Tuesday, April 01, 2008
BoSacks Speaks Out
Magazine Editors Explain Weird Cover Numerology
John Koblin of the New York Observer recently asked the following excellent question about magazine covers. Why all the MEANINGLESS NUMBERS?
I have wondered for years about that. I can only guess that they are an effective sales tool. But if a cover states 785 fashion and beauty tips like Lucky did, is that really possible? Is it really readable once you are in the magazine? Do these claims have any read editorial integrity? Or like the cover of Men's Health that offered 1,293 tips on something or other, is there anyone out there who has the patience to read or even scan 1,293 of anything?
I paraphrase Winston Churchill when I say that magazine covers "are a puzzle, inside a riddle, wrapped in an enigma". I have been studying them for years. I used to post in my office wall in several huge publishing houses every cover produced and the sales results of those covers. I would sit and ponder the variables and the results with friends, publishers and editors alike. Yes, there are "supposed" patterns of success to deduce. But there is no real universal truth or rule. In my studied opinion each success is title independent. What works for one niche does not necessarily work for another. That is sad but true.
Here are some of the answers or explanations from the horse's mouths:
"It's both a promise to the reader and a great graphic device."
"I have to like the number. Sometimes I'll have 75 items and I'll like number 67 better."
-Kate White, editor, Cosmopolitan
"The smaller the number and the more specific, the better."
-David Zinczenko, editor, Men's Health
"With the bigger ones we'll take an average where we say, 'O.K., we have 8 tips per page and 140 editorial pages and hence we have 1,100 tips in the magazine.'"
-David Zinczenko, editor, Men's Health
"Our research department literally just counted the number of products we had in the issue and that's the total we had," of the "218 Best Buys"
James Baker, editorial director of Real Simple
"We'll assign a research assistant or a hapless intern to try to count up most of the tips in the magazine and find some way to quantify for the cover of the magazine,"
-David Zinczenko, editor, Men's Health"
We decided in August or so that we wanted to do 365 beauty ideas in the beauty section for our January  issue. The beauty department commissioned 365, and there was some last-minute talk if there should be 366 beauty ideas for the leap year, but we decided against it."
-Cindi Leive, editor, Glamour
"We'll assign a research assistant or a hapless intern to try to count up most of the tips in the magazine and find some way to quantify for the cover of the magazine."
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Print More Trusted Source of Information Than Internet
MediaVest Study: Consumers Cite Health as the One Area Web Rules
By Nat Ives
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Reinforcing print publishers' frequent assertions of relationships with readers, new research by MediaVest suggests that readers trust print more than the web in almost every area.
People are seven times more likely to turn to print publications like Vogue for fashion and beauty content, according to new research from MediaVest.
Print's fashion and beauty coverage took the trust prize by the widest margin, outstripping readers who trust websites more by 24%, according to the study of 1,500 adults 18 to 54, which was complemented by analysis based on a Mediamark Research database. People are seven times more likely to turn to print for fashion and beauty content, the research found.
"Print offers something very, very unique, specifically around trustworthiness and authoritativeness," said David Shiffman, senior VP-connections research and analytics at MediaVest. "The personal experience people have with it is very different from what they're looking for and getting in the digital world."
The web beat print for trustworthiness in one area: health and wellness, where readers preferred digital sources such as WebMD by 3%.
"The research is going to help publishers develop and steer their content in the appropriate direction," said Robin Steinberg, senior VP-director of print investment at MediaVest. "When most magazines first launched their sites, they didn't have the correct approach of utility, immediacy and customization. They were basically taking content from the magazine and putting it online. Research such as this helps publishers to create online environments and experiences that align with user expectations of the online world vs. the offline or in-book."
The MediaVest study also found:
There remains very low duplication between the audiences for print publications and their online companions. Duplication ranged from 1% to 6% for every category except entertainment, where some titles reached duplication rates of 10%.
Print titles should deliver something different with their online extensions, according to 79% of respondents who were dual magazine and digital users. But only 44% said they strongly believed that publishers' sites really offer something unique.
Print will never die. Only 12% of respondents said they strongly believed that a publisher's site could easily replace the print product within the next five years.