what the trends of the overall industry are to individual companies so long as you can continuously produce unsurpassed editorial excellence in your particular niche.
     
    What happens to Conde, Hearst and Dotdash Meredith and how they run their companies is almost irrelevant to most magazine publishers. They have their business plans, and you have yours. I say almost irrelevant because every magazine taken out of the supply chain makes it harder for the natural order of distribution cycles to work correctly. Oddly enough, volume is a key component to efficiency. The less weight/volume we ship the harder is it is for the small, medium and mini-large publishers to maintain a shrinking distribution channel.
    
    Our publishing nation will continue to grow, but most likely in directions that are still unexpected and as yet, unexplored.
    BoSacks
    Posted February 13, 2022
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: I Salute You

    BoSacks Speaks Out: I Salute You
     
    What an amazing few years we have just been through. Plague be damned, we have all had ups and downs, moments of great stress, and hopefully many moments of beauty and harmony.
     
    Writer Hamilton Wright Mabie once said, "New Year's Eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights."
     
    But even though "there is no pause in the march of the universe", this and every yearend brings us a chance to reflect. What did we get right this year? How many formerly impossible things did we actually figure out and do? What do we wish we could do again? And what do we see for ourselves moving into the next year until it's time for reflection yet again as sol returns to its starting place?
     
    The Holiday season and the New Year is an opportunity to consider the events of the past year and to approach the year ahead with deliberate intent and personal choices. Some goals we keep, and others slowly evaporate away till next year.
     
    It's hard to grapple with the idea that we are headed into Year 3 of the pandemic, with yet another surge in cases hitting our weary hospital systems and first responders. I'm hoping that the new variant will not lead to lockdowns again. Fortunately, we have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that we and the industry we work in, is resilient and creative in time of need.
     
    In 2021, we continued to deal with an on-going pandemic, we developed new vaccines, swore in a new president and as a member of the media industry we charged forward with our mission to inform, entertain, and teach the reading public.

     

    On January 7, 2021, I wrote the following:
    "BoSacks Speaks Out: Friends, I want to take just a minute under these bizarre and horrible moments in U.S. history to applaud the fearless journalism that was on demonstration for the past 24 hours. We, the media, cover our stories wherever they take us – war zones, poverty zones, plague zones, small town halls, and today into the U.S. Capitol under siege. This is what we do. We teach, we entertain, and perhaps most importantly, we follow the news wherever it leads to inform our readers. Today like all days we see journalists running into the fray and the danger and not away from it. That is a noble tradition and a fearless one. I am proud to be a member of the journalism industry."
     
    I salute you all. To those of us who survived, we are indeed stronger on so many levels. We have reinvented everything that could be analyzed and made more efficient. We learned that we could work remotely and still thrive. It also seems that we have proved that many of our large offices are quaint vestiges of the past and in many cases, irrelevant to a successful media product.
     
    Perhaps one of the most important things we learned is that readers are willing to pay for quality journalism. I wonder what took us so long to make that conclusion?

     

     

     

    We learned that the traditional methodologies and business plans that were in place were mostly a dream based on a previous interpretation of reality.
     
    In March of 2020, I couldn't have predicted the speed and grace of the publishing communities' adaptions and redeployments almost overnight and on the fly. The time machine we entered two years ago accelerated whatever was happening before into new possibilities that under pre-covid processes would have taken years to develop.
     
    Mark Twain said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
     
    I am more bullish on the industry than ever before, as it clearly grows and morphs into something new at an on-going and accelerated rate. More people read, collect, and share distributed media information than ever before. There is more revenue being made in media beyond the wildest dreams of our publishing ancestors. So, "So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor."
     
    In my professional life as a publisher, I have for over twenty-nine years expressed a yearend message of review, hope, and promise to my readers. I encourage you to "Explore. Dream. Discover."
     
    History has proven that plagues like Covid come and then they go, that business downturns appear when least expected and retreat just the same, that the winter is cold only to be followed by the beauty and charm of a warm summer's day.
     
    But the most enduring cycle throughout history is our love of family and friends. Love is more than a word; it is a shared transcendental experience. It imparts an equal measure of mutual vulnerability and great strength. Like superheroes, I believe that love is our secret power, and with it, we sustain ourselves with the love of family and friends.
     
    The following message was first sent in 1513 A.D. It has become part of my traditional yearend expression of hope and reflection. I have been sharing this poem with my newsletter readership for three decades. Every time I read it, I come away with a little more understanding and hope. The plague has intensified my sense of the poem.

     

     

    Like the author, I hope that your paths are clear of shadows and that you have the time and sensibilities to take a few moments to really stop and look around you.
     
    Most of us work so hard that sometimes we forget the real reasons for our energetic pursuits. In the end, it is our ability to love and share that love that has any real long-lasting meaning.
     
    That being said, I send you all a big safe hug and the hope that you are surrounded by love, family and continued friendship.
     
    I wish you all peace, sensibility, and a joyous and healthy new year
    I wish you joy and love at home and, at the very least, stability in the workplace. I send to you the additional hope that all is well wherever you may roam.
     
    Best wishes and happy holidays to all.
    Bob and Carol Sacks
     
    ................................................................
     
