Archive for September, 2010

Forbes to present paid content like journalism

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Forbes is purposely not just blurring, but erasing the line between the magazine’s editorial and paid content with new blogs that will be owned by advertisers but published under the Forbes banner.

“The pitch is this: We’ll sell you a blog, and your content will live alongside that of Forbes’ journalists and bloggers,” Advertising Age explains. “This isn’t the ‘sponsored post’ of yore; rather, it is giving advocacy groups or corporations such as Ford or Pfizer the same voice and same distribution tools as Forbes staffers, not to mention the Forbes brand.”

The new “product,” as Ad Age calls it, is called AdVoice and is being guided by True/Slant CEO and former Forbes editor Lewis DVorkin, who is returning to Forbes as chief product officer of Forbes Media in the wake of the magazine’s purchase of the True/Slant blog.

“DVorkin has been pulling apart the website and magazine, merging staff and contributed content, and generally blowing apart how journalism, blogging, reader contributions and advertising fit together on the web, in the magazine and everywhere Forbes content is published” Ad Age says.

“‘For the last however many decades of traditional media, you’re a reader so your stuff can only go here,’ Mr. DVorkin said, starting to get animated. ‘You’re an advertiser so stuff can only go here. And our stuff? It goes right here. But there’s a flow of content that’s contextual. Anything can appear in any place as long as it’s contextual – that’s the web and we are bringing that sensibility to the magazine.'”

Forbes says it will be clear who (advertisers, Forbes journalists, whoever) is doing the talking on the various parts of its site.

AdVoice clients – there are none so far – will pay a flat fee, “which means that marketers producing the most appealing content will, theoretically, get more readers and a better deal on a cost-per-thousand-readers, or CPM, basis.”

Magazine publishers say ad campaign works

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Publishers Condé Naste, Hearst Magazines, Meredith Corp., Time Inc. and Wenner Media say their “Magazines, The Power of Print” ad campaign has successfully shown advertisers that people still read magazines.

Five publishers joined to tout "The Power of Print."

Five publishers joined to tout "The Power of Print."

“It’s mission accomplished in that, with all the scuttlebutt about the changing media landscape, even through the recession, what really resounded is that all along, the consumer continued to be highly engaged in magazines,” Michael Clinton, president, marketing and publishing director for Hearst Magazines told News & Tech. “We (publishers) saw it in our circulation, we saw it in our audience growth – even among younger people – all of the fundamental consumer statistics have been very strong.”

What has Clinton so excited is a survey of 5,000 readers by GfK MRI in which 62 percent of respondents  agreed with the statement: “This ad made me realize how important magazines are in my daily life,” while 93 percent said they agreed with the statement: “There are a lot of media choices out there, but magazines still matter to me.”

The publishers launched the multi-million-dollar ad campaign in March with print ads, including variations on the message above, and a two-minute video.

The October issue of News & Tech is to have more about the ad campaign.

Local advertisers to spend less with newspapers

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

One in four local businesses surveyed across 40 states say they plan to cut back on newspaper advertising, Alan Mutter says on his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog. Instead they’ll spend more on web, social and mobile media.

The survey is by ITZBelden in conjunction with the American Press Institute.

When advertisers were asked where they planned to target their marketing dollars in 2010, the average allocation for newspapers was 23 percent,” Mutter says. “While this percentage would leave newspapers as the dominant local medium in most places, it is well below the 35 percent-plus market share that publishers enjoyed in the pre-Internet era.”

The poll indicates local advertisers will spend 13 percent of their ad budgets this year on digital media, giving digital media “the second-largest share of the dollars spent on advertising in a typical market, surpassing such traditional rivals as direct mail, television and the Yellow Pages.”

Newspapers can’t afford to lose retail advertisers, he says. “One potentially powerful way for newspapers to reassert their relevance to advertisers is by establishing themselves as experts in the growing array of digital media that merchants are hoping to use to lure customers to their businesses.”

Mutter has lots more at the link above.

McClatchy finances solid, analyst says – for now

Monday, September 20th, 2010

McClatchy Company gets a pat on the back for its fiscal discipline in a report by Fitch Ratings that’s summarized on Editor & Publisher’s Fitz & Co. blog.

The analyst says the publisher’s slowing revenue declines, tight cost controls and debt repayment have “exceeded expectations” and should be able to cover interest and principal payments for debt maturing through 2014.

“However, Fitch does not expect McClatchy to generate enough free cash flow to pay off its debt maturities in 2017,” the report says. “Given the secular risk for the industry, Fitch’s concerns that online revenue is not growing at a pace to offset the print revenue declines, and with no clear visibility of when revenues will turn positive, Fitch continues to remain cautious of McClatchy’s ability to refinance its 2017 maturities, and over the long term, the company’s capital structure could still be untenable.”

McClatchy has repaid about $3 billion in debt since buying the old Knight Ridder chain in 2006, and has lowered costs dramatically – principally through layoffs, which continue at the Kansas City and Miami newspapers.

Fitch continues to give McClatchy a CCC credit rating, a speculative-grade or “junk” rating that suggests a “high default risk,” but says keep up the good work and they could move the company to B, a speculative-grade or “junk” rating that suggests a “high default risk.”

