Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chris Anderson Whipped by Long Tail

Chris Anderson Whipped by Long Tail
Says Ad Industry Actually Gets It
Posted by Andrew Hampp
Chris Anderson is his own worst enemy. The editor in chief of "Wired" and the author of "The Long Tail," the most-cited marketing book of the last two years not written by Malcolm Gladwell, was asked at the end of his keynote speech at the Radio Advertising Bureau conference in Atlanta which sector of the media industry was succeeding in making a business out of the long-tail, that niche-heavy part of the business where there are no major breadwinners and loaves for everyone.

"The curse of my own book is that my biggest competition is the long tail," he replied. "[I compete] with 1 million blogs and social networks and micro engagements." His own industry, the publishing world, has "not really figured how to do it yet," he said. "We can launch web properties that are successful but very expensive, we have not figured out how to scale it down to very narrow competition."

The TV networks aren't doing very well, either, and for similar reasons. "They don't scale down to narrow audiences," he said.

But guess who Mr. Anderson thinks has made a boon out of the long tail? The advertising industry, of course. "In a strange way, the advertising business is the best example of an industry going down the long tail and finding a lot of growth and stability down there, to the surprise of everybody."

But it's no surprise as to who Mr. Anderson thinks is leading the pack. "That Google model, recognizing there was a latent demand for small advertisers with a small narrowly targeted audience, and the ability for that to be monetizable" is what the ad community has been able to execute the best, he said. "Google recognizes that in part with pay-per-click, in part with very low-cost advertising and content sites with an acquisition method that's basically software-driven, it's allowed the little guys whose sales force are now approaching them."


Dennis to launch new digital mag
Stephen Brook, press correspondent
Dennis Publishing is following up its digital lads' magazine Monkey with the launch of consumer technology title Gizmo.

Gizmo, a free fortnightly digital magazine, launches on March 11 and, like Monkey, will be delivered to readers' inboxes.

The new digital offering will mix elements of magazines, websites and video to review and demonstrate products. Gizmo will target ABC1 men aged 25 to 45.

Gizmo: 'will create desire for the products featured' Dennis Publishing will target Gizmo at its database of 1.5 million male magazine readers of its titles such as PC Pro and Mac User, Computer Buyer and Custom PC.

"Delivered directly into consumers' inboxes, Gizmo will create desire for the products featured and will bring a genuinely new format to the category," said Bruce Sandell, the head of new product development at Dennis Publishing.

"The brand will be focused on immediacy, interactivity and innovation. We are bringing together the achievements in publishing Monkey, our digital expertise and Dennis's heritage in the technology sector to successfully launch Gizmo."

Ross Burridge, reviews editor at Dennis's PC Pro, and author of the Ultimate Guide to HDTV and Home Entertainment, has been appointed Gizmo's editor.

"We're bringing an exciting mix of broadcast, online and print to readers desperately in need of clarity," said Burridge.

"By bringing products to life directly on the page, you no longer need to trawl the maze of websites and magazines to find out what's really going on in the world of consumer technology."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Someday There Will Be People Who Don't Know There's a Print Version

BoSacks Speaks Out: As most of you know, I have been debating Samir Husni for years about the future of printed magazines and the ascendancy of the age of digital reading. It will be a generation, perhaps more, before print evaporates to an unaffordable collectors-only medium. But until then it is not an either/or situation. Printed niche publications will rise and prosper before they, too, fall pray to the inexpensive lure of commoditized epaper electronic distribution, also known as el-cid. So it is no surprise that we find the following quote in the article below:
. . . . Someday there will be people who don't know there's a print product."

"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (American 35th US President (1961-63), 1917-1963)

Time Editor: Someday There Will Be People Who Don't Know There's a Print Version
Stengel: 'We want people to be addicted to the magazine.'
By Bill Mickey

Time magazine's managing editor Richard Stengel opened the Direct Marketing Association's 22nd annual Circulation Day event today in New York with a keynote that largely addressed the magazine's relationship with the Web site. Recounting the last year and a half, Stengle noted the magazine's redesign, ratebase reduction, the new publication date and the Web site's expansion into a product that stands out as a separate, 24/7 news site.

Broadly, Stengel said the magazine needed to regain its status as a vital read, in a way that vaguely echoed the luxe leanings of other high-end publications. "We have to become a more premium product with beautiful paper and photography," he said. "Each medium needs to do what it does best. A magazine should be something you're addicted to."

The Web site, too, had, to Stengel, become static. "We were a traditional magazine Web site. We decided we should be a 24/7 news Web site."

While the two products should be complementary halves, Stengel added that they nevertheless offer two very different perspectives on world news-and lately have been downplaying the opportunities of driving the audience from one platform to the other. Focus groups revealed that readers didn't necessarily appreciate the callouts in the magazine to go to the Web site to see more information on a particular story, he said. "Why are we doing that? It doesn't make sense," said Stengel. "They should be two separate audiences. Someday there will be people who don't know there's a print product."

