Saturday, September 03, 2005

Regarding mail & new distribution in gulf states

where is USPS holding mail
how are publishers being notified
what are wholesalers reporting
what are print vendors planning for assembled co-mail pools addressed or mailed
how will ABC count books not delivered
what are publishers' fulfillment plans for subs in this region

Friday, August 19, 2005

Who's Heavier, Florio or September Vogue?

Who's Heavier, Florio or September Vogue?
You Can't Lift Either!
By Gabriel Sherman

The Vogue was big. It rested heavily on a low-slung glass coffee table in publisher Tom Florio’s office—a magazine with the girth of a Yellow Pages. But it was not, by its own admission, the biggest.

Billing itself at “800 Pages” (though paginated to 802), the upcoming September Vogue falls shy of last year’s 832-page performance. The ritual “Biggest Issue Ever!” cover line is absent. Still, Mr. Florio had bigger things to count than pages.

“How do I feel about it?” Mr. Florio asked. “I feel good about it.” He eased forward in his leather armchair and picked it up, savoring the heft.

The 2005 September issue, Mr. Florio said, “has brought in more revenue for a monthly magazine than probably any magazine ever published in the world—since the cavemen.”

The cavemen, or other literal-minded folk, might be confused by the publisher’s definition of “magazine”: The $2 million revenue increase that Mr. Florio is reporting to the Publisher’s Information Bureau includes some money from Men’s Vogue, which will make its newsstand debut—still, officially, as a test product—in September, with its older sister as chaperone.

The bookkeeping fits with Mr. Florio’s concept of Vogue: a brand that can’t be contained by two covers, even when those covers are 1 1/8 inches apart. Hence the second publication on Mr. Florio’s coffee table: a Vogue marketing brochure, cut bigger than a tabloid newspaper, with a translucent bluish-white plastic cover.

The lush pages feature trippy, larger-than-Vogue versions of iconic Vogue photographs—including Annie Leibovitz’s December 2003 Wonderland shoot, with John Galliano as the mad Queen of Hearts to Natalia Vodianova’s flamingo-toting Alice. They also contain Mr. Florio’s blueprint for transforming Vogue from a women’s fashion title to “a world of experiences,” encompassing “dynamic multi-media platforms.”

The brochure touts, among other offerings, the Vogue documentary, Seamless, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April; plans for a theatrical release are ongoing. There’s also the Web site—roll over the ads and click to buy!—the syndicated television programming available in 78 million homes, the party planning group, the data-mining initiatives, and the in-house advertising studio for clients such as Bergdorf Goodman, Cartier and Cointreau (“campaigns … that pair unique ideas with the same incredible photographers and stylists who distinguish our editorial pages”).

And—oh, yeah—there are the magazines: Men’s Vogue, Teen Vogue and, if Mr. Florio has his way, Vogue Living sometime next year. And naturally, beyond and beneath it all, holding up the edifice: Anna Wintour’s Vogue, also known around headquarters as “Big Vogue.”

Even if it’s the teensiest bit not so big—or at least not so Biggest! From January through July, Vogue’s ad pages were down 2.5 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the Magazine Publishers of America.

As a stainless-steel coffee maker gurgled in the corner of his 12th-floor corner office, Mr. Florio made his case for alternative measures. “I have a file in my drawer, I could throw down every fashion magazine and show you what people are paying in their March issue,” he said. “And their discounts are between 68 and 80 percent to buy ads in these other magazines. What’s $150,000 in Vogue is literally $16,500 in another magazine …. I don’t look at their ads. They’re just giving away ads. The whole idea of tracking ads is absurd today because they don’t mean anything.”

Rival publishers disputed Mr. Florio’s claims of widespread cut-rate advertising. “We don’t discount,” said Stephanie George, president of In Style. “We work for a very big company called Time Inc., and they don’t need me to do that.”

Still, this year, Vogue raised its rate base—the circulation guaranteed to advertisers—to 1.2 million. “I get paid, and everyone who works for me gets paid, on revenue,” Mr. Florio said. “Not pages.”

For all his interest in the multimedia future, Mr. Florio is something of an atavistic figure: the last of a certain breed of Condé Nast publisher. Of the three “Italian Guys”—Mr. Florio, his brother Steven and “Mr. Big” Ron Galotti—who lunched annually at Da Silvano in Decembers throughout 90’s, Tom Florio is the only one still holding an active day-to-day position in the company.

His hot-blooded older brother stepped down as Condé Nast C.E.O. in January 2004; Mr. Galotti, the Vogue publisher from 1994 to 1998, retreated in March 2004 to a 100-acre farm in North Pomfret, Vt.

But the younger Mr. Florio was still in his 4 Times Square offices. His reaction to middle age, he said, has been to train for a 70-mile half Ironman triathlon scheduled for October. A slate-gray suit hugged his taut frame. “I like my wife, so I don’t want a 20-year-old girlfriend,” he said. “It’s much cheaper than a Porsche, and you end up looking a lot cuter in the end.”

Low-speed endurance training, he said, takes adjustment. “If you’re used to racing,” Mr. Florio said, “it’s a pain in the ass to go slow.”

