Thursday, June 14, 2007

Cutting Edge Covers

"The bitterest misfortune can be covered up with a smile"

Cutting Edge Covers

By Linda Ruth

What's working on the newsstand today is a sharp, clean approach, a clear image, and a message that can be perceived at a glance.

When you stand at the newsstand and scan the titles, what do you look for? What catches your eye?

Likely in the jumble of titles found there, your eye is drawn to the ones whose covers provide contrast, whose cover lines jump out with their visibility and catch your interest with their content, and whose images are clear, immediate and arresting.

These have always been the fundamentals of a good newsstand cover, and the leading newsstand publishers today still adhere to them, as they did last year, and five years ago, and ten years ago. Yet as publishers, art directors and editors pore over their covers from issue to issue, analyzing through sales what went right and what went wrong, the art and science of cover creation continues to evolve.

What Difference Does a Cover Make?

The difference your magazine's cover can make is evident by the fluctuation in sales from issue to issue. Begin by indexing for seasonality and smoothing out those sales dips and spikes to put every issue on an equal playing field. Check distribution history to verify that no special promotions, premiums, shipping delays, UPC problems, or acts of God artificially inflated or depressed your sales. What is left is the work of your package-primarily your cover.

Seventy-five percent of newsstand readers say the cover was the main reason they picked up, and eventually purchased, the magazine. And a newsstand reader typically will buy three to four issues per year of a monthly publication. If your cover can push that three time reader to a four time reader, how will that effect sales?

In running split tests publishers have found that the right cover can make a difference of five percent, seven percent-or as much as twenty to twenty five percent of sale. The fluctuation in sales of a monthly consumer publication with no change in distribution, promotions, or packaging are due to the newsstand cover, and the public's response to it.

What does this mean to your bottom line? If a cover can move the sales needle, what does each additional sales percentage mean in net revenue? This is a number that every publisher, every editor, every art director should know.

It is a number that they should bring into their cover concept meetings, and it should dominate their awareness in choosing their cover images and cover lines.

Find What Works for You

While splitting your newsstand run remains the most reliable way to test your cover treatment, there are increasingly effective options for online cover testing as well. Because on line testing can be done in advance of the issue it is a good way of discovering which of two overall completely different cover treatments might work best for an upcoming issue.

When split testing on the newsstand, however, it is important to limit your test to only one element. Will a person or product work best for your image? One image or several? An indoor or outdoor shot? Be sure to limit the cover variance to that one element. Even when testing an overall direction or concept, keep colors, point size, logo, and every other element consistent.

As you test, you are likely to discover or confirm some general principles that seem to hold true year after year, publication after publication: a full bleed still does work better than a frame. A photograph tends to work better than an illustration. Words like "new", "hot," "free," or "bonus;" numbers, how tos, tips, guides, and the use or implication of the word "you" still lift sales-for almost everyone.

The image on your cover-that one, clear, focused, central image that commands attention and sells its story at a glance-should whenever possible be a picture of the "product" covered by your magazine. What is the product?

If you publish a computer magazine, it's a computer. If you publish a child magazine, it's the child-not the parents, not the child with the parents, but the child itself. If you publish a travel magazine it's the destination; for a yoga magazine it's the posture.

Despite the perceived wisdom from the time of general interest magazines that a person, eye contact, could sell a magazine, in the age of special interest publications we find this is not always the case. A random person-one who is not a model, or a celebrity, and not the focus of the feature article-does not sell a magazine. A fit person can sell your magazine-if it's a fitness magazine. A beautiful person can sell your magazine-if it's a beauty magazine. There's no need to put a person into a shot just to warm it up and make it friendlier. Generally, it doesn't work.

What is Working Now

Some recent successful redesigns tell us what's working today. Most logo redesigns still go for a bigger, bolder look. An example is Guitar Player magazine, whose new logo dominates the top fifth of the cover. Gone is the signature guitar that once dominated this important space. "The old logo was dated," explains Denise Robbins, group circulation director. "It appealed to a certain core audience of enthusiasts, but alienated other consumers.

The new logo is a sleeker and has a more modern sensibility. It helps dispel the myth that we're a magazine that appeals only to classic rock guitarists and attracts a broader consumer base. Because the new logo is placed slightly higher on the cover, the magazine is more easily identified in a fanned newsstand display, as well."

In relaunching MacAddict magazine as MacLife, Future US was especially concerned with maintaining continuity for the newsstand reader. In order to accomplish this, they came up with the creative idea of creating a sticker of the MacAddict logo to place over the logo of the first issue of the relaunch on all the newsstand copies. The sticker could be peeled off to reveal the new logo.

"MacAddict was great for its time: a magazine for people just passionate about their Mac," comments Holly Klingel, then VP of circulation for Future. "The new MacLife acknowledges that there are more users of Apple technology than ever before, and the number of people using the technology is growing faster than ever before. They don't have to be defensive about it-it's a lifestyle. You see the clean, contemporary look of the cover, reflecting the beautiful styling of the Apple products. It's got that pleasing look that draws you in."

In January 2007 Yankee magazine changed its format from digest size to B size. "Yankee is all about New England, and all the idea of New England evokes," says Sherin Wight, its VP and single copy sales director. "That includes images, powerful images that connect back to its sense of place." The re-design allows more room for photos, both on the cover and in the pages.

"Images have to be read at a glance," Sherin adds. "No one has time to stand and figure out what the image is about, what it means. Years ago you could have covers that included visual puns or "in" jokes. Today there's too much going on. We make things simple, not complicated."

Part of that simplicity for Yankee is short, clear cover lines stacked over the logo. "We don't have room for more than three or four words for each feature, so we have to make them count." The logo, too has been redesigned. "It combines looking back to an older New England, in the looping type face and serif font, and looking forward to the New England of today and tomorrow in the bold, clear, look of the logo."

A cleaner look, a clearer image, a message perceived at a glance. A move away from images as part of the logo, away from an over-decorated look. Even when look-ing backward, the ornate look of yesterday is modified to the bigger, simpler lines that typify the look of today. While holographic art, special covers, new type fonts, and creative angling do not lose their power to appeal and draw in readers, what is really working on the newsstand is the sharp, clean approach needed to maintain the cutting edge.

$2B in newspaper print ads periled

"Don't go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don't imagine you're too familiar
And I don't see you anymore
I wouldn't leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times
I'll take you just the way you are."
Billy Joel (American Pianist, Singer and Song Writer, b.1949)

$2B in newspaper print ads periled
by Alan Mutter

Print advertising sales for newspapers appear to be on track to plunge by $2 billion this year, which would make for the worst performance in a decade other than the disastrous period following 9/11.

The difference between this projected decline and the one after September, 2001, is that it would occur in an era of economic well being characterized by low unemployment, respectable retail sales (until this nasty April) and record highs in the stock market. The setback, if it materializes, would be unprecedented for an industry that, until recently, has been masterful at increasing its revenues in good times and bad.

The potentially abrupt reversal of fortune would be caused not merely by competition from the Internet but also by profound changes in the way consumers buy and marketers sell. We'll come back to that in a moment, but, first, the numbers.

Based on the industry's dismal 6.4% drop in print ad sales in the first quarter of the year - including a staggering 13.2% decline in classified revenues - publishers will be lucky to break $44.5 billion in print advertising in 2007, according to projections based on statistics reported by the Newspaper Association of America. That's 4.6% less than the $46.6 billion in print sales in 2006, when sales were 1.7% lower than those of the prior year.

My forecast is based on a model that follows the industry's remarkably consistent pattern over the years of producing 23% of its annual revenues in the first quarter and generating 25%, 24% and 28% of yearly sales in each succeeding quarter. If any of these periods performs better or worse than the historic trends, then the forecast would be affected accordingly.

The second quarter, for example, got off to a rocky start when several publishers reported steep sales setbacks in April. The worst of them were ad revenue declines of 10.3% at Tribune Co., 7.6% at McClatchy, 7.6% at Journal Register and 7.2% at Media General. The best of them, Gannett and Lee, reported respective declines of 3.1% and 3.5%.

Assuming print ad sales indeed end this year in the neighborhood of $44.5 billion, they would be only marginally better than the results achieved during the traumatic period following the terror attacks in September, 2001. Total industry revenues were respectively $44.3 billion and $44.1 billion in 2001 and 2002.

Because the NAA did not begin reporting online revenues until 2004, there are no precise numbers for print-only sales for any earlier years. But standalone print sales would not have been appreciably lower than $44 billion in 2001-2, because publishers, who generally had little faith in the Internet back then, mostly gave away online ads to sweeten print contracts.

