Monday, May 07, 2007

BoSacks Speaks Out: Marketers to Mags: Give Guarantees or We'll Walk

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BoSacks Speaks Out: Marketers to Mags: Give Guarantees or We'll Walk

Some of the concepts delivered herein are filled with BS, hot air, fluff, smoke and mirrors. Large publishers just don't get it. There are two things that a magazine must have to survive and prosper. A passionate and devoted readership, sometimes known as great content, and really honest and accurate accountability. That is it!

As I read this article I see all this old style posturing by the publishers on record in this article. DUH!

You are truly finished if you keep that up. Who are you kidding? Or are you just waiting for retirement and intend on ducking out the back door? This is now somehow like global warming, or a gazillion dollar deficit . . . fix it now, don't leave it to your grandchildren.

It is time to stand up and deliver. Deliver the facts, not the bull. Have confidence in your titles and let the accountability drift to real levels, in real time, in a real world. Truth is I don't think you really have a choice. There is way too much competition in the advertising world today, and you will either join the solution revolution or be nothing more than a footnote of a past and forgotten problem..

"If you don't want to work you have to work to earn enough money so that you won't have to work" Ogden Nash (American Writer of humorous poetry who won a large following for his audacious verse. 1902-1971)

Marketers to Mags: Give Guarantees or We'll Walk Exclusive: MediaVest Wields $900 Million to Land
Issue-By-Issue Circ Promises
By Nat Ives article_id=116544

NEW YORK ( -- Kraft, Wal-Mart and Coca- Cola are among the marketers that are prepared to stop spending in magazines if they don't get issue-by- issue circulation guarantees.

Media buyers long have been frustrated with many magazines' insistence on guaranteeing only average paid circulation -- instead of guaranteeing the paid circulation of specific issues in which ads actually appear. But now MediaVest USA has gathered support from heavyweight clients to make issue- specific guarantees a reality.

"Let me be clear that I am a print champion," said Robin Steinberg, senior VP-director of print investment and activation at MediaVest. "However, we believe that all publishers should make this guarantee, and we will walk away from business for those who don't." MediaVest spent about $900 million in consumer magazines on behalf of its clients last year.

New leverage
The new power play reflects the growing demand for precision metrics in the media business, a drive fueled by an internet model that seems to promise instant accountability. It is also, though, part of a broader regime change in the industry, one that has delivered dominance to advertisers from media owners. Marketers now have too many options and have found too many ways to sell themselves, beyond traditional advertising, for publishers or broadcasters to keep setting the agenda. There's a reason commercial ratings on TV have arrived at last: Advertisers seem to finally have enough leverage to force the issue.

"As somebody who's ultimately paying the bills, what I'm looking for is accountability and transparency," said Donna Campanella, executive director for global media at Avon, a MediaVest client. "We want to make sure that the impressions we were hoping to get for a particular issue have been delivered. Because what we advertise is coordinated with what's in our brochures, timeliness is important."

"In this age when there are so many choices out there, particularly in the digital arena, traditional media needs to step up and really prove their value, good or bad," Ms. Campanella added.

But change still doesn't come easily or instantly. Time Inc., the country's biggest magazine publisher, guarantees most advertisers an average paid circulation across the issues in which they buy space; if you buy into five issues, the company promises those five issues will achieve a certain average paid circulation.

Anything else would only hike costs for everyone, said John Squires, senior exec VP at Time Inc., because publishers would pump up print runs to make sure not one issue falls even a percentage point shy of its rate base. "They want all guarantees and all protections at all times," he said of marketers and media buyers. "That just kind of forces a completely unrealistic expectation on our business. We do have to concentrate on some efficiencies."

Publishers don't get any reward when magazines sell more copies than guaranteed, Mr. Squires noted. And swings of 50,000 copies in newsstand sales at magazines that consistently sell millions can't be the top challenge in marketing right now. "In these times, in this world, with the kind of competitive pressure that there is on publishers already and the intense pressure on rates, is this really a big issue?" he asked.

Ms. Steinberg said advertisers need protection against tactics publishers can use to meet average guarantees. A few titles have made up for shortfalls early in the standard six-month reporting periods by drastically increasing their use of copies -- called "verified" by auditors -- that are distributed in hair salons, doctors' offices and so on. "Verified circulation was put forth with the notion that publishers would use and place these copies strategically and with transparency," she said. "However, we believe the proper use is not taking place, and the current use is to make up for rate base underdelivery from newsstand decline."

A challenge from Hachette
Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., publisher of magazines such as Elle and Car and Driver, already has started selling its men's enthusiast titles against issue-specific guarantees and is considering doing the same across its portfolio next year. But if Jack Kliger, president-CEO, is going to meet the buyers' challenge, he has one of his own for them.

"Issue-specific circulation-based pricing, to me, is an interim step to issue-specific audience-circulation guarantees," he said. That is to say, once the industry can better measure how many people see an issue, whether they borrow it from a friend or read a public- place copy, media buyers should drop this obsession with refining paid-circulation metrics. "It's like trying to make the kerosene lamp produce more light because that's what we're familiar with," Mr. Kliger said, "and don't trust this newfangled electricity thing."

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