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  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On a day when we read that digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time, it boggles the mind how much known fraud there is in anything digital. Why does the advertising community "trust" what is obviously a global confidence game?

    Fake humans, click fraud, fake ad placement, paying for ads never seen, fake web sites that look real but aren't grabbing an obvious overabundance of loot. Not to mention the theft of our very selves. Our whole lives and families' interests bundled for sale not to the highest bidder, but to any bidder.

    The online advertising ecosystem is impossible to understand much less control under the current conditions we find ourselves in. Despite what we hear from the lofty P&G, there is no competent leadership anywhere, and I'm compelled to add the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is nothing but a joke.

    Where is the industry leadership? I used to think the US government could be the answer to regulate this problem. Forget that pipe dream. Too many senators have demonstrated clear stupidity about the Internet. It's ridiculous, but the lawmakers who have the power to regulate technology have absolutely no idea how technology works.

    Do you remember when Sen. Orrin Hatch asked Mark Zuckerberg how Facebook is able to sustain a business model while running as a free service. I'm sure Zuck stifled an internal chuckle and was barely able to keep a straight face when he responded, "Senator, we run ads." "I see, that's great," Hatch replied. No, there will be no shining knight from the Capitol to save the day.

    Part and parcel with the fraud, how is it that we all ignore the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of people? Not their rights, our rights. Facebook's lies, duplicity and personal intrusion by hidden surveillance systems all go unchecked. Do you know that Facebook tracks you through third parties whether or not you are logged into Facebook? As Bob Hoffman pointed out a few weeks ago "And the pièce de résistance -- Facebook's new data policy asserts that they track you even if you don't have a Facebook account."

    This is not a rant about Facebook. They are just a single example of the on-going digital depravity.

    It's an old stat, but did you know that for every $3 spent on digital ads, fraud takes $1 (Adage.com, 2015)

    Did you know that US brands would lose $6.5 billion to ad fraud in 2017. (Marketing Week, 2017)

    Here is a 2018 stat - How much have you spent on fraudulent ads today? How much have your fellow advertisers? Try $51 million. Research estimated that digital advertisers wasted $51 million on ad fraud every single day in 2018. That's a massive $19 billion over the year.
     
    There is an abundance of data that shows that magazines are more trusted than any other delivery vehicle. It is rated and respected by readers for top quality and accuracy in reporting.

    Yet, in review, print which is trusted by all parties loses market share every year, while obviously fraudulent digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time.

    Advertising is the Big Brother we were warned about. Its mission is nothing short of surveillance for a profit. The information on us is stored, sorted and turned against us as an algorithm. And if the algorithm is good, we will march to it.

    Now is the time where I should make some sort of demand or plea for us band together and transform the system. Nope, that isn't going to happen. There is too much greed and too much money for this to change any time soon. How does this rectify? Is there hope in this digital morass?

    I have hope, but no ideas.

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 27, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: How Canon enables personalized print publishing

    BoSacks Speaks Out: How Canon enables personalized print publishing

    Digital press manufacturers have been for many years in a constant hunt to entice magazine publishers to print their magazines as a digital product and not an offset product. It is a fascinating and flexible technology, and I have seen copies that rival offset in quality. It works wonderfully for catalogs and direct mail. But magazines are a different breed.

    Most magazines are already specialized niche products. I would postulate most magazines don't have enough edit to make personalizing printed magazines to each reader possible or profitable. I would also suggest that most magazines don't have a detailed database of their readers, although that is rapidly changing with the growth of surveillance capitalism.

    There are circumstances and some companies where digitally printing a magazine could work quite well, but on the whole offset is still less expensive. And with the creative binding processes that are available, variable editorial based on reader interest has been obtainable for almost 50 years.

    My favorite example is Farm Journal. They have used what is called a Selectronic binder, which is, of course, computer driven binding from a database. It has been around since the 1980s. It works like this - If you are a farmer and you grow corn and wheat and also have some chickens, you will get printed signatures with those editorial pages and ads that match your farm's profile. If your farm grows soy and alfalfa and you have cows, you too would get a different set of signatures and a different personalized magazine. Pretty cool right? This is accomplished while binding the entire magazines press run in one pass. I saw this process in the last century, and I have always loved the creative solutions to the manufacturing process.

    Sadly, the magazine industry neither trained nor compensated their sales forces to learn the technology, thereby diminishing a pretty cool and advanced process to a mostly underutilized "could have been" in the annals of publishing missed opportunities.

    There are always exceptions, but unless you have a strong database on your readers as Farm Journal does and the vast editorial will to produce multiple stories for each issue, a digital press, however wonderful, is at this point a technological exuberance for most printed magazines.