    I SALUTE YOU
     
    There is nothing I can give which you
    have not; but there is much that, while I
    Can not give, you can take.
     
    No heaven can come to us unless our hearts
    Find rest in it today.
    Take happiness.
     
    No peace lies in the future, which is not somewhere hidden
    in this present instant.
    Take Peace
     
    The sometime gloom of the world is but a shadow;
    Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
    Take joy
     
    And so, at this holiday time, I greet you,
    With the prayer that for you, now and forever
    The days break with peace,
    and all shadows flee from your path.
     
    Fra Giovanni
    A salutation written to a friend in 1513

     

     

    BoSacks
    Posted December 23, 2021
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  • BoSacks Reader Speaks Out: An Industry in need of Self-Reflection

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Last week Samir Husni and BoSacks entertained a group of media professionals at a virtual town Hall hosted by The Media & Content Marketing Association (MCMA).
     
    It was mostly a free-flowing conversation between two publishing mavens who have been having friendly debates with each other for ages on behalf of an interested industry. It was a great hour and it’s always fun to chat with my friend. You know the routine, Samir has a passion for printed magazines, and although I like print, I take a more digital approach to our business and our future.
     
    I opened the conversation by asking if the publishing community is ascending or descending? Ascending of course. Then I asked if print magazines were ascending or descending? I’ll let you answer that one for yourself.
     
    Among the many topics, we discussed was my observation that we as an industry who are communication experts are failed communicators when it comes to promoting our own industry. You know what I’m talking about because other industries have succeeded while we fail. “Got Milk” comes to mind or “The Other White Meat”, and a dozen more. On so many levels publishers are on their own island and don’t/won’t cooperate with each other for the betterment of the industry as a whole.
     
    After the Town Hall, my friend Leslie Laredo sent me her reactions to the discussion. With her permission, I have printed it below. 
     
    The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
    George Bernard Shaw

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    BoSacks Reader Speaks Out: An Industry in need of Self-Reflection
    By Leslie Laredo
    President, Academy of Digital Media, a Laredo Group Company
     
    I thought I’d share my thoughts from the MCMA Town Hall with Bo Sacks and Samir Husni. I hope a part 2 of this Town Hall gets scheduled as we need more discussions around the efficacy of print media.
     
    I had several visceral reactions to the comments made, so my written words may not accurately describe the intensity of my feelings. While many say I am a “digital media guru” having considerable experience and success, since founding the first company dedicated to training the buyers and sellers of digital media, I have always advanced the concept that digital is a media channel that works best when bought and sold holistically or part of an integrated or omnichannel media plan. Digital has changed and expanded how we think about creating, delivering, and measuring all media. I would also add that digital has added ways to measure the effectiveness of print, especially proving how print creates a lot of top of funnel activity.
     
    My reaction to the comments made about the industry not pulling together to save itself was poignant. The issues are embedded on all sides of the media table, including publishers, agencies, and marketers. From what I understand, the MPA’s membership got decimated because of the publisher’s meltdown from ad dollars moving from print to digital. I don’t think the MPA or the NNA (National Newspaper Association) have done enough to support print media in comparison to how the IAB, RAB, TVB, and NAB support their media. To many, magazine media equals print, which is ill-informed and materially wrong. While the MPA’s annual Magazine Handbook contains a lot of information supporting the efficacy of print+digital media, I don’t think this is getting into the right hands at agencies nor elevated to decision-makers at the brands.

     

    On the other side of the table, most agencies still bucket magazines under print. The planning teams budget in silos. The buying teams have templates that compare performance averages across all digital formats and price benchmarks, resulting in buys with high percentages of fraudulent impressions. While the desire for “integrated” media proposals is often used in RFPs, the framework for evaluating is outdated, and no framework exists to evaluate all the assets magazine media brings to the table in an integrated way.
     
    Many agencies are at fault for not training buyers and letting their younger buyers get away with “I don’t read magazines, why would I put them on a plan,” which I heard directly from a buying team, and no media supervisor challenged the statement. It is unforgivable that organizations and associations don’t support/invest in training for the skills needed to have more updated and informed decisions and so often allow or tolerate a “focus group of one” approach.
     
    The national magazines and larger newspapers have always competed with TV for scale and ubiquity. So, when readership slipped because the desired format became digital, most magazines/newspapers did a terrible job selling the value of their print PLUS digital audiences. They had self-defeating advertising programs that allowed and often even promoted digital to be used as a mere value-add to a print sale. Giving away digital minimized, distorted, and obscured digital’s value proposition, and I think it has taken over a decade to begin winning this value back. From the beginning, publishers needed to sell why their media brands exist in different formats and use different assets, including audio, video, and digital, with more diverse audiences (digital was usually younger), and how differently they consumed content. I remember telling magazine publishers they needed to learn how TV was sold if they wanted to sell digital video because TV buyers managed that budget. No one listened, and they lost more ad dollars because print sellers didn’t call on TV buyers.

     

    I think Samir misses the point about print vs. digital. The Internet changed the expectation of content delivery. The blogosphere dis-mediated the role of the publisher, as everyone with a blog became a publisher. The Internet gave people an easy way to comment on content, and publishers learned that people loved this opportunity, giving new life to “letters to the editor.”
     
