Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

10/26/2013

IDEAlliance (The International Digital Enterprise Alliance) Seeks Standardization for Mobile Magazine Publishing


IDEAllianceStandardization, or an open format, that allows publishing across all mobile formats with one application at the same time has been achieved (pretty much) for book publishing in the ePub specification.

But, one does not yet exist for the more difficult magazine publishing — more difficult due to a magazines demand for more imagery, graphics, layout, etc.

Why all this attention to mobile publishing? Simply because tablets, e-readers and iPads are replacing desktop computers as the consumer’s choice to access content.

The IDEAlliance is working with players throughout the supply chain to standardize tablet edition formats to simplify the process of tablet issue production by eliminating many of the competing formats and workflows.

The following details are from FOLIO magazine:

Cutting Through the Mire of Tablet Issue Production

“Each publisher has approached tablets at its own pace, with its own purpose. The result has left a scattered set of protocols across the industry.

The goal is an industry standard called OpenEFT — guidelines to direct the packaging, delivery and display of digital magazines for everyone in the ecosystem. OpenEFT’s final draft was unveiled late last month.

“We, as publishers, would like to be able to provide a designed-for-tablet, interactive edition to all the newsstands,” says Sean Keefe, executive director of publishing technology for Hearst Magazines. “But right now, not all of them take the same file formats.” 

The benefits for publishers are twofold. Tablet issue production would become a more efficient process, while the barriers to third-party innovation would be lowered.

Tablet issue production is currently convoluted. Hearst currently produces up to three formats (and several variants) of its magazines, depending on the brand and the newsstand they’re working with; Next Issue Media, a digital newsstand, is forced to adapt about six formats for its storefront. Many of those conversions are labor intensive and require quality assurance testing at multiple points.

Ideally, says Keith Barraclough, CTO and vice president of products for Next Edition, the exchange of files would be simplified, QA would only be needed once and the process would be automated.

“Whether OpenEFT can do all this as it goes through its standardization process and tools and manufacturers come along and adopt, that’s all a big ‘TBD’,” he says. “But hat’s the nirvana we’re looking for.”

An open specification already exists, called ePub, but it was built to handle books, not magazines.

“The orientation toward imagery, layout and the subtlety of the navigation of a magazine is something that’s evolved more,” Barraclough says.

While Dianne Kennedy, vice president of emerging technologies for IDEAlliance, says OpenEFT is closely modeled after ePub, she adds that the need for tablet-optimized ad units is another major reason the book-centric format needed to be tweaked for digital magazines.

Magazine staff have to manipulate the units from the agency, often without being exactly sure of how the final product was supposed to render. The costs and confusion make their use rare.

“Magazines, unlike books, rely a lot on the ad model,” Kennedy says. “There is no specification for the exchange and rendering of this interactive content, so the magazines have been limiting the number of interactive ads they will accept.”

Regardless of how or why they started with tablet editions, publishers will agree that improving production efficiency is beneficial.

Now, it’s up to them to adopt the standard.”

OpenEFT Design Principles

Here are a few of OpenEFT’s 13 design principles:

– Must be based on industry standards

– Must not cause major disruption to existing tablet publishing workflows

– Must support enhancement types that are common across 2013 tablet editions

– Must consider the advertizing workflow and integration of advertizing

– Should be designed so that highly-designed publications, other than magazines, can adopt this format

– Must design for the future by embracing emerging technologies

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06/24/2013

Publishing: Going Digital-Only is Like Ripping Off a Band-Aid :(


Ripping off the band-aid can make an owie

OUCH! You know that’s the reaction when you rip off a long-in-place band-aid. Well, that emotional reaction applies in publishing — especially in repetitive, fast-paced, rapid-fire publishing like weekly or monthly magazines — when they make the big strategic decision to drop print altogether and go totally digital.