Until the shock to the global economy caused by 9/11, the last time newspaper revenues were below $44 billion was in 1998.

The big difference between 1998 and now, of course, is the emergence of the digital media as major new competitors for advertising dollars. Online advertising revenues among all players climbed from just $1.9 billion in 1998 to $16.7 billion in 2006, according to the annual survey conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for the Internet Advertising Bureau, an industry-financed organization.

Assuming a 25% growth rate this year, online ad sales would total approximately $21 billion for all media in 2007, or nearly half the $44.5 billion in print sales that appear to be in prospect for newspapers. In addition to print ads, newspapers are lkely to sell approximately $3.3 billion in online advertising this year (vs. $2.7 billion in 2006), which would bring newspaper industry ad sales in both categories to a bit less than $48.8 billion, a 3.1% decline from 2006.

Before the Internet turned from being a minor nuisance to the disruptive market force it is today, newspaper sales climbed smoothly year after year in the 1990s, unfazed by the ebbs and flows in the economy. The phenomenon is illustrated in the chart below, where newspaper ad sales are shown in the dark blue line and annual changes of the gross domestic product are depicted in light blue.

When the Bubble burst after the banner advertising sales year of 2000, both the economy and newspaper revevnues plunged. But newspaper ad sales still remained more resilient than the economy through both the post-Bubble recession and the aftermath of 9/11.

The story changed abruptly in 2005, when newspaper ad sales - for the first time in modern history - began to fall in a period of robust economic expansion. The drop, of course, coincides with the stupendous growth of Internet advertising, which doubled from a post-Bubble low of $6 billion in 2002 to $12.5 billion in 2005.

Although publishers put considerable sums of cash into new media initiatives over the last 12 years, they did foolish things like putting the entire contents of their papers on line for free, instead of developing digitally savvy products. As publishers dithered, companies like Google solved the search problem, MarketWatch created a financial portal, MySpace comandeered social networking and YouTube perfected the fine art of viral video.

Even though newspapers got more serious - and slightly more sophisticated - about the digital media in the post-9/11 period, new media sales of $2. 7 billion still represented only 5% the industry's total ad revenues in 2006. Starting with such a small base, even annual digital sales growth at the recent unsustainable levels of 25% to 35% cannot fill the gap that would be left by a continuing series of drops in print-ad revenues.

In retrospect, it is clear that newspaper publishers were lulled into complacence in the early years of the Internet by their prior skill in achieving consistent sales growth in even negative economic conditions. But the growth was not achieved as much by recruiting new customers - or even selling more advertising to existing ones - as by using their monopoly-like positions to force hefty annual rate increases on advertisers who essentially had nowhere else to go.

That changed abruptly when the online interlopers showed up with not only cheaper ads, but also ones whose audience could be tightly targeted and whose performance could be empirically verified.

In but one example, help-wanted advertising, perhaps the most profitable of all lines for newspapers, fell 7.5% last year to $4.7 billion and then dropped 14.3% in the first quarter to less than $700 million. The category, which hit a peak of $8.7 billion in 2000, has been fair game ever since for everyone from Craig's List to the recruiting section on the web site of almost any company of consequence. (A fuller discussion of this phenomenon here remains valid, even though some of the quoted revenue forecasts proved to be too generous.)

Automotive advertising is an example of dislocation caused not just by competing media but also by fundamental changes in behavior on the part of consumers and marketers alike. As forecast previously here, auto classified tumbled 12.8% to $3.99 billion last year, the first time since 1996 that this category fell below $4 billion.

Classified auto advertising in newspapers, which slid 20.1% in the first quarter to $751 million, has become less relevant now that more than two-thirds of auto buyers spend five or more hours shopping for cars on the Internet, including considerable time at specialized auto sites and those of car manufacturers.

Having failed to get ahead of the radical changes wrought by the new technologies, publishers today now face multiple, contradictory challenges as they attempt to reclaim something approximating their traditional levels of sales and profitability.

With print advertising volume falling and rates under pressure from lower-cost competitors, publishers are scrambling to cut creative deals to shore up the performance of the product that generates 90% to 95% of their sales.

At the same time, they must invest aggressively in new print and digital products to reinvigorate their eroding franchises and position them for future growth.

Also at the same time, they are under pressure to preserve their traditional profitability - an especially high priority for publicly held companies.

Most publishers have responded to these inherently incompatible demands by making drastic cuts in staff, coverage and news hole. Unfortunately, this degrades the product that generates the overwhelming proportion of their revenues.

Publishers may get away with short-changing loyal newspaper readers for a time, if they can successfully reposition their businesses, rapidly recover their profitability and use some of the new earnings to refurbish their tattered core products. Failure to do so, however, may irretreivably damage a business that once seemed so preternaturally invulnerable.

Simplify and 9 other tips I learned from the new Woman's Day

"I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite."
G. K. Chesterton (English born Gabonese Critic, Essayist, Novelist and Poet, 1874-1936)

Simplify and 9 other tips I learned from the new Woman's Day

Posted by Samir Husni

I do not believe in redesigns. I tell my clients all the time that magazines are not born for redesigns and face-lifts. Plastic surgery will not help. The best way for a magazine to succeed is to debut a "new editorial platform," to keep up with the times. Change is the only constant in our business and for us to change it means we have to go beyond a redesign. Woman's Day, starting with the July 10 issue debuts such a "new editorial platform." The last of the women's service magazines to reinvent itself is Woman's Day. I was able to find 10 good examples to follow in the process of "reinvention."

1. Simplify. Editor in Chief Jane Chesnutt writes, "If you can count on learning one thing in our pages it's to simplify, simplify, simplify."

2. Navigate. In the age of the internet, magazines can be the best vehicle to ease the navigation through the pages. Woman's Day offers an easy to follow navigation marker: Live Well Every Day.

3. Create a Splash page. In order to make navigation easy, every section of the magazine must have its own opening page. I call that the "Splash Page." Woman's Day offers four splash pages: live well, health, solutions, and eat well.

4. Welcome from both ends. Make sure that your readers feel welcomed whether they look at the first page of the magazine or the last page. In Woman's Day My Daily WD welcomes you on page one and the Last Word help you on the last page.

5. Engage in all pages. From the editor's letter to the masthead Woman's Day engages the readers with more than 11 entry and exit points. Pages that a lot of people write off as wasted space, Woman's Day creates a good hook for readers to stick to those pages.

6. Group. Do not be afraid to gather all the information about the same topic in the same place. Whether it is an article, a department or some tidbits of information put them all together in one area of the magazine. Readers are busy. They like for you to save them time from searching from one side to the other of the magazine in order to find all the health articles. Place them in one place. In Woman's Day if it is food and eating well, it is all on pages 125 through 152. It is all about food. No flip flops here.

7. Promise and Deliver. A lot of magazines promise and a lot of readers buy the magazine once for the promises, twice for the delivering of those promises. Woman's Day promises 84 Health Tips, 20 Ways to Save $100, 13 Top Fat Busters, 15 Favorite Summer Recipes and 10 Top Power Foods . . . Do not be afraid from too many promises. Remember you can never have too many promises if you deliver on them in the magazine.

8. Bonus. Always try to offer your readers a bonus. Something extra. Something for nothing. It make readers feel good and at the same time benefit from the added bonus. Keep the bonus related to the magazine mission and focus. Woman's Day offers a free Summer First Aid Chart.

9. Personalize. Make the magazine the reader's magazine and not the editor's. "my daily WD" is a very good example of such personalization. All what you need is to write your name.

10. Repeat and Repeat. Do not be afraid of repetition. Readers are creatures of habit. It they like something, they want more of the same. Editors get bored faster than the readers. Keep that in mind and let us hope for a repeat with the next issue of Woman's Day.

A Celeb-Loving Mag Out of Sync With a Celeb-Loving Culture

A Celeb-Loving Mag Out of Sync With a Celeb-Loving Culture
Interview Has Failed to Understand That America Is Losing Interest in the Famous Fawning Over Themselves

By Simon Dumenco
Maybe you love celebrities so much you want to be friends with them. Maybe you feel kindly toward them -- protective, even. Maybe you feel bad for them when they're abused by the media.

Interview is edited as though the past 15 years never happened. And maybe you think that there should be a home for battered celebrities -- a sort of haven. Well, there already is, and it's for sale. Real-estate developer Peter Brant, you may have heard, is looking to get out of the celebrity-coddling business by divesting himself of Interview magazine. You could argue that he's getting out of the publishing business, because he's also selling the two other titles in the Brant Publications stable: Art in America and the curiously named The Magazine Antiques. But "publishing" and "business" are pretty much beside the point here.

