Passion and Excitement: It is the Best of Times. Day Two, ACT 5 Experience.

October 10, 2014

By Lisa Scott, Executive Director, PBAA

From a passionate editor who was surrounded by Ole Miss students at the close of her presentation to predictive analytics; from the history of human information to branded photo contests with million dollar publisher revenues, Day Two of the Act 5 Experience covered the world of magazine media with deep dives and remarkable relationships with readers in six distinct and informative presentations. And to cap it off- the annual excursion to Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS with the best live Delta Blues music we’ll ever hear!

William “Billy” Morris III (Chairman, Morris Communications):
• We’ve moved from information scarcity to information overload
• Infinite information has changed journalism, but not the value, goal, and importance
• Digital media have disrupted journalism in many ways, but also have improved it
• We’re competing in a very different kind of business
• Visit the same websites as your readers- how do you make your print product more valuable given their experiences?
• Try new things and don’t be afraid to fail and be willing to spend money on those new things
• Journalism needs to reward readers richly for their time and attention- or they won’t engage
• What matters now, more than ever, is trust (a marriage of truth and accuracy) in journalism
• Brevity is important online- can refer readers to more information

Vanessa Bush (Editor in Chief, Essence Magazine):
• Print is giving birth to countless abundant opportunities to engage with our audiences
• Provide fresh, vibrant, enriching experiences to them
• 1 in 3 Black women are readers of Essence, a higher penetration that almost any other print media to a group
• The power of Essence is strong emotional communication
• Essence offers strong multi-platform experiences with a total reach of 12.9 touchpoints
• Unique and honest treatments speak to the core audience of Black women; by offering empowerment, edge and escape- the editorial formula for Essence
• The Essence Festival is the biggest live event in the US- draws 550,000 people to New Orleans over 4th of July holiday
• But nothing is possible without print- the “mother ship”
• Greatest challenge is keeping up with pace of consistent change
• Essence online is a distillation of the magazine content
Note: Essence’s power and magic was overwhelmingly apparent in the crowd of enthusiastic and passionate Ole Miss students who surrounded Ms. Bush for 20 minutes after her presentation, a tribute to the remarkable connection between the reader and the magazine.

John Harrington (Publisher, The New Single Copy)
Malcolm Netburn (Chairman, CDS Global)
John Phelan (Executive Director Consumer Marketing, Rodale):

• In 2010 publishers realized the importance of moving from advertiser-centric to consumer centric business model
• By 2014, this move had not taken place- in fact, a higher % of revenue was derived from advertising while subs and newsstand value each dropped nearly 33% as a share of revenue compared to 2010 numbers
• Next Issue Media, the “Netflix” model of $9.99 unlimited replica editions of magazines, is having an impact of newsstand revenue (since print newsstand issues sell at full cover price)
• The center of the universe is the consumer- the individual who opens up the magazine, goes to the editorial, says “this has value to me, I need/want to know more”
• Predictive data is the connective tissue between an issue and its readership
• The distance between content and audience must narrow
• We don’t know how to measure success right now- digital tools and platforms are changing everything
• There are fundamental changes to our approach to the business itself
• We need to understand a lot more about our audiences
• If you deliver value you’ll make money
• For readers- create “loyalty-engenerating experiences”- they will become evangelists for you
• Question is not how many people read us, but how engaged with us they are
• We need to develop a collaborative, industry-wide approach to data about our readers
• We need to predict what our readers want- be proactive not responsive- it’s based on clues about you
• Think outside the box- predictive data can show us an expanding potential universe of customers, not a shrinking one
• Data should not “filter down” rather “filter up”
• We need to know more about how people behave
• Circulation goals are changing slowly, but circulation tools are changing faster
• Consumers are throwing information about themselves to you, challenge is mining that data
• Dedicated mobile editions of mags can spur growth – same content, different experience (not replica editions)
• Opportunities to come:
o Frictionless mobile ordering and payments
o Business to business selling of consumer publications
o More aggressive direct promotion of digital subs
o New content bundles that include mag subscriptions
• Mag companies are becoming brand companies
• Consumer Marketing Directors are inventing new ways to sell, to get orders on file, and are trying to stay in contact with the consumers, but direct mail has been scaled back
• Membership/Affinity model is growing (learn from the non-profit world) (e.g. Oprah’s “Circle of Friends”)
• For Rodale- 7 titles (large + small) had versions of the same business model- in future this may modify to some with more ad % revenue, some circ driven or membership model
• Justin Smith: “To succeed we must accept this state of confusion and embrace chaos”