He continued: “When I’m in the park on my bike and someone passes me, it’s like, ‘I’ll kill you!’ Like yesterday I was in the Park and I rode about 25 miles, and I was doing this low-heart-zone thing. And this guy passes me, and I’m like—I saw him on the back hill, and I was like, ‘You know what? I just got to kick his ass on the hill.’
“So I came from behind him, and I was like, Vrrrrrrum! And then I went back into my low heart rate.”

such is restraint, Florio-style.

“Tom’s the last little bit of [that generation],” Mr. Galotti said. “The reality is, there’s been a change in the company. Condé Nast went from a business that was run on superficial success to one that’s operated more on real financial success.”

Under his hard-charging brother, Tom Florio was widely seen as being on the losing end of an asymmetric sibling rivalry—leading to his highly public transfer from the president’s seat at The New Yorker back to his former position as publisher of Condé Nast Traveler. Mr. Florio, however, denied that interpretation. “Believe me,” he said, “[Steven] had nothing to do with me moving in and out of The New Yorker, because I reported directly to Si [Newhouse].”

Yet answering to Steven Florio, he said, did mean that he “scaled back a little bit my kind of prima-donna thing, which I was a little more comfortable with before he was there. You know, it’s a lose-lose situation. It’s like, he would say no to everything, where before he was here, everybody said yes to me.”

Mr. Florio downplayed the idea of a cultural change at 4 Times Square. “I’ve been here since 1983 and I’ve been a publisher for a good amount of that time,” he said. “Si is as involved as he’s always been—the company is bigger, is what’s different. It’s not that he’s not involved. There were how many magazines then, seven? Today there’s 20-something …. Believe me, when we sit down and talk to Mr. Newhouse, and talk about a creative idea or a business idea, there’s not a question he doesn’t think to ask that’s like, you better be on game.”

And in the present climate, Mr. Florio’s own role is evolving. He is drawing up staffing plans for a Men’s Vogue business department apart from Big Vogue’s. The test issue is fat with premium advertising. “We have Hinckley Yachts,” Mr. Florio said, “and we have [Ralph Lauren] Purple Label, and $1,400 single-malt scotch …. We have brands that don’t advertise. We did 164 pages—when the budget was 70, right?”

If the newsstand sales are comparably strong, Mr. Florio plans to bring on a publisher for the men’s title. He declined to say whether that would move him into a group-publisher position overseeing the entire Vogue family. At present, the two-year-old Teen Vogue is under publisher and V.P. Gina Sanders—the wife of Si Newhouse’s nephew Steven Newhouse, a leading candidate to succeed Mr. Newhouse when he eventually retires.

“There are a lot of options right now,” Mr. Florio said. “I think Teen Vogue is doing just fine. We haven’t made any decisions about if Men’s Vogue would become part of a group situation or not. This is all in discussion right now. We’ll make decisions based on what’s best for the brand and what’s best for the company.”

And what’s best for the brand, in Mr. Florio’s estimation, is to get beyond that glossy 800-page annual monument. The inspiration, in part, was In Style—the only fashion magazine, Mr. Florio said, to rival Vogue’s ad-page count.

“And the only reason In Style gets up there,” he said, “is because of all their supplements—which they do brilliantly. I am not putting them down.

“If anything,” he continued, “it made us think, ‘Wait a minute, our brand is pretty damn important. Maybe [we] should extend our brand and get into that business.’”

In Style? Somewhere, under an immaculately tasteful headstone, one could almost hear Diana Vreeland spinning like a gyroscope. Attention, ladies: In Style is the new Vogue?

Not at all, according to Mr. Florio. Citing Malcolm Gladwell and tipping-point theory, he described his theory of Vogue’s role—as “a brand that has both change agents and masses reading it.”

Most magazines, he said, have one or the other class. “In Style doesn’t have change agents, they have masses,” he said. “Vanity Fair has change agents …. In Vogue, you have the fashion elite, the society elite, as well as that woman out there in Minneapolis who might go to H and M or whatever.”

And so you have a brand capable of expanding into a multidimensional experience. “One of the things about Vogue and the Vogue brand,” Mr. Florio said, “we’re as active off the page, in the design studio, consulting the C.E.O. who the next designer should be, as we are on the page. Actually, we’re more. I call Anna the McKinsey of fashion, because she is like McKinsey in the way she advises people.”

McKinsey? Is that whizzing noise Ms. Vreeland again?

The consulting work, Mr. Florio said, “was about what we do. It was about our taste and our style.”

“The limits of the Vogue brand,” Mr. Florio said, “will be dictated by our taste.”

Thursday, July 28, 2005

E-paper: future of RFID, intelligent packaging?

A prototype of electronic-paper could be the future for radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and for intelligent packaging, according to the company developing the technology.

UK-based Plastic Logic says it has developed a a paper-like material whose display properties change when a voltage is applied. The technology is being built to be used for electronic books, electronic maps and electronic newspapers. The technology can also be used for sensors, labels, RFID tags, intelligent packaging and disposable electronic gadgets.

A number of companies have been attempting to develop electronic "ink" and electronic flexible displays for years. Such technology has the potential to radically change the publishing, display, packaging, ink and label industries.

