Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

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.

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03/21/2013

Digital Content Models – Become Instant, Multimedia Publishers Across All Platforms


Publish Everywhere Lickety-Split!!!

Damn! The last two years have wrought tremendous advances in digital publishing. How about a model that “seamlessly integrates text, audio, video, and interactive elements into ebooks, digital magazines, and other publications, and then effortlessly publishes into an iPad or iPhone app, for Kindle and Nook e-readers, and for Web browsers (in HTML5).”

The ultimate creation platform for the digital, mobile age. I guess so!

And just who developed this digital content publishing model dripping with super powers? – A company called Atavist, that’s who. And we will be jawing and giving out informative links about them and peripherals tonight.

Briefly, “Atavist is a media and software company at the forefront of digital, mobile publishing. Our mission is to enable the next generation of multimedia storytelling, reaching readers across mobile devices and the Web.”

Bill Mickey, Editor of FOLIO magazine, elicits great info in this interview with Atavist co-founder, Evan Ratliff:

Atavist Co-Founder Evan Ratliff On Digital Content Models

From long-form to subscriptions, there’s something for everyone.

One of the more dramatic turnarounds when considering online and digital content is long-form journalism. Once considered anathema to online publishing, not to mention mobile, only a couple years ago, it’s now considered an opportunity on multiple levels—from ebooks to tablets to interactive web features.

The Atavist
, founded by Evan Ratliff, Jefferson Rabb and Nicholas Thompson, was launched in early 2011 to tap the burgeoning long-form digital content market for mobile and web publishing. Here, Ratliff [pictured], who will be a speaker at FOLIO: and min’s MediaMashup summit on April 16 at the Grand Hyatt in New York, shares some of his insights on digital content production, the emerging models and how traditional publishers can participate.

FOLIO: What are some of the trends you’re seeing in longer-form content production in digital formats—online and mobile/tablet?

Evan Ratliff: It’s remarkable how things have changed just over the past two or three years. When we started, the idea that people wanted to read longform online was assumed to be dubious, if not ludicrous. Really, someone is going to sit at a computer and read a 5,000 word story? Almost no major outlets were doing digitally-original longform work. But the trend in the opposite direction started with the Kindle, accelerated with the iPad, then really took off with read-it-later services like Instapaper, Pocket and best-of selections like Longform. Now that you could read something in your hands, it changed the perspective on whether anyone would read something longer than a couple paragraphs, digitally.

But that’s all old news, at this point. What’s happening now is what we’d hoped would happen when we started in 2009: People aren’t just publishing longform online, they are designing for it. Whether it’s us, or the Verge (really, Vox Media in general), or Pitchfork, there are now a growing number of publications really thinking about how to make longform reading a different kind of experience online. Even more encouraging, major media outlets like the New York Times are following in the wake of the smaller ones, utilizing a lot of those ideas and putting serious resources behind executing their versions of them.

FOLIO: What are some of the more interesting content models you’re seeing coming out of the Atavist platform (from you and/or your customers)? How exactly are the boundaries of multimedia storytelling being pushed?

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01/10/2013

Publishing – Using Technology To Get Away From Technology


CEO Perspectives - FOLIO MagazineArianna-HuffingtonSay what? — Isn’t that an oxymoron? 

You might think so at first, but it is actually a very astutely worded observation by Arianna Huffington in her vision of 2013 publishing/media trends — She postulates three trends, to be exact, that are off the beaten path but truly hit the nail on the head — in this writers opinion 🙂

Arianna’s three 2013 media trends (as well as 8 other publishing leaders’ forecasts) are presented in CEO Perspectives from the December, 2012 FOLIO magazine (the magazine for magazine management):

CEO Perspectives/Arianna Huffington (President and editor-in-chief, Huffington Post Media Group)

When I look ahead to what 2013 holds for the media industry, three trends stand out. First, the shift from presentation to participation means that the days of the Media Gods on Mt. Olympus telling us how things are have ended. People are tired of being talked to; they want to be talked with. Our new global conversation has allowed media to engage with readers in totally new ways. The success of brands in the future will depend upon understanding this new relationship.