    Connectivity made it really easy for pass-along, expanding reach beyond what circ departments could ever imagine. Digital gave us a whole new slew of metrics to measure if and how ads were seen and interacted with (clicks, CTRs, interaction rates, viewability, completion rates, etc.). I loved the comment that publishers should have made their editors the most important influencers for their brand, just like broadcasters do with their anchors and hosts (e.g., Anderson Cooper for CNN, Lester Holt for NBC, etc.).
     
    While I admire Samir’s collecting and archiving first issues of every magazine, owning thousands of magazines being stored in hundreds of boxes, he is a “focus group of one.” I don’t know many people who keep back issues of their magazines around to reference. His “bought and owned” perspective and his story about challenging a woman at the grocery store checkout for flipping through a magazine but not buying it made me smile…but he didn’t see me flip through a magazine and then add it to my basket. Magazines are not consumed like a cereal box…words are meant to be shared outside a home; a cereal box is not. I say this is having grown up with three newspapers delivered daily (Rockland County News, New York Times, and WSJ) and experienced my dad and grandfather keeping old issues of National Geographic (now in boxes in my brother’s house), and my mom keeping the annual Thanksgiving issues of Gourmet magazine to reference every holiday. I now have print and digital experiences with NatGeo, which I love, and I don’t have to keep old print issues around because they offer digital archives back to 1888 (I need to tell my brother so he can clean out the boxes). All their content is only available behind the paywall, and I am a loyal customer and would have paid more than their subscription price ($24/year for both digital and print).
    It seems that Samir believes “digital is the bad guy” in the print vs. digital discussion. I have many personal anecdotes of why I gave up some print titles and kept others. My son wouldn’t let me cancel SI for Kids because he loved getting the December issue with “happy birthday Josh” printed on the cover. Most of the magazines that I get in print are because it was just too damn cheap not to subscribe, and those are flipped through but not devoured like The New Yorker ($74.00 print+digital) or The Economist ($225/year print+digital). This topic of subscription deserves its own Town Hall.
     
    I love how some magazine brands, notably from Hearst and Conde Nast, have evolved to appeal to the omnichannel media consumer, expanded their video assets, and created new subscription and e-commerce platforms. Our discussions should reflect on how digital changed the rules for content, distribution, community, and measurement. Digital does not hurt magazines; it expands the capabilities and experience of ink onto other surfaces.
    BoSacks
    Posted November 10, 2021
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Publishing Trends and Successes Worth Thinking About

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Publishing Trends and Successes Worth Thinking About

    Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” I did not know old Fredrich was a prognosticator for the publishing industry, but he was correct. We have reached a stage in the magazine media business that there is no right way; there is only your way. Of course, I am referring to publishing business models of which there are no two alike.
     
    As a publishing community we basically do two things. We gather disparate niches or groups of the public and make containers of thought for them. We make and sell boxes of content that are constructed with either material atoms or digital ether. We do this for a profit. 
     
    I want to try to examine where we are and where we are going as an industry. I’ll throw in some specifics, but it is actually the general trends and new business models I am more interested in for todays’ exercise.
     
    The top obvious move here in the redeployment of our industry is the shift towards revenue diversification, moving on and away from a traditional advertising-heavy funding model.
     
    Alfred Heintze, COO, Burda International said this spring, “We must make ourselves independent from advertising revenues. That’s the lesson we’ve been learning since the 80s and 90s. All of our business models should be based on consumer happiness.”
     
    I like that sentiment, business models based on consumer happiness. If nothing else, it is a noble idea. Profit from happiness.
     
    Magazines now have in no particular order e-commerce, paid and free podcasts, paid and free newsletters, events, wine clubs, and travel clubs in addition to ink-on-paper publications. Also special Interest publications and an emphasis on paid subscriptions, sometimes now called memberships by many titles. The New York Times, which believes it has a potential addressable market of at least 100 million people willing to pay for English-language journalism, and the Wall Street Journal come to mind, but there are many others as well.
     
    Speaking of the New York Times, did you know that they have about 50 newsletters which are read by 15 million people weekly?
     
    Vogue is changing its revenue model too. Vogue has a global collective reach of 270 million people. Historically mainly funded by advertising, Vogue is now in the midst of a global transformation, propelled by its parent company Condé Nast, that includes membership tiers and a range of highly successful e-commerce offerings.
     
    On top of revenue changes, we are also developing new skillsets with data literacy and useful real time metrics for our editorial teams. We now have ways of gathering information about our audiences, whether it’s clicks and opens, time spent, or where people came from and how they got here. And also how loyal they are. We’ve arguably never had more ways to measure things.
     
    I think it is fair to say we have been in a burn-the-ships moment for a decade or more.  This is, of course, a reference to Cortez. When he reached the shores of the Yucatan, Cortez turned to his men and said, “Burn the boats.” Cortez refused to let turning back be an option. For the sake of his mission, it would be all or nothing. Those of us who are still here successfully have burned the boats and adapted new world strategies.
     
    I guess it is fair to say that effective transformation requires a change of mindset. To adopt a modern mindset, a publisher needs people who understand the need for constant never-ending innovation.
     