It’s scary! But, many are being driven to this decision due to the declining print ad revenue. AND, more than this, the advertisers/investors are demanding more ROI (return on investment) metrics. You can ONLY get this kind of reader-tracking analytics and metrics through digitally informed processes that drill down and tell advertisers such things as who read the ads, what they liked, what they bought, when they bought, the last time they bought, when they made love last (ha, a little humor), etc.

“Going digital-only is fraught with a variety of strategic leaps of faith, but when the dust settles a more efficient model can emerge that’s free of print legacy encumbrances.” – Bill Mickey, Editor FOLIO: Magazine.

Digital-only is probably more appropriate for only some types of magazines; like academic journals, educational and scientific mags, etc. Why? These magazines’ audiences are more advanced in the digital world and that’s the world  they work, read and play more and more.

More from Bill Mickey in this article for FOLIO: magazine:

Ripping Off the Band-Aid

Behind 1105 Media’s decision to take the Education Group digital-only

When a print magazine transitions to digital-only, the idea that it’s a knee-jerk, last-ditch effort to keep a dying brand alive is not unique to media industry navel-gazers. A brand’s audience can smell it a mile away, too. However, there are many times when this strategy makes sense, and even renews a formerly print-focused brand with a host of new opportunities—provided its owners can pull the trigger on some tough strategic decisions along the way.

At 1105 Media, the Education Group, which consists of two main brands T.H.E. Journal and Campus Technology, went all-digital in August 2012. Prior to that decision, the group was publishing the two print, monthly qualified-circulation magazines serving technology professionals in the K-12 and higher education markets. Both had long histories in print—T.H.E. Journal launched in 1972 by the father of its current publisher Wendy LaDuke and Campus Technology had been in print as a magazine for over twenty years, and a print newsletter before that.

But the decision to put that print legacy behind them was triggered by a confluence of what’s become a common pairing of market forces: A decline in print advertising and a rise in advertiser demand for digitally-informed ROI metrics.

Data Accountability
“We made the decision to go digital in part because that’s where our readership lives (they are technology advocates and decision-makers within their work spheres) and in part because print advertising—at least in our market—is clearly a dying animal,” says Therese Mageau, the education group’s editorial director. “Advertisers are looking at ROI and asking for evidence of effectiveness—you can’t give them that with print. The truth is, we could do all the reader surveys we wanted, but we didn’t really know [specifically] who was reading our magazines and if any of them were actually looking at the ads.”

Nevertheless, when the group decided to, as Mageau put it, rip the band-aid off last summer, it immediately began recognizing benefits in production, audience make-up and engagement metrics. There were, however, challenges introduced that still heckle the ongoing strategy.

But even before that, market indicators were trending toward an advertising community that was looking for more ROI data on marketing spend—data that display advertising in print couldn’t support.

“For a while now, from the advertisers point of view, it’s become increasingly challenging for them to prove any kind of ROI on advertising,” says LaDuke. “Since marketers are under so much pressure to show a good return on their marketing spending, it was becoming very problematic to provide that from a print perspective.”

The Writing is on the Wall
At that point, the Education Group decided that rather than continue to try to protect print from what they viewed as a gradual but unavoidable long-term decline, they would go after what their market was telling them it wanted.

Read and learn more

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06/23/2012

Print vs Digital magazine Format – Intriguing Decision


SmartMoney Mag – Going Digital Only ?

An intriguing decision, indeed, and this post looks into insiders’ analytical thinking and number crunching.

This post also peeks inside who’s who (and was) in the News Corp, Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal, Smart Money and Market Watch  hierarchy.

Smart Money, one of the largest monthly personal-finance magazines with a circulation of 813,730 last year, is going to cut its print version beginning in October, 2012, and expand its digital platform.

Why ? Well, the thinking, reasoning and data supporting that decision is explored by John Jannarone And WilliamLaunder in the Wall Street Journal:

SmartMoney Will Move to Web-Only Magazine 

Dow Jones & Co. said Thursday it will stop publishing the print version of SmartMoney, although it will expand the personal-finance magazine’s digital platform.

