Archive for the ‘News and Views’ Category

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It’s All About Circulation and Distribution Or Is It? The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 13

May 9, 2019

The following is a panel discussion that took place on the last day of the ACT 9 Experience concerning circulation issues and challenges that face magazine media companies in the retail space and with current business models today. The central theme centered on reimagining the world of print and what it can do in the form of Special Interest Publications and partnerships. And also discussion about a much-needed revitalization of the magazine distribution system. And your ACT 9 Scribe, Linda Ruth was also a guest on the panel.

The panel featured:

Moderator, Tony Silber: President of Long Hill Media

Clayton Clabaugh: Director, Fundraising and Product Annuity, Focus on the Family
Linda Ruth: Publishing Management and Consulting, PSCS Consulting & Official ACT 9 Scribe
Drew Wintemberg: Founder, AJW Leadership & Insights and former president, Time Inc. Retail

Now, let’s revisit this interesting discussion…

Tony Silber: We are celebrating the enduring power of print in what is undeniably a media revolution. As we adapt to a changing media world, we need to acknowledge the macro trends, all of which are difficult. Most of us engage with media digitally and on mobile; print is not our first point of contact. Google, Facebook and Amazon represent 75% of advertising dollars. Advertising, which has been the foundation of magazine revenue, is less important than ever before. Reader revenue becomes more important; but the distribution system is contracting, even collapsing. If you look at the supply chain of an industry you can learn a lot about its health. We can celebrate print, but must understand the context.

Drew Wintemberg: All major companies are facing the same headwinds at retail. Checkouts are disappearing; urbanization is reducing the presence of large-format retail stores. We have been building our business in retailers that don’t exist to the same degree anymore. The magazine category must evolve. Circulation must serve a purpose. The direction of publishing is in the direction of personalization, specialization; we need to look at the publications beyond the AAM audited ones. The AAM titles are shrinking; but the non-audited titles still grow. The picture is better than what we’re looking at. Our competitors for front end space are saying magazines are dead; we need to answer this. Niche titles, special interest titles are growing. As our space at front end shrinks, we can’t afford to give seven pockets to the women’s titles.

Linda Ruth: The industry has gone in two separate directions. The success of publishers is in the direction of higher prices, higher quality, lower frequency. The industry’s infrastructure, on the other side, has been built for the old AAM/mass market titles. It’s consolidated into essentially one company, a company that is trying to streamline to scale.

At the same time retailers have been streamlining; tracking and sales have switched to scan-based-trading. SBT ensures that the only copies verified as sale are the ones going through the register. These two things—the consolidation of distribution on the wholesale side and SBT is like using a machete for fine-carving. Specialty magazines need a targeted distribution. There are successful magazines now that cost several dollars to print and ship, that cost close to $20 at retail. These publishers can’t afford the high returns that the system currently generates. Publishers need to find new ways to get their product to market. There must arise new ways of bringing product to market and also new ways of accountability for tracking and paying for sales. SBT was created and authenticated for product that is higher frequency, lower price. Today’s special interest titles are more vulnerable to shrink. We need to see more follow up, more access to the merchandisers, more accountability.

Drew Wintemberg: The thing that frightens me most about the SIPS (Special Interest Publications) is that it could vanish tomorrow, like the adult coloring book craze.

Tony Silber: The subscription economy is booming. Does it have a detrimental impact?

Clayton Clabaugh: There is potential there to partner up with somebody and add a publication into an existing subscription box.

Drew Wintemberg: For the longest time, it was a one to one relationship, publication and reader. Publishers now want so many touchpoints with the consumer, they want to be engaged in people’s lives all along the line. Engage them socially, at events, through clubs, super-subscriber packages. Everyone wants the club because it gives them access to all the names. It isn’t detrimental; we have lots of other issues.

Linda Ruth: And lots of other ways of approaching it. E-learning, for example, is way under-penetrated in media—it’s a $46 billion business globally.

Clayton Clabaugh: We’re testing micro-learning. Embedding bits of content. We are testing through email and Facebook, and the tests we’ve done have been robust. We launched an email offer to an e-learning course on a Friday afternoon, had 14,000 subscribers by Monday; it brought in some donors as well. There is a different tie between the content of a magazine and the micro-learning that can come from it.

Linda Ruth: We have the audience, the knowledge, the enthusiasts. So much of our content can be taught and needs to be taught. And John Mennell of Magazine Literacy has suggested that we create opportunities throughout the year for people to buy magazines on the newsstand and leave them in bins for at-risk kids to create waves of enthusiasm and a really good feeling about print. We need to throw out what we think we know and start again, start fresh.