    Bauer is a good example of innovation and making a bet on making print a major part of the e-commerce funnel. Bauer is betting on the advancement of image recognition technology to close that gap between print and digital. They are set to incorporate new scannable images – without the need for QR codes or watermarks. These images, once scanned, will then take readers directly to a storefront for more information and purchase options.
     
    And speaking of the innovation and data literacy mentioned above, Meredith Corporation has a new slate of premium video and podcasting programming driven by real-time insights and predictive intelligence capabilities.
     
    Meredith’s Digital Chief Content Officer Amanda Dameron said, ““Podcasting is immediate and intimate. It creates a unique space for an authentic, unguarded exchange of ideas and is perfectly suited for our brands.” Again a traditional publisher leaning into redeployment and shifting towards revenue diversification.
     
    In the past 18 months, we have reinvented everything that could be analyzed and made more efficient.
     
    We learned that readers are willing to pay for quality journalism.
     
    We learned that the traditional methodologies and business plans that were in place in January 2020 were mostly a dream based on a previous unsustainable reality.
     
    Perhaps the toughest thing we learned was pulling the plug on the existing advertising model. In a further review that plug was removed for us.
     
    I think we can conclude that with a strong brand a magazine can be anything, 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.
     
    Now the world has moved on and our industry with it. We are doing exciting things with our properties.
     
    We have reengineered the event business and have started to make virtual conferences work and be profitable.
     
    We have learned that there are various new methods to drive subscriptions such as podcasts, texting and, of course, beloved newsletters, not to mention – and most importantly – damned good content worth paying for.
     
    We have created new opportunities for consumers to form new habits, enabling publishers to establish more direct consumer relationships.
     
    I expect that what we have learned, the new revenue pathways, and the new processes will profit us in the near and the long term.
     
    Looking back, we have done an excellent job adapting to the conditions presented to us. I’m most proud to belong to such a fascinating and industrious publishing community
     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted August 22, 2021
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  • Bosacks Speaks Out: Thoughts, Stats and an Exploration of TikTok

    Bosacks Speaks Out: Thoughts, Stats and an Exploration of TikTok

    Here are a few stats about TikTok to ponder and to help you see if you can in some way incorporate what is happening into your business model. Will it work for everyone? No! Could it work for you? Maybe. The wild numbers to me mandate and exploration.
     
    Here are just a few items about TikTok:
     
    Monthly Active Users – TikTok has about 1 billion monthly active users.
     
    Total App Downloads – The TikTok app has been downloaded over 2.6 billion times worldwide, as reported by Sensor Tower in December, 2020.
     
    Monthly Active Users in the United States – TikTok now has over 130 million active users in the U.S
     
    The percentage of U.S.-based TikTok users by age:
    10-19 – 32.5%,
    20-29 – 29.5%,
    30-39 – 16.4%,
    40-49 – 13.9%,
    50+ – 7.1%. All data via Comscore.
     
    Average Minutes Per User – TikTok users love the app. They spend an average of 52 minutes per day in the platform
     
    Opens – A user opens the TikTok app 8 times per day.
     
    U.S. Audience –TikTok has about 80 million monthly active users in the United States. 60% are female, 40% are male. 60% are between the ages of 16-24. 26% are between the ages 25-44. 80% are between the ages 16-34. This data comes straight from TikTok.
     
    I have been exploring TikTok for about a month just trying to understand the successful phenomenon. What I see on my phone is an unusual conglomerate of very different and many times very unusual subjects, some of them entertaining and occasionally some of them just stupid and meanspirited.
     
    I see bits of interesting perhaps real history, but I don’t know its accuracy. Even though it might be fake tidbits of history, I’m still interested. I just don’t take them as the gospel. I see a lot of cooking tips and tricks, again some very cool and some just weird.
     
    There are nostalgic 15 second bursts from past movies and television shows. When there was flooding in Europe and China there were videos quicker than the newscasts. The California fires, too.
     
    And then there are the pranks, lots of pranks. Some are funny and some are not. I’ll date myself here, but many of the short funny videos remind me of the British comedian Benny Hill.
     
    Oh yes, let’s not forget the cat videos, lot of cats, and dogs and other animals, too. I saw a woman who has a 75-pound tortoise that she takes for a walk each morning. I kid you not. There are celebrities there, I guess to push their brands and their movies. There are influencers wearing and selling products from legitimate companies.
    There are influencers sometimes in skimpy outfits just to gain a large audience of followers.
     
    TikTok has recently created a $1 Billion Creator Fund. This money will be paid by TikTok directly to its creators in an effort to further solidify its relationships with influencers. TikTok influencers with 2.5 million followers or more will be given around $600-1000 per post, compared to $100-$200 for every 10,000-20,000 followers on Instagram.
     
    Which brings me to another tok trend. An article from MSN called What is BookTok: the TikTok trend sending decades-old books up bestseller lists says:
     
    TikTok has created almost every bizarre trend imaginable. The platform is credited with popularizing everything from reciting sea shanties to cottagecore, and who can forget chanting along to a musical version of the Pixar film Ratatouille.”
     
    “Now, another trend has emerged but this time with an educational twist. Introducing: BookTok. Novels - old and new - have been going viral thanks to a new wave of book-loving influencers discussing their young adult literary picks.”
     
