Saturday, November 03, 2007
View from the Top: Cathie Black, president, Hearst Magazines
By Joshua Chaffin and Chrystia Freeland
The Financial Times Ltd 2007
As president of Hearst Magazines, one of the world's largest and most profitable magazine publishers, Cathie Black is known for breathing new life into established titles, such as Esquire and Cosmopolitan, while also leading big new launches such as O, the Oprah Magazine.
Ms Black, 63, recently published Basic Black , a book that pulled together the wisdom gleaned from her four decades in the media business to help a new generation of women balance their career and lifestyle ambitions. Ms Black began tackling such challenges in her 20s, when she became advertising director for Ms, a feminist magazine, at a time when women were struggling to make in-roads in corporate America. She was later appointed by Rupert Murdoch to publish New York magazine before moving on to USA Today, which she guided as president and publisher in its early years.
Ms Black is gearing up for perhaps her greatest professional challenge: the internet, ensuring that Hearst's 19 US magazines and nearly 200 foreign editions remain relevant to readers and advertisers in a digital age. In a video interview with FT.com, Ms Black puts Hearst's internet business in perspective, praises the virtues of being privately held, and explains why even feminists need to dress for success.
Do magazines have a future in the digital age? Definitely. Twenty to 30 per cent of my day is spent on things digital. But there's a very strong belief in the future of print, and especially magazines, and whatever forms they will take.
Will digital versions of your magazines replace the hard copy? I don't think so, because a magazine that you hold in your hands gives the reader a [visceral] experience. However, we [may find] a tablet that is just as fabulous over the next few years. And, if so, great.
When will digital revenues overtake print revenues? It may happen, but we run a huge revenue base with 19 magazines, and at this point digital is probably about 5 per cent of advertising revenue. We are seeing a lot of internet-sold subscriptions. But imagine how it would really meet the revenue that comes in across these 19 magazines from 20 different advertising categories or more. I don't think I'll see that in my lifetime, but go ahead, surprise me.
Are there advantages to being a privately held company? There are many, many, many great things about being privately held. Most important, we don't have to face Wall Street every quarter, so the things that we do are about building brands, making acquisitions, building the portfolio. All of that is about the future. It's not about our earnings in three months or in six months or next year. [Although] obviously, we have to produce a profit.
Are the ultra-rich saturated with luxury magazines? Possibly, but everybody always loves to have Town & Country [a Hearst publication] sitting on their coffee table.
Will the celebrity gossip sector grow further? There is an insatiable appetite for celebrity. Whether that continues forever, I honestly don't know.
Are these magazines becoming more intrusive?
It's got to be unbelievable. Somebody said to me just yesterday that they'd been at a photo shoot and there were 200 photographers just hawking, you know, a photo session with this particular celebrity. It's a crazy way to live, but it comes with the territory.
Why do we like to read gossip? Because we're human beings.
In your international operations you've allowed the local talent to guide the shape of the magazines. Has that worked for you? Hearst has been in international publishing for more than 50 years, and our approach is that the local market knows its market better than any American. So we've created joint ventures around the world with a premier publishing company in that country. Cosmo's in 58 countries around the world . . . Something like 70m young women read [it].
Which parts of the world are growing fastest for you? Our Russian business is just exploding. We've got seven magazines in China. We've a very big business in Australia in a joint venture. So there are pockets all over the globe that are just booming, and we want to be there for it.
What does your advertising performance tell you about whether the US is going to enter a recession? I think we're going to be OK for the first quarter, but again, we don't really know the ad budget schedules at this point.
You're a pioneering woman in business. Has sexism been vanquished? I don't think sexism will ever be vanquished completely. Have there been times in my past when I was, as a very young girl, discriminated against? I guess so. But you just keep moving.
Do you worry about some of your magazines perpetuating women's focus on looks? I really don't. Women are beautiful creatures - some are completely consumed with their appearance, some are not.
