The Magazine Main Line is Dead

Why Publishers are Flocking to Explainer Videos

Modern Farmer’s Smart Newsletters and Web-to-Print Conversions

Long Live the Newsletter: Why Bloomberg is Bullish on Newsletters — please also make sure you visit the Bloomberg Brief site to get a better feel for the product

ALSO: Find one example of direct response from a publisher and bring it into class this week. “Direct response” is any type of advertising promotion that is meant to get an immediate response directly from the consumer. For example, each direct response promotion will have a specific action that they are requesting you take — return a form in an envelope to subscribe, click a link to join a newsletter, visit a website to learn more/subscribe/renew. This includes renewal forms.

Direct response can be in print or digital. I do want the sample you bring in to be from a publisher, and I’m reasonably sure you will receive at least one message from a publisher in the next couple of days given your interests. You can also go looking for one…usually magazines themselves have a direct response promotion or two inside.

If your example is digital, bring in a print-out that is as faithful as possible to the original way you received it. Also make sure you print out the landing page you are sent to.

Reading for 11/5

9 thoughts on “Reading for 11/5

  • November 2, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Andrew Davis’ creative thinking in the article “The Magazine Main Line is Dead!” about placing magazines where the consumer will find and need them is innovative and makes perfect sense. This is exactly the kind of thing publishing companies need to be considering instead of just throwing up their hands and going all digital or pursuing some other extreme change. My one huge problem with Davis’ article comes when he suggests that companies should begin underwriting entire magazine issues in exchange for placement next to certain products. I understand that this might make sense for publishers financially because certain magazine issues can have major impacts (for good or bad) on products and even entire industries. However, doesn’t having what is essentially a sponsor for a magazine issue negate any idea of journalistic integrity? The magazine wouldn’t be able to subjectively report on various cheeses if they are sponsored by Kraft or some other similar brand and if consumers don’t trust a magazine, they won’t buy it. To me, this seems like a very slippery slope that might be best to avoid.

    The two articles on Modern Farmer and Bloomberg expand upon the ideas about newsletters in “My Gripe with Social Media” from last week’s reading. I was actually really surprised by the success of these newsletters because I thought people still considered email newsletters to be spam. Newsletters do seem ideal for an audience as niche as Modern Farmer; audiences like this tend to be hyper-engaged with a special interest publication and want as much supplemental content as possible. The article notes that “Modern Farmer never forgets they’ve got a print magazine to sell.” This is definitely a notable takeaway in thinking about how much free content is too much free content and where to draw the line to focus less on publicity and more on sales.

    The description of the Bloomberg Briefs reminded me a lot of TechTarget and the work Joe Herbert does for that company. I was particularly interested Nick Ferris’ commentary about what has made certain titles fail or thrive—some were too broad and others too narrowly focused. This seems to drive home the idea that a publication really has to be attuned to its intended audience. The Bloomberg specials are specifically used by the sales force to “sell terminals, to enter new markets, to help sell newsletter subscriptions, and to generate advertising revenue.” I like that Bloomberg has clearly defined goals and trackable results for the newsletter content they are producing.

  • November 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I agree with Anna that the ideas in “The Magazine Main Line Is Dead” are strong, creative solutions to boost magazine sales in places like grocery stores. It’s a small change but could have a big impact and the magazine industry needs to continue to think of creative “out-of-the-box” solutions like these. I would note that, in addition to Anna’s criticism of companies funding whole issues, this solution may not work for every kind of magazine as not every magazine correlates directly to an area in a shopping market. I would also point out that while magazine main lines in stores may not be as effective, magazine sections in bookstores are incredibly popular! So, we don’t have to rethink everything, just look for creative solutions when necessary.

    I’m glad we’re continuing to discuss newsletters and email marketing as I think it’s an incredibly profitable and under-appreciated marketing medium. To continue my thoughts from last week’s blog posts email and newsletter marketing is an easy to use medium, people in office settings check their email constantly (while it’s slightly frowned upon to be on Twitter all day) and the analytics available through this medium are incredible! In my electronic publishing overview class we actually created email marketing campaigns with Mailchimp (a very basic newsletter creator and email marketing tool) and the analytics available tracked what time was the best to send emails, the most popular articles and “types” of content, and offered solutions on better titles to catch readers’ attentions. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    I think this quote from the article on Modern Farmer captures another important point: “They’ve realized that, as Fast Company recently said, “newsletters cater to people who want to stay informed without feeling like a slave to the Twitter stream.” An email waits for you in your inbox, rather than expecting you to keep up with it; in other words, an email plays by your rules.” I enjoy having the information available to me when I have the time and interest to read it. It’s also an easy medium to share with coworkers and peers.

