Archive for September, 2010


Zinio’s EVP and Chief Marketing Office Jeanniey Mullen and VIVmag editor in chief Anne Russell to speak at the Magazine Innovation Center’s first ACT Experience

September 24, 2010

A good thing just got better. Two more speakers have been added to the great line up of keynote speakers for the Magazine Innovation Center’s first ACT Experience. Anne Russell, editor in chief of the digital only magazine VIVmag and Jeanniey Mullen, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Zinio will speak on “How to launch an all-digital magazine without a blueprint; the story of VIV Magazine” and “three secrets to worldwide Digital publishing domination,” respectively.

Jeanniey Mullen, is the executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Zinio and its sister company, the exclusively digital magazine, VIVmag. Jeanniey is recognized as a pioneer and visionary in the digital marketing and advertising space, with an expertise in e-mail marketing.

Anne M. Russell is the editor in chief of VIVmag, and has an extensive background in health and fitness journalism. She previously served as editor in chief of Shape and prior to that was the editorial director of FOX Television’s Health Network, where she oversaw the Network’s website, as well as on-air content.

The two aforementioned speakers will join a host of keynote speakers in Oxford, Mississippi October 20 – 22 for the three-day event “Reimagining the future while we still have time.” And talking about time, now is the time to register for the event. Limited spaces are still available. To check the complete roster of speakers at the event and to register for the ACT Experience click here.


It is not too late to get to know the future…

September 23, 2010

Limited space is still available at the first Magazine Innovation Center’s ACT Experience. The three days of Magazines, Music and Mississippi themed “Reimagining the future while we still have time” is going to take place on Oct. 20 thru Oct. 22.

To be part of this inaugural event click here.

Today, I am also pleased to release the poster for our first ACT Experience. The poster was designed by J. Kevin Tugman, executive vice-president for creative services at the Sunshine Media Group, one of our Magazine Innovation Center sponsors. Check it out and hope to see you in few weeks.


MOZINES™ are here… Is this the future? The Mr. Magazine™ Interview with Mozines™ Creator Mike Cartabiano, CEO, Thumb Media Group

September 22, 2010

If the iPad and its many cousins and relatives are Game Changers for the publishing industry, then the question one needs to ask is, “Who is playing the game and who is leading the changes?” The publishing industry, historically speaking, is not known for its quick moves when it comes to change, or the will to join a new game if not invented and created by the industry itself.

Well, times have changed. And more people from outside the publishing industry have been leading the innovation and change in our industry ( The name Steve Jobs comes to mind ). But that is the topic for another blog.

One innovation that has caught my attention this week is Mozines™. The company behind Mozines™ is Thumb Media Group (TMG). The company has developed Mozines™ a software for mobile publishing platform and advanced mobile on-device application technology for mutiple Smartphone handsets including iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm, and Symbian. Our Mozine™ mobile publishing platform allows clients to quickly and cost effectively build a mobile audience and reach customers.

The brain behind Mozines™ is Mike Cartabiano, CEO, TMG. Mr. Cartabiano’s intentions for Mozine™” is to be another media channel, the mobile media channel.” He added in this segment of the Mr. Magazine™ Interview, ” Mozines™ are a bridge to online viewership and advertising and user adoption. It’s also a bridge to print, so it facilitates exposure to the print offerings of publishers.” What follows is my interview with Mike Cartabiano, CEO of the Thumb Media Group and his take on the future of our industry:

Samir Husni: What was the rationale behind developing Mozine technology, and what do you expect to accomplish?

Mike Cartabiano: I come from a background where I am constantly engaged in bringing brands and their messages to target audiences. At Thumb Media Group, we have developed the technological and business methodology to do this, and believe that magazines — more than any brand-driven business — are in need of our solution.

SH: The web has proven to be very elusive when it comes to paid content and money making for publishers. Why do you think mobile and digital delivery is different?