    That doesn't say we shouldn't keep our eyes on the progress of digital printing. There may come a time soon when it is priced at or near offset. At that point why not go digital even if you use the process sparingly? I'm sure every publishing house can and will come up with creative uses for the process in both advertising and in edit. Who knows, perhaps Yoga Journal for the Left Handed reader is in the works as I write this?

    Lastly, I implore any and all digital press manufacturers and publishers to start a dialog here in these pages. Consider it an opportunity to reach out to the perfect publishing audience.

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 27, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • Lessons from the 2019 Digital Innovators Summit: Diversify & Invest in Quality Content

    Lessons from the 2019 Digital Innovators Summit: Diversify & Invest in Quality Content

    William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the "noir prophet" of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. It was Gibson who coined the term "cyberspace" in his short story Burning Chrome. He is also responsible for one of my favorite quotes, which I often used to open my lectures in the early 2000's, "The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed."

    In our industry nowhere is that more evident than at the Digital Innovators Summit (DIS) held each year in Berlin. I have had the privilege to attend it for seven years. In doing so I have witnessed the digital transformation of publishing media firsthand and with a global perspective. It is partly this experience that enables me to speak with authority about our industry and its future.

    Publishers Are Finding Profits in Diversification I think the most obvious takeaway from almost every presentation is that the crisis of confidence is over, and we are now in a better state than we were five years ago.

    There is now overwhelming proof from multiple global sources that digital can supply revenue and profits. Subscriptions are real and readers, especially those that trend younger, are willing to pay. Parallel to that is the formula of: Quality + Specialization = Premium Pricing. CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 07, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On a day when we read that digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time, it boggles the mind how much known fraud there is in anything digital. Why does the advertising community "trust" what is obviously a global confidence game?

    Fake humans, click fraud, fake ad placement, paying for ads never seen, fake web sites that look real but aren't grabbing an obvious overabundance of loot. Not to mention the theft of our very selves. Our whole lives and families' interests bundled for sale not to the highest bidder, but to any bidder.

    The online advertising ecosystem is impossible to understand much less control under the current conditions we find ourselves in. Despite what we hear from the lofty P&G, there is no competent leadership anywhere, and I'm compelled to add the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is nothing but a joke.

    Where is the industry leadership? I used to think the US government could be the answer to regulate this problem. Forget that pipe dream. Too many senators have demonstrated clear stupidity about the Internet. It's ridiculous, but the lawmakers who have the power to regulate technology have absolutely no idea how technology works.

    Do you remember when Sen. Orrin Hatch asked Mark Zuckerberg how Facebook is able to sustain a business model while running as a free service. I'm sure Zuck stifled an internal chuckle and was barely able to keep a straight face when he responded, "Senator, we run ads." "I see, that's great," Hatch replied. No, there will be no shining knight from the Capitol to save the day.

    Part and parcel with the fraud, how is it that we all ignore the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of people? Not their rights, our rights. Facebook's lies, duplicity and personal intrusion by hidden surveillance systems all go unchecked. Do you know that Facebook tracks you through third parties whether or not you are logged into Facebook? As Bob Hoffman pointed out a few weeks ago "And the pièce de résistance -- Facebook's new data policy asserts that they track you even if you don't have a Facebook account."

    This is not a rant about Facebook. They are just a single example of the on-going digital depravity.

    It's an old stat, but did you know that for every $3 spent on digital ads, fraud takes $1 (Adage.com, 2015)

    Did you know that US brands would lose $6.5 billion to ad fraud in 2017. (Marketing Week, 2017)

    Here is a 2018 stat - How much have you spent on fraudulent ads today? How much have your fellow advertisers? Try $51 million. Research estimated that digital advertisers wasted $51 million on ad fraud every single day in 2018. That's a massive $19 billion over the year.
     
    There is an abundance of data that shows that magazines are more trusted than any other delivery vehicle. It is rated and respected by readers for top quality and accuracy in reporting.

    Yet, in review, print which is trusted by all parties loses market share every year, while obviously fraudulent digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time.

    Advertising is the Big Brother we were warned about. Its mission is nothing short of surveillance for a profit. The information on us is stored, sorted and turned against us as an algorithm. And if the algorithm is good, we will march to it.

    Now is the time where I should make some sort of demand or plea for us band together and transform the system. Nope, that isn't going to happen. There is too much greed and too much money for this to change any time soon. How does this rectify? Is there hope in this digital morass?

    I have hope, but no ideas.

     
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Bezos, AMI and the American Newsstand

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Bezos, AMI and the American Newsstand

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Why is our industry always seeming to be at a crossroads of crisis when it comes to the newsstand part of our industry? 