    “TikTok doesn’t seem like an obvious destination for book buzz but that hasn’t stopped it from booming. The #BookTok hashtag has racked up over 5.8 billion views, and some authors have seen a tenfold increase in book sales for works that are often decades old.”
     
    “Even bookstores are jumping on the trend. The Barnes & Noble website now has a “BookTok” page dedicated to the most popular books on TikTok and its American stores have introduced allocated sections displaying titles that have gone viral on the platform.”
     
    So, there you have it publishing community. If your company wants to reach out to a new audience between 19 and 49, this is where they spend 52 minutes a day, every day. I say again, it may not for everyone. But depending on your brand your content, and your creativity, this is where the action is today. 

    BoSacks
    Posted August 08, 2021
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Presumptions of the New Normal One Year Later

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Presumptions of the New Normal One Year Later

    It’s been about a year since the world and the publishing industry went into quarantine and an unknown dangerous void lay before us. Last year I wrote an article titled Presumptions of the New Normal where I laid the case that:
     
    “the magazine industry was under stress before the rise of COVID-19. Each year advertising was down double digits, and so were magazine newsstand sales. There are, of course, many success stories out there, and that is important to recognize. You may be one of them. But when viewed as a whole, the charts and statistics were not pretty. I guess you can say there were many individual victories, but the war wasn't going well.”
     
    A year later where are we and what is happening?
     
    I think it is safe to say that the great Klingon writer Worf Nietzsche got it right when he said, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”
     
    Those of us who survived are indeed stronger on so many levels. We have reinvented everything that could be analyzed and made more efficient. We learned that we could work remotely and still thrive. It also seems that we have proved that our offices are quaint vestiges of the past and in many cases irrelevant to a successful media product.
    We learned that readers are willing to pay for quality journalism. I wonder what took us so long to make that conclusion? Could it have been the seductive allure of flighty mistress Advertising?
     
    We learned that the traditional methodologies and business plans that were in place in January 2020 were mostly a dream based on a previous reality.
     
    The time machine we entered into a year ago accelerated whatever was happening before into new possibilities that under pre-covid processes would have taken years to develop. 
     
    We learned we could take the entire magazine process and launch it into the cloud. Sure, we all worked in the cloud before, but not like we did that year. Instead of taking years for the technological jump, we did it in days. One day in early March you worked in an office, and the next day you stayed at home for a year and worked in the refuge of family, zoom and casual attire, and you did not miss a beat. The cloud became your new best friend.
     
    Perhaps the toughest thing we learned was pulling the plug on the existing advertising model. It is fairer to say that plug was removed for you.
     
    Now the world has moved on and our industry with it. We are doing exciting things with our properties.
     
    The industry is working hard to create drop-down menus for on-line shopping and the selling of magazines from retail stores and grocery chains.
     
    We have reengineered the event business and have started to make virtual conferences work and be profitable. Admittedly in most cases not as profitable as live, in-person events, but we are headed in the right direction. (I am a big fan of the networking possibilities of in-person events and what the connections made do for your career.)
     
    We have learned that there are various new methods to drive subscriptions such as podcasts, texting, and, of course, newsletters, not to mention damned good content worth paying for.
     
    We have created new opportunities for consumers to form new habits, enabling publishers to establish more direct consumer relationships. As the popularity of subscriptions increased, many publishers have been able to move away from low price trials, improving profitability, as well as broadening their offer with enhanced membership benefits to reward increased loyalty. Hearst, for example, reported that they were able to remove a number of their lowest-priced trial offers and still grow subscribers by 33%.
     
    The pandemic indeed introduced stress to the already struggling magazine newsstand industry, but it may have boosted the success of bookazines. Meredith, which publishes People, Food & Wine and dozens of other popular titles, has seen newsstand revenue grew by $3 million in the past quarter compared to the year prior. Its earnings report specifically cited bookazines, which are usually presented as single-topic, in-depth magazines often marketed to consumers as collectors' items. Hearst produced 80 bookazines last year, up from 75 in 2019.
     
    What are the lasting long-term effects of the covid year I discussed above? No doubt a continuation of remote working where possible, continued searches for efficiency, and an ever-flighty and unpredictable advertising market.
     
    Last March I also suggested that we will have a new roaring 20s. The public will emerge from quarantine with a revitalized lust for life. That will manifest in splurges in retail spending, restaurant visitations, air travel, car travel, and hotel stays. Concerts and plays will be back and with all this a rebirth in alternative weeklies, local magazines, and the concurrent advertising to go with it.
     
     Looking back, we have done an excellent job adapting to the conditions presented to us. I’m most proud to belong to such a fascinating publishing community. It has always been our job to communicate, inform, counsel, entertain and inject cautious sobriety into the body politic. And that is something we are dammed good at.
     
     We will always adapt our work methodologies and our business plans, and, in so doing, protect the public by distributing knowledge. That is what we do best. That is the responsibility we have always willingly accepted.
     
     A year into the new normal and under conditions no one could have prophesized we are about to come out as a leaner and stronger industry. More so than anyone might have expected in March of 2020. I expect that what we have learned, the new revenue pathways, and the new processes will profit us in the near and the long term.