Electronic ink, when used in conjunction with flexible plastic display technology would have the ability to change according to imbedded instructions. For example a simple food label would be able to carry a wider variety of information than is currently available using the same-sized paper version. Readers would be able to scroll through information on an e-label.

Flexible displays would also be foldable, allowing them to be easily put in a pocket or bag. Xerox's Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC), Lucent and E Ink are also working on versions of the technology.

In the UK Plastic Logic is currently spearheading manufacturing development on a €23m EU project to develop plastic electronics that is thin, flexible and low-cost.

The project aims to exploit polymer electronics to enable a new generation of low-cost ‘thinking’ devices that interact with their environment and communicate with people. Such sensors could have the ability to be used on "intelligent" packaging, which would warn people when food has perished, according to the project description.

Plastic Logic is also working with twenty partners on the EU's €26m Flexidis project. One section of the project is developing organic light-emitting diode displays. Another section is developing flexible electronic-paper displays, which might be used for labels or as RFID devices.

The key is to bring down the cost of RFID, a technology which is currently being used as a tool to track individual products as they are packaged and shipped.

The high cost of RFID chips is one factor cited as a major barrier to the wider introduction of the technology.

In May, Plastic Logic announced the opening of a new prototyping facility in Cambridge to produce active-matrix backplanes for flexible e-reader displays. The prototype line can fabricate up to 100 A5-sized panels a week. Each has 100dpi to 150dpi resolution and can be bended. The company says it expects to produce colour displays with 100dpi resolution next year.

The company uses a low temperature process, which brings down the cost of the devices. Plastic Logic was established in November 2000, as a spin-off from Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


As Ad Spend Grows 'Tepid,' Agencies Grow Neutral, Less Dependent On Traditional Media
by Joe Mandese

DESCRIBING TRADITIONAL MEDIA AS BEING "under siege," a top Wall Street firm issued a report Wednesday suggesting that major ad agencies have finally reached the point of "neutrality" - meaning they are no longer depending on traditional media like television for their profits and cash flow. The big change, wrote Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine, has been the shift from media commissions to fee-based compensation by major marketers, as well as the rapid acceleration of new media and marketing services. "There is no question that marketing services businesses are growing more rapidly as large marketers are questioning the return on traditional advertising," said Fine, noting agencies now "participate equally in both sectors and [are] relatively indifferent to how a client chooses to spend."
Fine hinted there still is tremendous upside for Madison Avenue among digital media, especially the online search marketplace, as most agencies "are not fully participating in the migration to online search but they do have decent representation in other Internet based activities."

Last week, Carat CEO David Verklin revealed a major push by the media agency into search, citing recent acquisitions such as iProspect, and a fundamental shift in the media planning structure of the Aegis Group unit. Verklin said Carat soon plans to make search a component of every media plan developed by the agency for its clients.

Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch's Fine makes a compelling case for traditional media indeed being under siege, and portrays a frenzy on Madison Avenue as agencies strive to develop branded entertainment, sponsored video-on-demand and other new, non-linear media opportunities.

"Local television is feeling intense pressure from local cable as local interconnects is making that medium easier to buy. Newspapers are visibly losing share to other mediums as circulation volume continues to decline at an accelerated pace. The radio industry has self-inflicted wounds that appear to be healing, but now faces threats from satellite radio and the rapid penetration of iPods," she cautioned, nonetheless offering a "positive note," pointing at that local cable, cable networks and the Internet are also "on the rise."

"Internet-based advertising, branded and search represented an estimated 3.6% of U.S. advertising in 2004 or $9.6 billion and is forecasted to exceed 7% of the total by 2009."

Despite that contribution, Fine once again revised Merrill Lynch's ad outlook downward, describing the U.S. ad cycle as "relatively tepid."

Merrill Lynch now expects U.S. ad spending to rise only 4.5 percent in 2005, down from a previous forecast of 4.9 percent. The biggest corrections were due to print media, with magazine ad growth dropping to 4.0 percent from 5.0 percent, and newspaper spending declining to 3.3 percent from 4.0 percent. The picture also darkened slightly for broadcast TV, the only medium projected to decline in 2005. Instead of losing 1.4 percent, Merrill Lynch now expects broadcast TV ad spending to fall by 1.5 percent this year.

Editor, MediaPost

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

PR Vs. Advertising: This Time, It's Personal

PR Vs. Advertising: This Time, It's Personal
by Joe Mandese, Tuesday, Jun 14, 2005 7:30 AM EST
THE PUBLIC RELATIONS INDUSTRY, NOT advertising agencies, appears to be taking the lead on the burgeoning marketplace of so-called "personalized media." Ketchum, the giant public relations division of Omnicom, late Monday unveiled Ketchum Personalized Media, a new unit focused on "how, why and when" to integrate personalized media strategies into marketing communications plans. Ketchum is not the first PR firm to do so - Cooper Katz recently launched what it's calling a "Micro Persuasion" practice - but it is by far the largest so far.
Unlike traditional mass media communications, the micro media marketplace focuses on new forms of personalized, or consumer generated media such as blogs (Web logs), podcasts, RSS (really simple syndication) and new mobile marketing applications in which individuals transmit media content directly to a few or many end-users.

