BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Subscription Cannibalization, Magazines Gone and Bob Hoffman

By Bob Sacks

Mon, May 1, 2023

BoSacks Readers Speak Out:  On Subscription Cannibalization, Magazines Gone and Bob Hoffman

BoSacks Readers Speak Out:On Subscription Cannibalization, Magazines Gone and Bob Hoffman

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Subscription Cannibalization is here. Just not as you think.

This is a good one, Bob. Not a new idea, but it can’t be stressed enough: Getting paid more for what we do – by the consumer – is of strategic importance to publishers, especially as costs continue to escalate.

(Submitted by a publisher)

RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: Subscription Cannibalization is here. Just not as you think.

Totally agree with you. I've always leaned towards Circulation based publishers rather than Ad driven ones for my career.

(Submitted by an industry consultant)

RE: About three-quarters of people who plan to watch the Super Bowl said they’re excited for the ads, research says

To your Bo-speaks on readers looking forward to magazine ads, I maintain that they always have. I believe magazine readers are not bothered by ads the way TV viewers or radio listeners are. In fact, in my experience with multiple magazine start-ups, if you don’t have enough ads, it ain’t a magazine! No ads detract from credibility. Might as well be a journal (yawn).

Of course the famous Vogue fall issue (was is September?) and that of the other seven sisters in the heyday were all about the ads. Although you may not see a survey of readers consciously listing advertising as one of their top 2-3 reasons for reading a particular title, you might. And even if you don’t, I think it is because the need for those ads is subliminal, maybe even visceral, and no less real than if it were top of mind.

(Submitted by a Senior Vice President – Publishing Strategy)

RE: Where have all the magazines gone?

I’d like to see some creativity from B&N. It’s the same old same old – “pay us lots of promo dollars so we can put your magazine in stores that will never sell any copies”. No thanks. Our sell-through has fallen to just over 17% at B&N. This is not a problem of publishers’ lack of creativity. It’s a stubborn lack of flexibility and creative thinking at B&N.

(Submitted by a Publishing Dinosaur)

Re: Starting Salaries at Big Publishers Grow
Beginning Operations and Production staff earned more than Editorial and even Sales staff in 2022???? I always thought production got the lousiest salaries presumably because we didn't visibly bring in money, but we sure spent a ton of it!

(Submitted by a Publishing CFO)

Re: How can publishers sell more online subscriptions? Lower the price, survey says

Lower price helps sell subscriptions it says but the two most popular — the FT and the Times — are the most expensive. And asking users if they’d pay more for an ad-free experience means nothing until you ask for the order. Those of us who have been in the subscription publishing business for a long time know the only reliable way to know what a customer will do as to ask for the order and see if they respond, or not.

We have pushed the prices of our subscription products up aggressively in recent years, we’ll ahead of inflation, and seen circulations grow. Granted we are not in the general news category but at the very least this article needs more context to be relevant.

Submitted by a CEO)

RE: The End of Computer Magazines in America

It was a great run - nothing like it in the history of mags.Ziff Davis at its peak was annually running more than 50,000 pages of advertising - by far more than any other publisher in the world. Its consumer computer magazines were a newsstand phenomenon. PC Week was the leading trade publication. It had 100 page audit reports to demonstrate the depth of its penetration into the computer professional audience.

It was fun to have played a part in the great computer magazine era.

(Submitted by a former Ziff Executive)

RE: Living in a News Desert

I live in a news desert plagued by lack of reporting, by apparent. corruption and no one to cover it. It’s not a comfortable place to live.

(Submitted by a Publishing Executive)

Re: As publishers’ subscription revenues grow, editorial staffers want their share

Having published subscription products all my career, I don’t understand this article. The content is the content and the creators still have their jobs. The revenue that used to be driven by ad sales may now be driven by marketers and licensing sales people. If editorial people think “if i build it, they will come” then they should start a Substack. Good luck to them.

(Submitted by a CEO)

Re: The missing truth in Hoffman's take

Thanks. The article is accurate, but here's the one huge and simple truth it's missing:

Our late pal Dave Kimble and I labored through the second half of the 20th century creating advertising campaigns designed to run years, decades, forever. "Just Do It," "1984," "Where's the Beef?" "Choosy Mothers Choose Jif." . The longer a campaign ran, the more the agency prospered, the more Dave and I made.

The guy I worked for lived in Scarsdale and wrote "Man Oh Manischewitz" and that got him the big house in Heathcote and the girl that came with it.

Marketers and agencies today have given up Big Ideas that'll run forever, because traditional media like television, newspapers and magazines are all running a poor second to social media. Social media are designed to

provide instant fixes to immediate problems, which they can do because they're immediate media. They're good at providing short run fixes to marketing emergencies, and all marketers have daily advertising emergencies.

But you can't build businesses that way. All you can do is put out fires and stay competitive with too many other brands in overcrowded industries.

You can desperately maintain your share-of-market and share-of-voice. Every consumer's memory is shredded. People remember less and less. The time for Big Ideas has never been greater, because

one Big Idea has immense cut-through power.Remember this: Make America Great Again was Ronald Reagan'scampaign theme. It was created by a San Francisco ad man half a century ago. Joe Biden could have preempted it, but Trump grabbed itfirst, and now owns it forever. It's the biggest political ad idea in history.

Watch Joe's one minute declaration today that he's running again. It has apulse and it's effective. Then dial up "Halftime In America," a 2012 half-time Superbowl spot with Clint Eastwood shilling for Chrysler. Same throaty

voice, same barely choked emotion, same footage of Good Americans Hard At Work. Whoever scripted Joe's announcement probably watched "Halftime in America" because it's so clearly standing on Clint's shoulders. (Of all shoulders to be standing on.)

Thanks for sending Hoffman's 'industrialization' piece.

As noted, it's accurate and it hews to its singular point-of-view. If I was still teaching the ad courses at The New School like I did for 33 years, it would go out tomorrow to every student, along with my addenda.

(Submitted by a seasoned media professional)

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