A “Mr. Magazine™” Conversation With Tom Florio, Founder And CEO Of ENTtech Media Group. Part 1.

November 4, 2021

The News: “PAPER and Google Shopping have partnered to transform the trends of 2021 into an innovative shoppable magazine. Celebrities and influencers Jennifer Coolidge, Bella Poarch, Bretman Rock, Bia and Law Roach are featured. The shoppable magazine packages 21 of the most boundary-pushing trends in an editorial feature conceived by cultural disruptor PAPER. The trend list, including ‘cottagecore’ and TikTok Beauty was curated based on Google trends data.”

The Interview: Having seen the aforementioned press release, I decided to reach out to Tom Florio, of Vogue & Condé Nast’s fame and currently the founder & CEO of ENTtech Media Group LLC, which owns PAPER, and engaged in a Mr. Magazine™ conversation about ENTtech Media Group, 21of21 Shoppable magazine, the past, present and future of magazines and media brands.  Here is part one from our conversation presented in a new Mr. Magazine™ interviews format. Hope you will enjoy…

The concept of ENTtech Media Group: I don’t approach what I do with the parameters of a magazine or not a magazine. I think that what we’ve built is an entertainment technology company (ENTtech Media Group). The foundation of the company is the distribution part, right? Like you talk about magazines, you have content, you have distribution and you have an audience. And I think when you come from the media world with that point of view, you create content for an audience, as opposed to what we see a lot of. Many brands and many agencies think they’re in the content business, but they’re not really creating content to bring in an audience. They’re creating content with a brand in mind to communicate to an audience like a group of people, a consumer. 

Defining a magazine: So my answer to your question is magazines have a connection with a consumer base and they’re creating content for that consumer base to, to accept, to take it in. So, I think that the first step is there needs to be a content strategy and there needs to be an audience. Then, with some regularity, you’re communicating with that audience, but that could also apply to Tik Tok, right? You have multiple infinite numbers of creators that have created an audience, but they’re not magazines, like the D’Amelio girls have 25 million followers bigger than Vogue, you know? But to me, when I approach a magazine, it’s to create content for like-minded people, and to communicate it with a certain curated informed point of view. That’s the idea of ENTtech Media Group. It is to let the creative process drive the content, but to use technology, to identify and distribute the content. 

Circulation vs. Advertising:  Unlike the old days of magazines, where you basically bought your audience with the lowest price, a dollar a name, and we know how it worked. You sell a bunch to the airlines and the airlines would send you a check. You create a circulation base and then you charge a CPM against that circulation base with the rare situations of like the People magazines of the world, or like The New Yorker, which I actually was the one who pushed The New Yorker from $16 a subscription where we were losing $16, because it costs $33 initially to break even on that subscription, to $50. Right. And this is back in 1995, The New Yorker was able to actually raise the subscription price and not lose any circulation at all. 

Usually, as you know, there is a relationship between how much you raise the subscription price and the fall out in circulation. There was none.  But if you looked at that field, looked at the circulation of The New Yorker, pre Tina (Brown), people like up here who has been subscribing for 10 plus years, and we drop the subscription to $16 to bring in all these other people over here because they wanted to make it cool and like a Condé Nast magazine. Right. But, in reality, the consumer should always pay for The New Yorker and the advertising should be secondary. So you have The New Yorker, you have People magazine, you have a handful of publications that were making money on circulation, but most weren’t.

The genesis of ENTtech Media Group: So what I wanted to do is to use technology to identify audiences and serve audiences messages based on their interests. And you don’t need a subscription strategy to do that. I took the team out of a company called The Audience. 

The Audience was a social architecture company, started by Sean Parker, Ari Emanuel and Oliver Lockett. The Audience was one of the first social media companies that could identify groups of people and serve them messages via social media, like using Facebook and such. What they wanted to do then was build these audiences around celebrities for the purpose, not of today’s influencer marketing was way too soon, but to drive movie viewership and things like that.

The approach that they used ended up failing. Not the technology, but the approach and I took the team out of that and were actually one of the founders of ENTtech. So my idea was if I could create a content strategy that’s highly creative and curated, and now I could identify people out there in the world, I could just push my content out to these people and then build my website. And that what was interesting about Paper specifically when I acquired it. Paper had just broken the internet with that famous Kim Kardashian cover. In fact “break the internet” is now a phrase trademarked by Paper. So I had seen that while I was interested in this new business model for media. And I was like, well, that was interesting because if we look at Paper’s Kim cover versus the Vogue’s Kim cover that was shot by Annie Leibovitz, which was four months apart. Let’s say that the Vogue cover cost $200,000 because it is Annie’s, right. Jean-Paul Goude shot the Paper cover for $10,000. The Vogue cover generated 750,000 uniques to the Vogue website. The Paper cover generated 30 million uniques to the Paper site, which nobody knew about Paper.

What I found to be very interesting is, here’s this social architecture that is really not being exploited across media properties. You had politicians using it very successfully, as we saw for this last election, you had brands buying it and using it on Facebook, but you really didn’t have media properties going in and using it to find audiences. So, I had this Paper that knew how to make content for the internet, which was really low budget content that would go viral.  The idea of ENTtech was to bring these two things together and to use it that way and to see if we could repeat it. And we did.

The changing business model: The print magazine, which I would have closed anyway, even without COVID, was more like marketing and merchandising PR, but nobody is buying print advertising really. It didn’t make sense and it wasn’t part of the strategy. It didn’t matter how much circulation Paper had or even its three and a half million uniques across our social platforms. 

Take for example AT&T; they were sponsoring the Jennifer Lopez Super Bowl Saturday concert. We just created all the meme marketing around it, and white labeled our social architecture. We went into the market by doing AB testing and everything else with our content. We went back to AT&T and said I know you are using this other company out there to do your social buying, a very big one that also does Procter & Gamble. I said, but I can tell you right now, Jennifer’s real fans are not going to tune in to Super Bowl Saturday on Facebook at 10 o’clock at night and watch her video. And they were like, what are you talking about? And we came up with this whole strategy that was kind of content. And then using our social architecture and with a $2 million budget delivered 7 million live streams, bigger than Taylor swift the year before who had a big social presence and actually gave AT&T a million dollars back. And they were like, wait a minute. Guess what, I did it with three people. 

So that’s when I knew we were onto something. That’s when we first launched ENTtech; it was three months into the company. And they were like, wait a minute. You know, like this other company, you outperform them two to one. And, and so we as a brand, the Paperbrand sits at this intersection of internet culture and pop cultureWe amplify internet culture in a pop culture way. So, for example, Paper covered Billie Eilish five years ago and then it pushed that content out through the internet. So now we get to this project and we, this long history of doing this including all the social media for the BTS concert in Riyadh globally.  We also did the social media for the 20th anniversary of Target and delivered 16 million live streams, bigger than CNN’s Trump debate. 

To be continued…

One comment

  1. […] Paper magazine, now owned by Tom Florio, is teaming up with Google on a shoppable magazine featuring… […]

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