Thursday, December 4, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: The Looming Pullback or the Start of Something Bigger?

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: The Looming Pullback or the Start of Something Bigger?

Re: Magazines, And The Looming Pullback In Automobile Adv
Auto advertising and Rick Wagoner. Why is that name so familiar? We all know he recently flew in his corporate jet to the Congressional hearings, but how many remember him from a few years ago as the guy who tried to merge church and state by intimidating magazine publishers with threats to pull GM's advertising unless favorable editorial appeared in the same magazines? That's called extortion. This is the same guy who brought us the Hummer and the Lincoln Navigator. If GM gets bailout money, Wagoner's departure must be a precondition to any financial assistance. And, if David Pecker is such a strong supporter of the auto industry, why did he close AMI's auto titles a few short months after forcing their move to Detroit? What goes around, comes around. Sadly, this development will does not bode well for mass circulation magazines.
(Submitted by a Senior Dir of Mfg)

Re: Consumers Bugged by Many Ads
Reminds me that there are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies, and
(Submitted by an Industry Icon)

RE: What Makes the ebook Experience Potentially Viable
If things get any worse, we are going to using real books and mags for kindling.
(Submitted by a Senior Dir of Mfg and Dst)

Re: NYT's 10K subscribers on Kindle: The start of something bigger?
The only major issue I see with the logic at the end of this piece, is that subscribing to something on the kindle downloads it - so it's on the device. If you're reading it on the web, and you lose signal . . . in the subway, or at any point during your commute (when I assume most people use the device) . . . then suddenly it's no good. And I think there is a major draw for e-readers if we get them tailored to the point where students can use them for text books and for research . . . i think they have HUGE potential as research/reference tools that are not currently being exploited. Add a ready, searchable reference tool in addition to being able to search in books, and suddenly you can save articles and then search through them later to find the one you saved. You could actually create a device that has everything any consumer reads on it, where they can go "I know I read something about this..." and search and pull up exactly what they read.

Of course this will only be helpful with news if they remember this will have the opposite effect as the internet - it will lengthen circulation of each issue and each article so they will have to do more editing, not less. When people refer to something again and again errors will be less likely to slip through; if too many mistakes are present, it will discredit the paper, and people will not continue to buy it.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Mumbai Attack and Social Media
Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. George Bernard Shaw
We gave up dreading liberty long ago, and shelved it instead. Liberty has been replaced with license, which is much less demanding on us as individuals and as a culture but only in the short term. Freedom, properly understood, means the freedom to do the right thing, not the freedom to do anything. Freedom to do anything based on the whims of our convenience and comfort is license, not liberty. It is what we currently practice. And it cannot last.
(Submitted by a Printer)

RE: Where mail goes to die...
Bob- This is symptomatic of Philadelphia. We should not be surprised.
(Submitted by a Paper Person)

RE: Magazine Survival Thoughts..
Bob: I'm a former publisher of a few titles in the consumer print magazine biz; I was always a bit of a maverick in this industry, as I truly believed that our role, in the media, is not to sell customers advertising. Heretical as that may sound, I rather believe it was our role to sell their products and services. I have quite a few customers who could not agree more. Seems simple on the face of it, but the stark reality is that the magazine industry has rarely served in this capacity.

In media, we live in a zero-base market, where advertisers/agencies retreat to a re-evaluation of their media plans each year. How you have managed their ads, where you placed them, the discounts you've given and the added value you've thrown on top is irrelevant in the analysis. The full value of the medium or property is never exposed or exploited. When times get tough, and spending dials back, there's no foothold with the customer that ensures further business...all you get is a 'we're sorry'.

When you elevate the business philosophy to leverage captive and external assets to effect results on sales, you now transcend zero-base media planning. Immediately, the conversation shifts to 'what can you do for me next'. Customers will ALWAYS spend money with vendors that drive their business...regardless of what is happening to their traditional media budgets. I can cite one customer that sustained a 50% budget cut, and left my magazine untouched; we were intimately partnered in far too many shared initiatives that precluded a cut.

Publishers attempt to speak this language, and throw 'partnership' around with abandon; but, in reality, it's business as usual and they've taken no ownership of their customers business. Should they be surprised at the mass exodus of ad dollars? They shouldn't be...

So, where's this leading?

I've foretold the demise of magazines as we know them for the last 4 years. Why? Our business model underpinnings are irreparably broken; there's no fixing it. The 'too bad' part is that consumers still LOVE magazines- they really do- but we as publishers cannot make the candy store work anymore. Cost of reader acquisition is through the roof, ad rates are heavily negotiated, rate increases are tied solely to circulation increases, production costs and distribution costs continually escalate, and when was the last time someone paid for bleed? Add it all up, and we're in the midst of the perfect storm, and publishers have been selling ads.

Now, in the super-heated environment that surrounds us, the burner has really been turned-up, and the the pot has boiled-down and exposed the frailties of the business model. Just selling ads has left them painfully exposed, and now in trouble.

The fix is 1) a philosophical sea-change in how they conduct their business/ad sales, or 2) a shift to digital, and I don't mean a website, as impressions bought at $3.00 cpms is not an acceptable solution for anyone's business. So, I'll give you a hint: in my view, magazines fail for a couple of reasons: escalating costs, and mercurial ad dollar flow. Digital, done innovatively, can field the incremental cost ball and produce meaningful cpms; but why underwrite the business cost structure upfront, and then attempt to sell ads after? Why not take greater ownership of your customer's business and drive sales of goods and services?

Forgive the blatant pitch for investment funds, but there is a better way. Not to be coy, but I have that answer and business model ready to, if I only had the seed capital to make a go of it....

Guess that's what happens when the creativity well is deep, and the pockets are shallow .. .
(Submitted by a Publisher)

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