If the first trend is a Garden of Eden blooming with engagement and self-expression, the second trend is the snake in the garden: The temptation to fetishize the social and viral for their own sake and lose ourselves in technology. Fortunately there is a powerful, countervailing force using technology to get away from technology, reflected in apps and features like Freedom, Do Not Disturb, and HuffPost’s GPS for the Soul—which we’ll be unveiling at CES in January. I realize there’s a paradox in the idea that an app can help deliver us from technology, but the solution to tech overload isn’t no technology, but better technology.

The third trend is the shift from searching for information to searching for meaning. People are using technology to connect with others not just around similar passions and interests, but around the causes and values that most resonate with them. And the shift isn’t confined to individuals. More and more, brands are identifying with a cause, and making that identification a central part of their ethos.

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10/18/2012

Most Magazines to Begin Going Digital-Only by the End of the Decade


Newsweek – Going Digital-Only AND Global

At least that is what publishing industry ‘watchers’ predict.

One early indicator of this transformation: Newsweek magazine is going digital-only at the end of this year and be renamed Newsweek Global. (I still don’t think print mags will disappear completely – they’ve had too much of a renewed growth and popularity – due, incidentally, to digital growth).

But, it’s the ‘going global’ thing with Newsweek — and how they’ve set it up — that I think is interesting.

TJ Raphael reports this in FOLIO magazine:

Newsweek To Cease Print Publication in 2013

Rebranded in a digital-only format called Newsweek Global.

Earlier this week at the American Magazine Conference, industry watchers speculated that most magazines will begin going digital-only by the end of the decade—that prediction seems to be coming to fruition sooner than expected, starting with today’s announcement that Newsweekmagazine will cease its print publication by the end of 2012.

After 80 years in print, the magazine will transition to an all-digital format, renaming itself Newsweek Global, and will become a single, worldwide edition targeted for a mobile audience. Newsweek has an Asian edition; a Business Plus edition; an edition for Latin America; Europe, the Middle East and Africa in addition to its U.S. publication, all of which will be consolidated into Newsweek Global.

A statement from the Newsweek/Daily Beast Company, signed by editor-in-chief Tina Brown and CEO Baba Shetty, says that Newsweek Global will be supported by paid subscription and will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the Web, with select content available on The Daily Beast.

“Regrettably we anticipate staff reductions and the streamlining of our editorial and business operations both here in the United States and internationally,” says an internal memo posted on the company’s Tumblr page. “More details on the new organizational structure will be shared individually in the coming weeks and months.”

According to the most recent Fas-Fax from the Audit Bureau of Circulations for the period ending June 30, 2012, Newsweek saw a 9.7 percent year-over-year drop in the number of single copies sold at retail, with total paid, verified and analyzed non-paid circulation dropping by 0.2 percent. In the last three years, its total paid and verified circulation has gone from 2,646,613 to 1,527,157, with single copies going from 64,866 to 42,065 during the same period. Ad pages, however, have been up by 2.5 percent year-to-date, according to Min Box Score numbers.

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05/20/2012

Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants


Measuring Emotional Response To Media Platforms

Time Inc. has performed a study (a biometric study, no less) that measured, in real time, the emotional responses and attention spans of viewers to content in various platforms: magazines, smartphones, radio, TV, computer, newspaper, tablets.

Guess which platform ranked the highest ?

But first, a little definition time:

Digital Native – Consumers who grew up with mobile and digital technology as part of their everyday lives.

Digital Immigrant – Consumers who encountered and used digital media later in their adult lives.

Biometrics – The process by which a person’s unique physical or emotional traits are detected and recorded by an electronic device or system (e.g. scanning of the human iris in identification or measuring degrees of emotional responses). 

Understanding the results of the viewing patterns, attention spans (and what can hold them) and emotional responses to media content experienced over different platforms can be valuable in successful publishing — Both for ad sponsored, recurring content media AND, by extension, for writing, marketing and selling books.

More detailed analysis by Bill Mickey of Folio magazine’s Audience Development Spring 2012 Report:  

Time Inc. Measures Consumers’ Emotional Response to Media

‘Digital natives’ switch media 27 times per hour, but emotionally tied to mags.