     

    Keep up the good work. And congratulations on your stamina, good cheer under an extraordinary situation, and your creativity.
    BoSacks
    Posted March 18, 2021
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Disputing the Death of Journalism

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Disputing the Death of Journalism

    My friend Samir Husni is the founder and director of The Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi's School of Journalism and New Media.  He is a journalism professor, a successful publishing consultant, and very much like me, a man filled with opinions.
     
    Samir and I first met somewhere in the late 1990s or early 2000s at a publishing conference held by Lane Press for their customers. The chemistry was instantaneous. I don't remember the topic, but we immediately went into our corners, took our positions, and debated.
    That was not why Lane press brought us there; we were there just to give separate lectures on our take on the business of publishing. But what they got was an unexpected bonus for the attendees.
     
    Our off-the-cuff discussions were such a hit that word got out to the trade magazines, and Samir and I hit the road publicly debating our industry's future on a national basis.
     
    He is a dear and respected friend, and we both love taking sides just for the intellectual fun of it.
     
    Last week at our weekly Publishers Pandemic Roundtable, we didn't have a guest speaker, so it was just the gang together to chat and share thoughts.
     
    That is when Samir shared with the group his feelings that Journalism is dead. Well, if Bo has ever seen an opportunity to take a different opinion, this was it, and we had our usual back and forth on the topic. It went ten rounds. Alas, since we didn't have a guest speaker, we didn't record the dialog. But it was a good one and for the ages.
     
    A few days later I suggested to Samir that I would like to pursue the topic publicly, and I asked him for a statement on the subject that I could use as a starting point to delve into the topic. Here is his statement:
     
    "Journalism as I knew it growing up is dead or dying. It is so hard to find the good solid truthful journalism of yesteryears. There is too much information out there and too little understanding. The line between journalism and opinion has disappeared. I learned in journalism school that when a journalist gives his or her opinion, he or she is no longer a journalist...By that sentence I can easily say we are losing journalism by the second if not faster..."
     
    I disagree with much of that, but we can't proceed without an accepted definition of what journalism is.
     
    Merriam-Webster's definition of journalism is as follows:
    1a: the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media
     
    b: the public press
     
    c: an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium
     
    2a: writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine
    b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation
     
    c: writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest
     
    Let me start out first that this is an opinion essay, not a work of journalism, although I'll do my best to include some facts along with my opinions.
     
    I can agree with Merriam-Webster's definition above and add that for me, Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on current events, science, history, and other areas of public interest based on facts and supported with proof or evidence.
     
    I would add that with today's instant information distribution systems in place globally, contrary to Samir's point I see that journalism has seen a dramatic improvement in quality over the years. Advances in technology and increased specialization have done wonders for fact-checking, data analysis, and even long-form writing.
     
    Here is where the good professor and I agree, there is more information out there than ever before, and to Samir's point, too much of it isn't reliable or truthful. But there is also an abundance of excellent, honest, journalism by the definitions stated above.  
    Do we need to avoid echo chambers? Yes, of course. But that is nothing new. Historic yellow journalism comes to my mind when pining for the glory of the “good solid truthful journalism of yesteryears. 
     
    The term yellow journalism was started as a war between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, coined in the mid-1890s and was a style of newspaper reporting that emphasized sensationalism over facts. It used irresponsible, exaggerated, lurid, and even slanderous reporting. The wide appeal reached a million copies a day and opened the way to mass-circulation newspapers that depended on advertising revenue rather than cover price or political party subsidies. (Sound familiar?)
     
    It was Thomas Jefferson who said:
    “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.” Much of his opinion was due to the trash printed about him in the day's newspapers that were viciously opposed to him.
     
    Crass, opinionated, mean-spirited, foe journalism is nothing new. Likewise, some of modern style journalism is very partisan and supported by more biased revenue streams – in other words, like the journalism of 200 years ago.
     
    But not all journalism then or today is without merit. Finding and reporting the truth remains critical to civic life and a healthy democracy. Some examples of excellent sources in my mind would include:
     
    Vox. The Atlantic, NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, LA Times, CJR- Columbia Journalism Review, The Boston Globe., Chicago Tribune. San Francisco Chronicle. USA Today, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Time Magazine to name a few, and there are many others.
     
    Do these publishers get it right 100% of the time? No, of course not. But the body of work over an extended period of time leaves us with excellent journalism.
     
    And what do they report on? Climate Change and the Environment, Youth and Education, Immigration, Health Care, Money, Power, Corruption, Criminal Justice, and let us not forget, Politics. Politics can be reported on fairly and factually, however hard that might be for the reporter.
     
    We can easily agree that some works of journalism are qualitatively better than others. Great sustained journalism is a costly enterprise. Not all can afford to focus on quality and fact-checking, but many do, as I shared above.  
     
    The issue is not that excellent journalism is not being produced; I believe that it is and on a daily basis. But it is being so overwhelmed by the quantity of inferior content, that it is sometimes unnoticed and has to be searched for. Nevertheless, once we find the sources of true journalism, it is there for us continuously, and, for those that do it well, profitably.
     
