Showing posts with label print. Show all posts
Showing posts with label print. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 29

Counting Crowds: Circulation Only Matters Sometimes

According to Brandweek, print is still losing its place as a viable business. National magazine spending fell 19.3 percent. Newspaper advertising fell 13.7 percent. But marketers who made those cuts didn't stop spending. Marketers migrated to digital media.

Still, the industry-wide advertisers only tell part of the story. Re/Max cut its print spending by 53 percent. Hertz Car Rental slashed 58 percent. State Farm dumped 55 percent of its print budget. Add to that Unilever's recent decision to double spending on digital marketing this year.

"I think you need to fish where the fish are," said Keith Weed, CMO for Unilever during a question-and-answer session with WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell. "So I've made it fairly clear that I'm driving Unilever to be at the leading edge of digital marketing."

According to an article by AdvertisingAge, Unilever is hardly alone. P&G doubled its measured U.S. Internet spending last year to $100 million.

The Case Against Migration.

Of course, not everyone is bullish on digital. Audrey Siegel, president at media agency TargetCast, who was quoted in the aforementioned Brandweek article, says dollar cuts aren't necessarily a shift from print to digital. She says print still commands the same amount of market share.

“In regard to digital spending, there’s no reliable source in tracking it, so when we talk about print dollars migrating, it’s anecdotal,” she said. “Digital will continue to grow but not necessarily just at the expense of print. It can just as easily be a case of broadcast dollars shifting into digital.”

Siegel seems to be be right and wrong. On one hand, print's hold over the same percentage of advertising spending is true. But on the other hand, it's not true for the reasons cited. Digital adverting has yet to make up ground as a viably priced medium. Specifically, digital media is still the cheaper buy while print, despite seeing publishing budgets shrink, are hanging on to higher ad rates.

The group trying to change all that isn't necessarily on the print publishing side. On the contrary, the Interactive Advertising Bureau is attempting to set some sort of standard that will place digital on equal footing. According to MediaWeek, the same problem remains. Everyone wants to plant "eyeball measurement" into the equation.

"Newspapers and magazines are particularly frustrated in their attempts to make up for steep print revenue losses with Web dollars and feel their high-quality content should command higher CPMs online," writes Lucia Moses. "Local newspapers have it tough because panel-based measurement isn’t well suited to local sites, resulting in erratic results."

One example Moses cites comes from Scripps. Scripps generates $500 annually per print reader but only $75 per online visitor. So the problem for many print publishers, to follow the marketing dollars online, is that "circulation" is up but the "value" of that circulation is down.

Solutions, solutions everywhere, and not even one to measure.

We see it every day. Many clients, even a few of our clients, are sometimes conflicted between the number of eyeballs versus engagement. It's a well-reasoned disconnect. Everything they have known until about five years ago suggests playing the numbers beats consumer concern. Every media salesperson on the planet has spoon fed them viewers, listeners, and readers as the fundamental measure of success. Public relations practitioners are guilty too, using the promise of reaching high circulation print pubs as their bread and butter has been the message they've carried forth for years.

The reality they are coming to terms with now is that "eyeball" rates do not necessarily equal conversation rates because two-way communication is a much different affair. Consider yesterday's research finding from Omni Hotels & Resorts as an example.

Seventy percent of those who do connect via Twitter and Facebook said that they share positive hotel experiences and incentives such as room upgrades. Sixty-two percent said they are more likely share positive experiences over negative ones.

So, in terms of "eyeballs," counting "followers" isn't the only answer. In some cases, ten followers might provide an expanded reach of 150,000 more people, assuming they share the content, page, incentive or offering. Add in their followers, and the potential reach could outpace some very respectable publications. However, not all of those potential eyeballs will ever equal conversions.

Case in point. One of our colleagues emailed us yesterday, excited by a traffic spike. When we asked them to attribute their spike, they said it became a controversial hot topic on a social network, meaning people disagreed whether the advice was wise or whether it was an advertisement.

"So, of all those people who flocked to the site to offer up their opinion," I queried. "How many will ever become customers?"

Hardly any. Contrary, the one follower who shared his post with ten friends within proximity to his business — those people, especially if they make plans together — are very likely to become customers. The irony, however, is that marketers have been trained to devalue the qualitative for the quantitative for their entire careers and it's just not true.

That's right. That video with one million views might be worthless. The one with ten views, depending on the value of the customer, might be worth $1 million. And the only way to approach media buys right now is to know the difference and find the middle. But since each middle might be different, there is no "formula" as much as there is an equation that leaves many publishers out of the loop.