Feminism: I think we've moved beyond it today US dollar: Short National newspapers: Long
Rupert Murdoch: Long Gawker: Long
Portfolio Magazine: Not sure
Rudy Giuliani: Not sure
Bonnie Fuller: Middle to long
US housing market: Troubled
BoSacks Speaks Out; With complete humbleness and humility the Time Inc idea below is terrific and a long time in coming. I say that because I first suggested this very idea in a lecture in 2000, followed by a Bo-rant sometime later in this newsletter. I called it the "Cable TV Model." No matter, all I want is a thriving publishing industry, how we get there is irrelevant. Bravo to Time Inc. It's a great first step and a dam good idea. It would be better if every damn publisher out there was on-line with this idea and program. In 2000, I called the totality of this idea, consortium publishing. Call it what you will, this program or one like it will manifest and most likely work very well. It fixes several problems with the subscription model and works well with the internet and available technology and not against it.
"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on it's vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed, for our safety, to it's security and peace. Preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft."
Adlai E. Stevenson (American Politician. Governor of Illinois (1949-53) and Ambassador to the United Nations (1961-65). 1900-1965)
Maghound: a Netflix for Magazines?
Time Inc. Plans Online Service to Sell Subscriptions
By Nat Ives
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After years of development, Time Inc. plans to introduce an online service next year that will offer pay-as-you-go, mix-and-match, highly flexible magazine subscriptions from a variety of publishers. Consumers using the service, to be called Maghound, will be able to pay one monthly fee for three subscriptions, with the ability to swap one title out for a new one or cancel entirely at any point.
Maghound won't fix everything that's wrong with subscription sales, but it does eliminate the need for annoying renewal notices.
It's a complicated bid by the country's biggest magazine publisher to make the web an ally instead of an enemy -- and to find new magazine readers in the process. The hope is that Maghound, which has been in development since 2004 and still won't go live until September 2008, will meet the growing expectations of increasingly empowered consumers.
Industry left behind
"The strategy is basically to create a better consumer experience, which magazines we feel like have not really done, not like other industries," said Brian Wolfe, president of Time Consumer Marketing. "You can point to Amazon for books, Netflix for movies and iTunes for music, but the magazine industry has done nothing essentially to make the consumer experience better."
The current plan calls for offering three magazines for $4.95 a month, five magazines for $7.95 a month or seven magazines for $9.95 a month -- with about 20% of the available magazines priced at a premium.
"You pay by credit card and get charged every month until you tell us to stop," Mr. Wolfe said. "If you want to switch at any point, you can switch off Newsweek for Time or something like that. You go online and make these changes. It's a solution that really addresses more of what consumers want, which is control and flexibility."
The service won't fix everything that's wrong with subscription sales. It does eliminate the need for annoying renewal notices. It also promises to provide more precise information about when to expect magazines than the standard notice today, "Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery." But efforts to actually shorten that time lag failed.
Mr. Wolfe said most publishers had agreed to participate but declined to name them.
Magazine publishers go mobile for readers
Posted by Amanda Fung
Launch sites for cell phone screens to win share of ad market; enough eyeballs?
As readers fled the printed page for the Internet, savvy publishers followed them to the computer, creating Web versions of their magazines. Now they are following them to their cell phones.
In the last year, several magazine publishers have launched Web sites designed specifically for cell phone screens and consumers on the go. Most publishers are not charging anything to access their mobile sites, hoping to grab a share of the emerging mobile advertising market. That market is projected to generate revenue of $16.2 billion in 2011, up from an estimated $2.8 billion this year.
"All the big publishers are realizing that investing in mobile sites is critical," says Olivier Griot, who joined Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. 18 months ago to spearhead its mobile strategy.
Since February, Hachette has launched four mobile Web sites for fashion titles Elle and ELLEgirl, entertainment magazine Premiere and auto magazine Car and Driver. Similarly, Hearst has rolled out nine mobile sites for hot titles including Esquire, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen this year. Last month, CondeNet, Conde Nast's digital division, unveiled its fifth mobile site, Style.com. All three publishers are developing mobile sites for other print titles next year.
