BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Native Advertising, Vogue's Print Ads, Conde Interns, Newsweek.

By Bob Sacks on September 15, 2013

BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Native Advertising, Vogue's Print Ads, Conde Interns, Newsweek. 


RE: Native Advertising

I know I'm a little late with this opinion, Bo, but regarding "Native Advertising" or whatever we're calling it, this is my take, which I stand behind personally and publicly:


When we make content decisions driven by any criterion other than what the reader finds most interesting, we're damaging the relationship between our brands and our audiences. If we are to preserve the value of branded content, we'll have to continue to draw a vivid distinction between our content and the content sponsored by advertisers.


Engagement is the only meaningful measure of our success. It's the foundation of our business.


In the current media environment - replete with alternative sources of content - we in the branded-content business are distinguished by the fact that we share our audiences' passions and that we are authorities in our fields. Plus, we measure the reader's engagement with every piece of content to make sure we understand their preferences. Then we serve those preferences, exclusively.


Sponsored content that isn't clearly identified corrupts our brands and diminishes our value.


From our own, circulation-driven perspective, most of the other major magazines have always been edited for Madison Avenue. I think that's a big part of the reason that Mother Earth News was the fastest-growing MRI-measured title over the past 10 years, and it's why we have the longest time-spent-reading numbers and why we continue to grow at the newsstand. We focus on reader engagement, exclusively, when we're crafting the content.


Considering the competition we face today, our industry's mission must be to engage readers more fully and secure their trust more completely.

(Submitted by Bryan Welch - Publisher and Editorial Director of Ogden Publications)



Re: The New Non-Obsolescence of the Written Word

I just finished Swerve last week. It's a great read? I loved his descriptions of how the monk scribes worked.


It made me look for a book on the history of printing, but I came up empty. Do you know if there is a good one out there.


Another book I would recommend is "Copies in Seconds: Chester Carlson and the birth of the Xerox machine' about the invention and eventual overwhelming success of the xerox machine.

(Submitted by a senior Director of Manufacturing)


Re: The New Non-Obsolescence of the Written Word

One of your best things, Bob. I belong to the Association of Recorded Sound Collections, and many members are archivists working for various institutions, who constantly have problems finding old machinery to play records and tapes so they can preserve them. They are all too aware that, as Leon Wieseltier wrote in the New Republic recently,


"The present has the power of life or death over the past.  It can choose to erase vast regions of it.  Tradition is what the present calls these regions of the past that it retains, that it cherishes and needs.  Contrary to the progressivist caricature, tradition is not the domination of the present by the past.  It is the domination of the past by the present-the choice that we make to preserve and to love old things because we have discovered in them resources for contemporary sustenance and up-to-the-minute illumination."


The digital age means 1. a flood of nonsense and crap, some of it evil; but also 2. that we do not have to lose anything. As a music freak for over 60 years, I have been able to find almost everything I ever loved on the Net.


Talk about a brave new world. Lucretious hadn't seen anything yet!

( Submitted by a Consultant)



Dr. Joe, is one of the few that see the big picture, that print is really an avenue for profit but not the only avenue.

(Submitted by a printer)


RE: Vogue's Print Ad Rise Has Very Little to Do with Print

The concept of media convergence seems to shine for Conde; they are looking at the end user not as a reader but as dimensional asset. An opportunity to be captured and built upon. True media convergence includes the three "C's" but also must include the "C" for consumers. Conde gets the message. This strategy will benefit the advertisers as well by providing greater personal engagement zones to "touch" a prospect.

(Submitted by a writer)


Re: AMA says - Ad-Driven Business Model Not Sustainable

Hi Bo, You expressed surprise that a journal targeted to doctors would have trouble selling advertising. Of course doctors are fine targets for consumer advertising as they have money to spend. But professional pharmaceutical advertising is another matter altogether. Drugs are advertised to underscore new products, new studies, or new prescribing status. It's not necessary to advertise established drugs, and it's wasteful to advertise those with generic equivalents. Ad expenditures fall when drug releases fall, with no reference to the value of the audience. Finally, all medical journals face the problem that medical specialization means that a large portion of any general readership will never be called upon to know about or prescribe a drug outside their specialty. Pharmaceutical companies spend a lot on advertising, but they are almost always trying to get doctors to change brands rather than to underscore a brand they currently prescribe.


The moral of the story: no form of advertising is a safe, perpetual source of revenue, no matter how flush the advertiser or how desirable the audience. Because advertising has to change behavior, not just look good or get attention.

(Submitted by an Industry Consultant)



RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: On Interns, Business and Conde Nast

Dear Bo -. We're a small magazine publishing company that has never been particularly profitable. We struggle along and have made it through the recession. Before the recession we had interns that we paid an hourly fee of $10. It worked for both parties. Two summers ago we were approached by someone who wanted to work for us. We said we had no money. She went away and came back and said she'd be glad to work for free. She worked for us that summer on a part time basis and worked 2-3 other paying jobs in order to afford the "luxury" of working for us for nothing. We loved her and she was the youngest, brightest person I'd ever had the opportunity to work with.