Drew Wintemberg: If you’d told me ten years ago we’d be paying for radio, I’d have said you were out of your mind. We do need to re-invent ourselves. There has to be a way to leverage our content to make it richer, to make it live longer.

Linda Ruth: I’ve been discovering with my special interest publishers that one way to go is to make the content interactive. Interactive prompts in the magazine, along with making print more beautiful, more tactile.

Drew Wintemberg: If you start out beholden to the advertisers, you lose all control. The SIPs are going from a content standpoint.

Tony Silber: Then what does the revenue mix look like?

Clayton Clabaugh: From the point of view of a non-profit, it’s donors, subscribers, and the extra add-ons; this puts us in the black.

Tony Silber: Can circulation revenue take the place of advertising on a mass scale?

Drew Wintemberg: Ad revenue is still very important. It’s going to be a slow process trying to change that.

Linda Ruth: Every business model will look different. But if you’re going to be less dependent on ad revenue, you have to build efficiencies. These high-end publications can’t survive at low efficiencies. Also the gap between subscriptions and newsstands needs to shrink as well. Sub prices have to get more into alignment with newsstand. And your online model: you use your content to build your list and sell stuff to the list. E-learning is a piece to be used to use the list, to sell to the list, and to sell other products to the list through the classes.

Drew Wintemberg: What some publishers are doing with events is phenomenal. Engaging core constituent in the place they want to be.

Clayton Clabaugh: We’re raising the prices of our magazines; we’re sacrificing some response rate but it’s putting us in the black. It also becomes part of our story. We’re also using outside lists to bring new names in to our audience.

Tony Silber: What marketing techniques are working in digital subscription development?

Clayton Clabaugh: We’re advertising in Facebook, and it’s competitive with acquisition costs in direct mail. And e-learning is also promising.

Linda Ruth: It comes back to building email lists; to do so, you do need to give away free stuff, and as you build it, those are the people you sell to.

Please click below on the video link to watch the entire panel presentation:

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Magazine Media Trends And What They Mean For Your Business. The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 11

May 8, 2019

People tend to look to the past to predict the future, said James Hewes, president and CEO of FIPP, on the third morning of Mr. Magazine’s ACT 9. But the rate of change is happening faster than anyone could have foreseen. To be successful in the modern world, publishers need to change their business, to have four robust revenue streams. The number one stream should be paid content. As an industry we’re beginning to make back some of the ground we lost when we started giving away content for free. However there are ten additional revenue streams that Hewe identified, including philanthropy, IT, memberships, and events. The ad dependent model is not gone; however, it now needs to be one stream among several.

A second trend is consolidation, which, along with its attendant churn, will continue. At the same time, we’re seeing the emergence of new, independent publishers. New ideas and new thinking are coming into the market.

The most important revenue streams, paid content, has required some re-education of consumers, who are becoming more savvy as to the need to pay. In the news space, if you are not charging for content online, you’re not in the game anymore. The Economist is now charging the same for a digital subscription as for print, on the grounds that they are paying for the content, not the format. Then, once you have a focused audience, you need to transact with them through e-commerce and events. A lot of work needs to be done, however, to make the process seamless. It’s so easy to buy through one-click on Amazon, so difficult on most publisher sites.

Advertising has never been less important to the industry, which is in some ways a good thing. Publishers need to break down the silos in their business and create authentic, opinionated and purposeful native copy. Editors are the best guardians of content; they need to be part of this process. Ad blocking is everywhere prevalent; publishers can communicate the need to their readers to turn off the ad blocking technology.

Only about half the traffic on the internet is real people. The rest are bots. And half those bots are impersonators, scraping money out of the system to the tune of many millions of dollars of loss to publishers. About three quarters of online ad revenue goes to three players: Google, Facebook and Amazon. Everyone else splits up the rest.

Print is regaining its prestige. Every year FIPP finds innovations in the print space. Print offers strong journalism unavailable online. Private Eye, the UK satire magazine, is growing because it never embraced digital. Publications are creating new packaging for enhanced reader value. Brands are exploring higher quality premium products.

You cannot rely on Facebook for traffic. A lot of companies did; but Facebook can change their algorithm at any time. Eitghteen months ago they did so, and publisher traffic fell by half. The ad-funded digital editorial model might not be sustainable for this reason. The change made Google the single biggest source of referral traffic. All the others put together are insignificant. Apple’s business model is to destroy anyone else’s business model. In any case, reliance on a single revenue stream is risky.

Platform-focused content: ask yourself, do they enhance your brand? Does a financial services brand need a snapchat account? Each platform really needs original content.