In 2007, the rate base reduction, a cover price increase and a redesign of the magazine contributed to the second most profitable year in the magazine's history, said Stengel. "It was during a time that we thought was going to be a transition year."
Raising the cover price by $1.00, Stengel said, increased newsstand profitability but also caused sales to contract "a little." Indeed, according to the recently released Fas-Fax report, single copy sales for the second half of 2007 fell to 107,277 from 133,084 in the same period 2006-a 19.4 percent decrease.

Stengel said that print has largely ceded breaking news to online and, as a result, has become the more analytical of the two platforms. "There's no news that breaks in print anymore," he said. "Print takes the facts and adds insight. Online is for the 'what' and print is for the 'why'. The magazine puts it in context and that's why we see them as complementary brands."

Monday, February 11, 2008

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Why Do Good Magazines Die?

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: Why Do Good Magazines Die?

Re: BoSacks: Why Do Good Magazines Die?
I agree with your premise, below. My first job was with House & Garden and it was a heady time, with editors who had tremendous style and clout with the reader and the retailer and a publisher and ad sales staff who were nearly mythic in their ability to convince the advertising community that the House & Garden brand was essential to their media schedule.

The key here was the fact that the "brand" was presented as unique, and advertisers understood clearly what the brand meant, in terms of the emotional connection and importance it had to readers.

I wonder if that was the way the magazine was still being presented to the ad community - and if the reader also understood why they needed to have the magazine as well?

Many magazines believe that just because they have a product that comes out every week, or every month, etc., and appears on the newsstand, or in their customer's mailbox, that they have a "brand". That couldn't be further from the truth!

I think that unless and until the magazine moguls understand that each magazine needs to do what their own best advertising customers wouldn't step foot out the door without doing - and that is to make it clear what is unique, compelling and competitive about the magazine - and what the emotional connection the magazine uniquely has with the reader - we're going to see a lot more titles, old and new, go under. A magazine should be a brand, not a commodity.
(Submitted by a President and CMO)

Re: BoSacks: Why Do Good Magazines Die?
Yes, this is truly astounding. You have to wonder, "What were they thinking?!" They couldn't even sell the old lady onward to someone who saw an opportunity? Must be nice to be that fat, dumb and happy, but if I were a Condé Nast shareholder I'd be screaming bloody murder.
(Submitted by a Publisher and COO)

Re: BoSacks: Why Do Good Magazines Die?
Wow Bobby, taking on the Conde behemoth - you go boy!!
(Submitted by a Senior Publishing Consultant)

Re: BoSacks: Why Do Good Magazines Die?
Bo, the main reason of H&G closing is how Conde Nast manage circulation and advertising. All the income is based on advertising pages and just a little amount on circulation. If H&G had a "good paid circulation", like People or US Weekly, probably it would not had been closed.
(Submitted by a Senior Magazine Rep)

Re: BoSacks: Why Do Good Magazines Die?
Your comments about the unfortunate impact of the influence of youth are spot on. In support of that statement I offer an article in the latest issue of Scientific American discussing something called myelin. Myelin is the white matter underpinning the gray matter of the brain. To the best of my rather basic understanding, the gray matter is a network of firing neurons performing data processing tasks and is, more or less, present at birth. White matter is the infrastructure that, among other things, determines the quality of one's decision making. Myelin, and the advanced decision making abilities it imparts, is not even all there until one reaches his mid-20's. 'Nuff said.
(Submitted by a Printer)

Re: BoSacks: Why Do Good Magazines Die?
Bo, I agree with you and your analysis, and I loved the title of your piece. I think the industry is just damn confused. The big guys, which I am not, don't have any more of an idea where this industry is headed then I do as twenty nine year veteran publisher of four smallish titles. Actually I think I am in a better position to survive the content wars than the so called giants of the industry. I know my readership and they know me. Can any Conde publisher say that? I doubt it. My readers pay me a very fair price for my work and my titles on the newsstand or as a subscription. Can they say that? I doubt it.
(Submitted by a Publisher)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Publishing Evolution From Linear Thought

BoSacks Speaks Out: The following was forwarded to me by one of our illustrious readers. I think it is a very provocative article for publishers to ponder. Has the digital age and evolving digital methodology changed the way we think, read and solve problems? Has this re-wiring of thought from historic linear logic to endlessly streaming tangential bits and bites changed us for the better or the worse? Is this a missing link in moving magazines from the printed page to the digital platform? At this point I have more questions than answers, but I think if we can frame the correct questions to probe, we can find the appropriate solutions and profitable business models as well. What do you think on this subject?