Gil Brechtel (President, MagNet)
Joshua Gary (MagNet):

• There’s turmoil in the newsstand but there is predictability to be made from it
• Figure out what you can do to deflect “bad things”- we still have the opportunity to affect success
• The best indicator of success of content is on the newsstand
• Addressing sales: placement, promotion, price, and product- which means covers!
• MagNet tags elements of the cover to allow a deep dive to analyze success and failure
(what elements really affect sales- and what elements don’t seem to matter)
• 15% of magazines sold are now bookazines- starting to flood the market

Espen Tollefsen (CEO, Interpress, Norway):
• Books on tablets are less than 2% of book sales- there is no common platform, thus print book sales are still strong
• There have been many more new titles brought to market, but circ total is actually unchanged
• Circ #’s down 30% for 10 largest titles over the last 5 years
• Magazine market decline is coming faster- down 10% YTD 2014
• International titles decline as well as domestic titles
• #1 reason for large drop is not mobile- it’s a decline in “in-store” focus and distribution issues
• Also there is a decline in the customer base/shoppers
• There is too much turnover in store management- less focus on the magazine category and more focus on food and beverage
• Newspapers have started re-focusing on promoting the print product- e.g. car sweepstakes every month for print purchasers
• Norway did not suffer a financial recession, but had a “psychological” recession- led to questioning what to do with individuals’ money- resulted in more savings, less spending
• Biggest challenge is not print vs digital, but reading vs every other form of activity that consumer spends his time on
• Publishers need to attract and develop readers

Keith Bellows (EVP Editor in Chief, National Geographic Traveler and Travel Media):
• We’re still in the middle of the bridge between print and digital – still driving “dazed and confused”
• Nat Geo- not a media company- only 3 mags- rather it’s all about Nat Geo’s mission to teach people about the planet
• But Nat Geo still has the same challenges as other media companies
• The era of relying on subs and advertising to keep the company profitable is over
• Wants a “deep sign of engagement” from their consumers
• Job is to come up with “big concepts” that might involve print (or not)
o Tour of a Lifetime
o Photo Contest (generates over $1million in revenue)
o Digital Nomad
o City Makers (print, films, online)
• Also project with the US State Dept to raise % of US citizens with passports- currently 37%, trying to use social media to get kids to get passports
• Think beyond the page- Nat Geo stopped seeing itself as a magazine
• For Travel- the cycle is dream, plan, go, share
• Nat Geo Traveler is “the little engine that could”- need to take advantage of global resources, re-invent, be smart and strategic and take chances
• This is the most exciting time in media (even though we’re on a bridge to nowhere right now)
• Publishing was a pretty simple business 5-6 years ago- now you need someone who thinks in 3 dimensions- video, social media, photos, reporting from the field… it’s exploding
• Print needs digital to survive
• It is inevitable that print partners with advertisers
• People will pay a huge amount for something they really love
• “Smash the mirror”- looking into a rear-view mirror doesn’t help us move forward
• Traveler is a huge success, yet wake up every day feeling that they are behind the 8-ball, shift will continue to happen
• Change happens faster than ever- embrace it
• Listen more closely than ever to the customer- what, when, how, how often to consumer- bring them into the text- be partners
• Be flexible- yesterday’s rules are today’s barriers
• Be media and distribution agnostic- It’s content first, channels later
• Go back to school- but your employees may be your best teachers. The walls between young and old have completely broken down- learn from one another. Intuition is critical in an organization. Young people know this world, listen- then lead
• Even if you’re the boss- don’t be afraid to say you don’t know- go into discussions not knowing the answer
• Spend 30% of your time creating new content models and revenue streams
• Steal from the best- no matter what industry or source
• Experiment- don’t be afraid to fail. 60% success rate is incredibly good- need to do more with less
• Print is a piece of the puzzle- of the media pie.
• The stories are what drive media- not the pipeline- don’t lose sight of that

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