She was so bright that at 18 we sent her, alone, to represent us at a Hong Kong trade show. She sailed through with passing colors, as we knew she would. What's that worth on a young journalist's resume? At the end of the summer we gave her a "gift" of some cash to send her back to school. We still love her and she still loves us and has moved on to bigger and better things.


The terms of internships should remain an open thing determined by the intern and whoever they work for. If free is what works for both parties, so be it. If paying interns works, that's fine too. There's room in the world for both. And the bottom line is interns need experience and making it more difficult for businesses to offer them that experience on whatever terms work is a detriment to both parties.

(Submitted by a a Managing Editor)



Hey Bo, Great article on Newsweek. I used to work @ Kordet Graphics (predecessor to AGT) supervising the color work for the Friday night close during the "Eighties". When I would come in on Friday afternoons, they would be just starting to press proof (yes press proof) the edit images. We would have drivers going back and forth to Manhattan with sigs and proofs (Cromalins) to the Newsweek offices. As the night wore on we would work the cover(s) depending on the stories or world events that were taking shape. Eventually the final versions were approved by about 3 or 4 AM - The final proofs were hand delivered to the Art Director's apartment, while the driver would wait for a sign off. After approval, the stripping department would (manually) create about 10 sets of film to be shipped out for distribution by 7 am to plants (including the one where I'm currently employed) all over the country for press runs that would take place that evening. Pretty heady times, especially when you think of all of the efforts of the huge amount of people it took to produce.

(Submitted by a Printer)


RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: On Interns, Business and Conde Nast

Regarding your post on internships, unpaid internships are just another advantage for rich kids, who can list Conde Nast on their resumes instead of McDonald's, then land better jobs than the rest of us, who had to work paid jobs during our summer breaks. Do corporations have to be fair? Well, nothing in life has to be fair, but theoretically, the United States operates under the presumption that all are created equal and should have equal access to education and success. Unpaid internships are just another example of the inaccuracy of that presumption.

(Submitted by a Worker)


Re: BoSacks Speaks Out: On Interns, Business and Conde Nast

Enjoyed reading about your early newspaper days. I was sitting in a journalism class in college and the youth director for "Harry Chapin's" Candor, NY stopped by to ask for help starting the Candor Community Chronicles published by the town's young people. Each week that summer I walked/hitched the 20 miles from Ithaca to Candor for what was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Thanks for stirring the happy memory.

(Submitted by a Publisher)


Re: Celebrity Weeklies Are Reveling in a Royal Baby, and Sales

Many thanks for sending Erik Maza's piece from WWD about using dead celebrities on magazine covers.  I was reminded of Richard Stolley, People's first managing editor, who formulated "Stolley's Laws" many years ago.  I've always thought they were the best guide to cover design. Note number eight.


1.  Young is better than old. 

2.  Pretty is better than ugly. 

3.  Rich is better than poor.

4.  Movies are better than television. 

5.  Movies and television are better than music. 

6.  Movies, TV, and music are all better than sports. 

7.  Anything is better than politics.

8.  Nothing is better than the celebrity dead.

(Submitted by a Publisher and official BoSacks Cub Reporter)


RE: New Yorker

The blog about "The New Yorker" strikes a warm chord, as Gotham was the first and only supplier of engravings for their cartoons from the beginning (1926 I believe) thru the early 2000's when they brought it in-house.

Remember well reviewing proofs with Editors and Art Directors. People today wouldn't understand the extent to which they strove for accuracy in detail and tonality to the artists' original. Great fun, though extremely challenging, but rewarding as well.

(Submitted by a senior Industry Supplier)



Re: 65 years of Woman's Day and the changing face of ads to women

I enjoyed seeing the retro ads from Woman's Day... yet another demonstration that styles come and go while the fundamental principles of brand advertising remain absolutely immutable.  In a slightly more serious vein, I'd be interested in learning how the editorial content of Woman's Day has changed over 65 years.  My impression is that Woman's Day has always been a proponent of traditional roles for women and that the smiling-housewife-by-the-stove still works as a symbol for the magazine's content... even though advertisers stopped doing that sort of thing years ago.

(Submitted by a Publisher and official BoSacks Cub Reporter)


RE: BoSacks Speaks Out: The Organized Chaos Theory

Thank you Bo for another insightful commentary.   I agree with your premise that publishers have been granted a brief respite.  The new is coming but the old hasn't yet gone, at least not completely.  I think the key to your article is the last sentence of the third paragraph where you refer to adjusting our business plans.  Since moving earlier this year from 25 years in a publisher's hat to consulting on digital publishing strategy I have been able to observe that how many publishers recognize the imperative for change but don't have a business plan for doing it and so often end up charging ahead with digital publishing efforts without an overall strategy.  Publishers do have a brief respite, but don't assume it will last long.  Use this time effectively or you've only delayed, rather than averted, the decline.

(Submitted by a former Publisher and now Consultant)


By Bob Sacks| September 15, 2013
Categories:  Readers Speak Out

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Bob Sacks

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