Ai is being used to power content recommendations; to edit homepages or section pages on a site; routine journalism; changing marketing approach for dynamic paywalls, and, crucially, translation. Look at the potential of AI and what it can do for you; it could enhance content output by aiding research and commoditizing dull and repetitive tasks. AI is going to have the biggest effect on media among all industries.

Diversity is the biggest issue in the question of talent and culture, creating an attractive workplace environment. Companies need to cultivate it. Change can’t be driven from the top down; it needs to percolate up from the base.

The trend report was taken up by Jerry Lynch, president of the MBR, who takes us beyond the transaction to the audience. Who is reading this product?

45% of all US growth is coming from non-store retail. Retailers need to change with their customers, who are getting more urban, older, more diverse, and more polarized in terms of income. Retail growth reflects evolving shopper priorities with online growing the most; however, supermarkets are still big and growing. If you look at the online sales environment, for the most part magazines aren’t there.

The omni channel evolution is closely anchored into the evolving fulfillment system: ship to home, in-store pickup, curbside pickup, grocery delivery, on-demand delivery, surprise subscription, and auto-replenishment subscription. The store offers scale, but the omnichannel shopping represents growth. As omni channel takes market share, it’s going to effect the retail mix also.

No category in the store has a stronger presence in mobile than publications. We need to use that mobile connection to sell products.

The trends reveal opportunities. We can see the changes, and need to adapt our business models to take advantage of them.

To watch both of the aforementioned presentations please click the videos below:

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John French On Reinventing Legacy Media. The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 10

May 8, 2019

When did “legacy” become a bad word? James French, President of French LLC asks. We used to want to leave a legacy. And what is the difference between journalism and “new media”? We shouldn’t even need the name.

You should expect as much sizzle, as much beauty, in trade magazines as in consumer—because the people who read those magazines are consumers, professional consumers. When French improved the look of his print magazines, the digital design improved along with it, tracking the improved morale of his team. Magical things can come from makeovers. If something is legacy, is old, is not working—ask why. What can a redesign, a fresh perspective accomplish?

There are no legacy products. It’s how you view the product and what you do with it. How many swings at the piñata are allowed? As many as it takes to break through. You don’t only get one shot. There are lots of shots. No matter how good the dogfood is, if the dog doesn’t like it t’s no good. Keep changing it till it works.

Nowadays everything is legacy: print, online, events, mobile, social. It’s all legacy. What you need to figure out is what it’s going to take to make it vibrant.

Be a force in the industry. Treat everything as new, fresh, worth work and change. Don’t treat it as legacy. Print is personalized, changed, evolving—but it isn’t legacy, French told the assembled students. It’s part of the mix. You are alive, you have a chance to change something. Don’t say you’ll work on this, not that. You are in media. Be in media.

To watch John French’s presentation please click on the video below:

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Great Moments In Magazine History… The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 9

May 7, 2019

After the catfish fry, after the ice cream, after the mingling and talking and cocktail hour, Stephen Lomazow is going to walk us through the great moments in magazine history. He’s been collecting magazines since 1974 (americanmagazinecollection.com). The word “magazine has a military origin, meaning a “storehouse”; these publications were seen as a storehouse of information, and continue to be so.

America’s first magazine idea might have come from Benjamin Franklin, but he was scooped by Andrew Bradford; however, the first successful one was called The American Magazine, launched in 1745. Benjamin Franklin did sell it. The first American political cartoon was published in this magazine in 1758, a pro-British, anti-French advertisement.

The Royal American Magazine, published between 1774 and 1775, was one of the great inciters of revolutionary passion; its engravings were done by Paul Revere.

Thomas Paine’s Pennsylvania Magazine was the only magazine printed in 1775 and 1776; the June 1776 issue contains the first printed notice of independence, referencing the date of July 2nd. In April 1776 a black ex-slave, Phillis Wheatley, published an ode to George Washington as the first literary work in an American magazine.

In 1812 The War was the first magazine published to share contemporary reports of war.

The most important magazine in the second decade of the 1800s was the Analectic Magazine, published by Washington Irving of Rip Van Winkle fame. It published the poem which became America’s national anthem, sung to the tune of an old English drinking song.

Herman Melville published a series called Authentic Anecdotes of Old Zack (Zachary Taylor) in Yankee Doodle Magazine.

Leading up to the Civil War, the Anti-Slavery Almanac of the 1830’s published exposes of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Jennings. The most important anti-slavery magazine was The Liberator, published throughout the Civil War. The African-American Frederick Douglass published the North Star in the 1850s, along with Martin Robinson Delaney, an African American who graduated from Harvard Medical School and published the first novel by a black man in America.