  • November 3, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    The article titled “The Magazine Main Line is Dead” details what Lori Birney was speaking to last class about coming up with creative strategies as a way to increase magazine circulation numbers, specifically declining newsstand sales. While suggesting that magazines should be placed with products is an incredibly creative and outside-the-box, I also have an issue with the articles bottom line. As Anna and Pierce have mentioned in prior posts, the idea of underwriting the magazine’s content to sell not only the magazine but the product is slightly unethical to journalistic integrity. I would agree that the industries could work side by side to sell products and magazines, but that is what we do by selling advertising and featuring products in the magazine’s pages.

    I am not sure I like the idea of explainer videos. The article talks about creating evergreen content for viewers but I want to more about how they would tie in their magazine content to an explainer video. How would this be relevant to the brand? I do, however, like the resurgence of the use of newsletter. The article made an interesting point that newsletters allow readers to read the content on their own time rather than keep up with the incessant number of social media posts. The articles stay in the reader’s inbox until the reader is ready to read the highlighted content.

  • November 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    As mentioned above, I initially found the innovative ideas in “The Magazine is Dead” to be refreshing and for a brief moment thought it to be the solution. Or one of the solutions. However, as I kept reading I realized that we would be sacrificing the parts of the magazine that I believe customers look for the most. I think it is safe to assume that although magazines are great tools to market other products and do generate a significant influence when it comes to sales, most readers don’t pick up a magazine solely with the intentions of buying something. If not then, wouldn’t they just pick up a catalog instead? It is the editorial content, the “this celebrity has it” that pushes the sales even further. Although I do agree that find magazines probably do not do very well next to the checkout lane, the more gossipy ones probably do a lot better. I, myself grab a magazine when I’m waiting to be checked out all the time.

    A few weeks ago I pulled up the Forbes 100 richest people in the world list and started reading from #1 down. I realized that most of the people who are high up on the money ladder have either invented a new product (usually technology related) or really revamped an older one to make it seem new. Social networks, apps, and overall new technology are at the top of the bestsellers list. when I read the “Explainer Videos” article I instantly thought of this. Not that I think the makers of Explainer Videos are going to become the richest Americans all of a sudden, but they are using content that is already there and simply making it more user friendly. This is essentially the same thing that Joe Herbert does with TechTarget. Apparently, there is significant money in the re-packaging and re-vamping market.

    The newsletter article was quite shocking to read, as I also thought that newsletters were still considered spam. At the last publishing press where I worked, my supervisor was having trouble because tons of people were ignoring his newsletters of unsubscribing. I think one of the tricks with having your newsletters be a success is making sure that you are offering more than you are selling. Often times if readers feel they are getting advertisement straight to their emails they will feel offended or simply annoyed. However, if you can make them feel that you are giving them more than you are taking it is likely you will receive a different response. Ultimately, I think newsletters should be a service to the customer/reader and although you might not be selling something directly, your company/brand is still in the back of their heads.

  • November 4, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    With regard to Andrew Davis’ “The Magazine Main Line is Dead,” I definitely understand and see how the idea of product placement in a consumer venue like a supermarket could be of some value because I think that strategic marketing partnerships are a great for tapping into new audiences, but have to agree firstly with Mireidys in that people don’t go to a magazine specifically for the consumer aspects it offers. I think purchase inspiration that comes from magazines occurs more organically than that; someone sees a feature with a woman wearing a great pair of boots, looks at a caption to see the designer of the boots, and goes and purchases them. Secondly Anna’s point about companies underwriting entire issues, “However, doesn’t having what is essentially a sponsor for a magazine issue negate any idea of journalistic integrity?” is exactly my question too. That whole idea seems like something that could seriously tarnish a magazines credibility and overall intentions towards it’s consumers.

    Pierce, I couldn’t agree with you more when you say that newsletters and email marketing is an, “incredibly profitable and under-appreciated marketing medium. ” I used to write for a music website startup that would send out a monthly newsletter via email with clips/links to posts and short videos about the music happenings that we featured on the website’s blog, similar to Modern Farmer’s email newsletter. The analytics dudes realized that the blog was receiving increased traffic specifically routed from the email newsletter. So similar to Modern Farmer, the company, started to pump out these newsletters weekly. My articles, on the otherwise hidden blog portion of the website, started to see increased traffic and comments; direct from people engaging with email content.