    What are your thoughts on this subject? Is journalism dead or dying? 
    BoSacks
    Posted February 28, 2021
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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: The new media surveillance wars of 2021

    BoSacks Speaks Out: The new media surveillance wars of 2021

    Back in the last decade circa 2018, I started to incorporate in my lectures about the media industry the growing crisis of surveillance capitalism. Now things are taking a turn, and the surveillance players are beginning to eat each other. Of course, I'm talking about the current and growing war between Apple and Facebook.
     
    One of the problems of living through any revolution is that it is almost impossible to take a long view of what's happening. Hindsight is the only exact science at play.
     
    So, before I go forward, let us review a few of my observations from 2018.

     

    There once was a time when advertising was focused on imparting information.
     
    Sadly today it is more concerned with collecting information. Facebook, Google, Amazon, and damn near every digital giant is exploring every microscopic part of our lives. That is not a generic, anonymous life, but a specific personal intrusion on every individual in the modern-day ecosystem. It is evident to anyone that we are living through the most profound transformation of the media industry since Gutenberg's invention of movable type and the printing press in approximately 1439.
     
    With the incredible and on-going acceleration of technology and our reliance on it, we are irresistibly embedded in it. The truth is we cannot function without the modern infosphere. If you stop and think about it, technology surrounds us everywhere to the point that we have to stop thinking of it as a mobile service but rather ubiquitous technology. Soon nothing will be mobile because everything will be mobile.
     
    The big picture is that It has all come too fast without evolving safe societal rules. We are saturated with life-rattling new technologies. Yet more is on its way — artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robots and greater use of cyber weapons. These are changing our lives and our businesses in ways that are both good and near evil.
     
    We have combined digital technology with a mutant form of capitalism—surveillance capitalism. It works by providing free services that billions of people cheerfully use, enabling the providers of those services to monitor the behavior of those users in astonishing detail without their explicit consent.
     
    It takes our private experiences and turns them into revenue opportunities. It changes everything. It's impossible to overstate the peril of our times. We used to fear the totalitarian government who knew everything about us, followed us everywhere. We are well on our way to such a nightmare. Except it isn't our government that knows everything about us, follows us everywhere, knows who we are talking to and what we are saying, and keeps secret files about us. It is the marketing industry.
     
    All this brings me to Apple's CEO Tim Cook and what he said last week.
     
    Technology does not need vast troves of personal data stitched together across dozens of websites and apps in order to succeed.
     
    Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it, and we're here today because the path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom.
    If a business is built on misleading users on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.
     
    We should not look away from the bigger picture and a moment of rampant disinformation and conspiracy theory is juiced by algorithms. We can no longer turn a blind eye to a theory of technology that says all engagement is good engagement, the longer the better, and all with the goal of collecting as much data as possible.
     
    Too many are still asking the question, 'How much can we get away with?' When they need to be asking, 'What are the consequences?'
     
    What are the consequences of prioritizing conspiracy theories and violent incitement simply because of the high rates of engagement?
     
    What are the consequences of not just tolerating but rewarding content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccinations?
     
    What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users joining extremist groups and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends even more?
     
    It is long past time to stop pretending that this approach doesn't come with a cause. A polarization of lost trust, and yes, of violence.
     
    A social dilemma cannot be allowed to become a social catastrophe."
     
    Here is what Justin Bariso noted in his article from INC.com:
     
    “The fact that Cook doesn't name Facebook somehow increases its impact. Because as you hear Cook's 's speech, you can't help but immediately think of the house that Zuckerberg built.
     
    “If you're wondering how Apple and Facebook ended up at odds, you can read more of the details here. But the reality is these two tech giants have been heading towards a major conflict for quite some time. 
     
    “The problem is that Apple's and Facebook's business philosophies are diametrically opposed to each other: 
     
    “Apple is a lifestyle brand. And part of the lifestyle Apple sells is users having more control over their privacy.
     
    “Facebook, on the other hand, is in the data business. The more data they collect on users, the more effectively they can sell targeted ads.
     
    ‘But collecting and selling all that data comes at great cost, as Cook highlights. ‘The end result of all of this is that you are no longer the customer,’ said Cook. "You are the product."
     
    Justin Bariso concluded with this:
     
    “Now is the time to ask yourself: 
     
    “Which philosophy do I want to pursue? 
     
    “Do I want a business that serves my customers? Or one that takes advantage of customers to serve my business?
     
    “Because in the end, only one of these philosophies is sustainable for the long-term. The other will lead you to crash and burn.
     
    “And while the long-term solution may initially prove more challenging, remember:
     
    "The path of least resistance is rarely the path of wisdom."
     
    Stay tuned to this situation.
     
    On a fourth-quarter earnings call last Wednesday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg lashed out at Apple, calling Apple anti-competitive.
     
    The Apple and Facebook wars are heating up, with Facebook threatening to sue Apple. This war of words and lawsuits is just the beginning, and I will be keeping my eye on it and report to you any developments.
    BoSacks
    Posted January 31, 2021
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  • Bo’s Totally Random and Unresearched Predictions for media in 2021 and beyond

    Bo’s Totally Random and Unresearched Predictions for media in 2021 and beyond

    At this time of a new year I’m usually asked for my predictions of the incoming year. My usual glib answer is something like, “Next year will be like this year only more so.”
     