For Peter Brant, owning the art and antique titles has always been about entrée -- one of the most prominent collectors in the world, he has art holdings reportedly worth hundreds of millions -- just as owning Interview has always been about access to the famous. In fact, not too long after Brant bought Interview (in 1989) with his then-wife Sandra (who today retains equity in Brant Publications as its president-CEO), he celebrified his own household: In 1993 he started dating the woman who would become his next wife, the former supermodel Stephanie Seymour.

Interview, of course, has always been about sucking up to celebrities -- though in its earliest days, it had pretensions to a sort of high-minded artfulness. Blandly designed and printed in black and white on newsprint, Andy Warhol's "monthly film journal" was filled with Q&A's with art-house auteurs such as Roberto Rossellini and John Schlesinger.

Skimming through today's Interview, which has been edited by Ingrid Sischy since 1989, is a surreally nostalgic, oddly wistful experience. I've written frequently in this column and elsewhere about the transmogrification of contemporary fame -- about how, as celebrity has exploded, it's also simultaneously been reduced (the Us Weekly "They're Just Like Us!" effect), pathologized (the "Page Six" effect), monetized (the In Style effect), deconstructed (the "Behind the Music" effect), cheapened (the reality-TV effect) and degraded (the Paris Hilton effect). Sischy's Interview ignores all that; it's like the past decade and a half never happened. Sure, plenty of media outlets still gush and fawn over celebrities -- but Interview is unique in the extent to which it utilizes celebrities to gush and fawn over themselves.

The June issue, for instance, features not one but two curiously clueless, entirely uninformed interviews with indie pop star Rufus Wainwright, conducted over the phone by "two of his pals," actress Sienna Miller and "Saturday Night Live" cast member Amy Poehler. (Sienna: "Hi, my darling. Are you in New York City?" Rufus: "I am ...") Elsewhere in the issue, interviewer Alan Cumming tells his interviewee, "Aw, I love you, Cyndi Lauper." (Lauper responds, "I love you too, Al.") It's meant to come off chummy, clubby -- but this club feels dangerously sealed off from reality. It feels airtight; it feels like a sarcophagus. Will the Brants be able to find a buyer who's willing to open the windows and let in some air? Can the next owner of Interview reposition this willfully guileless brand for a post-PerezHilton, post-TMZ world?

In a world that values celebrity dysfunction over celebrity hagiography, the magazine certainly doesn't work as a brand that's leverageable as an internet play (its underdeveloped website has negligible traffic). Celebrities telling each other how much they adore themselves and each other is not exactly what you'd call "viral content." I don't know. It might be too late. Over the past 15 years or so, as we've all grown appropriately suspicious of the celebrity-industrial complex, Interview has remained stubbornly, creepily autoerotic. If it's not long for this world, chalk it up to a case of autoerotic asphyxiation.

CMP Technology to Fold Magazines, Focus on Digital

"Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius."
An Wang (Chinese born American Computer engineer and Inventor, 1920-1990)

In Major Restructuring, CMP Focuses Online
200 employees laid off, three magazines shut.
By Matt Kinsman

Faced with a precipitous category-wide decline in technology print advertising and massive change in audience information consumption, CMP Technology announced this morning that it is dramatically restructuring to focus on digital media, and in the process is laying off 200 people and closing three magazines.

"We found last year for the first time, our non-print revenues outstripped our print revenues," CEO Steve Weitzner said. "This year that trend is continuing and the gap is actually growing. We want to realign internal resources around these growth areas and look at opportunities in the marketplace and really go after them."

Consequently, Weitzner said, the company is putting its online businesses "at the center of everything we do and changing how we do print."

Network Computing and Optimize will be folded into InformationWeek, and SysAdmin will be folded. The positions being eliminated run the gamut from management positions to sales positions to editorial and back-office. "We are decentralizing certain functions like audience development and moving them from a corporate structure to be closer to their groups," Weitzner said. "The idea is to move away from the BPA-centric circ approach of audience development to an online-centric approach."

Here is a breakdown of how the changes will affect CMP Technology's main groups:

Business Technology Group:

As noted, InformationWeek will integrate biweekly Network Computing and the monthly Optimize into the one publication, and launch three monthly demographic editions with For IT, By IT; For CIOs, By CIOs; and Strategic Security. Online, will become the news arm of the TechWeb Network while becomes the umbrella for technical content. "The design is to allow the advertising base to buy in print the same way they buy online," says Weitzner. "Now they can buy a CIO-oriented audience, they can buy toward technical buyers, or buy the broad range InformationWeek audience that covers the market."

Channel Group:

CRN, which currently publishes three times per month, will scale back to twice per month, while bi-weekly VARBusiness will switch to monthly frequency. One sales team will handle CRN, VARBusiness and ChannelWeb. All editorial and market research will become part of The Institute for Partner Education and Development.

Electronics Group:

EE Times will continue as a weekly publication while CMP will make extensive changes to editorial and devote more resources to the online edition. "Virtually everything will come from the online edit staff, including technical pieces," says Weitzner.

Most of the frequency changes and changes to print lineup take place beginning in July.

While CMP parent United Business Media reported that CMP Technology posted double-digit growth to 366.6 pounds (or about $186.2 million) in 2006, the print side of the business has struggled. Overall, the Computing, Software and Telecom publishing category fell 6.7 percent to $1.39 billion in ad revenue and was down 5.7 percent to 42,141 ad pages in 2006, and through the first two months of 2007 was down 17.5 percent to $171.8 million in ad revenue and down 9.7 percent to 2,841 ad pages, according to Business Information Network.

Advertisers Proposing Changes to Verified Circ

"He who does not have common sense at age thirty will never have it."

BPA Board Rule Changes
By Kristina Joukhadar

At its meeting May 24, 2007, the BPA Worldwide Board of Directors approved rule changes that include such things as the pre-populating of free online subscription forms; membership benefit source rules; penalties for filing incorrect circulation statement claims; non-qualified digital copies; and new quality standards for Associate Members.

Some of the rulings-for example, the number of consecutive issues that must be served to qualify (or verify) a subscription; and the freedom to serve verified circ copies that are not declared on the Publishers Statement-addresses issues being raised by advertisers to ABC (see Karlene's story above).

Continuous vs. Non-Continuous Circulation

The BPA Board has modified rules regarding continuous/non-continuous circulation. Under the revised rule, for circulation to be identified as "continuous," publications must serve recipients at least three months of uninterrupted service, subject to unsubscribe requests and non-deliverable addresses. (Previously, publications with 14 or less issues per year were required to provide six continuous months of service.)

The Board also ruled that up to 5 percent of total qualified circulation may be served less than three months service without further disclosure; anything over 5 percent must be reported as non-continuous circulation on a circulation statement or audit report.

Prepopulation of Online Forms

Publishers may now pre-populate the "yes" category of a free online subscription form after an individual has taken an affirmative action to subscribe on a previous web page or web link. (Prior to this, publishers were not allowed to pre-populate the yes/no option of an online form.)

Membership Benefit Source

Non-paid subscriptions can only be reported as a benefit of membership if the association passes a board resolution stating the publication is a benefit of membership. The association does not need to own the publication. Subscriptions that are purchased by an association for its members shall not be reported as a benefit of membership, but rather as sponsored sales.

Last, deductible and non-deductible membership benefit subscriptions need not be for an "official" publication of the association. The rule change marks a BPA departure from current USPS rules. As a result, publishers with a significant amount of Membership Benefit sources should check with the USPS to ensure their membership benefit subscriptions meet periodical rate criteria.

Non-Qualified Digital Copies

Effective with the June 2007 audit cycle, publishers may begin reporting digital non-qualified advertiser and agency copies and non-qualified paid digital copies (excluding sponsored copies) together with print copies in the same category on circulation statements and audit reports. No other non-qualified digital publication copies may be reported.

Other Noteworthy Changes

Publishers with three years of audit reports requiring adjustment will be subject to a pre-audit process before any circulation statements will be released.

BPA has announced a new service, a Distribution Audit, to verify distribution for non-editorial media such as product listings, wall media, coupon publications and card decks.

BPA offers an Associate Member class for suppliers to the industry. The guidelines will require new Associate Members to provide references of at least three quality BPA experiences before they are accepted into membership.