MC: Consumers on mobile platforms are more accustomed to paying for goods and services than they are on websites. As long as our value propositions fall within mobile consumer expectations, we are able to monetize mobile content. We have also found mobile transactions are much more impulsive than online ones, as they are available to consumers anywhere and at anytime. In addition, consumers tend to trust mobile transactions because they have not been hit with too many scams or worthless products. Last, mobile consumers have advocates in the form of their wireless carriers and third party application storefronts that can solve problems for them and screen out undesirable products and services.

SH: Some believe the business model for mobile applications should be similar to that of print: making money from both distribution and advertising. What are your thoughts?

MC: This is absolutely true, BUT the business model must be integrated with the characteristics of the mobile media channel, which is vastly different from that of print. End user expectations, from the user experience to various transaction models across different operating systems, devices and distribution channels are all unique to mobile platforms.

SH: A lot of platforms are using replicas or replicas plus of print magazines. How are Mozines™ different and how can you help publishers?

MC: Mozines™ are never replicas of print, which sets them apart from other magazine apps. Instead, Mozines™ provide optimized brand communication to all smartphone users in the mobile landscape. Mozines™ can reach millions of targeted mobile consumers worldwide with the best possible brand message in the mobile space. In addition, Mozines™ do not replace print or online. Mozines™ complement these media channels and serve as a bridge to let consumers tap into a brand across a variety of media.

SH: What differentiates Mozine™ from similar applications? What makes Mozines™ more attractive?

MC: There are two plea points that stand out. The first is that we’re about promoting the publisher’s brand. They’ve invested in their intellectual property. They have an audience. I even call that audience a fan base because that audience wants to see that brand everywhere they go, whether they’re in a waiting room holding a magazine or they’re in line, or whether they’re online and they’re searching that brand out and experiencing that. Or whether they’re on mobile, where they’re 24/7, everywhere and anywhere with mobile. We push the publisher’s brand and then we push that brand across multiple platforms.

SH: How many clients do you have? Can you handle newspapers?

MC: We can handle newspapers. We can also handle product brands. We are at WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) working with their magazine group. But they’re also a product brand. We have a project with Miller/Coors in Puerto Rico and that’s a marketing configuration. It’s a mobile newsletter. We reach out to magazine publishers, newspapers and brands who have an audience and a message to deliver to that audience on smartphones and tablets.

SH: Who do you consider your biggest competitor in the marketplace?

MC: There are some good companies out there. Texterity is a real good company and they’re offering one solution. Pixel Mags has a good solution and bite-size candy. But those groups, what they provide for the publishers, is a digital replica. We don’t do that. A digital replica on a smartphone is not a very good user experience. We provide an optimized experience. We aggregate content from the publisher and put it in a new format. So we’ll take magazine articles and features and advertising and we have some proprietary technology where we format that, compress it, optimize it and distribute it to all the Mozines™ applications in distribution. We also take feeds from a publisher’s website, their blogs and their Twitter, we integrate those and offer those through the application. Then again, we have the storefront; the ability to pick subscriptions, so there’s the monetization. On top of that, we have the advertising. Our competitors don’t have the support systems to have that combination of features, nor the support systems to provide that to the publishers.

SH: At what cost? Are you free to discuss the cost per publisher? Do you work on a commission, on a partnership?

MC: Our basic business model is that we have a low-cost monthly fee. This is a services fee that covers hosting, actual development and quality control, submission through app stores across different platforms. We keep updated with the upgrades, new technology, new platforms, make those improvements. We handle all that distribution, we handle customer service and we also provide reporting.

We have a very detailed weekly report. Soon we’ll be able to provide hourly reports so that a publisher will be able to log in to a dashboard and they can see on a hourly basis how many Android, how many Blackberry, how many iPhone downloads were done in different territories worldwide and on different phones. In that reporting we’ll also have a unique user account, so we’re able to provide a publisher with a database with user profiles.

But we also provide integrated advertising through a number of mobile media networks like Millennial, Ad Mob, iAd, and we also provide the ability for the publishers to offer campaigns for their advertisers so that their ad sales group can go to a advertising client and say, “We can offer you a bundle, here’s print, here’s online, now here’s mobile and iPad advertising package.” What we’ll do is create and deploy campaigns and track those campaigns for publishers.