    When I got into the magazine game in the 1970s the newsstand was in some parts corrupt and yet reliable and profitable. Once you figured out the "system" you could do very well and never worry about its brittleness because it was a strong delivery business with a functioning national infrastructure. These days many knowledgeable professionals constantly talk about its fragility.

    The newsstand is often misunderstood and is more complex than most realize. There are an unusually large set of varied businesses focused on the selling of magazines on the newsstand. There are thousands of people and hundreds of businesses dedicated to the shipping, driving, selling, stocking, coordinating, consulting and returning of magazines in the retail supply chain. Their salaries depend on the success of the newsstand. It is a complex process that thousands have devoted their careers to. In this mix not only are the newsstand organizations, the supply chain subgroups, but also actual magazines that live and die on the newsstand alone as their main source of revenue.

    Last year a friend/publisher e-mailed me the following, "The newsstand system is becoming increasingly irrelevant to most magazine publishers. Big publishers now create covers more with the goal of getting clicks and social-media buzz than selling copies. I can't say that I disagree with them. The newsstand system is a shit show of incompetence and inefficiency."
     
    This esteemed friend is wrong about most publishers and not so wrong about efficiency. The newsstand is not irrelevant to most publishers, in fact just the opposite. It is only the large publishers to which "The newsstand system is becoming increasingly irrelevant." In 2017 there were 7,176 titles and many, perhaps most, gain their revenue from retail sales.
     
    Which brings us to Linda Ruth's article about AMI and the newsstand. Does AMI, now exposed to possible legal issues or at least an in-depth examination, put more stress on the now admittedly fragile newsstand?
     
    What if? That is what I keep thinking. What If an implosion happens? What would be the real time effects on our printers, publishers and, as I said before, thousands of employees in the distribution side of the business? 
     
    We need the newsstand to survive and thrive. Over the years there have been forecasts of its death and proposed plans to save it. Neither have happened. No modernization, little-to-no overhaul and, of course, no death.

    Regardless of what happens to AMI I don't foresee the death of the newsstand as we know it. I don't believe the newsstand will ever evaporate, because there are still billions to be made in it. No businessman likes a vacuum, and someone will eventually reconstitute a distribution system. But the intervening space between implosion and reconstruction would obviously be devastating. 

    Since the demise is unimaginable, I prefer to think the newsstand will continue along its way with a stumble or two every now and again.  
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out; No,There Isn't a Media Malaise

    BoSacks Speaks Out; No,There Isn't a Media Malaise

    BoSacks Speaks Out: There isn't a week that goes by when I'm not asked about my substrate preferences. A long-time reader and publisher from England yesterday asked me for an electronic subscription to Magazine Media Quarterly "or is digital against your principles?" A pretty funny question to ask the guy who publishes the world's
    oldest e-newsletter. 

    For the record, I am neither rabidly pro-print nor a digital zealot. I am a businessman who likes profit, and I'm willing to use any substrate that achieves a sustainable goal of revenue. I like to think of my approach as that of a pragmatic publishing prophet, and my advice, like a good prosecuting attorney's advice, is to "follow the money".

    Publishing Pragmatism brings me to the point where we understand the publisher/reader relationship as a service with a client. Determining what suits the clients' needs best is the solution to the substrate question.

    Different publishing products work better on one substrate than another, and no two media niches are alike. Enthusiast titles are preforming well in both print and web-based properties. State and regional titles are also performing well. There are a few I can name that are outperforming their own expectations, such as Our State Magazine of North Carolina or feisty W42ST, a New York City magazine that just hit its stride with its 50th Issue. The publisher of W42ST wrote to me yesterday describing his print magazine as "A bootstrapped business, built out of love, hard graft, and a little heartbreak, it's an incredible story of how, in the digital age, print has the power to bring a community together ... we have ambitious plans to grow in 2019 and beyond."

    As I sit here in the industry analyst's seat, I see the following - a hopeful expectation that the chaos will finally settle into a period of stasis, not quite a period of inactivity but more of equilibrium. I must report to you that isn't going to happen any time soon for the magazine media industry. Expect continued disruption at every quarter for the foreseeable future.  CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • How creepy can marketing get?

    How creepy can marketing get?

    BoSacks Speaks Out: How creepy can marketing get? 
     
    Bob Hoffman once wrote that "Advertising used to be concerned with imparting information. Today it is concerned with collecting information."
     
    Facebook, Google, Amazon damn near every digital giant is exploring every part of your life. That is not a generic anonymous part your life, but a specific personal intrusion on every individual in the modern day ecosystem.
     