Advertisers Proposing Changes to Verified Circ

By Karlene Lukovitz

Eighteen months into the new ABC verified circulation category, some in the advertising community are pushing for rule changes at ABC's Board meeting in July, while publishers are maintaining that changes in verified are unnecessary or, at the very least, premature.

During a session on verified at the Circulation Management Conference, ABC President Michael Lavery confirmed that three possible changes to that category will be discussed in July: increasing the required number of consecutive issues served to make a subscription eligible for verified reporting (the current number is two; the number being discussed is six); eliminating the ability to report back copies as verified; and eliminating the ability to choose not to report on the statement some copies that were served, and would fall under verified if reported.

All three proposals originate from media buyer/advertiser concerns about what they term "spiking" by some magazines: adding significant numbers of public place verified copies to the last one or two issues in a period in order to meet average rate base for a six-month period and then, in some cases, not reporting many of the verified copies on subsequent statements.

"We don't think verified is bad. Public place can be a good thing, if it's in the right environment for the particular advertiser," said panelist Jackie Seligman, director of print services, Universal McCann. "But if verified is so great, there's no reason there should be major fluctuations on a month by month basis."

Seligman also said that the current requirement of serving two consecutive issues to qualify for verified reporting is insufficient because it undermines advertisers' goal of buying schedules in order to create a "dialogue" with magazine readers. "Advertisers shouldn't have to pay for publishers doing sampling to get readers," she said.

Publishers, however, point out that incidences of spikes in verified during the first two periods of reporting the category were very limited. (Seligman acknowledged that under a dozen magazines were probably involved, although she added that some were from major companies, and that this was a "red flag.")

Further, publishers stress that the disclosure levels built into verified ensure that buyers and advertisers can see how individual magazines are using verified, so competitive concerns and normal buyer/seller dynamics will deter uses of verified that are questionable in buyers' minds.

Noting that he believes that the marketplace is approaching "natural equilibrium," Hearst Magazines VP, consumer marketing Ken Godshall cautioned against "over-reaction" and advocated that ABC's Board wait to see the results of the June 07 reporting period before determining if verified rules adjustments are necessary.

Publishers view the proposal from some buyers that it be mandatory to report all verified copies served during a period-even if a magazine does not want to declare these for rate base purposes, and is not charging advertisers for this distribution-as a "scary precedent," one marketer told CM.

"Some publishers are objecting on principal, because that's tantamount to telling them how to run their businesses," he says. "Some might want to serve public place copies to help maintain their syndicated readership numbers or to do sampling, but not include these on their statements," the marketer said. "If they're paying out of pocket for this, not selectively reporting these copies on some statements to make rate base, how is this advertisers' concern?"

Some in attendance also questioned the fairness of requiring extensive disclosure for verified copies, but allowing sponsored copies to be declared as paid without requiring disclosure of the amount paid or where they're being distributed. In fact, industry sources report that such concerns are likely to generate a proposal from publishers that at least the public place portion of sponsored be collapsed into verified.

Sources report that there's also likely to be discussion of moving sponsored individual use, and possibly partnership, into the verified category or adjusting their reporting requirements.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Silence surrounds Dennis's disposal of US magazines

"Do you know a magazine called the National Enquirer? In the current issue, somebody drew it to my attention, there's a picture of me, like a very young picture of me, and there's a picture of Eric Clapton now and a picture of me then, and it says this is how Eric Clapton has aged."

Jack Bruce

Silence surrounds Dennis's disposal of US magazines

By Jeffrey Blyth

What happened to the sale of the American editions of Maxim, Blender and Stuff is something of a mystery. Closing bids for the Dennis Publishing magazines closed more than a week ago. An announcement was expected within days.

The word was that the magazines had gone to a company in the US called Quadrangle, headed by former lads' mag editor Kent Brownridge. It was even reported that the price was between $200 and $250 million.

All that remained, it was said, was to cross the t's and dot the i's on the contract. But since then, there has been only silence.

Are there complications? Did the deal fall through? No one is saying.

Maxim, one of the biggest selling men's mags in the US, with sales of over 2,500,000 is of course the biggest prize.

The lads' mag scene has somewhat cooled lately - and some are even saying the heyday for babes and booze magazines is over, largely because American supermarkets are reluctant these days to display the provocative mags

But there was still big interest in who would acquire the Dennis titles. The only magazine not included in the deal was The Week, the mini-version of Time and Newsweek, which Felix Dennis prizes over all the others.

Ironically, when Dennis first thought four years ago of putting his American magazines on the market, the amount he was offered was around $700 million - much more than he has reputedly been offered now.

Of course he still holds title to the magazines' names in connection with other franchises. In fact there is already talk of a chain of Maxim steakhouses, even a 2,300 room Maxim Hotel with strip club and casino in Las Vegas, although that, like the magazine deal, appears to have disappeared from the headlines for the moment.

Whatever happens, the influence of Dennis Publishing - particularly Maxim - is undisputed. As one editor of Esquire, David Granger, put it: "It brought millions of new men into the marketplace. All the men's magazines benefited."

Data Reveals Mags Are Fastest Growing 'Non-Digital' Ad Medium

"I just think I'm OK, ... The object of most of my work has been to raise it above my standard. And so, you know, I never think I'll be as good as the people I look up to."

Eric Clapton

Data Reveals Mags Are Fastest Growing 'Non-Digital' Ad Medium
by Joe Mandese, Tuesday, Jun 12, 2007 7:33 AM ET
WHILE THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM MAY be that print is becoming a less than robust advertising medium in the digital age, some pretty important numbers appear to refute that. In an analysis of ad spending trends schedules to be announced today by the Magazine Publishers of America, the trade organization finds that consumer magazines have been gaining -- not losing -- share of advertising budgets. The report, based on an analysis of data from ad tracking firm TNS Media Intelligence, indicates that magazines had a 16.6% share of ad spending in the media monitored by the firm during the first quarter of 2007, up one share point from 15.6% during the first quarter of 2006, and up nearly two share points from 14.7 during the first quarter of 2004.
That makes magazines the fastest growing medium except for the Internet, which grew 1.1 share points to 7.7% of U.S. ad spending during the first quarter of 2007. Importantly, TNS MI's Internet data excludes things like paid search, which would make the medium's share and rate of growth much greater than the display ad spending estimates included in its calculations.

But when online is taken out of the mix, magazines emerge as the most vital of the major traditional media, according to the MPA's analysis, which shows magazines taking share from all other non-digital media, with the exception of out-of-home.

The biggest share gains appear to be coming at the expense of newspapers, which fell 0.9 point since the first quarter of 2006, and a whopping 3.1 points since the first quarter of 2004. Radio declined 0.1 point since the first quarter of 2006, and 0.8 point since the first quarter of 2004.

And while TV lost share over the past year, declining 0.8 point from the first quarter of 2006, it is actually up 0.8 point since the first quarter of 2004.


Jan-Mar 07 % share
Jan-Mar 06 %share
Share % change

Total Consumer Mags

Total TV

Total Newspaper

Total Radio

U.S. Internet


Source: TNS Media Intelligence


Jan-Mar 07 % share
Jan-Mar 04 %share
Share % change

Total Consumer Mags

Total TV

Total Newspaper

Total Radio

U.S. Internet


Trade Shows Continue To Outpace Ad Pages, Grow 5.3% During First Quarter
by Joe Mandese, Tuesday, Jun 12, 2007 7:33 AM ET
TRADE SHOWS CONTINUE TO BE fueling the growth in the business-to-business media industry, according to the latest findings from American Business Media. Trade shows, conferences and events, a category the ABM has dubbed, "face-to-face media," took in $2.94 billion in revenues during the first three months of 2007, up 5.3% from the first quarter of 2006. During that same period, trade magazine ad pages fell 2.9%, and print advertising revenues declined 1.2%. Ad pages in the business press took an even steeper decline during March, dropping 5.1% from March 2006, with print ad revenues falling 2.6%.
Although magazine ad pages and revenues remain essentially flat, there are strong category performers for print, including the architecture/design/lighting category, with a year-to-date increase in ad revenue of 10.7%; professional services, which followed with a 9.4% increase; and the resources/environment/utilities category, with an 8.3% increase.

In recent months, the ABM has begun emphasizing the growth of new sources of B-to-B publisher revenues, especially online advertising and trade shows.

