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“I am not a Media Person” -Chris Anderson
After hearing Chris Anderson speak this morning, I have to heartily disagree with his own statement, above. Before becoming entrenched in the media world, Anderson was an active physicist (not sure exactly what this is, but know smart and scientific) when he was approached by Conde Nast. Hard to believe he had never heard of this huge media conglomerate, but knowing my own Robotics/Aerospace/Mechanical “enginerding” family I’m not totally shocked. Through his rise to the best-sellers list and award-winning EIC of Wired magazine, Anderson has maintained his scientific background through his robotics company, GeekDad.com and the technology apparent in his magazine.
In his hour and a half speech, I had to scribble to try to write down even half the things I wanted to remember. Including, but not limited to, these enticing little tidbits:
- We live in a messy world, and it’s only getting messier.
- Atoms increase in worth; bits decrease (digital moving to free)
- We need to make the most of the Old World while exploring the New World.
- No business in their right mind would go to a 100% paid online model.
- You can only make money off scarcity. Time, experience, food, land is scarce; digital content is not.
Anderson was generous enough to give us a copy of his book that’s not released until July 7 (quite a thrill in holding a book not available in public!), which is titled Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Radically, the digital version and full length audio book are free, though the premium content of abridged audio and hardcover title come with a price tag.
Though Anderson came to speak about his magazine work, I was enthralled by his book publishing knowledge. He shared interesting insights, from not wanting to receive royalty checks (since that means the advance wasn’t high enough), to making money from speaking as opposed to the selling of his books, to how once the coherency was decided for his book he can’t even remember the actual words pouring forth.
Another note-worthy comment made by Anderson is his openness to a digital Wired. In fact, he made the bold statement of “If the Kindle is [made in magazine form] I will stop killing trees immediately.” I asked about the digital magazines available today, through Zinio and the like, and Anderson explained he doesn’t think people want to read a magazine on a computer or need the physical pages, but need it to be mobile. So my next question is: Who will be first with the mobile mag reader? There have been rumors about Conde Nast, or will Amazon lead the pack yet again?
Anderson is highly optimistic in his views. Believing in the monetization emotionally – writing etc. for fulfilling reasons vs. financial, as well as future brand extensions, he in no way sees the death of publishing (an obvious sigh of relief).
It’s a media company, not new TV show
I was at class by 9:30 today, without coffee since my little pot decided to be on the fritz, so it was a huge tease when Seth Familian came on screen, with his video projected straight from San Fransisco with a clear image of his steaming mug.
Familian is listed in our program as “CEO, 8020 Publishing”, but apparently as of very recently (last night, perhps?) he resigned from the position due to different thoughts on the business. So that made me realize a) I can’t believe he is out of bed at all and not ridiculously hung-over after quitting and b) 9:30 NYC time is 6:30am SF time, so Seth, I applaud you.
I also applaud the new revenue models Familian was generous enough to share with us this morning. With experience at Zinio (another company I admire) and an MBA from Berkeley, he’s definitely an authority on media.
JPG Magazine, “Your World in Pictures,” is the title for which Familian was responsible. Living in both the digital and print realms, JPG is submitted hi-res pictures from a global community. jpgmag.com boasts more than 200,000 active members, with 20-25 page views/returning users while the magazine has more than 35,000 submissions/issue.
Quick look at the concept: Photographers submit hi-res pictures falling within certain categories, which are then voted on by the other members on jpgmag.com, with the winning images appearing in the print magazine.
Where does the name “8020” come from? That’s the split in content: 80% of work done by users, with only 20% being editorial contributions.
The 8020 concept is new by itself, but combined with the 3 Key Strategy Mechanisms Familian presented, it’s ingenious:
- Theme-Based Content
- Community Driven Curation
- Diversified Monetization
1. Theme-based content may be the cornerstone to success. It gives users the parameters for what to submit, so compares like things to one another.
2. Community Driven Curation gives power to the users and drives growth. This involves social layers on top of content interactions – not only can users vote on their favorite image, but can contact each other and see what others have “favorited”, establishing common ground. Also compliments and constructive criticism are exchanged, resulting in what Familian says is an extremely friendly space.
3. Diversified Monetization is the ah-ah moment; the light bulb in the head. Obviously, we all know content is not free. But, in this case, with UGC it mostly is. Not only that, but Familian found ways to stabilize the cash flow using on-demand options and price differentiation.
While print on demand still isn’t as cheap as the mass print runs, it is risk neutral. So instead of just offering digital “issues” of the prints that didn’t make it into the print magazine, Familian has worked with POD agencies to offer it in book form. By selling the book it generates profit, and the users/photographers featured end up being JPG’s marketing agent by WOM saying that their image can be found, published.
Whatever venture Seth Familian finds himself in next I have no doubt it will be a success. He seems to be the rare person with a firm grasp on media’s potential as well as the business and finance facets of a company.
I am so far from a photographer with hi-res images, though I plan on joining the jpgmag.com community just to interact with other talented people and communicate in the universal language of pictures! I encourage you all to try it.
So I used to have quite the girl crush on Chelsea Handler (hilarious, clever and oh-so inappropriate), but now my tastes have matured and moved to these two emulating-worthy women: MaryAnn Bekkedahl, EVP/Group Publisher, Rodale and Jill Seelig, VP/Publisher, O, The Oprah Magazine.