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Wednesday, December 30

Walling Up Content: Good, Bad, And Ugly

"We fundamentally believe that the readers should pay one price and get all or any of our content. If you don't pay, you don't get anything." — Neil Stiles, president of Variety Group.

And so it begins. Newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters have more or less collectively decided that the time for consumers to pay for news and entertainment is 2010.

The Good. When we covered the outcry for popular television shows like Veronica Mars and Jericho, fans of these shows overwhelmingly supported funding their favorite programs over leaving them to the fate of ratings or advertisers.

Would it have been possible? Maybe, except broadcasters are likely to want consumers to purchase all the duds along with a few gems and watch advertisements too. Unless the price point is right, consumers won't do it.

The Bad. That brings us to the bad. The average cable bill is about $85 per month, up 21 percent from two years ago, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Some people pay as much as $180 per month for the privilege of having access to more content than they can or want to consume.

With Fox and others asking for more fees, those rates will likely climb higher whether consumers watch those channels or not. As prices rise, more consumers may opt out entirely, increasing the burden on subscribers who remain while reducing the size of a marketable audience.

It seems likely that cable providers will eventually have to move to a pay-per-channel model rather than sacrifice their business. The same is happening with what used to be print. Consumers on tight budgets will narrow the number of content providers they are willing to pay for and that means plenty of content providers will disappear in 2010.

The Ugly. And that brings us to the ugly. Not all content providers produce content worth reading or watching and, given a choice, consumers will skip them all together.

Newsday, which was one of the first to move back to a paid subscription model, is steadily losing readers. At $5 per week, it's too much when other news sources are available.

When cable operators are eventually forced to move to a pay-per-channel model, imagine what would happen when a content provider like CNN loses more than 30 percent of its audience like it did this year. A reduction in subscribers will mean a reduction in revenue. A 30 percent cut in one year may not be survivable.

The Reality. I believe that content creators need to be compensated. They deserve to be.

However, the reality is that most of them were too slow to develop a working advertiser-supported online model five years ago only because they wanted the best of both worlds — two distinct revenue streams, online and offline. And now, because that did not work out, they want consumers (and advertisers) to pay for the mistake.

Meanwhile, there are an increasing number of free content providers — news, entertainment, analysis, advice, etc. — providing increasingly competitive content. And while they might not be multi-million dollar conglomerates, some will eventually give mainstream a run for their money, with a better value for advertisers as they reach more people with searchable content.

"Good programing is expensive. It can no longer be supported solely by advertising revenues." — Rupert Murdoch, News Corp.

Right on. Except nowadays, good programming is not enough. It has to be "better than" programming. Assuming consumers have a discretionary income of $100 per month for news and entertainment, that means they can afford approximately 10 to 20 channels/publishers at an average of $5 to $10 per piece in a tremendously competitive industry where local publishers/news outlets are competing with national publishers/news outlets as well as an abundance of free consumer-generated content, expert-generated content, and marketer-produced content. Hmmm ... good luck with that.

Monday, May 4

Changing Times: From Print To Push

As a foreshadow toward a possible yet uncertain future, two newspapers — The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times — carried stories that mark the sign of the times.

The Washington Post featured an article highlighting the public struggles of the Boston Globe, which many expect could close in as little as 60 days. Meanwhile, The New York Times asked its readership if big-screen e-readers might save newspapers. Some of the new models, which are expected to be released by the end of the year, are coming much closer to electronic paper as imagined more than 35 years ago (and imagined in the fictional world of Harry Potter).

Newspapers And Other Content At The Edge Of A Chasm

For several years, the most pragmatic viewpoint about newspapers has been that they might be dying but news is thriving. Indeed, the problems faced by newspapers have been confined to one of distribution and economics.

Subscription-based content on a more portable e-reader might be the answer, provided newspapers learn to segment their free online vs. subscription-based publications. Content duplication has clearly hastened the demise of print.

The analogy is simple enough. Journalism will survive and leap forward to the other side. So the real question is what will we find once we get there. That is a toss up. While most people focus on the short term, asking whether newspapers will shift toward more localized reporting with an influx of citizen journalists or more relaxed professionals, the real challenge remains content oversight.

In 2007, we asked that question with the advent of the Kindle, already recognizing that the Internet solution-providers were starting to ask questions as to how much content control they wanted as distribution platforms. At the time, people laughed to think Amazon or anyone would attempt to control content. It's not in their nature, proponents said.