We also offer revenue solutions that are integrated with the program. We have subscriptions on a month-to-month basis, or six months, or a per-download basis and through National Publisher Services and Fry Communications, we also offer mobile optimizing in storefronts.

There’s the ability to sell goods and services. After a short period of time, the publisher can actually cover their monthly service fee and start seeing positive revenue flow. Once it gets to that point, we move from a monthly service fee to a revenue-funded program. So there is no fee commitment.

SH: How are publishers charging for Mozines™?

MC: With Nylon, they’re giving it away. You were asking about the end user, it’s free with advertising in that. With WWE, a subscription of $2.99 a month and a user gets four weekly issues and they also get daily updates through blogs, Twitter and RSS feeds.

SH: Will the Mozine™ application work on any device?

MC: The Mozine™ is a single app that is distributed simultaneously and seamlessly across all platforms. We are currently deployed on iPhone/iPod Touch, over a dozen Blackberry devices and over 40 Android smartphones. All of these are available globally.

We are developing on WinMo, Palm and Symbian, and have Mozines™ for Feature phones. We are also developing for iPad so can offer our clients incredible consumer reach very economically and efficiently with a very high quality, consistent user experience.

SH: Part of what we do at the Magazine Innovation Center is try to help amplify the future of print. Where do you see the future of print going, and what role do you see Mozines™ taking in the future of print?

MC: Print will always have a huge audience but must evolve as media-savvy readers use their mobile devices and tablets to access information that is important to them. The role of publishers will be as creative sources of great IP targeted at their audiences. Distribution solutions will be the responsibility of firms like Thumb Media Group.

Mozines™ intention is to be another media channel, the mobile media channel. And by the way, tablets are somewhere between online and mobile. They exhibit characteristics of both and provide new and unique characteristics. But Mozines™ are a bridge to online viewership and advertising and user adoption. It’s also a bridge to print, so it facilitates exposure to the print offerings of publishers.

We sell subscriptions in Mozines™ to print. And we’re working with publishers to bring the promotion they have in a print magazine, like the blow-ins, we’re bundling subscription offers with Mozines. Though, if you subscribe to the print by Mozines™, for example, you would get a promotional discount on a print subscription.

We also cross promote, so, in the Mozines™, we promote the print. So there’s promotion in the print, an online presence of publishers that talk about Mozines™ and what they’re about and where to get them.

SH: One of the things that grabbed my attention when I found out about Mozines™, is that somebody is finally doing something different than the norm. It’s not saying, “Let’s grab you another replica, or replica-plus or replica-plus-plus.” I’ve been telling people no matter how many pluses you add, you’re still staring with a replica.

MC: Exactly. The thing is, for example, when online has really developed into a media channel of its own. You don’t have digital replicas necessarily there. When there is a digital replica, there isn’t a great following to that. Publishers have a hard time getting the subscription revenue in digital online versions of their products. So they have to think of the media channel, “What’s the difference about it? What are the end users’ expectations about that media channel?”

We have to tailor their intellectual property and their brand and their revenue models to that media channel. So, mobile is an entirely different media channel. We’re a little bit unique in that we bring really deep wireless experience to consumer application and development and distribution.

SH: What are your expectations for Mozines™ a year from now?

MC: We provide a great end-to-end, seamless, mobile media publishing solution with more revenue models and three times the distribution than our closet competitors. In a year, we will have significantly grown our client base, and because of our association with Fry Communications and National Publisher Services, we will be able to offer our services as a true cross-media, one-stop publishing solution integrating mobile, print, online digital and all popular tablets.

SH: Anything else you’d like to add?

MC: What we’re doing also on the iPad, let me talk about. That is a digital replica, but the foundation is our Mozine platform, which supports Android and Blackberry and iPhone. Consequently, when the new tablets from, let’s say, a Google or Blackberry come out, we already have a foundation in place to support those tablets. We have an iPad solution right now, and we’re working on a couple of projects for our clients, so we’re offering our clients a bundle. There’s efficiency to working with them to take that content, their content, and we deploy it across the different platforms. We’re supporting the iPad now and we’ll be supporting the other platforms as they come out.