While most major ad agencies have begun tracking the rapidly growing field, none of yet formed a dedicated practice devoted to developing and exploiting what many believe could be the future of marketing communications.

"A lot of conflicting information and anxiety exist about how to incorporate these new online technologies into 'traditional' communications programs," said Paul Rand, a Ketchum Partner, Chicago Managing Director, and co-leader of the development team that oversees the new unit, which will draw on the firm's eKetchum Digital Media Group, as well as PR and technology offices worldwide. Ketchum executives said a global perspective is essential for understanding the personalized media marketplace, because technologies evolve differently in different markets. For example, the firm said the U.S. is "six to 18-months behind" Europe and Asia in terms of new mobile marketing techniques such as Short Message Service (SMS), text-based messaging that has proven to be an especially viral way of spreading word-of-mouth in overseas markets. Perhaps the best example of SMS used on a wide scale in the U.S. was the high-profile phone-in-vote campaigns utilized by Fox's "American Idol" series.

A number of top media agencies have begun tracking and analyzing the personalized media marketplace, and are initiating programs to capitalize on it, but the PR industry appears to be developing it as a dedicated marketing services practice.

Editor, MediaPost

Sunday, June 12, 2005

BoSacks Speaks Out: Can Google Rival the Newspapermen?

BoSacks Speaks Out: Can Google Rival the Newspapermen?

I feel compelled to tell you that I use Google News almost everyday. It is an extraordinary tool for news gathering. Not only the gathering of news, but more importantly, the capacity to get completely differing points of view on the same subject or news event. To me that is an aspect that is rarely mentioned and of extreme importance. For example in today's top headlines there is a story titled "G8 Urged To Ensure Debt Write-Off Reaches Poor." It is a political story coming from Reuters. That story, if it was the only one I read, would contain only one perspective. But with the Google News formula there are 1,211 other links from news sites all around the world reporting on the same story with completely different perspectives. That, my friends, is a true reservoir of diversity. You can't read them all, but reading one or two stories on important events is very important to your understanding of complex issues.

This is power publishing to the extreme. This is powerful broad based information delivery system on a global basis, that anyone, anywhere can tap into, and it doesn't even require a broadband connection. The world of publishing, or "Information Distribution", is changing every day. It is still in it's infancy, but look what we can do already. Think about what we might be able to do in five years? How about 10? Do your plans contain a global perspective? If not, why not?

Today I am sitting in a very rural section in upstate NY. Yet from here, or wherever my laptop is, I reach over 10,000 people worldwide everyday. My good friend Samir Husni says, "Think global, act local." Although I love to disagree with him, he is right on the mark with that statement. The Internet is empowering any publisher no matter how small and local it might be to have a global presence and perspective.

We are all seeing amazing changes in the publishing process. There are radical changes happening now and will continue for the foreseeable future. I often wonder if our current management teams can and will keep up with the advent of newer and even more magical technologies of information distribution.


The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village. - Marshall McLuhan (1911 - 1980)

Here is a list of the first ten articles on the G8 story listed chronologically starting with the most recently posted.

G8 urged to ensure debt write-off reaches poor

Reuters - 1 hour ago

By Manoah Esipisu. JOHANNESBURG (Reuters)

Last-minute cracks in debt relief plan

Sydney Morning Herald, Australia - 1 hour ago

Transparency is key to debt deal - UK's Brown

AlertNet, UK - 1 hour ago

G-8 plan for relief praised by debtors

International Herald Tribune, France - 1 hour ago

Richest nations approve debt relief for poorest

San Francisco Chronicle, CA - 3 hours ago

Rich Countries Waive the Debts of Poor Countries

Zaman Online, Turkey - 4 hours ago

G8 agrees $40bn Africa debt relief deal

Financial Times, UK - 4 hours ago

G8 writes off US$ 40 bn debt for African nations, India - 5 hours ago

Wealthiest nations agree to forgive $40 billion debt

San Jose Mercury News, CA - 5 hours ago

G8 leaders agree to help poor African nations

Independent Online, South Africa - 7 hours ago

............From the General Publication News Files...............

Can Google News robot rival the newspapermen?
By George Brock
A potential nightmare faces the 'dead-tree-and-ink' business

WE ARE accustomed to the idea that media history has been made by editors and publishers. That was in the past. Now the people who may next change the way news is interpreted and delivered work in a two-storey building in the Indian city of Bangalore.
They are not exactly editors or publishers: they are mostly young Indians with PhDs in computer science. The interns who work in Bangalore for the search-engine company Google are trying to teach computers to figure out what is quality journalism. If they succeed, their impact on written journalism will be profound.

When Google’s webmasters first launched Google News in 2001, its inventors endured a lot of lofty ridicule from newspaper editors and writers pointing out that no “robot” was ever going to be a better news editor than a human. And Google’s system wasn’t perfect: it reported with a straight face that Canada had arrested George W. Bush on war crimes charges.

However, the smiles of the men and women in the dead-tree-and-ink newspaper business are fading. Google News has six million users a month. In the search-engine wars, this isn’t huge — Yahoo! News, edited by real people, has bigger reach — but the implications are more intriguing. Google News is produced entirely by computer algorithms that sift 4,500 internet news sites every quarter of an hour and produce news bulletins ranking the stories by how many times they are found. Like most of Google, the front page is bare bones: clusters of links through to the original stories wherever they appear. You can customise a news feed on a particular topic of your choice; there are 22 regional editions in nine languages.