Publishers say they are reacting to consumers' desire for Internet content that can be accessed anywhere, and the cell phone has already emerged as much more than a communications device.
"Consumers want complete control of where and when they consume content," says Boris Fridman, chief executive of Crisp Wireless, a Manhattan-based tech company that helps build and operate mobile Web sites for media companies.
"We want to reach women wherever they are," adds Sophia Stuart, director of mobile for Hearst's digital media group. "Women [would] rather leave home without lipstick than a cell phone."
Because of the challenges of small cell phone screens, publishers have to design content that is different from their regular Web pages in both style and substance. Stories are shortened because consumers typically spend only about five minutes at a time reading text on their mobile devices, versus 30 minutes in front of their computers.
"On your mobile phone, you snack on information," says Mr. Fridman.
While most publishers have their eyes on mobile advertising dollars, a few have gone in a different direction. In December, Time Inc. launched a mobile application linked to its popular fashion magazine InStyle. Mobile subscribers are required to pay $3.99 a month to use the cell phone program, which puts photos of the latest celebrity outfits and hairstyles at consumers' fingertips. InStyle Mobile currently has 20,000 subscribers.
But publishers have their work cut out for them. Making money from these mobile offerings won't be easy, as industry observers question whether these tiny sites will lure enough eyeballs.
For example, the four Hachette mobile sites are collectively drawing 2.5 million page views a month, a fraction of the 40 million monthly page views each of its corresponding Web sites receives. CondeNet and Hearst say it is too early to disclose traffic.
"We still haven't seen a significant demand for information on the mobile phone," says Barry Parr, media analyst at Jupiter Research. "It will be a difficult path."
Research also shows that the average length of time a consumer will subscribe to an application like InStyle Mobile is two months. Only navigation applications, like mobile versions of the popular online direction tool MapQuest, have proven to generate money for companies, according to research firm Telephia Inc.
In addition, only half of the consumers who pay their wireless carrier for Web services actually log on to the Web from their phones, the firm points out.
While the page views are low right now, Mr. Griot of Hachette says they are increasing 20% each month. And he notes that blue chip advertisers such as auto giant Ford and electronic retailer Best Buy are already spending millions of dollars on banner ads to appear on mobile phones.
Counting on growth
Publishers believe their numbers will increase as consumers become educated on how to use their cell phones to access Internet content. And companies like Time Inc. have the fat wallets to promote their new mobile offerings.
"We are committed to being on the cutting edge and offering something so much richer than what is out there," says Amy Keohane, Time's vice president of InStyle.com and creative development.
Didn't Make the A List? Don't Despair! Lots of Room Below
Paintball 2Xtremes, Quality Number Fill-Ins, Trump Magazine and Many More: Winners, All!
By Simon Dumenco
Elsewhere in this week's issue, as you've probably already noticed, Advertising Age presents its annual "A-list" of magazines. To the honorees: Good for you, you should be very proud, enjoy your champagne headaches tomorrow morning, and so on and so forth, etc., etc.
Oh, shoot: Southern lifestyle mag crossbreeds begonias and bullets?
My message to non-A-listers? Don't despair! Because America loves you -- and I love you, too. Anybody who's walked past a magazine rack lately knows the magazine industry, despite its pretensions, is generally a pretty weird, idiosyncratic, dicey racket. Which is why I'm presenting this considerably less elitist, more inclusive list.
THE B-PLUS LIST
In its media kit, Paintball 2Xtremes magazine brags that it has "readership numbers that are arguably higher than any other paintball magazine." Arguably? Nice touch! But, hey, I'm not going to argue with you -- y'all are holding paintball guns! (Meanwhile, in the grown-up, big-business realm of numbers-fudging national magazines, the Audit Bureau of Circulations isn't even packing a slingshot...)