"It's Not Even About Survival Anymore, Now It's A Question Of Timing"

"In 1968, I was driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a Shelby Cobra with three gorgeous young birds. Suddenly, the radio program was interrupted to report that I'd just been found in my hotel room dead from an overdose."
Ginger Baker

"The Face Of Journalism Is A Grim Mask These Days; "It's Not Even About Survival Anymore, Now It's A Question Of Timing" - A San Francisco Journalist Chronicling What's Happening At The Chronicle
Philip M. Stone June 12, 2007

If there is one newspaper in the US that stands out amongst all the rest for having to fight before anyone else the flight of classified advertising to the Internet it must be the San Francisco Chronicle, for it is in that city by the bay that Craigslist first got its start, and the financial hemorrhaging throughout the industry from that continues to this day. The Hearst-owned newspaper, which operates one of the most successful newspaper web sites in the country, has been losing some $60 million a year since 2000 and is anyone out there calling that just "cyclical"?
Back in 2005 the Chronicle dumped around 100 journalists and it is now in the midst of getting rid of another 100 -- 25% of its reporting and editing staff. As Ken Garcia of the rival Examiner wrote, "The face of journalism is a grim mask these days. What is happening at the Chronicle is happening at newspapers all across America." He spoke to a writer at the Chronicle who told him, "It's not even about survival anymore. Now it's a question of timing."

Now that's not exactly the spin you hear from publishers or trade organizations who talk about print and digital reach combined being higher than ever before and who are waiting, perhaps praying, for the day when digital revenue gains will begin to exceed print revenue losses. Then everything will be all right? Well, bottom line, yes; print journalistic product, definitely no!

Newspapers make no secret they are refining their journalistic work practices - the main effort goes to the Internet and with less journalists working local beats, indeed less and smaller-sized pages, less news hole and the like then how can anyone say with a straight face that most US newspapers are of the same journalistic quality that they once were? But the profits and margins are still very good, so it doesn't really matter, right? Besides, newspapers are very successfully pulling the journalistic wool over their readers' eyes, right?

Well, actually, the public does see what is happening, and they don't particularly like what they see.
A good example is at the Arizona Republic, the second largest Gannett newspaper next to USA Today. Now it's no secret that Monday is the lightest news and advertising day so the Republic back in March figured it would reduce Monday's news hole, save on newsprint and the like, and no one would notice. Not only that but the editor put a positive spin on it all.

It's not that the newspaper was cutting back, no, indeed market research said to do this, editor Ward Bushee wrote for the first such Monday edition, "Today, we introduce a new kind of Monday newspaper designed for busy people on the busiest day of the week." Everything in the paper was brief, designed to be forward-looking and time efficient. No local news section or business section as usual - it's all packed into in the newspaper's first section. People complained then, and they continue complaining today. Mondays are still light but The Republic is, after all, the newspaper giant in its town. It didn't lose subscribers because of its Monday change, so to the accountants and management everything is just fine. But journalistically, that Monday edition is light - no matter what spin you put on it -- and the Republic's customers know that. Readers are not near as stupid as publishers might think or hope.

Does it matter to the people of Los Angeles, for instance, that the Times has seen several Pulitzer Prize journalists recently leave the newspaper for greener pastures. It should, their print newspaper has lost great quality reporting, but at Tribune headquarters in Chicago where every penny counts as the company finances its going-private sale to Sam Zell that quality isn't what really matters these days. The Los Angeles Times is The Los Angeles Times. It is still the only big newspaper game in town, but, journalistically, it's readers know it is not the animal it once was.

And it's not just in the US. In the UK newspaper circulation has also been diving for years and managers have taken the same tack as in the US - cut, cut, cut. Press Gazette, the UK's media trade newspaper, carried a fascinating quote from the blog of Charles Arthur, a former staffer at the Independent and who now edits the Guardian's technology supplement. He remembered back in 1995 when the Independent had just gone through job losses and there was consternation that the newsroom was real thin.

"In those days there were two health correspondents, a social services correspondent, a science writer, technology writer, another science writer, religious affairs writer, transport writer, labor writer, environment writer . . . and they were all different people. Now there's a health writer, science writer, environment writer. Nobody is doing religion, technology, transport, labor. It's not just cut to the bone - it's down to the heart and lungs, kept going in some sort of vat with the brain possibly attached," he wrote.

Could cuts like that be one reason for the circulation slide in newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic? Everyone blames the Internet for print's decline as if all of the print editorial cutbacks have had nothing to do with continuing circulation slides

Back to San Francisco. One of those to go in the current cull is John Curley, Chronicle deputy managing editor and a 25-year veteran. He wrote to staff, "We all know what is happening in the newspaper industry, and it's not pretty." No doubt those who scoff at the doomsayers will scoff at that, too. After all, new business models are new business models!

One obvious solution, of course, is for print to find more ways to drive in new revenues instead of just resorting to more cuts. One new revenue stream that is working pretty well is running ads on front pages of sections including the home front page. Journalists don't like giving up that prime territory, but it is better than giving up jobs.

The way Women's Wear Daily is going about it could be a key to others. They sell a thin strip across the bottom of the page, but in order for an advertiser to get that prime space, they also have to commit to a full-page ad inside the newspaper and a series of ads on the newspaper's web site.

Back nearly 40 years ago this writer was a young journalist at the San Jose Mercury-News when it was a Ridder paper, before Knight came along. The AM Mercury and the PM News in those days were advertising magnets - enough revenue and then some to keep publisher Joe Ridder in his fleet of Rolls Royces. And because of the ad money flowing in the ad department was all powerful.

The story goes that there was a meeting in which the ad people suggested to Joe Ridder that there be a slight change to the way ads were positioned on the inside pages. Instead of putting the ads at the bottom of the page and giving editorial what was left at the top of the page, just do the reverse. Advertising would get and charge more for the prime space at the top and editorial would get what was left unsold at the bottom of the page. It was said at the time it was one of the very few times that Joe Ridder said "No" to the ad department.

Perhaps that story should have remained untold. Who knows, perhaps Dean Singleton might read this.

Monday, June 11, 2007

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

"In all matters of opinion, our adversaries are insane."
Oscar Wilde (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Now now, robert.... selling ad space on the front page is not much different that "GE Theater" on TV in the 1950s and 1960s or "...brought to you by..." comments people are used to on TV and radio. Or how about various events named after organizations... or stadiums (ummmm... sorry.... stadia.... my Latin teacher is cringing).... For years entertainers and their shows were associated with sponsors. Magazines aren't exempt, and neither is news. I kind of remember some guy named Swayze doing the news and saying something about Timex watches, and even doing demonstrations.

What were you... born yesterday? :)

(Submitted by Senior Industry Analyst and Pundit)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

The only thing wrong with the WWD banner ad is the lack of a little "x" in a box in the upper right hand corner that will let me get rid of it. One more advantage for those crafty digital types! Drat.

(Submitted by a Printer)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Vintage BoSacks it is! I once heard a motivational tape that described Socrates as a gadfly, who went from venue to venue stinging those in leadership positions with his questions and comments. I believe that is the same quality attributed to biblical prophets. Avoid drinks containing Hemlock.

(Submitted by a Senior Ad Sales Director)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

We've been running ads on the front cover of several of our publications (when we can get the business). Aesthetics be damned. Quite simply, desperate times call for desperate measures. We're surviving by the skin of our teeth. If we can bring in an extra hundred thousand to the bottom line, that's at least one job we might be saving.

(Submitted by a Director of Manufacturing and Distribution)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Bob, I am not sure it is unethical. Design-wise its not that cool but newspapers and magazines make money on ads. If they want to put them on the cover (or in this case part of the cover) does the reader automatically think that the publisher has further reduced his or her title's independence? As a reader, I do not particularly see it that way. I do agree, though, that the accountability issues regarding distribution are critical to our industry, but exploring new ways to generate revenue is a prerogative of any business. And, if readers do not want ads on covers they will make it known with their wallets and limited available attention.

(Submitted by a Circulator and Author)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page
There is nothing new about this, magazines and newspapers a hundred years ago did it all the time. Indeed up until the 1960s the Times of London had a front page consisting exclusively of small ads, and a venerable British magazine, The Illustrated London News, if I remember correctly did the same right up till the early 60s.
(Submitted by an Industry Consultant and Author)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Bob, It is said that is much easier for a rich man to have principles, he can afford them. I'm a staunch church and state guy but selling ad space on the front cover is one of those evolutions that is inevitable in many instances and I don't think it's necessarily a case of lack of vertebrae. In a declining market you are forced to look at all opportunities to retain and attract advertising but of course without sacrificing true integrity. It is a reasonable argument that front covers are real estate and subdividing for revenue isn't by definition and integrity betrayal. It will take some new guidelines to rationalize the right and wrong but things like product placement in editorial shoots or volume advertisers getting editorial coverage as their due are far more egregious in my view. My favorite soccer team growing up was a Scottish team, Celtic, and I prized the jersey I had as a kid. Today, like all premier league teams, their uniform is adorned with a logo, for Celtic it's a beer, Carling. (So much for role modeling for kids!) While it pains me to see the purity of the green and white stripes so crassly adorned by a beer brand it is true that your sensibility adapts and you are more concerned about their play. So too will it be with a magazine, need to sell off a piece of your great property when times are tough? If you can live with the fact that you won't get it back but still have pride in your curb appeal and editorial retains a sense of integrity...I think this is a revenue reality of compromise and it has plenty of company. Would that we were all rich enough to afford the highest principles then we could condescend on greed . . .we haven't hit bottom at all yet...just lower third.

