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Thursday, August 10, 2006

M&A Supply & Demand 

MergerTalk: Some magazine publishers prove to be a tough sell

Interesting article from Reuters, detailing the apparent problems CurtCo, Endurance Business Media and Cygnus are having/had commanding their desired prices.


The companies are widely regarded as excellent businesses. The price issues they encountered were more a product of lofty valuations than of their operations.

Other media companies have faced a similar situation.

Advanstar Communications, which publishes business magazines and offers conference services, hired Credit Suisse last year to sell itself and ended up pulling out when the offers proved unimpressive, a source familiar with the deal said.

Via IWantMedia.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Magazine Blog List 

IWantMedia points to MPA's list o' magazine blogs, which I hadn't seen before. A few b2b or b2b-like magazines are listed.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

VNU Business Media: Krakoff in Charge 

Krakoff Named President/CEO of VNU Business Media; Marchesano to Oversee Project Forward

The integration of VNU by private equity consortium Valcon continues apace, with Bob Krakoff taking the reins at VNU Business Media as president/CEO. Michael Marchesano becomes executive vp, chief transformation officer, "responsible for overseeing VNU’s three-year Project Forward program, which is designed to cut costs and find efficiencies in key corporate areas such as finance, human resources and information technology, with the goal of more effectively leveraging the company’s resources to improve its competitive edge," according to MediaWeek. While it's a little unclear in the linked article, I believe Marchesano's position is VNU corporate, so a kick upstairs.

As I've mentioned before, Krakoff's presence in the Valcon partnership is a good thing. He's an experienced, tough--very tough--and talented publishing executive, with a proven ability to work internationally, and more importantly, to work closely and successfully with p/e firms.

Whether this move changes the status of VNU's b2b properties in Europe remains to be seen, but somehow I doubt it.

UPDATE: Folio:'s reporting is here.

UDPATE TWO: For all of you Kremlin watchers, the good bloggers at MediaBistro's FishbowlNY have pdfs of Marchesano's and Ruitjer's memos to employees.

In other VNU-related news, the Billboard Group trimmed 26 editorial, production and publishing staffers, partially the result of integrating the acquisition of Radio & Records. There were some very senior Billboard editorial staffers let go, which I think will hurt more in the long run than the benefits of short term lower salaries. It's precisely the kind of long experience that executives like Krakoff bring to the table that b2b publishing companies need in every key position. But I'm sure the cost cuts make sense on some spreadsheet somewhere.


Wasted Advertising 

New Book Reports 37% of All Advertising is Wasted

I look forward to reading the book "What Sticks," to be released next month. Among its findings: 37.3% of advertising is wasted. What's interesting, according to the Ad Age report, linked above, is that the authors tend to lay the reason for that waste on marketers and "their failure to even define success for campaigns at the outset -- much less measure it properly on the back end."


The authors cite fear of failure -- and firing -- as possibly the biggest problem for marketers seeking to improve ROI. The core of the book is a description of and entreaty for a "commercial optimization process" covering messaging strategy, creative and media planning -- a sort of Six Sigma for marketing. But like any continuous improvement program, it requires analysis of failure, which has become almost impossible for some to admit for fear they'll be fired.

As a biased media person who makes his living mostly from the sale of advertising, I've seen a lot of reasons for advertising waste: conservatism ("we buy where our competition buys"), fear ("we never support new projects, come back to us when you've got a couple issues under your belt"), dependence on raw numbers ("your competition has more circulation, they must be better") and more.

But the thing that's bothered me the most has been the propensity of many marketers to not measure the success of their buys, or to even follow up properly on the leads they generate. When my company was working with Richmond Events, which delivers a very unique business proposition--one-on-one prescheduled meetings with extremely senior decision makers--we found that the most common complaint among these decision makers was the lack of followup from the vendors they met with. We developed training and followup procedures to help our vendors help themselves--and more importantly, to make sure that the decision makers who attended the event got the value they wanted.

For one of our current clients, we sold an extremely large advertising/sponsorship package which is wrapped around benchmark research to help the client measure the impact of the investment. I think we'll renew that business for next year.

I think b2b media can build a competitive advantage by creating more proactive tools to help our advertisers/exhibitors measure the success of their campaigns. We publishers used to tell our salespeople, 'the ad isn't truly sold until we get paid.' We need to change that to sommthing like this: 'The ad isn't sold until the client understands its ROI.'

P.S. There will always be waste in advertising. Sadly, customers don't always congregate in the same place with their attention focused on a given marketing message. The key, as I've mentioned before, is to use as many tools as possible to reach as many potential buyers as possible to move them toward a decision for your product or service.


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