Washington Post gives in on 1A advertising

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

The Washington Post will join the growing trend among American newspapers of running front-page advertising when it publishes a display ad at the bottom of 1A next Sunday, Michael Calderone writes in Yahoo’s The Upshot blog.

The Post previewed the move last Sunday with an A-section spadea – a single-fold advertisement wrapped around the section – sponsored by Capital One that covered half of the front and all of the back of the section in D.C.-metro editions. It was a first for the newspaper.

“[T]he Post has been something of a holdout from the general embrace of front-page newspaper ads, as advertising revenue has sharply dropped for all print publications in recent years,” Calderone says. “Several major newspapers now run front-page display ads, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times — with the latter paper starting to run front-page ads just last year.”

The Post’s first dip into the water will be a 2-inch high banner at the bottom of the page.

McClatchy newspapers, including The News & Observer in Raleigh and the Charlotte Observer, routinely run 1A ads across the bottom of the page, as well as removable stickers with advertising at the top of the front page.

For generations newspapers have avoided running advertising on the front page because doing so indicated the newspaper’s voice and identity, and thus its credibility, were for sale.

“But harsh economic struggles have forced newspaper companies to get more creative when it comes to generating revenue,” Calderone says. “And with its inaugural front-page ad scheduled for next Sunday, the Post is showing that it’s no exception.”

Twitter kills the PR star

Monday, September 13th, 2010

“The long-suffering, much-maligned press release, I’d argue, finally died this summer,” Simon Dumenco says in Advertising Age today.

They’ve been replaced by Twitter, and the last nails in the press release coffin were driven by BP (with another failure), JetBlue and, finally, Kanye West.

“[I]ncreasingly, the news media has a nifty new way of ‘reporting’ entertainment news: regurgitating celebrity tweets,” he writes. “It wasn’t that long ago that a celebrity with something ‘important’ to put out there, like an apology, would automatically say it through a tightly controlled protocol, like a set of engineered sound bites delivered via a well-staged interview. Now 140 characters or fewer suffices.”

But, “Of course, press releases will probably continue to stumble along, zombie-like, for years to come, because too many PR folks are still heavily invested in grinding them out,” Dumenco says.

New York Times publisher concedes end to print

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Publisher Arthur Sulzberger said this week the New York Times will no longer appear in print – someday.

Sulberger’s concession to what some call the obvious is a first, according to Henry Blodget in Business Insider, and no small idea.

Loss of print will require restructuring or downsizing the whole company or finding an underwriter (like, say, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim). “The economics of the online news business will not support the infrastructure or newsroom that the printed paper supports,” he says.

“Importantly, even a successful online paywall will not allow the paper to maintain its current cost structure,” Blodget writes. If they pull in 1 million subscribers at $100 each they could meet current costs, assuming no loss in ad revenue.

The New York Times is due to introduce a “metered” paywall in early 2011. Readers will be allowed to access a certain number of articles free each month, then will be asked to pay.

What Sulzberger said in an interview mostly about the paywall with Emma Heald at Editors Weblog was that “we will stop printing the New York Times sometime in the future, date TBD.”

Newspaper ads show nine months of recovery

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

The falloff of newspaper ad spending appears to be moderating, the Newspaper Association of America says, with a decline of 5.6 percent recorded in the second quarter this year compared to last, the third quarter in a row with a smaller year-to-year loss.

Through 2009, the deficit was 29 percent in the second quarter, then 27.9 percent and 23.7 percent in the final three months, Market Watch says. Then this year started with a drop of only 9.7 percent.

Meanwhile, online ad spending rose by 14 percent, following 5 percent growth in the first quarter and declines during each quarter of 2009.

Magazines show signs of stabalizing economy

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

In one small sign that advertising may be on the rebound, Men’s Journal has decided it will reinstate one of the two yearly issues that had been cut to save money. “The additional issue builds on Men’s Journal’s strong newsstand and ad page momentum,” Mediaweek says.

The magazine’s ad pages are up 12 percent for September over a year ago, and single copy sales grew by 24.7 percent in the first half of 2010.

People StyleWatch will also add an 11th issue this year and increase its base rate while Cosmopolitan increases it base rate as well.

BP spent millions on ads after oil rig collapse

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

The BP oil well disaster has been good for the coffers of local media outlets across the country, according to a report at Editor & Publisher.

BP spent $93,429,175 on advertising between April and the end of July, more than three times the amount the firm spent on advertising during the same period in 2009, according to information released last week by the Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The spending was almost entirely for advertising in national and local newspapers and magazines, and on national and local television stations.

The firm bought newspaper ads in 126 markets in 17 states in the three months after the spill, including papers in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Texas.

Deepwater Horizon, a massive oil rig owned by Transocean Ltd., a Swiss firm, and leased to BP PLC was drilling about 52 miles southeast of Venice, La., in 5,000 feet of water when fire erupted on the evening of April 20. Most of the 126-member crew escaped from the burning oil rig, which eventually collapsed and sank into the ocean. Eleven crew members were killed and at least 17 workers suffered injuries.