"Answers are not obtained by putting the wrong question and thereby begging the real one"
Felix Frankfurter (American Jurist, 1882-1965)

The Evolution From Linear Thought To Networked Thought
by Scott Karp
I was thinking last night about books and why I don't read them anyone - I was a lit major in college, and used to be voracious book reader. What happened?

I was also thinking about the panel I organized for the O'Reilly TOC conference on Blogs as Books, Books as Blogs - do I do all my reading online because I like blogs better than books now? That doesn't seem meaningful on the face of it.

Then I read this really interesting post by Evan Schnittman at the OUP Blog about why he uses ebooks only for convenience but actually prefers to read in print.

So do I do all my reading online because it's more convenient? Well, it is, but it's not as if I don't have opportunities to read books. (And I do read a lot of Disney Princess books to my daughter.)

But the convenience argument seems to float on the surface of a deeper issue - there's something about the print vs. online dialectic that always seemed superficial to me. Books, newspapers, and other print media are carefully laid out. Online content like blogs are shoot from the hip. Books are linear and foster concentration and focus, while the web, with all its hyperlinks, is kinetic, scattered, all over the place.

I've heard many times online reading cast in the pejorative. Does my preference for online reading mean I've become more scattered and disorganized in my reading?

I've also spend a lot of time thinking and talking recently about how understanding the future media on the web is so counterintuitive from the perspective of traditional media - about the challenge of making the leap from thinking about linear distribution to network effects.

After reading Evan's post and struggling with the convenience argument, I read this Silicon Alley post speculating on a possible lack of demand for ebooks, despite the Kindle reportedly selling well. If I'm such a digital guy, then why do I have no interest in ebooks?

I was eating some peanut butter last night . . . and then suddenly something clicked. (Don't know if the peanut butter caused it.)

What if I do all my reading on the web not so much because the way I read has changed, i.e. I'm just seeking convenience, but because the way I THINK has changed?

What if the networked nature of content on the web has changed not just how I consume information but how I process it?

What if I no longer have the patience to read a book because it's too . . . .linear.

We still retain an 18th Century bias towards linear thought. Non-linear thought - like online media consumption - is still typically characterized in the pejorative: scattered, unfocused, undisciplined.


But just look at Google, which arguably kept our engagement with the sea of content on the web from descending into chaos. Google's PageRank algorithm is the antithesis of linearity thinking - it's pured networked thought.

Google can find relevant content on the web because it doesn't "think" in a linear fashion - it takes all of our thoughts, as expressed in links, and looks at them as a network. If you could follow Google's algorithm in real time, it would seem utterly chaotic, but the result is extremely coherent.

When I read online, I constantly follow links from one item to the next, often forgetting where I started. Sometimes I backtrack to one content "node" and jump off in different directions. There are nodes that I come back to repeatedly, like TechMeme and Google, only to start down new branches of the network.

So doesn't this make for an incoherent reading experience? Yes, if you're thinking in a linear fashion. But I find reading on the web is most rewarding when I'm not following a set path but rather trying to "connect the dots," thinking about ideas and trends and what it all might mean.

But am I just an outlier, or just imagining with too much peanut butter on the brain some new networked thinking macro trend?

Then I remembered - or rather arrived at in nonlinear fashion - a contrarian piece in the Guardian about an NEA study that bemoaned declines in reading and reading skills. The piece points out the study's fatal flaw - that it completely neglected to study online reading.

All Giola has to say about the dark matter of electronic reading is this: "Whatever the benefits of newer electronic media, they provide no measurable substitute for the intellectual and personal development initiated and sustained by frequent reading."

Technological literacy

The only reason the intellectual benefits are not measurable is that they haven't been measured yet. There have been almost no studies that have looked at the potential positive impact of electronic media. Certainly there is every reason to believe that technological literacy correlates strongly with professional success in the information age.

I challenge the NEA to track the economic status of obsessive novel readers and obsessive computer programmers over the next 10 years. Which group will have more professional success in this climate? Which group is more likely to found the next Google or Facebook? Which group is more likely to go from college into a job paying $80,000 (£40,600)?

But the unmeasured skills of the "digital natives" are not just about technological proficiency. One of the few groups that has looked at these issues is the Pew Research Centre, which found in a 2004 study of politics and media use: "Relying on the internet as a source of campaign information is strongly correlated with knowledge about the candidates and the campaign. This is more the case than for other types of media, even accounting for the fact that internet users generally are better educated and more interested politically. And among young people under 30, use of the internet to learn about the campaign has a greater impact on knowledge than does level of education."

What I'd be most curious to know is whether online reading actually has a positive impact on cognition - through ways that we perhaps cannot measure or even understand yet, particularly if we look at it with a bias towards linear thought.

Is there such a thing as networked human thought? Certain there is among a group of people enabled by a network - but what about for an individual, processing information via the web's network?

Perhaps this post hasn't been an entirely linear thought process - is that necessarily a bad thing?