THE B LIST
The Week -- the news digest founded by Felix Dennis (and the one publication from his American publishing operation that he kept, while selling siblings Maxim, Stuff and Blender earlier this year) -- is, no joke, one of my favorite publications. A compilation of "the best of the U.S. and international media" in brisk executive-summary form, I consider it to be a must-read. So why am I giving it a mere B? Because of its annoying, played-out illustrated-cover approach, which I'm convinced is holding it back from a wider audience (circ is 425,000). I know it's probably supposed to look editorial-cartoon-ish (and connects the U.S. Week with its British edition), but instead it just looks dopey -- and inappropriately whimsical, particularly when The Week runs a caricature of a scary newsmaker such as Ahmadinejad. It's this brilliant magazine, but the cover makes it look like Highlights for Children.
THE B-MINUS LIST
This spring, the Evening Post Publishing Co., owner of the Post & Courier newspaper of Charleston, S.C., launched an upscale glossy standalone magazine called Garden & Gun. It would make my A-list but for the fact that the name is just a wee bit too tame for me. Paintball & Parsnips or Cauliflower & Carnage would be more my speed.
THE C-PLUS LIST
Hip-hop magazine Straight Stuntin gets my slightly-above-average grade because it celebrates slightly-above-average women who struggle bravely with a common handicap: the fact that they're not famous yet. "We venture through the daily achievements of beautiful women," the magazine's mission statement reads, "who don't get rewarded for them unless they achieve celebrity status first. ... We will highlight selective male figures also, but the main focus is on the empowerment of our sisters in the struggle trying to get recognition without having to degrade themselves beyond their own interests." Case in point: the recent cover with rapper 50 Cent flanked by three curvaceous ladies of color -- Jazzie, Tangee and (I'm not kidding) Benita Apple Buns -- in skimpy outfits and stiletto heels.
THE C LIST
This year, Quality Number Fill-Ins Magazine, the numbers-game monthly, narrowly beats out Fill-It-Ins Jumbo Magazine for the coveted Most Average Magazine in America C-List honor. Congratulations-ish!
THE C-MINUS LIST
Last time I did a non-A-list, I gave Life magazine -- the latest incarnation, a newspaper supplement -- a D, while asking, "What is this nothing-sandwich quasi-pamphlet, and why is Time Inc. pouring so much good money after bad?" Earlier this year, of course, Life folded, and so I'm pleased to announce that I'm bumping up its grade retroactively to recognize its newfound relevance -- as a signifier, in media columns such as this one, of just how much once-invincible Time Inc. has lost its way.
THE D-PLUS LIST
What a magical thing Donald Trump has done with print: Whereas other media masters (Oprah, Martha, Rachel) have issued magazines to burnish their reputations, The Donald has spun crap from gloss by launching an endless stream of self-branded titles that look and read like offbrand in-flight magazines. First Trump Style, then Trump World, then Trump Magazine, which folded last year, but has just been reincarnated in a partnership with Ocean Drive Media Group. Look, Donald, if you're that obsessed with producing cheesetastic glossies, why don't you just do an LBO of Celebrity Hairstyles, retitle it Trump Hairstyles, put your blond cotton-candy comb-over on the cover, and be done with it?
THE D AND D-MINUS LISTS
The D and D-minus winners are so totally close this year that I'm announcing them together in no particular order. And the winners are... True Confessions ("HOLD ME, BEAT ME," "MUTUALLY UNFAITHFUL: TWO CAN PLAY AT THIS GAME!") and True Romance ("JUST A FLING? HOOKING UP WITH THE HIRED HELP," "RISKY BUSINESS: HOW I LANDED THE OFFICE HOTTIE")! Ah, love American-style.
THE F LIST
Lots of magazines died this year (see Life, above), but only one flunkee wins my coveted F-list designation: the late, ungreat digest-sized Disney Adventures.
A single tear rolls down Hannah Montana's cheek.
And ... scene.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Age, Income of Magazine Readers Edge Up
by Erik Sass
THE MEDIAN AGE AND INCOME of magazine readers have edged steadily upwards over the last five years, according to an analysis of data from Mediamark Research and Intelligence, LLC, covering the periods spring 2002-spring 2007. The two related trends contain both promise and peril for consumer magazines, which boast an increasingly affluent audience, but also face the long-term challenge of recruiting younger readers to maintain audience size.