The magazine that started the Civil War was The National Era, in which Uncle Tom’s Cabin was serialized. The two most widely circulated periodicals in the North were Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Illustrations included The Sharpshooter by Winslow Homer. Broughton’s Monthly Planet Reader correctly predicted Lincoln’s assassination. The South’s equivalent publication was Southern Illustrated News.

The Spanish American War was the journalists war. They commissioned an artist to create The Yellow Kid and wrote sensationalist articles featuring him; hence the term “yellow journalism.” Hearst sent Remington to Cuba saying, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.”

The famous iconic image of Uncle Sam by James Montgomery Flagg was adapted from a 1914 British poster of Lord Kitchener.

Norman Rockwell began his magazine covers during World War 1.

As a sign of unity and resolve, every magazine published in America in July 1942, had an American flag on the cover. Disney published a magazine with a racy centerfold illustration and sent it to all their employees fighting in the war; and Norman Rockwell adapted Rosie the Riveter from a Michelangelo. Amerasia magazine published leaked a top-secret state memo.

To watch Dr. Stephen Lomazow’s presentation please click on the video below.

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Why Independent Magazines Are Succeeding?… The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 8

May 7, 2019

Day 2 of ACT 9 at the Magazine Innovation Center wound up with a panel of independent publishers, each with their own stories to tell:

Darren Sanefski, Moderator, Associate Professor of Multiple Platform Journalism, University of Mississippi
Jimmy Dean, former publisher Sarasota magazine, telling the stories of the community
Rob Hewitt, Founder, Oh-So magazine, celebrating the girls’ skateboarding community
Michael Kusek, Publisher, Different Leaf magazine, for the more mature cannabis consumer
Doni Ambrosine, Founder and Publisher, Culturs Magazine, the global multicultural philanthropic brand
Andrea Butler, Founder and EIC, Sesi Magazine, a teen magazine for girls of color
Monique Reidy, Publisher and EIC, Southern California Life and Weekend Escapes magazines.
Pam Woody, EIC Brio magazine, a voice for the teen space.

The panel has tips for magazine survival and success:

1. You need funding—but if you have the passion, go for it anyway. Sesi launched with basically no money, and is on its seventh year.
2. Choose carefully how you spend the money you have. Sesi saves it for their cover shoots.
3. You need a passion for what you’re doing, to get you through the inevitable valleys.
4. You need courage.
5. You need business savvy.
6. At some point you need to shut everything out and just go forward.
7. Look for the rewards. People stop Ambrosine on the street, cry, tell her how she changed their lives.
8. Keep learning. Read the trade press.
9. Be creative. Find your way around problems.
10. Print. There is still a desire and need for the tangible product, and it will be the driver of other platforms. 11. Use digital to drive people to print. Going from online to print Culturs stature rose a thousand percent. They doubled their reach in six months. Kusek says that at his level he will never make his money back on digital. And the creativity in graphic design has moved back to print, now that social media has killed the home page and digital design has moved to mobile.And as long as the platform isn’t yours, they can change and algorithm and shut you down tomorrow.
12. Put your digital focus on email. That list is yours, and a third party platform can’t take it. Use digital to give your readers ownership of the magazine. Use it to learn about your readers.
13.Innovate. Change with the times. Brio dropped celebrity, includes space for the girls to add their own thoughts, to interact with the publication.
14. Target your audience. It reduces the risk. Different Leaf is launching with 5000-7500 copies in the Massachusetts area, self-distributed into dispensaries and independent outlets.
15. Events can both generate revenue and build community. Gather your readers together. Different Leaf is doing an event on how to design a dispensary. It will also bring them to the attention of potential advertisers.
16. Know your vision, know your brand, stick with brands that align. You become known for who you are. Reidy’s magazines are mistaken for regional, but they’re not—they are travel magazines, so they don’t run articles about politics or businesses.
17. Keep your eye on your audience and make the best product you can for them. Don’t try to be all things to all people.Don’t let naysayers pull you off brand. Teen Vogue can never do what Sesi can, for example.
18. Remember to have fun while you’re doing it. Use this job to create the life that you want.

To watch the entire panel discussion click on the video below.

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The Importance Of Journalism And Literacy In A Democracy… The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 7

May 3, 2019

“The future of democracy depends on you,” Joe Hyrkin, CEO of Issue, told the journalism students present at Mr. Magazine’s ACT 9, reflecting what Linda Thomas Brooks had said earlier in the day. Over the last couple of decades, the folks in the digital world have gotten in the middle of the relationship between the publisher and the audience. These platforms are amazing to enable a publisher to reach an audience; the key is to be able to reach this audience without doing endless versions of the content customized by platform. Think of it as providing pieces of existing content in ways consumers can read on any platform, wherever they are.