    There is no way I can overstate that this is one of perils of our times. Among other things I am overwhelmed by the lack of integrity and propensity for pure greed at any cost. The robber barons of yesteryear have been replaced by eRobber Princelings of digital creeps.
     
    What we need is clarity of the situation and a path to safety, because as individuals we are horrifically exposed to predators. And there doesn't seem to be a central source of protection anywhere on the horizon. Our government, a mostly geriatric group of legislators, haven't a clue about how the system works.
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • Saying Goodbye to Glamour

    Saying Goodbye to Glamour

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Here is a question. Who is surviving and thriving in the magazine business of the 21st century? Is it the old school corporate shirts or the feisty, nimble entrepreneurs? The answer is complicated, because both new and old are facing a new set of business rule-breaking never before seen, and, therefore, there is no road map. 

    In addition the obscene quantity of digital advertising fraud makes the answer to the question complex and murky. I think a case could be made that, under the stain of digital fraud, print should be shining as an example of needed and trusted media. It isn't; at least not yet. It seems day after day large corporations are condensing and reinventing themselves and their bloated methodologies to compensate for factors they still don't quite understand, while new publishing adventurers explore the limitless possibilities of publishing to ever widening niche audiences.

    Which brings me to a limited twitter conversation between @DeadTreeEdition, @AndyKowl, @newsstandpromos and @bosacks at the news of the demise of the print version of Glamour
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: A David Carey Retrospective

    BoSacks Speaks Out: The first time I remember meeting David Carey was, of course, at one of the trade shows. My memory is that it was at a cocktail party and it was just before the launch of Portfolio Magazine. He was then and always has been congenial and thoughtful in all our personal conversations. I have always admired David's leadership. I am constantly asked in my travels what publishing houses get it "right" in the current market place. My answer has always been David and Hearst. 

    You may say that it is easy for the big guys to do well. Not so. Kodak, Bear Stearns, Enron, Ford Edsel, New Coke just to name a few colossal failures from giants who could have/should have known better. No, it's not easy being at the top of a giant cooperation. When you are that big a leader, you have to be cautiously aggressive, and that is no easy task.

    I've always been an entrepreneur and for me, taking aggressive risks is part of the job definition. That methodology takes on new meaning when thousands of employees stand and fall by your decisions. It is not for the weak of heart. Bravo to David and his next bold moves!

    As an aside, I have always taken great pride that David has publicly stated on more than one occasion, that he reads this newsletter every day. That has nothing to do with my admiration, but it doesn't hurt either.



    Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively. They are like a great river that maintains its course but adjusts its flow.
    Sun Tzu

     

    Looking back at the venerable career of an industry leader.
     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted September 15, 2018
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On the Scariest Chart in Mary Meeker's Media Slide Deck

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On the Scariest Chart in Mary Meeker's Media Slide Deck

    Anyone who has seen a "Bo-talk" knows that I always spend some time and a few slides with Mary Meeker's work and analysis of the media industry. It is not the be-all and end-all of data analysis, but it is something to understand and acknowledge as we proceed. The charts you see below that track print and ad buys since 2010 to the present are exactly what I have brought to my audiences and with the same conclusions for the last seven years.

    What is not mentioned here but is worth noting is the fact that many magazines are bucking the obvious trends and are doing quite well. As I also suggest in my talks, aggregates only tell part of the story. Averages being what averages are, 50% of the titles are above the trend line. As I said in my last lecture at Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association a month ago, "I postulate that the 4% of time spent with print are valuable and precious minutes off the grid. Our strength is the total focus that print provides.

    The question is, can we convince young media buyers of the quality and worth of precious minutes off the grid?

    Does science matter in making media decisions?


    The haptic experience between print and digital is mainly a different feel, a different sensation and, perhaps above all else, a different expectation. Print doesn't offer distractions other than the words and thinking on the page, while the digital experience does.  


    With print the expectation is built right into the product as linear and fixed with no possibility of "surfing" beyond the next page. This firm foundation is in the background of your brain. Those particular expectations make for different reading experiences.

     Here is the science of what we know:

    1) Paper stimulates a stronger emotional response.

    2) Paper is more action-oriented than digital, because its physical format stimulates mental processes that guide consumer behavior.

    I think a case can be made that reading on the web requires a modern kind of discipline to actually finish the article you started to read, whereas in print there is no place else to go but finish what you picked up to read. Not everybody finishes every article regardless of the substrate. But to get readers to finish anything containing words requires good writing, good editing and a compelling subject.It is addictive content properly constructed and distributed that brings success to any magazine in print or on the web. It is that simple . . . and that hard.

    FOR THE COMPLETE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted June 21, 2018
    (0) Comments

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