(Submitted by a Senior Publishing Executive)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Bravo to your comments and biblical quotation,

(Submitted by an Editorial Director, Retired)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Bo, Nobody is getting it and you are right, it is all about greed.

When Roy Reiman began his success ride years ago, every media buyer was begging him to sell space in his magazines. John Deere alone offered him some amazing figure for the back page of all his farming related stuff.

His comment, "as long as I own Reiman Publishing, you will never see commercial advertising in our magazines". He kept his word and must have done something right because he sold to Madison Dearborn Partners for a pretty handsome sum, who in turn sold the Reiman Publishing Company to Readers Digest for $750 million big ones.

I am going to beat the dead horse until something happens. When is anybody going to tell it like it is. The magazine publishing industry it in a downward spiral because of too much duplication facing the media buyers. What fitness magazine, cooking magazine, golfing magazine, travel magazine, etc, do you want to use up your print advertising $$$$. Answer is none. Go someplace else, like direct mail, cable TV, Internet, etc.

The last announcements from the paper industry prove my point that the magazine industry is in a free fall. The closure of Tembec in St Francisville, La, 250,000 short tons, of mostly light weight publishing grades with some minor commercial catalog grades.

UPM closure of their Mirmachi, New Brunswick mill, 350,000 metric tons per year of mostly all light weight publication papers.

Take a look at the consolidation in the printing industry, with the likes of RRD buying up Banta, Perry Judd's and Von Hoffman. Nnothing looks good for the magazine business because this type of consolidation will drive up prices. Add to this, the new postal rate plus the price of printing ink just went up another 10%.

Like I am asking, when is someone really going to tell it like it is?

(Submitted by a Paper Person)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Yes, edit is next - on line it is next! (or now) Because by all appearances, the electronic publishing model has yet to leave room for paying journalists well enough to get good journalism. All the online is still primarily driven by print journalism, it seems to me. So if you can't pay real journalists, worse than paid journalism is amateur rehashes of press releases, from publishers who are not even being paid! I see that now. Tonnage and timeliness vs. research, thoughtfulness, and quality journalistic standards.

(Submitted by a Publisher and life-long friend of BoSacks)

Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: Selling Ads on the Front Page

Bo-Man. Thanks for the slap across the face. Your wake-up calls are always appreciated. I hope that you are collecting your works for a publishing perspective book at some point in the near future. I have been reading your pontifications for what seems like decades. I wanted to tell you that I have never found you to be wrong. You've got real biting criticism . . well yes. Painful explosions of truth to rebuild our industry, . well, damn yes. But actually wrong? . . . I would have to say no. . . Not that I can recall. And that is from someone who knows you from the early 1970's.

(Submitted by a multi-title Publisher)


"What gunpowder did for war the printing press has done for the mind."
Wendell Phillips (American Abolitionist and Orator whose eloquence helped fire the antislavery cause during the period leading up to the American Civil War. 1811-1884)


LISTEN. The sound is muffled by wall-to-wall carpet tiles and fabric-lined cubicles. But it's still there, embedded in the concrete and steel sinews of the old factory at 229 West 43rd Street, where The New York Times was written and edited yesterday for the last time.
It is the sound of news, dispatched to and from the third-floor newsroom since 1913, the first year of Woodrow Wilson's presidency. It is the noise of physical exertion: the staccato rapping of manual typewriters, hundreds of them; the insistent chatter of news-agency teleprinters, marshaled by the dozens. It is bells and loudspeakers, the cry of "Copy!" to summon youngsters who carried each page of a reporter's story across the room to impatient editors, and the whoosh of cylinders pulsing through pneumatic tubes overhead with edited copy on its way to the fourth-floor composing room.
There, on clattering line-casting machines, words were turned into molten metal, letter by letter, then set by hand into page forms. Molds of these pages were dropped down chutes to the basement pressroom and used to cast semicylindrical printing plates. When the order was given to "Let go," a seemingly endless web of newsprint began rolling up from the subbasement to stream through the presses at such roaring speed that the whole 15-story building trembled and - it was said - The Times's ordinarily fearless mouse population grew deeply agitated.

Compounding the cacophony were hissing air brakes and rumbling engines, the boom of newsprint rolls arriving at the truck bays, followed a few hours later by the thwack of newspaper bales on their way out, accompanied by a crazy chorus of horns as cars and pedestrians tried to make their way past a factory in the middle of the theater district.

Manufacturing demands affected more than traffic. They dictated the presentation of news. Given the amount of labor, energy and material needed, it simply wasn't practical to produce a news report more than once a day. So a 24-hour rhythm, the rhythm of a factory, shaped how we all worked, how we conceived of news as something that could be encompassed daily and ordered rationally, since we typically had a few hours to collect our thoughts and put the latest bulletins in some perspective.

The era of Underwoods and Linotypes ended in 1978, when The Times converted to computerized typesetting. And the presses on 43rd Street last thundered almost exactly a decade ago, on June 15, 1997.

Tomorrow's news report will come from 620 Eighth Avenue, between 40th and 41st Streets, a 52-story steel-and-glass office tower clad in a floating skin of horizontal white ceramic rods. Its chief architect, Renzo Piano, describes it in terms of lightness, transparency and immateriality.

That doesn't sound much like an old-fashioned newspaper.

Of course, this is precisely the point. With The Times's own Web site regularly leaping ahead of the newspaper to stay competitive on the Internet, the once-a-day production cycle seems increasingly like a relic.

Lost for the moment in a world of orange packing crates, my colleagues and I are also wrestling with the implications of this greater shift. Having the newspaper manufactured under our feet gave the whole enterprise a special sense of gravity. And the factory served as a reminder even after the printing process moved to College Point, Queens.

But how can The Times maintain its gravity in the ether? How will it fulfill a commitment to thoroughness, accuracy and detachment if a premium is placed on speed, color and buzz? Can be produced to exactly the same standards as The New York Times? Should it be? If not, what will the new standards be?

And what will happen to that perishable, inky, labor-intensive, energy-consuming, tree-swallowing, three-dimensional commodity whose production lay at the heart of 229 West 43rd Street? How much longer will the newspaper itself exist?

Certainly, The Times has reinvented itself before. But it always kept one eye on tradition. History meant something here. Even younger staff members knew, for instance, of the legendary editor who could decipher Einstein equations and Egyptian hieroglyphs. (He was Carr V. Van Anda, and he was the managing editor when The Times moved to 43rd Street. His office was 15 feet from where I sit. It's now a vending-machine canteen.)

Newspaper people are not usually sentimental, but there has been a hint of wistfulness on the third floor lately. It's not nostalgia. It is, I think, a sense of some uncertainty as to whether the Times traditions can survive a move from the home in which they were shaped. Mr. Piano calls his new building a "factory for news," but it is really more a laboratory. We don't know yet whether the transition will liberate us or leave us unmoored.

We do know, however, that it will be much quieter on West 43rd Street.

Just listen.

Parsons may ditch CEO title

"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable."
John Kenneth Galbraith

Parsons may ditch CEO title
By Georg Szalai
NEW YORK -- Time Warner Inc. chairman and CEO Richard Parsons on Thursday signaled more clearly than ever that he might drop at least his CEO title in the next year or two and again backed president and COO Jeffrey Bewkes as his heir apparent.

Speaking at a Merrill Lynch media investor conference in London, he also said TW expects to be in a position to make a decision on the future of its AOL unit by year's end and said the world's largest media conglomerate could completely sever its ties to majority-owned Time Warner Cable in about five years or so, even though no such decision has been made.

Parsons also shot down continued Wall Street talk about a sale of the Time Inc. magazine unit, signaled that the TW board likely will vote for a new stock-buyback program and promised that the conglomerate's dividend would grow "modestly but predictably" over time. Parsons' comments were webcast.