Once upon a time, fast, accurate news was in short supply. In a wired world with a glut of news, Google wants to be the global positioning system for people who need to navigate the information jungle.

For many people, and not just journalists, this is the stuff of nightmares. For an entertaining summary of the case for the prosecution, watch a short “mockumentary” in which Google’s news robots take over the world’s news business. Without discrimination, the vast news engine spews out data largely trivial and untrue.

Google News’s young Indian founder, Krishna Bharat, is not heading for that dystopia. As the snags are being ironed out of Google News’s basic model, he has already set his interns in Bangalore to work on subtler filters to sift news.

Are the sentences and paragraphs copied from somewhere else and can that story be discarded? Does the length of the story count? How many people does the news operation employ? How many foreign correspondents does it have? Above all, Bharat is striving to establish how to teach a computer to recognise originality, a genuine scoop, clarity, concision, eloquence, political impact.

“I see us as an integral part of the news community,” Bharat told the World Editors Forum in Seoul last week. “Our relationship with newspapers is symbiotic. We send traffic directly to the content provider . . . and we amplify the amount of news being read.”

Google’s experts see information being published on a range from history books at one end to fast-breaking news on the web at the other. A reader chooses how to trade off timeliness against mature reflection. That means that newspapers have to be clear about where they sit and what their readers expect of them in the balance between speed and depth. Newspapers confused about this are those most liable to die.

Perhaps the most powerful evidence of the advance that automated news “aggregators” have made is that their workings and effect are now on the political agenda. American journalism weblogs debate whether the Google formulas demonstrate an unintentional bias between Republicans or Democrats. There was a vigorous disagreement at the conference between Bharat and US and Japanese speakers over Google’s reluctance to reveal exactly what sources it uses and how it adds or subtracts from the list.

But those arguments only go to show that Google News is a force for change, like it or not.

George Brock is the president of the World Editors Forum

For more information:

For further media coverage:

Who's Checking the Numbers?

Who's Checking the Numbers?
by Dave Morgan, Tuesday, Jun 7, 2005 6:00 AM EST
BUSINESS WEEK BLOGSPOTTING'S STEVE BAKER made a great point last week that blogs are bringing math into journalism:

He opines that the open publishing platform is giving media voices to non-traditional journalists, like technologists and mathematicians who have very strong math skills and are bringing with them some much-needed quantitative discipline to the profession.

As someone who works in online advertising, an industry that lives and dies by numbers, Steve's point really hit home with me.

The online advertising world is awash with numbers, and we need more people covering that world who can make sense of them.

An enormous advantage presented by the growth of digital computing is their acute measurability. You can generate, analyze, and report numbers on almost anything related to digital media and marketing these days. Unfortunately, while this wealth of numerical data in the right hands can be powerful and liberating, it can also be overwhelming and quite misleading when misused.

It is virtually impossible to consume industry information and communication these days without encountering numbers, whether it is a news article in one of the trades, or a corporate press release, or a presentation at an industry conference. Numbers are everywhere, and usually, by their sheer specificity, they tend to carry a lot of weight. But should they?

All too often, numbers are released, reported, and accepted as gospel because no one in the audience is either knowledgeable or comfortable enough to ask the right questions. During the Internet Bubble years, everyone was making pronouncements about the size of the online ad marketplace. Every forecast got bigger, and no one questioned them because everyone wanted to believe. As I recall, one of the first attempts to call the numbers into question occurred in 1998 and was led by BURST! Media's Jarvis Coffin.

Uncomfortable with seemingly inflated numbers coming out of the portals, ad tracking services, and trade organizations, BURST! sponsored original research that analyzed that actual financial discloses of advertisers and found that their online ad spend was being inflated by more than 50 percent. While many in the industry dismissed his research as wrong and "contrarian" at that time, two years later, once the billion-plus dollars in "roundtrips" and fraudulent bookings at places like AOL and and dozens of others came to light, it became clear that he was right, and that the industry had been living with bad numbers. In the end, we lost a lot of credibility that it has taken the better part of 5 years to rebuild.

We need to be better prepared this time to have our numbers scrutinized by experts. For example, I, like others, was quite happy to see TNS Media Intelligence recently release their list of Top Internet Advertisers for the month of April together with the estimated monthly spend for each advertiser. Having data like this available in the market is a true benefit to all.

Once I looked at the actual numbers, however, I was not so sure that they were doing anyone a real service. The number one reported advertiser, "Tickle by Emode," was estimated to have spent $23,770,000 on online advertising in the month of April. Number two was Vonage at $21,829,000 for the month. Number three was South Beach Diet at $18,607,000. Number four was at $14,124,000. was number six at $12,508,000 and was number seven at $10,137,000. Basically, this report says that these companies had online ad spend in the month of April at a $100,000,000 to $250,000,000 annualized rate each.

I don't believe it. Does anybody else?