Dow Jones, a unit of News Corp., which also publishes The Wall Street
Journal, said it would add six new positions to SmartMoney.com’s editorial staff but eliminate 25 jobs related to the print edition production. The last issue of the monthly magazine will be September’s, available on Aug. 14.

“It’s clear that the volatility of markets and asset classes has increased the need for rapid delivery of personal finance intelligence, so we will be expanding our team and presence on the Web,” said Robert Thomson, editor in chief of Dow Jones and managing editor of The Wall Street Journal.

SmartMoney is among the largest monthly personal-finance magazines, with a circulation of 813,730 last year, compared with 818,526 in 2007, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Rival magazine Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has a circulation of about 628,000 and Money has roughly 1.9 million readers, the ABC says. All three magazines have struggled to increase circulation in recent years.

The decision to halt publication of SmartMoney is one of the first major changes at Dow Jones since the arrival in February of Lex Fenwick as chief executive. In 2010, Dow Jones acquired from Hearst Corp. the 50% interest in SmartMoney it didn’t already own. Hearst and Dow Jones jointly launched SmartMoney in 1992.

More changes appear to be in store at Dow Jones. In an internal memo to employees Thursday, Mr. Thomson said there are other “just-approved expansion plans” for The Wall Street Journal but didn’t provide any specifics. Earlier this week, Dow Jones announced a reorganization of management and the resignation of Todd Larsen from his role as president.

Dow Jones said all content and tools from SmartMoney.com will become available on a new co-branded personal finance section on its MarketWatch.com financial-information site . In May, MarketWatch.com had 5.3 million unique visitors, up 50% from the same month of 2011. SmartMoney.com’s unique visitor count has increased 14% over the same period to 1.6 million people.

Write to John Jannarone at john.jannarone@wsj.com and William Launder at william.launder@dowjones.com

 

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11/21/2011

Inside Digital Magazines – And Some Business Numbers


Digital Magazines Gain Popularity

Digital magazines are taking off somewhat according to a survey by the Association of Magazine Media. And the various digital formats have a long tail, it seems … actually increasing the circulation of the print formats as well (see my post https://gator1965.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/printed-magazines-young-adult-readership-up-90-prefer-ink-format/). 

Could it be that folks with the new digital gadgets try the digital versions of mags they never have read before and like them well enough to subscribe to or buy the print counterparts?

Another interesting concept, not available yet but in the offing, is the ability for readers of digital mags to buy direct from the digital ads. 

Read this telling article by Jacqui Cheng of Wired.com (Epicenter Blog):

People Actually Read Digital Magazines (And They’re Ready To Buy)

The publishing industry is still feeling out ways to take advantage of new digital formats. Plenty of traditional magazine subscribers have declared that they still prefer old fashioned print, but a group of brave souls has slowly grown in number since the iPad was introduced in 2010: those who read magazines on tablets. Whether the general public loves them or hates them is still up for grabs, but according to a newly published survey conducted by the Association of Magazine Media (MPA–long story), those who already read magazines on tablets are really getting into them, with some suggestions on how to improve.

The MPA surveyed 1,009 adult digital magazine readers on their use habits, with a whopping 90 percent claiming to read as much or more magazine content than they did before acquiring a tablet, with two-thirds saying they plan to consume even more magazines now that they can do so digitally. But it seems that most prefer the newsstand-style subscriptions (that is, an area to retrieve their new content all in the same place) — 76 percent of survey respondents said they preferred this route to individual apps. And more than half, 55 percent, said they like to be able to read digital back issues of their favorite magazines.

 

These users have a handful of requests that are not widely implemented among digital magazines, however, including the ability to buy products directly from editorial features (70 percent) and the ability to buy directly from digital ads (59 percent). Frankly it’s surprising this isn’t already commonplace—ads do exist to sell products, after all—but we’re guessing this is partly due to the fact that most magazines are still porting over their print issues instead of working to create digital versions from scratch.