Asked about the much-debated issue of offering movies on cable operators' VOD platforms day-and-date with DVD releases, Parsons echoed the enthusiasm of executives from his Warner Bros. studio earlier this week (HR 6/5).

He also said that at least some films have seen four to six times their normal buy rates on VOD in day-and-date trials. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara said Monday that buy rates were up 50% in trials across all studios.

Parsons also expressed confidence that downloading of films will become an attractive business over time and "expand the market" for studios rather than cannibalize it. He drew laughs when he said it would be a cold day in hell before he would go to a movie-rental store and added he has never been to a Wal-Mart before.

With Parsons' current contract up in May, industry insiders have been wondering whether he will stay around much longer. Confronted with the issue, Parsons said Thursday that he would like to accomplish three things before leaving: making sure AOL has found its place and a sustainable growth track; finishing TWC's integration of Adelphia assets and making sure the cable unit fires on all cylinders; and ensuring Time Inc. is "well on the road to (its) digital transition."

Parsons, who took the reins at TW in 2002, added that these goals should be taken care of in a year or two, adding TW will be "left in good hands" once he departs. Bewkes "is the right man" to lead TW in the future, he said while emphasizing that the company's board must make the final succession decision. Parsons didn't specify if he would stay around as chairman for a while after handing over the day-to-day duties of the CEO.

Asked about possible acquisitions as another use of cash, the TW boss said after paring down its asset portfolio the industry giant is now looking "to go back on the offensive." Deals are most likely to come in the online advertising and cable fields, as well as other core businesses if a high return is possible, he said. "We are not looking now to go outside" core businesses, he said.

Asked about AOL, Parsons lauded its progress to date after changing strategy, but said more time is needed for management to fully evaluate the success of its focus on growing online audiences and advertising.

"By the end of this year we can make the call on AOL (on whether) we have found a business model or approach that can result in sustainable growth over time," he told conference attendees.

Wall Street has long suggested TW could sell or spin off AOL or a part of it. Parsons said that and also added some have suggested AOL separate its Internet access business from its other activities. However, so far no one has offered the real value for AOL or certain parts of it, and management has no plans for any dealmaking, he said.

TW sold a 5% stake in AOL, valued at $1 billion, to Internet bellwether Google Inc. in late 2005 in a broader deal that also allowed AOL to use Google search technology.

Asked about TWC, Parsons again emphasized that TW could reduce its 84% stake over time as it acquires other cable operators. He predicted that cable consolidation activity could be spurned in about 18-24 months. Cablevision Systems and privately held Insight Communications are regularly cited by Wall Street observers as possible takeover targets.

"Eventually, five years down the road, it's conceivable. ... There could come a point in time when there's two separate stand-alone companies," Parsons said about TW and TWC. "I'm not prepared to make that call yet."

He dismissed market talk of a sale of Time Inc., saying management is "not looking" to divest or shut down some more unprofitable titles.

"Magazines will be around for a long time," Parsons predicted, adding that the successful transition into the digital world is key.

A Publishing Quandary: Do Excerpts Help Sales?

"They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?"
Princess Diana

A Publishing Quandary: Do Excerpts Help Sales?
When the July issue of Vanity Fair hits newsstands tomorrow, those hungry for news and gossip about the British royal family may find sustenance in the magazine's excerpt from "The Diana Chronicles," Tina Brown's evocation of the life and times of the Princess of Wales.

But will the 8,200-word excerpt prove the literary equivalent of an amuse-bouche, something to tide eager readers over until they can get their hands on the book, which comes out the same day? Or will those who plow through the article feel as if they have had their fill?

"The goal of any excerpt is to engage readers, to suggest that here is a book that will interest them," said Paul Bogaards, executive director of publicity for the Knopf Publishing Group. "But the key is not to sate them with the material. You want the hunger and thirst to still be there."

Although excerpts from high-profile books routinely appear in national magazines, some publishers have been having second thoughts about the strategy. Frequently, an excerpt can offer a lift to a book's sales, but there is always the risk that it might offer too much, thus stealing thunder (and revenue) from the book.

Alison Rich, the director of publicity at Doubleday, publisher of "The Diana Chronicles," said she had no such concerns. "Tina's writing is extraordinary," Ms. Rich said. "The book is an incredibly rich textured portrait of Diana and all the royals, and it's our belief that readers will be anxious for more."

Even so, among publishers, "I see more and more of them interested in the TV interview for their author rather than the book excerpt because TV has a greater reach than magazines," said Sara Nelson, the editor in chief of Publishers Weekly.

Magazine editors who five years ago would have reflexively bid for first serial rights to certain high-profile books are now exploring their options, choosing instead to run a feature about the book or an interview with the author. Some magazines - Time and Harper's in particular - have turned to asking authors to write an article or essay that touches on issues raised in their book.

"I think the whole model needs to be rethought," said Richard Stengel, the managing editor of Time. "I'm less interested in buying headlines than a great reader experience."

Because the excerpt is just one weapon in the publicity arsenal, publishers are hard-put to assess its role in the campaign. Still, they can point to recent successes like "It Ain't All About the Cookin' " by the restaurateur and Food Network host Paula Deen, which was serialized in Ladies' Home Journal and hit the New York Times best-seller list immediately after publication.

On the other hand, Time magazine's excerpt of "I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story," by Rick Bragg, put a dent in book sales, according to Mr. Bogaards of Knopf. "The excerpt gave away too much - I think people felt they'd had their fill," he said. "We sold 175,000 in hardcover but had expected to do twice that."

The trick, publishers say, is to know just what they have got between those hardcovers. When leading administration figures or particular celebrities sign a contract to tell their stories, there is bound to be a conversation about selling first serial rights, the term used for an excerpt that appears in advance of a book's publication.

But if such books "have just one revelation, one major thing that everyone has been waiting to hear, and they read it in an excerpt they're going to think, 'That's enough. I don't need to buy the book,' " said Kristine Dahl, a literary agent at International Creative Management.

For publishers, the problems include fewer magazines that run excerpts, and smaller sums available to pay for them. "There used to be The Saturday Evening Post, Look and Life, and it was big money," said Lynn Nesbit, a literary agent.

In those palmy days, it was not unheard-of for $100,000 to change hands in excerpt deals, according to Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House.

But the interests of book publishers and magazine editors do not tend to dovetail. "What often happens with excerpts is that magazines pick the best stuff or they weave together an excerpt that uses pieces from all over the book so readers get the whole pruned story," said Ms. Nelson of Publishers Weekly. "It's great for the magazine but probably not great for sales of the book."

To protect themselves while extracting maximum benefit, publishers may limit the size and scope of the excerpt and forbid cherry-picking. The publisher may also demand that the excerpt be kept off the magazine's Web site to limit leaks, and require that the excerpt be heralded in a cover line.

Because big money is no longer on the table, it is not terribly painful for the publisher to walk away if the parties can't come to terms, publishing executives said. "For $1,500, why risk exposure of all the juicy bits if it's going to hurt sales?" said Ellen Archer, the publisher of Hyperion.

Some publishers are looking instead to place excerpts on the Internet. " has expressed interest in first serializations," Mr. Bogaards of Knopf said. "There isn't a silver bullet that delivers 10 million readers. This is just one way to bring awareness to your book and create interest from other media outlets."

According to Mr. Bogaards, the well-chosen slice of a book in the appropriate magazine provides the framework for the initial publicity campaign. A cover in Time or Newsweek suggests weight and importance, perhaps a national dialogue; Vanity Fair, a certain fizz; Ladies' Home Journal or Good Housekeeping, issues of importance to women.

The New Yorker? Well, it's not as sought-after for excerpts as one might imagine. "Everyone thinks it's lovely to have an excerpt there," said Ms. Dahl of International Creative Management, but since there's no special designation in the magazine, "it's hard for readers to know it's from an upcoming book."

'Rolling Stone' founder keeps things fun

BoSacks Speaks Out: Jann Wenner is no dummy. This is what he says about magazines: "What does the magazine do better than any other medium?" he asks. "It does photography better. It does layouts better. It does long reads better. You can have a point of view. And if you do those things well, you'll have an audience that's loyal and steady - and the advertisers will follow."

Not bad Jann . . . not bad at all.

"Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of their way, but must accept their lot calmly, even if people roll a few stones upon it"

Albert Schweitzer (German medical Missionary, Theologian, Musician and Philosopher. 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, 1875-1965)

'Rolling Stone' founder keeps things fun

By David Lieberman, USA TODAY

NEW YORK - Forty years after founding Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner still prides himself on a keen sense for what's on the cutting edge of pop culture.
So you might not believe what medium excites the chairman and president of Wenner Media most in this era of revolutionary new options on broadband and cellphones.