An analysis of 97 leading consumer magazines revealed that over the last five years, 72 saw the median income of readers increase, with 47 of these increasing by $5,000 or more, and 18 increasing $10,000 or more. Over the same period, the median income of the adult population at large increased by about $4,900; thus, about half of magazines at least kept pace with the general population, another one out of six at least doubled the growth rate, and roughly one-third showed slight declines or remained flat.
However, statistics don't do justice to some of the more spectacular increases at individual titles: among the standouts, Barron's rose about $29,000, Elle rose $15,000, Elle Décor rose $22,000, Harper's Bazaar rose $28,000, Outside rose $16,000 and Travel & Leisure rose $17,000.
The rise in income is probably related to increases in the median age of readers at many publications, where mags have again outpaced the population at large. For comparison, the median age of American adult men increased 1.2 years and women increased 1.5 years from spring 2002-spring 2007.
Among the same 97 titles, 52 saw the median age of their readers increase by two years or more from 2002-2007 (in cases where the magazine targets a particular gender, the median age of readers of that gender was used). Within the group that increased by two years or more, 10 titles increased by over three years, and another 16 increased four years or more.
The magazines that saw the biggest increases in median age include Ladies' Home Journal (5.0), Marie Claire (4.9), House Beautiful (5.8), Esquire (5.0), Men's Journal (5.8), and Motor Trend (5.7). More modest increases were seen at Family Circle (3.8), Field & Stream (3.3), Good Housekeeping (2.8), Harper's Bazaar (3.0), Inc. (3.7), Maxim (2.9), Popular Science (2.9), and Rolling Stone (3.3).
Only seven titles out of the 97 reviewed saw the median age of readers decrease. The most notable declines came at Entrepreneur (down 4.2), Star ( 6.1), and Us Weekly (4.8). The median age of readers at Elle, Cosmopolitan, Health, and Vanity Fair all declined a year or less. In this group, Elle stands out because the decline in median age was accompanied by a big increase in median income.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
BoSacks Speaks Out: Here is an interesting quote from the MPA Conference and the article below, "Six percent of their (the consumer's) weekly media consumption is spent on print and 22 percent in the digital space, and growing. This is a revolution." Yep. I would kinda like to see the data, but I will buy into the concept of the program. Everyone is fighting for time. Your time, my time and our own personal time.
What do we really do with our personal time? I just spent 9 hours on a plane in four days. Two hours were spent on my laptop writing my next article for Publishing Executive Magazine, perhaps an hour or so reading various excellent magazines pilfered from a generous display at the conference, and the rest relaxation reading of a novel and a half. Those novels were read e-Book style on a Palm.
Now I wonder what happens when the airlines smarten up and bring broadband to 40,000 feet. Which of the three things will I drift away from? I'll tell you this it wouldn't be the magazine time. No really, even I recognize that sometimes I have to"put down that damn mouse and back away from the keyboard".
But with my own very rough calculations my stats might be parallel to Ms. Millard's quote and that is the next big issue. Time. Where and how will the public spend their media time. Printed magazines and books aren't going to go away, but the digital path does have some sexy additions. While reading my e-book the author happened to have quite an extensive vocabulary. I will admit in public there were several words that were new to me. All I had to do was highlight the word and the dictionary popped up and gave me everything and more that I needed to know to understand the author's meaning and intent.
So the future of print media is grappling for attention with an increasing number of siblings. Mom and pop are not going to throw any of the kids out of the house, but some children do get more attention than some others.
"Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
Socrates (Ancient Greek Philosopher, 470 BC-399 BC)
AMC: Publishers Urged to Up Branding Efforts
By Lucia Moses
Publishers have done much to transform their magazines into brands that live online and on other platforms, and this year's Magazine Publishers of America's American Magazine Conference now underway in Boca Raton, Fla., showcased example after example that progress.
But leading publishing executives speaking at the conference warned that now is no time to be complacent.