  • November 4, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    I can totally get behind the idea of explainer videos, although if I hadn’t experienced them for myself I would definitely be skeptical. I’m a big fan of PBS’s IdeaChannel, which explains itself on YouTube with “Here’s an idea: a PBS show that examines the connections between pop culture, technology and art.” As a big pop culture junkie and somebody who likes to look at these things critically, this is right up my alley. Each episode, which is usually no longer than 15 minutes, takes a look at one concept or question (“Can You Make a Movie So Bad It’s Good On Purpose?” is a personal favorite) and explains it. The last few minutes of the episode are always saved for responding to reader comments (I propose this is the only time YouRube comments are worthwhile), which opens up a dialogue for further explanation. I think that even more than being evergreen, this could be a key value of explainer videos. If you can make something that encourages viewers to interact with you, your brand becomes stronger than if you had just given them information.

    I completely agree with “The Magazine Main Line is Dead!” — other than grabbing a magazine to read at the beach, I can’t think of the last time I picked up a magazine at the grocery store. And for books I think it’s even less relevant. The idea of seeing cooking magazines in the produce section is totally genius. If you don’t know what to cook that night, there’s a delicious looking cover image of just the right recipe. It makes buying the magazine second nature to buying food. As far as women’s magazines go for the cosmetics aisle, I can totally imagine somebody buying a new mascara because Emma Stone was on the cover of Glamour wearing it. And by totally imagine it I mean I would totally do that because I’m a sucker for Emma Stone. But we’ve already discussed the power of celebrity when it comes to picking up magazines, so why not make buying the things they’re advertising that much easier! (More mac, more cheese, and now I’m hungry).

  • November 4, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    I agree with Mireidys, Ellen, Pierce, and Anna in that the creative solutions suggested in “Magazine Main Line is Dead!” are simple and relatively genius. However, my next thought, like Anna’s, was that having companies underwriting magazine content for the sake of a product has any number of terrible implications, first and foremost being journalistic integrity- especially with food. The FDA’s board members already have a history of being related to the food and drug production companies themselves (thus going out of their way to wield their power to the benefit of their connections) and that would reflect poorly on a magazine’s trustworthiness. Although, like Pierce, I agree that this is particular to one aspect of the industry and not necessarily all categories would suffer similarly. For example, if we were to put Vanity Fair with underwritten work from a brand like Chanel in front of a Chanel store and pump it as a special issue, it might be insanely successful (or alternately a total failure, I would need more space to imagine that concept).

    I had mixed feelings about the newsletter piece. I also thought newsletters were spam, and regularly disregard them myself. However, the point about being able to read it at your leisure as opposed to owning to the responsibility of keeping up with it yourself is tapping into an interesting issue. Like Pierce pointed out, newsletters play a part in office culture and do serve a purpose. If someone is a loyal reader of a magazine or follower of a brand, then I can definitely see the resurgence of newsletters when perusing Twitter in the office might be otherwise frowned upon.

    Furthermore, there’s a bit of a bone of contention with the “Why Publishers are Flocking to Explainer Videos” piece. I can respect that explainer videos are cheaper to produce (it’s a creative solution to keeping readers engaged with an otherwise wordy site) and faster to engage with. However, are readers going to forgo the daily written content in favor of the explainer video? If the industry is already having trouble engaging readers, I’m not 100% sure this is the best solution.

  • November 4, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Darn it I was doing fine until I saw that magazine cover with the mac&cheese and now that’s all I want. I will sell my birthright for that mac&cheese….

    In all seriousness, why aren’t grocery stores doing that? The writer makes a really good point, although I feel like it would benefit the magazine sales more so than the other products. Has the magazine staple in the grocery store become something more nostalgic than necessary? I personally have never bought a book or a magazine from a grocery store, but I assumed other people did.

  • November 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    After reading “The Magazine Main Line is Dead”, I realized how much I used to read magazines before checking out at grocery stores but never fully committing to purchasing a magazine. Also, I only flipped through the magazine if it was a long line and I would be able to have time to read. I think The Food Network Magazine being strategically placed would be a smart idea. However, I feel like I would be less likely to purchase magazines for a female audience if those magazines were strategically placed in a grocery store. However, I would feel more comfortable if it was conveniently placed at stores like CVS or Target. These stores carry more product options and if the magazines were placed strategically I would be likely to purchase so I know what products would give my hair more volume or what brand of make-up is good for dry/oily skin. I really liked the “Explainers Video” article because I will sit and watch all of the Buzzed videos because I think that they are so funny and interesting. Also, because they are short videos, I watch more at a time. I think its a great way for people to advertise to because YouTube has started playing more ads before videos. The two articles on newsletters still makes me wary of newsletters. I’m not a big fan of them and unless there is a great headline as the subject I usually send the newsletters to trash. The articles did give me a new way of looking at newsletters, especially in the way the Bloomberg article discusses the way they tried to change it and “make people fall back in love with the genre again.”

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