Courtesy of BoSacks & The Precision Media Group  
America's Oldest e-newsletter est.1993

BoSacks Speaks Out: Once again the largest players in the magazine media industry gathered for the annual plumage display. Everybody is excited to be there including me. I annually and happily re-meet so many old friends accumulated through a lifetime in the industry that it is a joy to be there among my comrades. We share old war stories and new thoughts of the current conditions of our media empires.
Linda Thomas Brooks, President and Chief Executive Officer of the MPA, opened the event with a thoughtful message she received once directly from the Dalai Lama. It was as mystical and as far reaching with simplicity as you might expect. "Keep working on it." You see, at first you go: what? And then the simple complexity settles in. Yes, no matter what it is that's going on, just keep working on it till you find an answer. Linda's application of that for the industry was, "there is no one answer," just keep working on it. And how right she is.
There was a time in the magazine industry when almost every publisher large and small worked from extremely similar business plans. We were all in the highly definable, easily explained, magazine publishing business. Now-a-days I'll bet there are no two business plans alike. The complexities and unlimited diversity of information delivery platforms in the magazine media business makes every business exploration for revenue uniquely different.
For the record, my long-time readers know that in years past I was pretty hard on the MPA and some of their initiatives. Either I have mellowed, or the MPA has greatly improved, perhaps both. I think Linda, is doing a great job as President and leader of the MPA. She is indeed the right person for the job.
Next up was a conversation by Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder and CEO of WPP, the world's largest advertising company. He discussed many things digital ad related and focused on the Facebook/Google "duopoly" in online advertising and search. He also suggested that Amazon is coming on strong, so perhaps we will soon have a Triopoly (my word not his).
During the Q&A I asked Sir Martin to comment on ad fraud and if there was a way to fight it. To my great disappointment he sort of groaned, "oh not that," and then didn't answer my question. Instead he suggested that Google and Facebook have to get together and solve the problem. How he and WPP can just duck such an enormous issue confronting us all to the tune of billions of lost dollars is curious and possibly revealing. My opinion - not that you asked for it - is that any business that can continuously, year after year, waste multiple billions of dollars in ad fraud may have too much money. My guess is that Sir Martin and WPP aren't the ones losing the money in the supply chain. In fact, quite the contrary.
Another interesting sidebar note: Sir Martin says he doesn't read much anymore. He said he used to get his news by reading. He rattled off many publications he used to read including The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, and quite a few others, that I didn't get, because I couldn't type fast enough. But now he reads much less and watches videos for his news. That could be important or it could mean nothing, but I thought it interesting to note.
Just a few more random observations. All day we heard about "targeting" our customers. I have a question for our companies built by wordsmiths. Are we corporate snipers? Why can't we use less offensive terminology? You don't, or at least shouldn't, target your friends. You might instead think of it as customer cultivation. Same process, less offensive branding.
Near the end of the show was the annual CEO round table discussion. With ongoing consolidation in our industry, Hearst's CEO David Carey and Condé Nast's CEO Bob Sauerberg were the only two CEO's to return from last year's AMMC event. New to the CEO AMMC discussion was Tom Harty, newly appointed as the CEO of Meredith Corp., New York Media CEO Pam Wasserstein, Active Interest Media CEO Andy Clurman and my newest life-long professional friend Erik Zinczenko, Bonnier Corp. CEO.
Truthfully, I wouldn't classify it as overly insightful because these are the generals of corporate armies, and they aren't really going to divulge any unique strategies. But while they do speak in generalities they are often worth listening to. And I like absorbing what they say as a group. It is fitting to close the event this way.
I would also like to point out what I thought was an omission of talent. Why wasn't Bonnie Kintzer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Trusted Media Brands up with the other CEOs. Certainty the CEO of Reader's Digest and Taste of Home has insights to share. My guess is that they felt seven CEOs were just too many cats to corral on stage at one time.
Lastly congratulations to Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, who was deservedly honored with the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. There is nothing quite like the recognition of your peers for a career well done. Bravo Skip. 

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year 
and underestimate what they can do in ten years.
Bill Gates

Dateline: Charlottesville, Va
In This Issue
6 Magazine CEOs, 4 Strategies: How To Survive And Thrive In 2018
 The magazine industry is consolidating in the face of multiple challenges.
Rather than the newsstand, competition is coming from social platforms. Marketers want the performance advertising sold by key digital players. And as print circulation declines, magazines struggle to maintain the steady revenue from their direct-to-consumer subscription businesses.

The CEOs and presidents of Condé Nast, Meredith, Hearst, Bonnier, Active Interest Media (AIM) and New York Media spoke Tuesday at the American Magazine Media Conference in New York City about how they are addressing these challenges. In  recent  years, Rodale and Time Inc. CEOs took the stage - but those companies are now part of Hearst and  Meredith, respectively.