“I am out of a job today because of my stand for first amendment rights,” reported former journalism instructor Lori Oglesbee. “I was teacher of the year in Texas, and I lost my job because I refused to take down three articles.” Five kids can change a state, she tells the audience of enrapt students. Journalism is under attack today; but iwithout journalism, democracy fails. Students need to learn to be inquisitive, to discern the difference between biased and balanced reporting, to become thoughtful consumers of the news to improve their world.

No one has done more to get magazines into the hands of the at-risk communities than John Mennell, the founder of Magazine Literacy. Earlier today we leaned that children need print for the development of their brains, which stay on a distracted level in a digital-heavy environment; Mennell’s mission is to provide children throughout the world with magazines. Literacy, he told us, ends poverty of the pocket, mind and spirit. Echoing the other panel speakers, he said that freedom, independence and prosperity depend on literacy. In the US 18 million people live in poverty; 2/3rds of those children have no books at home.

A child unable to read is a child lost. Magazines, he told the group, are the most powerful literacy engines on the planet. There are over one million homeless students; these children are effectively invisible. Imagine giving a magazine to that child. It says: you see me. I matter. “I am here today because I want to share the joy I experienced from magazines as a child; I want to share it with the most vulnerable among us.” Our industry’s undivided attention toward literacy is crucial; the experience with reading materials is what is needed to create readers. There are tens of millions of magazines available that we as an industry can get into those homes, onto those coffee tables, into those backpacks. Because there are magazines for every interest, we can reach deep into this inventory to address specific literacy needs. Magazine Literacy has airlifted magazines to Inuit families in the Arctic Circle; and one of the families served opened a magazine stand in the village food pantry. One of ML’s goals is to open magazine stands in every food pantry throughout the world.

Magazine Literacy’s mission is to build the most powerful literacy marketplace on earth by tapping the enormous potential of magazines, and by engaging every stakeholder in the magazine supply chain to share the joy and the love and the incredible power of reading magazines with at risk readers. He has the mission that Jo Packham told us we all need; he has a dedication to the journalism that Lori Oglesbee has told us is necessary for the survival of a democracy; he provides children with the reading material they need, according to Linda Brooks, for the development of deep, undistracted thinking.

People died for free speech, said Oglesbee. It’s important. And, said Mennell, let’s get these reading materials into the hands of the next generation.

To watch the entire panel click on the video below:

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It’s All About Data… The ACT 9 Experience. Linda Ruth Reporting… Part 6

May 3, 2019

Every interaction gives a bit of data that enables you to learn about your audience and make strategic business decisions, said Dennis Hecht, VP Business Intelligence, Farm Journal magazine, on the first afternoon session of Mr. Magazine’s ACT 9. Over the past few years more data has been generated than in all previous history put together.

Companies must shift to a data-driven business, one which gives privacy back to the customer. In contests of opinion against data, the data wins; when the contest is data against data, the best data wins. The key value drivers are timeliness, uniqueness, actionable, adjacency to opportunity, and the value of the monetary opportunity.

In using data to create sales, Hecht tells us, it’s important to consider the customer’s intent at both the top and the bottom of the sales funnel. Data can conceivably be used to eliminate a step in the funnel—if someone is ready to make a purchase before going through the entire process. Data is also used to build different versions of the magazine based on audience needs. Different pieces of content can be inserted in different versions of the magazine. A corn story will be inserted into the copies going to corn farmers; a cattle story to the cattle farmers. This customized experience can also be re-created online.

Dan Heffernan, VP of sales, marketing, and product planning for Advantage CS, serving the magazine community on the subscription side, picked up the data story from there. You need accurate data for informed decisions; and the next step of gathering masses of data is making it actionable. To do so, Heffernan said, you need to seed the data people with the business team and the business team with the data people. You identify KPIs—key performance indicators; these are often mid-identified. The KPI has to have a practical correlation with the satisfaction of the reader; so the number of copies released, for example, might be less important than retention. Bi-lateral literacy.

Your KPI will be based on your goals, which will be based on your mission. If you identify building and maintaining relationships as your mission, it affects what your key indicators are and how you go about improving them.

Overwhelming as data might be, it is a precious tool in building and improving your business, Heffernan says. Your next million dollar improvement is already hidden in the data. Learn to read it.

Click the videos below to watch Dennis Hecht and Dan Heffernan presentations:


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