    As I look back on 2020 and then forward into 2021, I am starting to think my comedic answer was more prescient then humorous. I’m afraid that a good deal of 2021, which we all looked forward to with relish, will be exactly like the tail end of 2020. There is no permanent new normal until the covid plague is defeated, and that I’m sad to say isn’t on the near horizon.
     
    Bummer, yes. I know. And I’m sorry for pointing that out. The best current estimates are that everyone will be vaccinated by June. If past is prolog, I don’t believe that estimate. But let’s say it does work out that way, then the first half of 2021 will be pretty much like the end 2020. The same conditions of personal and business reinvention and adjustments.
     
    Let me start here in the middle of the plague. With all our new covid related problems we have and are still dealing with our old unresolved issues, such as fake news, fake ads, real ad blockers, fake impressions, fake humans (bots), fake ad placement and undeniable declines in magazine advertising.
     
    Are there exceptions to the declines in advertising? Of course, there are. As I’ve stated for the last decade, what really matters is the success or failure of your magazines or media enterprises. It doesn’t matter what the industry as a whole is doing, as many titles are doing quite well. It only matters how you are doing.
     
    I am bullish on the industry as it clearly grows and morphs into something new at an on-going and accelerated rate. More people read, collect and share distributed media information than ever before. There is more revenue being made in media beyond the wildest dreams of our publishing ancestors. The only problem with that observation is that most of the money isn’t in traditional businesses. Facebook, Google, YouTube, and the like are undeniably media companies, although they deny it. They have the lion’s share of the revenue pie and their growth is exponential, while print’s isn’t. Growth, yes. Exponential growth perhaps for some, but limited for most.
     
    With the above as a foundation here are my totally random and unresearched predictions for media in 2021 and beyond.
     
    Will subscription fatigue finally sink inIf we accept the concept that there is a limit to everyone’s disposable income, how will the still growing shift to a subscription model everywhere be sustained? Will there eventually be subscription fatigue? The answer to fighting the fatigue must be like Amazon Prime and the great bundling caper. Subscribe for this cool product, thing and widget and we will give you all these other things and widgets at no additional cost. Mr publisher what can you bundle with your subscriptions?
     
    The growth of podcasting will continue to grow. Ok, that is a no brainer but still must be listed. The growing podcasting technology and accessibility is reaching more and more consumers with a vast assortment of new content. Revenues in the podcast advertising market are projected to grow 14.7% year over year to nearly $1 billion in 2020, according to the IAB and PricewaterhouseCooper.
     
    The Apple and Facebook slugfest. Apple is now letting users decide whether to allow apps to track certain forms of personal data, like the websites they visit or the things they have been shopping for.  Apple wants the user to decide what information about them is shared with advertisers. Facebook is worried that this will change the value of advertising, which is the foundation of Facebook’s revenue stream. The adage has never been truer: "If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold"
     
    Home voice platforms will continue to grow. Alexa and her competitors will soon be ubiquitous. Each morning I listen to “flash briefings” from publishers such as The Washington Post, ESPN, NPR, The New York Times, and the Harvard Business Review just to name a few. We have reached Star Trek levels of voice activated computer access. This will continue to grow and new “tricks” will be added that will no doubt astound us. I’m not clear about the monetization paths, but with ubiquity almost anything can produce revenue.
     
    Google and Facebook get bombarded by antitrust suits. The end of 2020 saw many actions by governments around the world to try to regulate the media giants. The DOJ is suing Google for allegedly violating anti-trust laws. Facebook has also been hit with lawsuits from the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of dozens of states. Sadly, Google and Facebook have more than enough money to fight in the courts for years. But perhaps in 2021 the legal distraction will help publishers and advertisers get reacquainted with each other.
     
    Social eCommerce Will Increase in 2021. This is nothing new but the speed of change and buying habits of consumers has predominantly and permanently shifted to a digital path. If you as a publisher want 2021 to be a year of growth, your business model will need to focus partly on social ecommerce and multiple paths of revenue.
     
    Working remotely has permanently reshaped the media industry. The adhesiveness of the new pandemic stay-at-home lifestyles will continue well past the end of the plague. When will we all get back to physical workplaces? Never, not all of us, but some of us will with limited business travel, limited time in the office, and executive leaders questioning all expenses as never before. Management has discovered new forms of what they will be calling efficiencies. The enforced quarantine and power of technology has rewritten the workforce rules of the requirements of a physical presence.
     
    As we move into 2021 with all the changes still ahead of us, remember our purpose. We have the power to make our customers laugh, cry or become more knowledgeable on any and every subject. At the end of our efforts, we hope our work is appreciated, valued and paid for.
    Our publishing nation has grown and will continue to grow, but most likely in directions that are still unexpected and unexplored.
     
    The plague has undoubtedly created an interesting time for media professionals. Some of us in media have made momentous leaps while others are still trying to figure out the new rules of engagement. But have no fear -- we as an industry are strong, vibrant and creative. Yes, there will be unexpected changes and unusual turns of events still to come. Rather than fear it, embrace the future, because there is no rational alternative where everyone – even you – is empowered to be a disruptor.

    BoSacks
    Posted January 03, 2021
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