Not everyone is laughing now. Apple rejected an update of the Nine Inch Nails iPhone update, saying that it contains “objectionable content.” YouTube, as if in defiance of What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, is hoping to police product placement, thereby collecting a cut from certain content creators.

The Leap Is Simple Provided People Keep Their Senses

To be fair, it's new territory for everybody. And sometimes, future solutions are easier to come by than the vision of the people shaping it today.

What Could Google Do? Simple. Stick to what it knows best — developing great distribution platforms. And rather than worry about product placement, it might consider a tiered approach to bandwidth with premium video being streamed for a monthly content creator rate. For everyone else, free as always.

What Could Apple Do? Rather than reject material based upon questionable content, it might consider opening a separate section for adults. And no, we don't mean an electronic version of the original local video store. Rather, something like NIN can stick to creating content.

What Could Newspapers Do? Really, if the problem is distribution because printed products are too expensive, then it's well past time to partner with electronic paper makers. Some people might be willing to pay a modest rate for subscription service to some papers for delivery by application or e-reader. Just keep the price models in check. Almost everyone knows that subscription fees never really paid for print (so split the subscription with the distributor or whatever); advertising did.

Thursday, April 30

Ignoring Audience: Traditional Thinking

According to a new study by Integrated Media Measurement Inc. (IMMI), a consumer behavior research firm, audiences are spending more time multitasking while watching broadcast programs than ever before.

Specifically, the study found that TV watchers spend an average of 9.3 percent of their time online while simultaneously watching television. Among viewers watching broadcast TV, 11 percent also are surfing the Web. For cable viewers, it’s 8.2 percent.

"During the past year, there has been much debate about the perils of making television programming available via the Internet," said Amanda Welsh, head of research for Integrated Media Measurement Inc. “While some have speculated or feared that online accessibility would cannibalize television audiences, our data shows that the affinity of DVR users to view television episodes online offers advertisers new opportunities to recapture a desirable audience that had been slipping away."

Of the people who watched primetime programming both online and on a DVR during the month, 35 percent watched four or more episodes online, compared with 15 percent for people who watched prime time programming both online and on live television. Of the people who watched prime time programming both online and on a DVR, 30 percent went online only once, compared with 57 percent for people who watched prime time programming both online and on live television.

Previously, IMMI had found 50 percent of online viewing are audience members watching episodes they missed on television. They are either filling in an episode online when they had already seen the other episodes around it on TV (18.7%), or they are catching up on an episode online after seeing the subsequent episodes on TV (31.3%). The other 50% are apparently viewers using the Internet to check out shows, replacing the channel flipping or sampling they might have done on the television in the past.

Integration Over Traditional Thinking Is Key

The bottom line is that advertisers cannot continue to afford a singular mindset as if to choose television over online marketing. As the IMMI study suggests, consumers do not distinguish between delivery systems.

They simply want to watch their programs. And we're not the only ones to think so.

“To effectively utilize digital media, and promote its integration with traditional media, marketers and advertisers must overcome the two obstacles that continuously arise: education and measurement,” said Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the Association of National Advertisers told TV Week. “Only once the industry takes steps to become savvy will integrated marketers be able to fully embrace all that advertising today can offer a brand.”

We're seeing it play out exactly like this with one of the projects we're currently engaged in. While more traditional thinkers on the team are quick to dismiss the greater impact of other team members (both with product and with exposure), the 360-degree view demonstrates the audience does not distinguish between entertainment assets such as soundtrack and film nor do they distinguish between traditional media and online engagement. Rather, the audience sees various elements as different contact points working toward each other.

In this case, as the online audience learns about exposure in traditional media, they rush to review the content and set the tone for non-engaged reader feedback left on the traditional articles. In essence, they are both engaged promoters and media consumers. No one can really separate the two as traditional marketers/public relations practitioners and social media experts tend to do nor as advertising and public relations or print, broadcast, and online proponents continue to do. Nor even as broadcast/print or online programmers/online continue to do for that matter.

Integrated communication, working seamlessly together on assets or promotion, will deliver the best return on investment over the long term, which is best described about 90 days. That's right. Ninety days is long term, and online, even seven seems like an eternity.

Some Related Ideas

• Is social media a revolution in local government communications? by Simon Wakeman

365 is the new 360 by Tom Beckman

• Beginning 2009: The year of communication from Copywrite, Ink.

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