If publishers think they’ve been covering the bases with an anytime, anywhere content strategy, they might be shocked to learn the results of a recent Time Inc. study conducted with Innerscope Research. Digital Natives, defined as consumers who grew up with mobile and digital technology as part of their everyday lives, switch their attention between media platforms an astonishing 27 times per hour.

That was one of the key findings of the study, called “A Biometric Day in the Life,” which used biometric monitoring and point-of-view camera glasses to follow the media habits of 30 individuals during 300 hours’ worth of media consumption. Biometric belts measured their emotional responses to various media platforms and the glasses recorded what platform they were viewing.

The other half of the study group consisted of Digital Immigrants, people who encountered and used digital media in their adult lives, who, predictably, have a more mellow media consumption patterns.

“Technology is shaping so much of how people think about media, use media, combine media,” say Besty Frank, Time Inc.’s chief research and insights officer. “We’ve started to think about all of these changes in the media specifically as they impact the notion of storytelling. We felt that the biometrics would add a new dimension to what we knew about how people use media and what the implications are for how we run our businesses and how we and our clients communicate with consumers.”

The study was particularly interesting, adds Barry Martin, Time Inc.’s executive director of consumer research and insights, because of the ability to record a subject’s emotions as they consumed their media. “We’ve done a lot of biometric work in media labs, but we’ve never been able to do it as they were going about their daily lives,” he says.

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05/15/2012

Magazine Publishing: E-Media Revenue is Slow (Let’s Peek Inside the Numbers)


Magazine Revenue Sources

I post news on the entire publishing industry and remind readers occasionally of just what the whole publishing industry consists of 🙂 

Wikipedia gives about the best concise definition of Publishing:

‘Publishing includes the stages of the development, acquisition, copyediting, graphic design, production – printing (and its electronic equivalents), and marketing and distribution of newspapers, magazines, books, literary works, musical works, software and other works dealing with information, including the electronic media.’

Bill Mickey, Editor of Folio magazine (the magazine for magazine management) , discusses the results of Folio’s 2012 B2B CEO survey and says  “Hurry Up with That E-Media Revenue.”

Apparently, the survey reflected an industry still heavily dominated by print. Nothing wrong with that, but it worries the execs that the other platforms, such as digital, are not increasing their shares fast enough.

In other words, the ad revenue from the new tech media is not growing fast enough … at least, not as expected.

Mickey says their 2009 B2B CEO survey reflected e-media representing 12% of revenues for companies making < $5 million, and 13% for 2010. And in 2011, 13% again. For companies making > than $5 million, e-media accounted for 13% in 2009; 19% in 2010 and 17% in 2011. Not a very fast growth.

The one good thing is that print did remain steady during this same period.

As the focus continues on digital, and as mobile platforms mature, more dramatic upticks are expected in the other key revenue categories next year.

Believe me, the magazine publishing biz is doing quite well today compared to a few years ago!

Now, for some great analytical charts and graphs detailing more inside numbers of Folio’s 2012 B2B CEO survey jump here.

04/12/2012

Publishing’s Next Gold Strike: The Emerging App Market


Emerging World of Apps !

Tonight’s post is a bit technical, but, by reading it, maybe we can pick up some insight by osmosis.

First, some definitions to help clarify:

API – Stands for Application Program Interface. It is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing a Web-based software application or Web tool. A software company releases its API to the public so that other software developers can design products that are powered by its service — For example, Amazon.com released its API so that Web site developers could more easily access Amazon’s product information. Using the Amazon API, a third party Web site can post direct links to Amazon products with updated prices and an option to “buy now.” More detail and another example here.

HTML5 –  The latest and greatest programming language that is device-agnostic and can be used across all mobile formats/platforms. This is also important for ebook publishers to understand so when they want to publish to all mobiles with just one format they can find a service that employs HTML5. See “What exactly is HTML5?” for more accurate detail, I’m sure.

Apps are big business for the tablet and mobile platforms. They provide seamless progression to enhanced functionality for us users of all kind of digital services — such as digital publishing across all tablets and mobiles with just one format.

Magazine publishing leads the way in employing apps, but understanding there emerging use will also benefit all publishers including indie publishers 🙂

Bill Mickey, Editor of FOLIO magazine, explains it better than I ever could:

The APP Market: Models Are Emerging, But Which To Choose

As the tablet and mobile markets evolve, publishers consider their pricing and distribution options.