Read and learn more

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12/04/2010

Mag Publishers Branching Out


In order to save money, and also seek new revenue in non-traditional functions, magazine publishers are taking on related tasks usually contracted out to vendors. Actually they are strengthening their own vertical (business model) in-house capability.

These tasks include such things as launching all kinds of media products, from Web sites to custom publishing, virtual events, databases, books, supplements and spinoffs…Afterall, if you’re going to branch out you might as well stick to your core business and who knows what a publisher needs more than a publisher?

This magazine publishing branch-out (or in-house vertical strengthening, as I like to call it) kind of reminds me of what writers (novel writers as well as others) have had to do to break loose from traditional publishing “slush piles” and non-action by learning and taking on more of the tasks performed by publishing houses in the past…This all was made more possible and easier through the new digital technology. Let’s all drink a scotch on the rocks to that!

Tony Silber and Matt Kinsman, reporting for FOLIO magazine, analyze it this way:

When Publishers Become Vendors

Dave Schankweiler, CEO and publisher of Journal Publications Inc., a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania regional publisher, remembers the day he became not just a publisher, but a vendor to publishers too.

Back in 2004, the company, which publishes the Central Penn Business Journal, Central Penn Parent, and NJ Biz, launched a new survey, called Best Companies in Pennsylvania. It used an outside survey firm to do the first report. The night the winners were presented was a huge success. “That night,” Schankweiler remembers, “it was loud, and there was a countdown and a lot of excitement. And that’s exactly when we decided to change the company, because we were coming down from the high of the event. We said, ‘Why don’t we take this out into the market and do it as a service to other publishing companies?’ ”

Magazine publishers are by nature entrepreneurial types. They like to tinker with their businesses. They’re incessantly launching all kinds of media products, from Web sites to custom publishing, events, databases, books, supplements, spinoffs. But there aren’t a lot like Dave Schankweiler. Most media companies tend to stick to their knitting and limit their creative impulses to media products.

Some companies, though, are transforming themselves into a different kind of hybrid, media companies that have branched out into businesses traditionally occupied by publishing-industry vendors. Gulfstream Media, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based regional publisher is one. Gulfstream is the parent company of Magazine Manager, a popular ad-sales management software. UBM’s TechWeb is another. TechWeb created UBM Studios, which develops in-house virtual events for tech publisher UBM as well as for external clients.

Read and learn more

12/03/2010

Mag Publishers Branching Out


In order to save money, and also seek new revenue in non-traditional functions, magazine publishers are taking on related tasks usually contracted out to vendors. Actually they are strengthening their own vertical (business model) in-house capability.

These tasks include such things as launching all kinds of media products, from Web sites to custom publishing, virtual events, databases, books, supplements and spinoffs…Afterall, if you’re going to branch out you might as well stick to your core business and who knows what a publisher needs more than a publisher?

This magazine publishing branch-out (or in-house vertical strengthening, as I like to call it) kind of reminds me of what writers (novel writers as well as others) have had to do to break loose from traditional publishing “slush piles” and non-action by learning and taking on more of the tasks performed by publishing houses in the past…This all was made more possible and easier through the new digital technology. Let’s all drink a scotch on the rocks to that!

Tony Silber and Matt Kinsman, reporting for FOLIO magazine, analyze it this way:

When Publishers Become Vendors

Dave Schankweiler, CEO and publisher of Journal Publications Inc., a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania regional publisher, remembers the day he became not just a publisher, but a vendor to publishers too.