I don't believe that any of these companies spent anything close to those numbers in actual dollars in the month of April. I think that all TNS did was take some gross ad delivery numbers and multiply them by some estimated generic rate card numbers (which, as anyone in the industry knows, does not exist) and published the product of those numbers. They totally missed the fact that a large portion, and probably the majority, of all online ads are sold on a cost-per-click or cost-per-action basis. Their disclaimer (presented with the numbers) that "Media expenditures do not always take into account special considerations including publisher discounts, barter agreements, co-sponsorship, affiliate relationships, etc." misses all of that.

It is not my intention to single out TNS here. My concern is that numbers like these need to have their methodology called into question. They carry a lot of legitimacy because of their sponsor and their specificity. We need people that know the questions to ask and who can analyze and interpret the results. I hope that Steve is right. I hope that more mathematicians are coming our way.

Dave Morgan is CEO of Tacoda Systems.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Demand for magazine ads down 0.7% in April 2005

Demand for magazine ads down 0.7% in April 2005 by ZDNet's ZDNet -- So far the demand for magazine ad pages in 2005 grew 0.8% with April 2005 declining by 0.7%. Publisher Information Bureau posted the following numbers for magazine ad demand in 2005:April: -0.7% March: +1.2% February: +4.2% January: -0.4% YTD: +0.8%

Friday, June 03, 2005

Consumers devour new magazines about food

Consumers devour new magazines about food
By Ellen Sweets
The Denver Post
June 1, 2005

Whether you're a dieter, gourmet, diabetic, chile pepper lover, carnivore, vegetarian, experienced cook or neophyte, there is a food magazine looking for you.
Where food aficionados once looked either to Bon Appetit or Gourmet to divine what hip thing was happening on America's tables, both have come up against niche competition over the years, from Saveur and Southern Living to Wine Spectator and Cooking Light.
Chris Allen, Cooking Light publisher, says his is now the largest food magazine in the country, with 1.7 million copies sold monthly -- compared with Bon Appetit's 1.3 million and Gourmet's 950,000.
"Eating healthier is no longer a trend," he says. "It is mainstream."
Samir Husni, known as "Mr. Magazine," is considered by many to be the world's leading authority on magazines. Husni, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi, also heads Magazine Consulting and Research, a firm specializing in launching new magazines, repositioning established ones and packaging publications for better sales and presentations.
"Last year, there were 1,006 new magazines, and 105 of them related to food, from cooking for two to summer grilling, winter grilling, low carbs, cooking easy, cooking light and cooking for the diabetic. Food magazines are consistently about 10 percent of the magazine market," he says.
Val Weaver, editor in chief of Vegetarian Times, says her publication has come a long way since the brown rice, tofu, nuts and berries diet of the '70s hippie movement.
"Then along came 'Moosewood' and 'Diet for a Small Planet,' and the vegetarian movement hit its stride," she says. "But (vegetarianism) really went mainstream, especially once people realized that vegetarian food didn't have to taste bad."
But are people really cooking from these narrowly segmented, niche publications? Husni says there's no way to know that.
"Unless you use them regularly, and most people don't, food magazines are mainly something to whet your appetite without gaining weight," he says.
"We think people want to cook when it is fun or recreational, that's why Whole Foods (Markets) was so brilliant. Cooking needs to be fun because we're going crazy with everything else."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A novel idea using e-mail

Picking up a novel can be hard. It's the start of hours of commitment with no guarantee of satisfaction. And an unfinished novel sits on the nightstand, a daily rebuke.Whereas opening e-mail is easy. Many of us read dozens of them a day with no more effort than it takes to click a mouse.So why not combine the two?

That's what Toronto screenwriter Michael Betcherman and California journalist David Diamond have done with "The Daughters of Freya," apparently the first novel to be delivered to readers as e-mail.It can't be found in bookstores, and a traditional print-and-paper version of the mystery doesn't exist. Instead, readers order it online and receive three to four e-mails a day (99 in all) for 3½ weeks.Each e-mail takes no more than a minute or two to read. Some contain links to fictitious magazine or newspaper articles or pictures of some characters.The novel is not only delivered in e-mail; it's written in that form.

The entire story is told in e-mails between the characters. Each day's clump of e-mails ends on a cliffhanger, which tantalizes readers who cannot read ahead to solve the mystery.Betcherman said he and Diamond, old friends who'd kept in touch via e-mail, first got the idea of writing a book in e-mails, but a friend suggested they deliver it that way as well. It made sense to Betcherman.E-books are not new. Stephen King launched the first, "Riding the Bullet," in 2000. While he sold more than 500,000 copies, rampant piracy marred the debut. The form has come a long way since then but still requires downloading large blocks of text into computers or PDAs, which can be tiring to read. People are used to reading short e-mails, though."The medium and the form of the story are one. People use the Internet in the way they're accustomed to," Betcherman said.He said nearly 1,000 "copies" have been sold since the fall at a cost of $7.49 apiece. He said he and Diamond are looking at it as a business model. They might hire other writers to write e-mail e-books in other genres."I think there is a big future to it," Betcherman said.