Wenner - who helped launch writers Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe and photographer Annie Leibovitz - still likes old-fashioned, ink-and-paper magazines.

"What does the magazine do better than any other medium?" he asks. "It does photography better. It does layouts better. It does long reads better. You can have a point of view. And if you do those things well, you'll have an audience that's loyal and steady - and the advertisers will follow."

Wenner, 61, has good reason to be upbeat. His privately held company is one of publishing's most intriguing success stories.

Gross ad sales at his three magazines, including Us Weekly and Men's Journal, collectively were up 19% to nearly $674 million last year, according to Publishers Information Bureau data. (The total includes sales commissions that the company doesn't collect.)

And this year is off to a strong start. Gross ad sales at the three magazines were up 20%, to $135.8 million, in the first quarter vs. the same period last year.

That's remarkable considering the magazine industry overall saw ad sales rise just 3.8% last year and 6.9% in the first quarter.

"It's a tough environment out there," Wenner says. "In the last 20 years we've had cable TV and now the Internet. That makes the overall competition tougher than ever for people's share of mind and attention."

Wenner, who helped found the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, says he has thrived by trusting his gut. Instead of basing editorial and business decisions on readership surveys or financial reports, he considers what he likes and - as important - what would be fun.

The result is sometimes choices that would baffle traditional business strategists.

"Here's what I've done wrong," Wenner says. "We have three magazines with much different audiences, different formats, different publishing frequencies and they all have different printers. I never thought about those things until after the fact."

He defied conventional business wisdom on other occasions by rejecting opportunities to expand his magazine empire or diversify into other realms.

For example, around 1981 he turned down an offer to merge Rolling Stone with MTV in exchange for 25% of the company.

"If I had done that deal, I wouldn't have had any enjoyment, and I would have sold the stock," he says. "I would never have had the foresight to say, 'I should hold the stock because someday Sumner Redstone will build this up and it will be worth $3 billion.' So I don't regret that. I would not have thrived under an enterprise like MTV."

As it worked out, he says, he still has plenty of time for his four children, and to ski and travel.

His job also has non-financial perks: He flew to Amsterdam to interview Bob Dylan for Rolling Stone's anniversary issue. (Wenner took his magazine's name from Dylan's 1965 classic Like a Rolling Stone.)

That's why he scoffs at frequent speculation that he's gearing up to sell Wenner Media, which doesn't have an heir apparent. "Why would I sell? I've got the most enjoyable job, and I'm having the greatest time doing it."

His desire for control occasionally may seem excessive. For example, he insists on neat desks.

"I think if you've got a messy office, you must have a messy mind," he says. "If I walk down the hallway of the company I own, this is the way I want it to look. And I think it makes a good environment for everybody."

No question, Wenner's having a ball being a celebrity executive - one whose name frequently shows up in gossip columns. Gossip also is paying off handsomely for his company with the success of Us Weekly, a bi-monthly he bought in 1986 and converted to a weekly in 2000 to take on Time Warner's People and American Media's Star.

"Nobody had ever competed with those two," he says. "Star was still in scandal mode. People was running stories about nuns falling down wells and Cher and Elizabeth Taylor. Meanwhile, this new generation is coming along with new style, new attitudes. And we tapped it."

Us now accounts for about 60% of Wenner Media's revenue after two years of about 35% annual ad sales growth, and 19% growth in the first quarter of 2007. Circulation, at 1.75 million, is up 106% since late 2001. Total readership is up 192% to 11.1 million, according to Mediamark Research.

Few predicted it would be such a hit. Industry watchers also scratched their heads in 2001 when Wenner sold half of the magazine to Disney for $30 million - an odd development considering the entertainment giant had just dumped its magazine assets, including Fairchild Publications and Los Angeles Magazine.

"That had a few people thinking I was insane," former Disney CEO Michael Eisner says. "It was only because of Jann. Solely and completely. And I liked the idea (of competing) in what was perceived to be a decaying industry. Now that I think about it, it was probably pretty stupid."

He can laugh now. Last year Wenner bought back Disney's share in the magazine for $300 million. "It turned out unbelievable - probably the biggest increase in value of anything Disney's ever done, except for maybe the overall corporation," says Eisner.

Meanwhile, Wenner has kept Rolling Stone growing by balancing articles that appeal to college students with those for baby boomers. In addition to the stories about pop music, he says, both groups key into the magazine's sharp-edged coverage of politics and current events.

"It presents serious news in a more compelling way," he says. "The interpretation and deeper look into what's important to the country at large - that discussion is taking place more in Rolling Stone than it has in Time magazine for the last five or six years."

He's also optimistic about Men's Journal, which has been growing steadily but not as quickly as Wenner's other magazines. The company plans an ad campaign to promote its attention to adventurous lifestyles, as opposed to fashion and fitness.

Wenner's even starting to warm up to the Internet. He plans to add a social networking feature to, which now offers news, reviews and audio or other supplements to the magazine's features.

Meanwhile, Us recently introduced a video channel on its site and on Eisner's

"Scanning the Internet, looking for information, bits and pieces - it's great. You can skip around," Wenner says. "But it's like: 57 channels and there's nothing on. And reading is not going away."

Where's the Money Moving? Out of Media

"Revenge... is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion."
Albert Schweitzer (German medical Missionary, Theologian, Musician and Philosopher. 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, 1875-1965)

Where's the Money Moving? Out of Media
Ad Dollars Drop, but That Doesn't Mean Marketers Have Stopped Spending
By Bradley Johnson
Published: June 11, 2007
CHICAGO ( -- U.S. ad spending -- at least the measured kind -- fell 0.3% in the January-to-March period, the first down quarter since the ad recovery began in 2002. But a drop in reported ad spending does not mean a drop in marketing spending. That's because what marketers need isn't just measured media; it's measurable results.

Omnicom President-CEO John Wren said his firm's emphasis on marketing services has given it an edge over rivals recently.

Budgets are gravitating from old-line measured media to an array of marketing-services -- digital, direct, customer relationship management -- that offers better tools to quantify results.

Marketing services includes some media offerings, such as online ads. But much of marketing services doesn't fit in the box of an ad to be sold. For companies in the business of selling media space and time, a shift to non-media forms of marketing poses a fundamental challenge.

Marketing services win out
Marketing-services disciplines often fly under the radar, unmeasured by ad trackers such as TNS Media Intelligence, which put out the first-quarter data. But the shift is clear: In 2005, U.S. agencies generated more revenue from marketing services than from traditional advertising and media, according to Ad Age's DataCenter. The trend has continued. In the first quarter, the top three agency holding companies -- Omnicom Group, WPP Group and Interpublic Group of Cos. -- collectively generated 53% of worldwide revenue from marketing services.

Omnicom last quarter generated even more revenue -- 57% -- from marketing services, and President-CEO John Wren said those disciplines have helped the firm outperform its rivals. "We are much larger in the marketing-services area relative to any of our leading competitors," he told analysts in April. "You know, I definitely think that's been a significant advantage for Omnicom over probably forever, but definitely for the last five or six years, and maybe even accelerated over the past couple of years."

To be sure, the economy is soft -- first-quarter GDP rose at an annual clip of 0.6%, worst since 2002 -- and ex-Fed chief Alan Greenspan sees a one-in-three chance of recession this year. Advertising can be a leading indicator: Measured spending began to fall three months before the official start of the 2001 recession, and it didn't begin a sustained rebound until six months after the downturn ended.

But the agency business, boosted by digital work, is growing: U.S. agency employment in April hit its highest point since the 2001 recession. In contrast, traditional media companies have slashed 40,500 jobs -- 4.6% of workers -- since the measured-ad-spending recovery took hold in 2002.

Good for the web
As traditional media disciplines struggle to adapt, internet media are gaining share. The internet's share of measured spending rose to 8.1% in the first quarter from 5.4% five years ago, according to TNS data.

Even when they lose share, disciplines still can grow revenue. Consider the advent of TV: Every other consumer medium lost share from 1950 to 1960, yet every medium still managed to gain revenue during that booming decade. Even radio, most threatened by TV, managed a small gain.

And by one measure, first-quarter measured media spending actually rose a little: Jon Swallen, senior VP-director of research at TNS, said the 0.3% drop becomes a 2.2% gain if you factor out Olympics advertising that boosted year-ago figures.