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Friday, July 08, 2005

An E-Zine Format That Works 

Following my post on my recent nightmare e-zine experience, semi-regular reader David Newcorn, who's VP/New Media for Summit Publishing, emailed to say that his company used Flipviewer for about a year for the company's two trade magazines--Packaging World and Automation World--until scrapping it in favor of digital magazines designed for the screen, without special software.

These zines aren't replications of the magazines (the magazines now use simple links to current features in html), but serve as something between an 'extra' magazine and an e-newsletter. You can view Summit's two zines here and here.

These zines use the horizontal format I like so much in the International Herald Tribune, and provide short, pithy pieces, links to longer stuff if necessary, and a number of advertising slots.

I very much like what I see, not only in the technology, but in the design, execution and extended content. Let me know if you agree or disagree.

By the way, David Newcorn writes the B2B Digital Media blog, adding to the small cadre of b2b media bloggers. (I've put him on my link list to the right, and my reading list. He has an excellent post on the results of some research his company conducted with its digital publication subscribers.

Key Grab: The things publishers of B2B digital media fret about the most--whether our content is on target, are we bypassing the spam filter, do our fancy technological contraptions work universally--are NOT at issue.

We've never really focused on what happens after the email is delivered. And that's where the trouble starts. Worse, all of these factors are entirely out of our control

Also check out the interesting comment thread to the post, with some thoughts on the differences between digital publications and blogs from the user perspective.


Where the Eyeballs Are 

PriceWaterhouseCoopers says broadband penetration is likely to reach 50% of all online homes in the US before the end of this year.

Grab: Concurrently, as TV viewership declines, consumers spend up to 20% of their time on the Internet. “This medium is capturing more than its fair share of the consumption pie when it is still only capturing 4% to 5%" of the ad spending, [PricewaterhouseCoopers's director of advisory services Peter] Petrusky said.

That is destined to change, he said. ”History has taught us that money follow[s] eyeballs.”



Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What Media Buyers Think of Media Reps 

"Media folks: Too many reps don't get it"

I've been waiting for these survey results (linked above) from MediaLife ever since I saw the survey posted a while back. I thought the survey questions were pretty funny, in a sad way. And the answers are about what you'd expect.

Grab: They think half or more don’t know how to do their jobs. They think too many are phone pests and time-wasters. And they say most reps know too little about their clients and their clients' needs.

I think the advice from media buyers to sales reps from the survey is worth a read if you're a b2b media exec, or salesperson.


Advanstar: Interesting Speculation 

Rich Westerfield's TSMI's Trade Show Marketing Report has some interesting speculation on the possible disposition of Advanstar. He predicts Joe Loggia will buy back the MAGIC shows, that the medical properties will find a buyer, and that the powersports and licensing groups may go separately or together (I wouldn't be surprised if Danny Phillips, one of the smartest publishing executives I know, finds a backer to buy these. He's been rapidly building Advanstar's powersports properties.

The continued breakup scenario makes sense, especially given the fundamental changes in the company that occurred with the Questex deal. One of Advanstar's hidden competitive advantages has been its Duluth, Minnesota operation, which offers high quality production, circulation, fulfillment and financial services to the company, at a low cost. Nearly every investor who's acquired Advanstar (and there have been so many over the years) wrestled with what to do with Duluth, located so far away from the operating groups, and ultimately found that they couldn't get cheaper or better service by making a change. But with the sale of assets to Questex, the changes in Duluth began--some Duluth employees remained with Advanstar, some went with Questex and others were laid off. By selling the company in smaller chunks, the competitive advantage of Duluth narrows--and buyers who don't want to deal with having a far northern outpost can more easily merge back office functions into their own operations. And that's a shame for Advanstar's Duluth office--great people, who have done a great job keeping costs low and results high.

The second fundamental change wrought by Questex's acquisition: the majority of the company's 'legacy properties,' excepting powersports and some of the medical books, were taken off the table. These legacy properties, some of which date back to the very earliest predecessor company to HBJ Publications (which begat Edgell Communications, which begat Advanstar), were always a challenge for buyers: these cows have been milked for years, and run lean and mean. They generate decent cash flow, but as many buyers have found, there's not much growth that can be generated internally. So they were "acquired around," which gave birth to a fairly wide but not very deep portfolio of disparate properties. In the past 10 years, Advanstar has gone deeper in a few markets, which has helped. But the legacy properties didn't seem to get much attention. I hope Questex can reverse that trend, focusing on building within these legacy markets, and turning that legacy into a viable future.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Advanstar: Breakup to Continue? 

Remainder of Advanstar reportedly for sale

Sean Callahan at BtoBonline notes a New York Post story from July 3 (which I missed completely, since I don't read the Post, and to which I can't find a link) which says that Credit Suisse First Boston is shopping the part of Advanstar it didn't sell to Questex.

Whether or not Advanstar goes as a whole, or in still smaller pieces, remains to be seen. There's some sense in breaking it up further.

UPDATE: My friend Russ McGill has provided me with the link to the Post story, here.


ABM's Media Kit Best Practices 

American Business Media has posted a .pdf of its best practices for media kits, from the ABM Marketing Committee. Nothing stunning here, but a good reminder of what works in terms of content and process.

I've long thought that the printed media kit is a waste of money. Back in the early 90s, we did some informal research among advertisers and agencies, and found that generally, the guts of every kit was pulled and filed (and forgotten), and that the most important pieces that media buyers wanted were the rate card and circulation statement. One buyer told me: "Every media kit, just like every piece of reader research, tells me that a magazine is number one. Everyone is number one at something. So I discount that, and look solely at circulation and rates."

Even though that's a bit limiting, there's a reality there. Most media buyers are inundated with marketing materials. We need to provide them with simple tools with which to make decisions (the most important of which is the consultative salesperson, who can design programs for individual customer needs--something a media kit can't really do).

For most of our clients, we now develop a simple set of .pdfs which can be emailed or downloaded from a website. And then we listen to their needs.


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