Back in 2004, the company, which publishes the Central Penn Business Journal, Central Penn Parent, and NJ Biz, launched a new survey, called Best Companies in Pennsylvania. It used an outside survey firm to do the first report. The night the winners were presented was a huge success. “That night,” Schankweiler remembers, “it was loud, and there was a countdown and a lot of excitement. And that’s exactly when we decided to change the company, because we were coming down from the high of the event. We said, ‘Why don’t we take this out into the market and do it as a service to other publishing companies?’ “

Magazine publishers are by nature entrepreneurial types. They like to tinker with their businesses. They’re incessantly launching all kinds of media products, from Web sites to custom publishing, events, databases, books, supplements, spinoffs. But there aren’t a lot like Dave Schankweiler. Most media companies tend to stick to their knitting and limit their creative impulses to media products.

Some companies, though, are transforming themselves into a different kind of hybrid, media companies that have branched out into businesses traditionally occupied by publishing-industry vendors. Gulfstream Media, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based regional publisher is one. Gulfstream is the parent company of Magazine Manager, a popular ad-sales management software. UBM’s TechWeb is another. TechWeb created UBM Studios, which develops in-house virtual events for tech publisher UBM as well as for external clients.

Read and learn more

08/04/2010

Condé Nast is Going Tech for Sure

Filed under: Conde Nast,digital magazine publishing,Joe Simon,magazines — gator1965 @ 3:08 pm

Condé Nast has hired a big gun in digital publishing, marketing and management away from cable TV’s Viacom…namely Joe Simon. His newly created and first-time-ever position at Condé is that of Chief Technology Officer.

The re-structured Condé Nast is diving into the digital survival waters following other magazine that are enjoying a revival of ad pages and profit margins.

For those that do not realize the extent of the Condé Nast high end, fashion, nutrition and luxury magazine empire, I will list all the magazines published by them here:

Vogue
W
WWD
Style
Glamour
Allure
Self
Nutrition Data
Teen Vogue
GQ
Details
Architectural Digest
Brides
Lucky
FN
Golf Digest
Golf World
Vanity Fair
Bon Appétit
Epicurious
Condé Nast Traveler
Concierge
Jaunted
Hotel Chatter
Vegas Chatter
Wired
Reddit
Ars Technica
Parade
The New Yorker

Matthew Flamm, of Craine’s New York Business, gives more details of the Condé Nast restructuring, the hiring of Joe Simon and what it means for the future of Condé Nast here http://alturl.com/qwpzh

01/07/2010

Help (understood or not) is on the Way for Print Media


Publishers need to become more committed to understanding the three-dimensional debth of multi-media products and the concepts of light, sound and motion to enhance “printed word” content.

Jim Gaines, editor-in-chief of multimedia magazine FLYPmedia, former managing editor at: People, Time and Life magazines AND corporate editor of Time Inc., discusses this impact topic in the December, 2009 edition of FOLIO magazine:

So far, publishers have demonstrated more fervor than conviction in their attempts to embrace digital innovation. With a few important exceptions—notably The Atlantic—general-interest magazine sites have given themselves over to opinion and aggregation, chasing the headless eyeball and revenue from desolate banner ads while leaving behind all trace of the narrative and design richness of the parent publications.

There is a desperate, shotgun quality to print-digital marriages, as well—like Entertainment Weekly’s “video in print” ad for CBS in September, GQ’s iPhone app in October and Esquire’s experiment with “augmented reality” on the December cover. Popular Science got there first in July, by, as they say, holding up the magazine cover to a computer’s webcam so readers can see “a 3-D landscape dotted with wind turbines popping off the page; by blowing into your computer’s microphone, you can even make the turbines spin faster.”

And as the song goes, you would cry too if it happened to you.

Help is On the Way

Happily, help is on the way, though at first glance, it has a decidedly menacing aspect. Like a hologram, it takes a little squinting to see it for what it is.

The much-rumored whatchamacallit from Apple (iTablet, iPad, whatever) will be just the ancestor of a new world of digital devices whose capabilities are going to lift the greatest burden of publishing (the cost of paper, ink and distribution) bringing HD video, animation, eloquent info graphics and the engaging arts of video gaming to the task of journalism and most other purposes of non-fiction story-telling, including education.