A novel idea using e-mail

A novel idea using e-mailMonday, March 28, 2005James F. SweeneyPlain Dealer ReporterPicking up a novel can be hard. It's the start of hours of commitment with no guarantee of satisfaction. And an unfinished novel sits on the nightstand, a daily rebuke.Whereas opening e-mail is easy. Many of us read dozens of them a day with no more effort than it takes to click a mouse.So why not combine the two?That's what Toronto screenwriter Michael Betcherman and California journalist David Diamond have done with "The Daughters of Freya," apparently the first novel to be delivered to readers as e-mail.It can't be found in bookstores, and a traditional print-and-paper version of the mystery doesn't exist. Instead, readers order it online and receive three to four e-mails a day (99 in all) for 3½ weeks.

Each e-mail takes no more than a minute or two to read. Some contain links to fictitious magazine or newspaper articles or pictures of some characters.The novel is not only delivered in e-mail; it's written in that form. The entire story is told in e-mails between the characters. Each day's clump of e-mails ends on a cliffhanger, which tantalizes readers who cannot read ahead to solve the mystery.Betcherman said he and Diamond, old friends who'd kept in touch via e-mail, first got the idea of writing a book in e-mails, but a friend suggested they deliver it that way as well. It made sense to Betcherman.E-books are not new. Stephen King launched the first, "Riding the Bullet," in 2000. While he sold more than 500,000 copies, rampant piracy marred the debut. The form has come a long way since then but still requires downloading large blocks of text into computers or PDAs, which can be tiring to read. People are used to reading short e-mails, though."The medium and the form of the story are one. People use the Internet in the way they're accustomed to," Betcherman said.He said nearly 1,000 "copies" have been sold since the fall at a cost of $7.49 apiece.

He said he and Diamond are looking at it as a business model. They might hire other writers to write e-mail e-books in other genres."I think there is a big future to it," Betcherman said."The Daughters of Freya" is a mystery about an investigative reporter looking into a sex cult in San Francisco.The authors do a good job of keeping true to the form they've chosen. The e-mails read like real e-mails, not literature forced into an artificial form. There are no lengthy descriptions of sunsets or characters' looks. But, despite the creative use of a BlackBerry during the novel's climax, the limitations of e-mail make it hard to convey action or description.And that's the drawback to the form. A good novel absorbs the reader. The characters, the settings and the plot become real.While a competent mystery, "The Daughters of Freya" never achieves that intimacy. The reader is a passive viewer of e-mails between characters and so remains at an emotional distance. A cult member is murdered? The investigative reporter is in danger? Ho hum.In the end, the difference between "The Daughters of Freya" and a traditional novel is the difference between an e-mail and a handwritten letter from a friend. The electronic version is faster and easier but, ultimately, less satisfying.For more information about "The Daughters of Freya," go to

Friday, March 25, 2005

Surprise! -- Consumers Take Control Of Media

Study Concludes -- Surprise! -- Consumers Take Control Of Media
by Gavin O'Malley

FROM TIVO TO IPODS, AN estimated 27 million U.S. citizens own one or more on-demand media devices, according to a study by Arbitron and Edison Media Research released this week.
The study, based on January telephone interviews with 1,855 participants, found that 10 percent of consumers watched video-on-demand via cable or satellite in the prior 30 days; 11 percent accessed news online; and 37 million consumers listened to Web radio.

"The study shows that consumers, while still using traditional media, have great enthusiasm and passion for on-demand media," Bill Rose, senior vice president-marketing and U.S. media services at Arbitron, said in a statement.

Additionally, Arbitron and Edison determined that 27 percent of 12- to-17-year-olds own an iPod or other portable MP3 player; an estimated 43 million Americans choose to record TV programming to watch at a different time, either with a VCR or TiVo/DVR; 76 percent of consumers own at least one DVD; and 39 percent own 20 or more DVDs in their personal collection.

The study also found that awareness of XM Satellite Radio has tripled since 2002, from 17 to 50 percent, while awareness of Sirius Satellite Radio has risen from 8 to 54 percent.

Intel invests in E Ink

E Ink is just around the corner. It will change everything. Keep your eyes on the trends and the players who are getting into the process.


-Intel invests in E Ink
By Tony Smith (tony.smith at
Published Wednesday 23rd March 2005 10:00 GMT
Intel has pumped cash into E Ink, the electronic 'ink' technology developer, it was revealed yesterday.

The investment - the amount was not made public - comes through Intel Capital, the chip maker's venture capital division, which funds start-ups developing technology and applications that, one day, may boost demand for PCs and thus Intel's chip products.

E Ink's technology has already been licensed by Philips, which has used it in a non-volatile 'electronic paper' display. That unit, in turn, was chosen by Sony as the basis for the Librié 1000EP (right) electronic book it launched in Japan ( a year ago. The display's resolution is 600 x 800, but it operates at 170dpi.

E-Ink's system uses charged black and white particles. Under the influence of an electric field, the particles adhere to the panel, allowing them to stay there when the current is removed. Power is only needed to change the image, not to maintain it, making the technology suitable for very low power applications.

The Philips display is capable of creating four-level greyscale images, presumably by varying the density of particles in a given area, in the same way photos are reproduced in print.