We’re not a developer. We’re a solution. We’re an end-to-end service solution. We know the problems that publishers face with resources and financial challenges, especially today. We do not want to go in there and tax their limited resources. We have a very seamless process. We’ve had great feedback from Nylon magazine and WWE. They’ve confirmed that it’s seamless and it works very smoothly for them. They don’t have to worry about it.

SH: Thank you.

Truth in Reporting: During my interview with Mr. Cartabiano I learned that one of his partners in this venture is Fry Communications, who are in turn the sponsors of the Mr. Magazine™ website and blog. Needless to say that this information changed anything in the interview and in my views regarding Mozines™ and whatever future role it may play in the future of our industry.


Looking for Innovation in Print: McSweeney’s 35 Has the Answers

September 10, 2010

How can you make your good magazine remarkable? How can you go beyond being just a content provider, no matter how good your content is? Well, the answers to the aforementioned questions are really simple and innovative if, and only if, your name is McSweeney’s. The magazine is the brain child of David Eggers and issue 35 has just hit the newsstands.

To quote from McSweeney’s website, “McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern publishes on a roughly quarterly schedule, and we try to make each issue very different from the last. One issue came in a box, one was Icelandic, and one looks like a pile of mail. In all, we give you ground- breaking fiction and much more.” What they don’t tell you as how innovative each issue is and how much that innovation adds to the great content and changes the magazine from a mere content provider to an experience maker.

The latest experience making issue comes with no explanation and a lot of heat-sensitive ink on the cover and inside flaps. The cover illustrations of folks walking in the rain transfers to a pond filled with all kind of fish when you hold the cover and rub the ink. The heat makes things appear and disappear. But it does that so fast that one can’t scan the cover to show you the after result. So, I had to video the cover to illustrate that latest innovative technique with the magazine. Click on the movie below to see the cover in action.

Unlike other magazines that alert their readers to such innovations, McSweeney’s makes you work for it. Inside the back flap of the magazine there are a few cover lines that one needs to rub too and see everything vanish except the phrase HOLD & SEE. Well, sorry for letting the secret out, but without the help of my assistants, I would have continued to think that someone has messed up my clean magazine and the folks at McSweeney’s are using just cheap ink and not magic ink.

A great read, a great experience and yet another example of the power of ink on paper used well. Very well indeed. Enjoy.


Unbecoming Southern Living…

September 9, 2010

In a land not far far away there used to be a great magazine called Southern Living. It was the pride and joy of these Southern United States. It had three corner stones that anchored the bar stool called Southern Living magazine. They all started with an S: Southern, Seasonal and Service. The magazine was filled with recipes, more than a 100 in some issues. Folks from all around the South knew it was Southern Living from its yellow logo and predictable covers. In December it was a white cake; in October the fall leaves and pumpkins welcoming the Fall. In April the purple flowers and in November, what else but a festive Thanksgiving buffet. Those were the days. There was no fashion, no beauty, no frills or thrills. Just seasonal southern service. The Soul of the South was inside the magazine, not only on the cover.

What happened to Southern Living? A redesign after redesign inched one step after the other away from its southern roots. The covers became as unpredictable as the southern weather. The recipes dwindled to a few. And to top it all off, this month ushers a new section focusing on looks, fashion and beauty. The killer is an article about blow drying your hair, exercising and losing inches all at the same time. This is NOT the Southern Living I have known for the last 27 years. This is not the magazine that most of my friends knew and loved. It is definitely NOT your mother’s magazine anymore, but it is also NOT your daughter’s magazine.

Southern Living has lost its soul. It is anything but southern. It is a shame to see a great magazine become so un-southern. The only solace is in the fact that there are a few folks publishing in the same town as Southern Living (in the not so far far away land), who are trying and succeeding in filling the void left by the magazine.

This is a cry from the heart, a first for me, to bring back Southern Living. Bring back the Southern in the Living. There are plenty of women’s magazines that deal with fashion, beauty and other lifestyle issues, but there used to be one and only one Southern Living. Bring it back, please.

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