"The consumer is way ahead of us," said Wenda Harris Millard, a digital and print publishing vet who joined Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in June as president, Media, from Yahoo. "Six percent of their weekly media consumption is spent on print and 22 percent in the digital space, and growing. This is a revolution."
Millard, speaking on a panel, said publishers also need to do more to encourage to participation by visitors, while noting that magazines have the advantage of having strong, well-known brands in a time of excess choice. "Brands have never had a better opportunity, because the consumer needs an editor," she said.
Jonas Bonnier, chairman of Bonnier Corp., who joined her on the panel, agreed that magazines took too long to respond to the Internet. At the same time, he maintained that the medium has a leg up over others in its ability to adapt to the digital world.
"We know how to build brands in ways other media don't," said Bonnier, whose company publishes mainly enthusiast publications like Skiing and Yachting.
On separate panel, editors shared the good and bad of being stewards of their ever-expanding print brands. On the one hand, they're enthusiastic about the chance to try out new initiatives and connect with readers in new ways. At the same time, they acknowledged the challenges of overseeing multiple brand extensions with limited staff.
"You really do have to have a cohesiveness and unity of voice across all these platforms," said Shoshana Berger, editor in chief of Meredith Corp.'s ReadyMade, a shelter magazine that also lives online, in books and in events, among other areas.
Stephen Adler, editor in chief, McGraw-Hill Cos.' BusinessWeek, admitted that the ability to break news online comes at a cost.
"I do find quality control of stories that go online is a real challenge," he said.
The conference concludes Oct. 30.
Outsell: B-to-b digital ad revenue to top print revenue by 2009
- Matthew Schwartz
Burlingame, Calif.-B-to-b digital advertising revenue will outpace print ad revenue by 2009, according to a new report from market research company Outsell.
The report said b-to-b print revenue is expected to account for 34.3% of total b-to-b media revenue in 2009, compared with a 38.6% share for digital products. Events are expected to account for 27.1% of total revenue. The projections are contained in Outsell's "B-to-B Trade Publishing & Company Information: 2007 Market Forecast & Trends Report."
According to Outsell, print accounted for 44.7% of the $20 billion in total b-to-b media revenue in 2006, compared with 28.3% for digital and 27.0% for events. Last year marked the first year digital topped events.
AMERICAN HERITAGE REVIVED
By KEITH J. KELLY
Edwin S. Grosvenor has purchased the magazine, Web site and book division from the Forbes family with plans to resume publication with a December/January issue.
The deal is for $500,000 in cash and the assumption of about $10 million in subscription liabilities, putting the deal's total value at around $11 million.
"This is a dream come true," said Grosvenor, who has been talking with the Forbes family since May. "It's one of the great brands in American publishing."
The magazine's last issue was published in April, although Forbes has kept the Web site active.
Grosvenor said that he is in the process of raising $2.25 million and that the Forbes family will keep a 25 percent stake in the new company, to be called American Heritage Media.
American Heritage was founded in 1954 by former Life magazine editors Joe Thorndike, Jim Parton and Oliver Jensen, and for the first 10 years was a hardcover magazine that published six times a year and accepted no advertising.
"It was a runaway success," recalled Richard Snow, the long-time editor-in-chief who edited the magazine until earlier this year when Forbes suspended the print edition.
It's Not the Media That Matter, but the Modes
Tune In: Understand the Mind-Sets That Drive Consumer Behavior
By Rick Milenthal
We've all read stories heralding the death of advertising as we know it. But have consumers really abandoned advertising?
The answer, it seems, rests on the shoulders of the people who buy our brands and recommend them to others -- not with advertisers, marketers or consultants. That's why we went straight to the source by visiting people's homes in Columbus, Ohio (a test-marketing Mecca) to do the unthinkable: mess with their media. We deprived them of their TiVos, their laptops and their cellphones. We added ourselves to their e-mail lists. We asked them to journal their feelings and attitudes. We discovered that consumers don't do what they say, and that they've become experts in ignoring and rejecting messages. They can instantly recognize messages that are irrelevant or ill-timed.