E Ink's finance VP, Ken Titlebaum, said Intel's cash would be used to fund the development of the next generation of the company's electronic ink technology. ®

Related stories
Sony launches true electronic book (
Philips demos bendiest LCD yet (
© Copyright 2005

Monday, March 21, 2005

Publishers are under increasing skepticism by the public

Publishers are under increased skepticism by the public at large. Is that as it should be? Do we deserve the skepticism? Are we as a group failing in our public trust? Or is this just an aberration, blown out of proportion by a few and perceived a failure of many?
Either way, what to we do to regain our creditability?

Friday, March 18, 2005

E-Paper Is Making Great Progress

I found the attached article about e-paper very interesting. E-paper is making great progress. Did you know that the US Army is very involved in E-paper. They intend to use it as GPS connected maps. Imagine that! Maps that are updated on a second by second basis. Once this is perfected, and it soon will be, it’s application for publishing will be wonderfully powerful.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Would you Rather get an Outside Service to do the Inside Work?

There is an old Dr. Edward Deming way of looking at a corporation that that comes to my mind from time to time.

The short essence of it is this: If you could, would you use the various departments in your company or would you rather get an outside service to do the work? An interesting question.

So I am asking you. If you could, would you use your current production, edit, or sales teams, or would you rather get the same services somewhere else? Think about it up and down the corporate chain. What would really be best from your departments perspective?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Who will be the best aggregator of the information process.

In the new world of Electronic information distribution, where does/should a printer place himself? Should he/can he be the center of a digital distribution chain, so that all files can printed, webbed, blogged, emailed and otherwise sent out to the general public in multiple formats. Or should all those responsibilities reside at the publisher’s domain? Who is/will be the best aggregator of the process.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Can a blog one day replace true journalism?

Can a blog one day replace true journalism?
What is the possibility that one day, magazines,newspapers and other respected printed matter will be replaced by individual blogs?

Friday, March 11, 2005

BoSacks Speaks Out: Local Mobile Search? Hold the Phone

BoSacks Speaks Out: Local Mobile Search? Hold the Phone

There is yet another fork in the road of the information superhighway where printed magazines and newspapers were once the dominant source of information, but are now being replaced by a faster, personalized, geographically accurate electronic device/service. It seems that each day now I see areas of information distribution where once we were kings and now perhaps dukes, earls and little princelings. Our royalty status is on the decline. Cell Phones are now a source of instant news and information, much like the antique newspapers of your grandfathers. Only quicker and with GPS localization.

I will add another dimension to this that goes beyond just the ease of use. Today's generations do not like to read. Here is yet another example of how they can have the information they want without the need of reading to get it. Pablum information tools. No thinking to get it, and nothing to intellectually digest. This factoid type of information distribution is becoming mainstream. My best guess is that the next generation does know, or has at least heard, some of the current news headlines and world events, but they have little to none of the details beyond the headlines. I don't know if anyone has said this before, but I find this "factoid generation" more then a little troublesome.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Are Publishers the right Man for the Job?

In talking about business models here is one worth discussing.

If you were going to go sailing in treacherous waters, who would you want captain your ship? Perhaps the travel agent that sold you that trip? I don’t think so.

Where is it written in stone that a best practice for a business is to put at the helm of the ship a person with little knowledge of that business? It has been a mystery to me the continued predilection of the publishing community to take very successful salespeople and anoint them with the title of publisher.

A publisher is in charge of the whole enchilada. They should be fluent in the disciplines of circulation, accounting principles, manufacturing and production. I have lots of friends who are publishers and most have agreed privately that although it’s good for their ego, and the fact those advertisers like to see upper management, the publisher. But that it takes a long long time to learn the other disciplines of the business environment. What do you think?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

What Happens to the Newsstand Industry?

Here is a sobering thought. What happens to the newsstand industry when the current trend of celebrity fascination ends? It will happen you know, in media it’s all about trends. Some are long lasting and some are a flash in the pan. The celebrity boom in magazine sales will one day be a celebrity bust, no pun intended.

It seems to be happening right now with the teen magazines. Well these teens are the next group of readers, we hope, of your magazines.

Let’s do a quick review. Newsstand sales have been at best flat for the last 15 years. Those stats include the great successes of the celebrity titles. If you take out the celebrity numbers, the viewing of the resultant graph is much more sobering, if not scary. What do you think?

Friday, March 04, 2005

BoSacks Speaks Out: The Blog Of War

BoSacks Speaks Out: The Blog Of War

BoSacks Speaks Out: BLOGS are a new and developing form of journalism.They are still in their formative years, under development and growing rapidly. BLOGS have in a very short space of time, toppled politicians and media personalities.The same can also be said for traditional media. But traditional media is somewhat slower to report and not quite so anonymous. There are some interesting aspects of BLOGGERS' that contain potentially unchecked and abusive use of Internet power. It is a necessary line of logic to ponder.

We are in uncharted waters. Democracy needs total freedom of the press to thrive. That freedom links an informed public and the political process. As I try to hold that thought, I am troubled by the terrible power of an under-read public and its susceptibility to unsubstantiated "facts." It is a paradox that will unfold right before our eyes in the next few years. At the very least, I think it is fair to say that we are more vulnerable to media manipulation than ever before. Yes, there were the years of yellow journalism and media contrivances before, but I think we are on the edge of something new and far more powerful.

What are your thoughts?