Read and learn more 

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02/12/2012

Publishing 2011 & 2012: Some Business Trends and Surprises


Publishing Industry Mergers Equals Growth

Media M&A (mergers & acquisitions) were up in 2011. 896 deals were done representing $47 billion dollars in value (damn, who says publishing is dying?). When M&A is up in an industry I believe it is indicative that value and growth is trending positive and money is flowing and churning!

Bottom line: publishing is NOT hurting. Some think it is because these figures don’t come close to the banner year of 2007 ($104 billion in deals done!) … Sounds like a bunch of spoiled greedy bastards to me 🙂   

But, the publishing industry (including, of course, digital) is growing and trending positive and the outlook for 2012 looks to be even better according to JEGI (Jordan Edmiston Group Inc.) , a leading independent investment bank for media, information, marketing services and technology.  

This insight (with charts breaking out the industry sectors) is from FOLIO Magazine by Bill Mickey

Overall Media M&A Up 9 Percent in 2011

Marketing and interactive services drive growth with 32 percent of total value.

The media M&A market saw its third year in a row of growth, closing out 2011 with a 9 percent increase in total value over 2010, according to a year-end report by The Jordan, Edmiston Group.

There were 896 deals done, says the investment bank, 15 more than 2010 and more even than in the blockbuster year of 2007. Total value, however, still hasn’t come close to that year. In 2011, the deals represented $47 billion in value, up $4 billion from 2010, whereas 2007 saw $104 billion in deals done.

A key trend in 2011 was marketing and interactive services, which represented 32 percent of total deal value and accounted for 17 of the 32 biggest deals, and a third of total transaction volume.

And while expectations remain high for private equity, strategic buyers were decidedly more acquisitive. Out of the 32 largest deals (more than $400 million), 24 were done by strategics.

Sector by sector—JEGI tracks 10—exhibitions and conferences recorded a 249 percent increase in deal value over 2010. There were 32 deals totaling $451 million. JEGI points out that the fourth quarter marked quite a bit of activity from strategic buyers, with UBM, Bonnier, Diversified Business Communications, PennWell and Reed Elsevier making deals.

Consumer magazines also had a busy year with 32 transactions valued at $3.2 billion, a huge jump over 2010’s $214 million deal value.

B-to-b media was comparatively quiet, recording only 14 deals and $50 million in value—a 62 percent and 91 percent decline from 2010, respectively. B-to-b online media and tech, however, spiked appreciatively in value. The year’s 63 deals were 2 more than 2010, but value jumped 132 percent to almost $6 billion.

Interestingly, mobile media and tech declined slightly in volume with 72 deals done in 2011 versus 77 in 2010, but value jumped 37 percent to almost $2 billion.

John’s Note: Before I send you to the parent article I want to define a couple business/investing terms for those that may not readily recollect them for convenience and better understanding:

EBITDA – Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization

Strategic Buyer – A buyer in the same line of business who wants to buy and hold.

Financial Buuyer – A buyer (usually from a Private Equity Group [PEG]) that wants to buy low and sell high.

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11/30/2011

Digital Magazines – The 2011 Stats


The tablet age (along with some other mobiles) is only about a year old … But, there have been digital editions for over a decade (and I didn’t realize that!). At any rate, the blossoming digital publishing age did come along at a time when print mags were sliding. And from all indications digital editions have revived the magazine industry … even pumping up their print sisters in some cases 🙂

Now, let’s get into some business performance numbers for 2011 RE this rather new industry … provided by Matt Kinsman, Executive Editor of FOLIO magazine

The State of the Digital Edition Industry in 2011

Publisher satisfaction grows but monetization continues to frustrate.

We’re only about a year into the tablet age but more than a decade of using digital editions. Today, with the rise of ever increasingly sophisticated mobile devices and apps, digital editions are poised to leap to the forefront of publishers’ revenue generation plans and serve as their flagship on devices such as the iPad.

But are they able to deliver? Nxtbook Media recently wrapped its 2011 State of the Digital Edition survey, which looked at audience development and revenue growth, as well as where mobile fits in.