More important, we learned that consumers aren't simply tuning us out; they just want us to tune them in. Spending time with consumers in the real world, where and when they actually engage with media, enabled us to see that when they spend time with media, they do it with a purpose, goal or need that drives their behavior. They enter different modes, or mind-sets, that drive their choices, actions and receptivity to marketing messages.
Part of the experience
Consumers don't think in terms of media when they're actually experiencing it. They think in terms of what they want to do and what they want to get out of their media experience. If they're craving entertainment, they want to be entertained. If they're seeking knowledge, they want information. If they feel like sharing, discovering or expressing themselves, they want us as marketers to help make that possible.
To be successful in this new marketing era, we need not focus on the media, but the modes that consumers are in when they interact with and experience our messages. Regardless of whether the medium is online, TV, print or radio, the key is to understand the consumer's desired experience and craft our messages to help deliver that experience to consumers. When we align our messages with the modes that consumers are in, we can actually become a part of the experience that consumers are seeking.
Imagine a world where consumers actually look for brand messages and content and no longer feel forced to endure continuous interruptions (that we hope have some positive impact upon their future behavior). Learning how and when people enter into different modes and aligning with them is the difference between being ignored and being invited to the party.
Historically, two consumer modes have been well-served by the media -- information and entertainment. In the passive model, consumers were able to subconsciously switch between information gained through watching the 6 p.m. news to the entertaining antics of prime-time sitcoms and telemovies. But that model is history, and today's media-rich environment requires a far broader exploration of modes.
The rules have changed. We must match our message with the mode. No one wants to be disrupted with informative messages when they're in entertainment mode -- it's jarring and off-putting. Being subjected to a humorous message when you're searching for something serious is no picnic, either. We can help by providing the means, motivation and reason to pass along the message.
If we want to succeed, we must stop shoving irrelevant, ill-timed content down people's throats. What matters is what people show and tell us, and our work should reflect what we know about them. We have all the resources necessary to identify what mode consumers are in at any given time. Aligning the message with the mode will determine whether our messages make it into consumer consciousness or become more wasted marketing efforts.
The Six Modes
The number of consumer modes is endless, but we've identified six of the most relevant ones:
People in Entertainment mode are on a mission to be amused. This mode has been around for years (and has been well-served by the media), and TV is still at the forefront.
Information-seekers are looking for knowledge to help them make decisions. This mode also has been around for a long time, but now people are searching for information online as opposed to in newspapers and card catalogs.
When consumers look for something new-whether it's a dessert recipe, a tropical vacation spot or a new station wagon-they're in Discovery mode. They do this because they want to nourish their minds.
Consumers in Connecting mode are building relationships. They now have a world of tools enabling them to stay in touch with friends and family. E-mail is the most popular choice, and social-networking sites give them the next best thing to being there. Text messaging and online gaming allow them to have continuous and instantaneous connections.
Similar to connecting, Sharing mode is a way to create common ground. Video- and image-sharing sites invite millions of people to swap their experiences.
Expressing mode refers to conveying an individual point of view. This is essential because almost anyone can become a valued resource by posting a blog, vlog or podcast.
Rick Milenthal is CEO of Engauge, a newly formed marketing-services agency created by Ten United, Direct Impact, and Stan Rapp. He also serves as chairman of Worldwide Partners, a network of independent agencies.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Targeted Magazines Have Little Trouble Selling Ads
(c) 2007, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
The Calderones of Longwood, Fla., are voracious readers whose literary diet includes daily newspapers, professional publications and lots of books. But one publication tops them all, though it arrives just six times a year.
"I read Lake Mary Life magazine from cover to cover every time an issue comes out," said Tina Calderone. "It seems to have a lot more to do with my family than all the national publications on the market."
Calderone said her husband and two teenagers also like the glossy community magazine that serves the area around Lake Mary, Fla., an Orlando suburb that was ranked No. 4 on Money magazine's top 100 places to live this year. And with hundreds of similarly targeted publications appearing across the country, the appeal of such local magazines is spreading.