Just as transformative, the iWhatever and its descendants will liberate users from the lean-forward nature of the desktop experience by putting the screen in our hands. The Internet will still be the best way to find what you’re looking for fast, but it will be a great deal more than that, as well. Thanks to broadband penetration, print has lost its monopoly on ubiquity.

When I was the editor of People, I used to say magazines were safe until fiber optics made it to the bathroom. That was a long time ago. What I could not imagine then was how much more robust story-telling could be when liberated from paper and ink, or how you could ever feel like curling up with a computer.

Perhaps most importantly, multimedia story-telling will endow “print” journalism with the brand-enhancing asset that has kept advertisers investing in broadcast and cable: the engaging energy of light, sound and motion. Industry analysts have yet to make the leap from Web as a distribution channel to revolutionary medium.

“The strategies that make media companies successful will require new capabilities,” according to one recent study, which enumerated them: “tracking and research to gain deeper insights into audience interests, informatics to manage and direct Web traffic, database management, custom content and applications development, and the ability to manage a network of partnerships.”

Well, yes. But the way to enhance those relationships is not through database management, but by building trust and engagement—by telling great stories in a way that makes people want to read and experience them.

The Next “Magazine”

This will not be easy. ASME will need to get over itself and stop treating advertisers like enemy occupiers. ABC rules and circulation practices will need to change so that print brands can re-imagine themselves without losing credit for the loyal adherents who follow them there. Publishing giants will have to act like startups, inviting story-tellers from the worlds of film and gaming to join writers and designers with a serious claim on resources and the mandate to fail until they succeed in perfecting the crafts and arts of multimedia story-telling.

When that happens, some enlightened American company—publisher, ASME, maybe even an advertiser!—knowing that its brand equity is intimately tied to the values it promotes, will put its name (and money) behind the next great American “magazine.”

That could very well be a broadband multimedia experience whose mission is the same one that has always informed America’s publishing at its best—to share experience, in a spirit of generosity, to bear faithful witness, to bring coherence and light to the gravest problems and greatest purposes of American life.

Or, as Henry Luce once put it: “To see life. To see the world. To eyewitness great events ….”

Now that’s an app.

12/29/2009

Hearst’s Digital Reach Grows


Advertising revenue for digital publications is taking off. And, subscription rates for online pubs is also climbing if Hearst’s online magazine empire is any indication. The way they are able to tailor ads to specific targeted groups in different regions in the same issue is golden…

Amy Wicks, World Wide Digital, reports it this way:

GROWING REACH: With 26 sites and counting, Hearst Magazines Digital Media will launch a new vertical late next year that “is not one you’d expect from us,” noted Chuck Cordray, senior vice president and general manager. He added the URL already has been purchased but declined to provide more information. Next summer, the digital unit also will relaunch its teen network, which includes seventeen.com and teenmag.com.

And the digital space continues to attract new advertisers for Hearst, with ad revenue up more than 20 percent year-over-year. Cordray said the focus for next year will be on the retail category, which rose more than 50 percent this year. Cordray contended advertisers are coming to the Hearst digital network because, among other things, the package of sites on which the ads will appear can be customized depending on the audience a given brand wants to reach. “Ad networks usually can’t guarantee quality like we can, and they will alter placements across their sites,” Cordray said. “The nature of our content means the audience is very tailored.”

Meanwhile, the Web continues to be a greater source of subscriptions, with 3.3 million garnered this year versus 2.5 million in 2008. House Beautiful is one of the leaders, with more than 75 percent of subscriptions sold online.

Hearst magazine sites represent more than 40 percent of the total traffic in the digital network and 50 percent of its ad revenue. According to comScore for March through October, traffic across the total network was up 33 percent, including food site Delish.com. Traffic at Cosmopolitan was up 1 percent, Marie Claire was up 19 percent and Harper’s Bazaar was up 151 percent. Kaboodle, a nonmagazine site that focuses on fashion, was up 66 percent.

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