The good news? Publishers on both the consumer and b-to-b sides are more satisfied with their digital editions than last year when Nxtbook first conducted the survey. However, there is some growing frustration as publishers continue with how to actually monetize digital editions.

Satisfaction Up by 40 Percent

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they are satisfied with their digital edition (12 percent are “quite satisfied” while 37 percent are “somewhat satisfied”), up 40 percent from 2010. “Publishers this year are more optimistic and they’re also more decisive than last year,” says Nxtbook marketing director Marcus Grimm.

However, while publishers are realizing digital editions have great potential for growing audience, they aren’t sure how to do so. Sixty-four percent of respondents say they are confident there are many more readers out there but they don’t know how to reach them (up from 59.3 percent who said the same last year). “That speaks to the youth of our audiences,” says Grimm. “Publishers are trying lots of things; we know readers are out there, but we’re not cracking the code. The iTunes store brought us to a totally different place—every time we think we have this space figured out, it changes.”

Just 21 percent of respondents said they know there are more digital magazine readers out there and they know how to reach them.

Still, Grimm advises publishers should strive for 15 percent of their readership to come from digital editions at this stage. “If you can get to that, it’s a vibrant number,” he adds. “It’s a large enough number that your advertisers will care about.”

Advertising Satisfaction

Publishers are less satisfied with digital editions as an advertising tool than as an audience tool. Just 29 percent of publishers say they are very or somewhat dissatisfied with the advertising revenue of their digital editions, about the same as last year.
However, the satisfaction gap between b-to-b publishers (Nxtbook’s main clientele) and consumer publishers shrank over the past year.

“The iTunes store has helped b-to-b pubs a lot and specialty optimized magazines are helping with sponsorship,” says Grimm. “Advertisers are getting excited about new optimized magazines.”

Still, just 12 percent of respondents say they have a firm handle on how to generate money with digital magazines. Sixty-one percent of respondents say their digital magazine can be a revenue generator but are unsure how to get to the next level.

Perhaps most troubling, the number of respondents who say they’ve tried many ways to make money with digital editions and are fairly convinced they can’t nearly doubled from last year to 8 percent.

Read and learn more

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09/01/2011

Print’s Alive, but Publishing Still in Trouble? (Actually it’s NOT)


 

Is Publishing in Trouble or Not?

Apparently, a main theme coming out of the July 2011 Yale Publishing Conference was that ‘fear’ was at the center of all the chaos in the modern publishing world.

This is true … But, duhhhh, who didn’t already understand that! Of course it’s fear of change that is holding publishing back from being all it can be.

Fear of change and the unknown (or not understood) has always been a prevalent weakness for most Homo sapiens. 

Stefanie Botelho, writing for FOLIO Magazine, covered the conference:

If Print Isn’t Dead, Why is Publishing Still in Trouble?

Reasons why explored at Yale Publishing Conference.

At the Yale Publishing Conference, which took place last month in New Haven, CT, big names in magazine publishing were in attendance, both as students and teachers.

The session began with Richard Foster, senior faculty fellow at Yale School of Management and managing partner with the Millbrook Management Group, LLC. He philosophized about the term “creative destruction”, focusing its various implications in correlation to the publishing world.

Subsequent sessions led by Michael Clinton, president and marketing/publishing director of Hearst; president of Dwell Media Michela O’Connor Abrams; and Glamour editor-in-chief Cynthia Leive ran the gamut of print, digital and staffing challenges.

But the biggest theme, prevalent in how speakers addressed the crowd and the audience pressed the presenters for immediate solutions to admittedly complex problems (the transition to digital, etc.), was not listed in the printed program.

It was fear.

And that may be the largest issue the publishing industry is facing today: fear of the present, fear of the future, fear of the audience and, perhaps the most crippling, fear of change.

While not as easily palpable in the speakers (who each provided case study after case study of success within their companies), both lecturers and audience members rippled with it. Age jokes were dropped at a noticeable rate (O’Connor Abrams quipped she and only one other staffer are over 30) and tales of staff let go because of unwillingness to convert to the digital age (and assist in the bevy of products unrelated to actual print issues) were some of the most poignant of the day. The message was clear: get onboard or get out, because there are plenty of others to take your seat at the publishing table—many of them young enough to still be crashing with Mom and Dad.

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