Niche publications, particular those aimed at the affluent, are publishing's darlings du jour. They are proliferating at a time when mainstream newspapers and general-interest publications are struggling to retain readers.
Community publications packed with extremely local news, events calendars and photo layouts of neighborhood folk at play are popular with readers and advertisers. Many don't charge for their publications, though they are meticulous about isolating readers who are often among a region's most wealthy residents.
Local magazines aren't the only publications thriving in niches. Other publishers cater to hobbyists, collectors, travelers and sports enthusiasts who are wealthy and passionate about their interests. The appeal for advertisers is clear. Niche publishers generally know a lot about their typically well-heeled readers.
"There have always been publications for what you would call, rich people, said Martin Walker, chairman of Walker Communications, a New York magazine consulting company. "But they have become hot publishing items today because we now have a ton of people with a lot of money."
Oxbridge Communications, a publisher that tracks the magazine industry, reports that the number of U.S. periodicals that target the wealthy has seen the biggest percentage growth of any category the company tracks.
For decades, publishers tried to blanket markets with their products. Big circulation numbers used to impress advertisers, who bought space to reach armies of consumers.
That has changed. Small has become a virtue for a growing number of magazines that save money on production and distribution as they concentrate on the readers advertisers most want to reach.
"Every city now has lots of magazines full of pictures of socialites, and advertisers want to be associated with these people," Walker said. "Rich people and conspicuous consumption have been where it's at for the past few years."
These "controlled circulation" publications use everything from ZIP codes, housing-value data and income levels to select readers, who often receive copies at no cost and without asking.
Samir Husmi, a magazine expert who chairs the University of Mississippi journalism department, said it's all about money.
"We are seeing the print media moving from mass to class," Husmi said. "The market is being sliced up, and magazines are being born as business people dissect the marketplace. We no longer have unified readerships."
Orlando magazine, one of Central Florida's longest publishing magazines, has grown from an average of 80 pages a month seven years ago to 250 pages today. Society photos are a big draw, as are features that rank "best of" categories.
Editor Jim Clark said advertisers who want to reach the wealthy are interested in publications aimed at them.
"This is all about the growing affluence and the desire of people to target their audience," Clark said. "We can target our magazine to the people we want to reach: upscale readers who are older."
The mainstream has taken notice. Newspapers and mass-market magazine publishers have developed portfolios of specialty publications aimed at the demographics advertisers want to reach.
Bonnier Group, formerly World Publications, understands that. The Winter Park, Fla., magazine publisher now has about two dozen national titles that target specific interests. The company seeks to dominate its subject areas, which include water skiing, boating, gardening and gourmet dining.
"You have to sell an integrated package," said Dave Freygang, Bonnier's vice president of publishing. "That could be a combination of print, events and online. The days of selling just print pages are long gone."
Bonnier gives advertisers highly detailed information about its readers and invites them to sponsor special events created for target audiences.
Smaller publishers use a similar pitch but often lack the detailed research that a large company such as Bonnier provides. Instead, they tell advertisers where their readers live and how much the households in those areas earn.
Brian Remington, president of Connect Source, a Seminole County, Fla., home-theater systems vendor, said that works for him.
Regional newspapers and magazines don't focus narrowly enough on his customer, he said.
"We prefer not to chase business all around Central Florida," he said. "And we don't need to reach everybody. We target people with money. We're not carpet cleaners. We sell $80,000 theater and audio-video systems."
Lake Mary Life publisher Sheila Kramer says focused advertisers have built her business. Since she started her bimonthly magazine six years ago, it has grown from 24 pages to 164 pages in November's issue. Advertising makes up half the content.
Lake Mary Life and a sister publication, Oviedo-Winter Springs Life, don't go to everyone. In Lake Mary, only resident-owned homes get it. In other areas, only houses valued at more than $300,000 are on the list.
"We are going for a niche, which is our communities," Kramer said. "We write about our readers, and readers tell us what we have done is beautiful."