1. Evolving to serve performance advertisers
Magazines are struggling to prove their value to marketers who know and love their content but need to prove ROI in a more concrete, logical way.
"There is a disconnect between what [marketers] think and feel [about the magazine experience] and ... the KPIs and marketing science," said Andrew Clurman, president and CEO of AIM.

Bonnier has incredibly old brands, but today it's focused on connecting that editorial authority to the engagement and results that brand voice can create.
"Gone are the days of leading with how iconic or old your brands are in today's performance-based environment," said Bonnier CEO Eric Zinczenko.

The magazine CEOs said they were focusing on building first-party data assets and using this data to diversify their own businesses or help advertisers.
Condé Nast, for example, is investing in its data platform - and if it makes an acquisition, it will be driven by data, not a magazine brand, said CEO Robert Sauerberg Jr.

"We are in a world where whether we like it or not, more money is being spent on performance-based advertising," he said. "We built a database business 25 years ago. We have been doing this forever. One of the things this industry can do is to use our first-party data to create some targeting."
This space is Available
2. Paid content
As revenue from print advertisers declines, magazines want to boost subscription revenue.

Hearst's Magnolia Journal earns 95% of its revenue from consumers, not advertisers. "Usually, it's 60-40 the other way," noted Tom Harty, president and CEO of Meredith.

At Condé Nast, The New Yorker is a standout in convincing readers to pay for its expensive-to-produce content, including a recent scoop about Harvey Weinstein.

"Our culture is about getting these stories right," Sauerberg said. "Creating really great premium content that consumers will pay for its very expensive, hard and time-consuming."

But such efforts are paying off, even online: "We have one of the most successful paywalls in the world, and it's growing 40% a year," Sauerberg said.
First-party data helps in this realm, too. New York Media is building up its data and analytics to help advertisers, and it's expanded into events, where it can get its readers to pay for cultural experiences like the Vulture Festival.

"We have taken the understanding of why our audience is attracted to us and applied it to building new businesses and developing new brands," said New York Media CEO Pam Wasserstein.

3. Brand safety
Magazine CEOs see an opportunity with Facebook's and Google's challenges policing their content.

"All these CMOs are saying, 'I had no idea my content was showing up here and here and here - next to terrorists and Nazis,'" Wasserstein said. "Magazine brands are not only brand-safe but brand-enhancing. It's a step beyond."
Magazine media companies are also trying to position themselves as more authoritative than digital media startups.

"We have to remind our clients that smaller startups know if they don't cut a corner sometimes, they won't show revenue growth ... and might go out of business," Hearst Magazines President David Carey said. "We need to reinforce that [magazine] companies play for the long term."
4. Revenue diversification
Magazine companies don't plan on always relying on advertising to bring in revenue. Instead, they are turning to both conventional and surprising sources of revenue.

Case in point: AIM, which publishes Practical Horseman and American Cowboy, also sells horse trailer insurance. To further diversify, the company, which also publishes magazines about skiing and yoga, is applying its expertise in content and video to create online training and certifications.

Bonnier wants to look like a "magazine mutual fund," with diversified revenue sources that spread risk. "By 2020, we want a portfolio where we have 33% print, 33% digital and 33% from ancillary activities," Zinczenko said.

Meredith's brand licensing business, specifically for Better Homes & Gardens, drew accolades from the crowd, in part because it's immune to shifts in advertising and subscription businesses.

Ultimately, competing against Facebook and Google may mean becoming less reliant on advertising revenue and more about other ways to leverage legacy brands.

"We are defining for consumers and advertisers what real premium looks like, and we have a diversified model so we are not just waiting for something to happen in the advertising market," Condé Nast's Sauerberg said.

Your Photo Of the Day
Slide from BoSacks lecture at MPA Detroit 2011

"The Industry that Vents Together Stays Together"  
Responses to all Articles and Bo-Rants are greatly encouraged 
and may be included in " BoSacks Readers Speak Out"  
All news items and the various opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the opinion of, nor in agreement with the opinions of BoSacks. They are just interesting thoughts and other opinions that BoSacks thinks you should know about.  
After all, as the Japanese proverb goes: 
"If you believe everything you read, perhaps you better not read." 

"Heard on the Web" Media Intelligence:   
Courtesy of  The Precision Media Group.   
Print, Publishing and Media Consultants 
193 Brookwood Drive, Charlottesville VA 22902
Contact - Robert M. Sacks  917-566-7437
[email protected]
SUBSCRIBE -  If this free opt-in newsletter has been forwarded to you, and you wish to subscribe, simply go to