Coming from a background in the creative/content-generating side of advertising, I admit to having had a somewhat snooty view on advertising sales. After listening to these two women present, my views may have shifted to more of a “wow, I would love to be her in 10-15 years”.
MaryAnn Bekkedahl first got my attention when discussing the seven “media franchises” she’s in charge of, aka magazines (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Prevention…). But, in this age, they are much more than just magazines and have evolved into brand empires. I have understanding and respect for brands more so than sales (sales people always have an agenda), but seeing how they’re so intricately connected had me at the edge of my seat.
“The Role of the Publisher” as Bekkedahl depicted really has control and responsibility for the brand/magazine. The Publishing team is composed of the Publisher, with the Research, Marketing, Sales, Business Management/Production and PR teams reporting up. I could do that- I want to do that; be the business side of publishing.
In fact, the Sales force is what really appealed to me among those divisions. Dad always told me I should be in sales since I can convince people to buy things (he’s the perfect example, you should have seen my white convertible!), but I held such a negative stereotype I couldn’t move past. Bekkedahl shot that stereotype out of the water as I found myself drawn to her earnestness and humor, thinking maybe I could do advertising sales after all…
Jill Seelig was the last speaker at the end of yet another long digital day, and I was seeing all sorts of pleasant images in my head instead of the screen (manicure, massage, wine… you get the picture). She really got my attention (and adoration) by opening up her “Multi-platform Marketing to the Advertiser- the 360 Strategy” with the line:
Print is not dead; it is here to stay.
Seelig went on to support this statement with stats stating that magazines are the #1 medium of engagement, and there is an interdependency between print and digital. Magazines contribute to the effectiveness of advertising when added to the media mix; and she should know, since she launched “O” as part of the Oprah Winfrey media empire.
Moving up through the ranks of ad sales in Self and Vanity Fair, Seelig helped instigate “O”‘s immediate success in 2000. She presented a case study of Intel’s partnership with “O” and showed the magazine’s ability to make a (boring) technical brand be more human and emotional to her female readers. She seems to be living the “O” tagline: “Live Your Best Life.”
Also, as a side-note, all the high profile people we’ve heard from have been very attractive and in good shape – is the magazine industry shallow; do they not have time to eat, hence the toned-ness; or do these people just happen to age well?! None look old enough to hold their titles and have the experience they share!
Today in class we spent two hours listening to the cutest pregnant woman give a two-hour talk about the launch of a new magazine. Not just any magazine launch, but a new title that became successful in the midst of this recession, and the incredibly talented pregnant woman was responsible for this miraculous achievement.
Food Network Magazine is the title, and Maile Carpenter is the EIC who has managed to surpass the original estimate of 400,000 views to an astonishing 900,000 with only three issues having been published!
Coming from the successful launch of the Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, Carpenter managed to find a hole in the already crowded cooking magazine market. She was able to do this quickly with, what she notes, is Food Network Magazine’s major point of difference: It comes with a built in network of celebrities, from Rachael Ray herself, the Iron Chef, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen and more, along with their popular personalities, brand recognition and established trust and loyalty.
While this magazine is in partnership with The Food Network, it is not biased toward the show and its merchandise. Carpenter and her small staff go behind the scenes and to write as if the TV station weren’t included in the name, such as the well-received article “Secrets of the Iron Chef” (appreciated by fans as well as the crew). More than 100 recipes at all levels are in every edition, and while there is content available on foodnetwork.com, the companion magazine site is still under construction.
This “pop culture approach to food” has already been much more popular than original estimates, and after hearing Carpenter speak realize I am going to subscribe to this magazine as well (add it to my list, along with Esquire… Don’t think I can afford all these!), for the recipes as well as support of an admired talent. To subscribe yourself to what I promise will deliver delicious recipes and mouth-watering food shots (Carpenter promises none of the spray glue tricks I was used to in advertising!), click here.
Additional thanks to the panelists in “Building a Brand: a Wheel with Multiple Spokes”:
- Bill Stump, VP, Digital, Rodale: Made me excited about his/Rodale’s tactics of allowing inexperienced employees to generate videos for websites such as Men’s Health. Emphasized to those of us entering the job market to attempt any task you’re given.
- Gail Horwood, SVP Digital Programming & Strategy, Martha Stewart Omnimedia: I wonder how much personal impact Stewart has on her brand, but they are all quite successful. Shared the secret that the craft section is most popular. I believe it, there are directions to make a really cute message board in the June edition of Martha Stewart Living.
- Frank Lalli, EIC, International and Magazine Development, Reader’s Digest Association; ED, Purpose Driven Communication: Reminds that you are your own brand. Spoke about launching the magazine/360 approach to Pastor Rick Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life. For Bible Studiers, obviously I’m not in the target. Did get the chance to ask him why Reader’s Digest changed their cover design years ago from the Table of Contents and made it look just like every other magazine- he said the team thought it needed updating, while I thought it lost its identity and individuality.
- James Jacovides, VP, Licensing & Syndication, Time Inc.: If you have any questions, ask him I think he thinks he knows everything. In reality, he is very smart and he works for a very successful company and he knows it and isn’t afraid to share. He discussed how magazines go international and the different methods Time Inc. uses to ensure an immediate profit.
- Jaimee Zanzinger, Deputy Editor, Real Simple: I personally like Real Simple, though it hasn’t helped me de-clutter my life. Zanzinger spoke about their commitment to helping make an easy reading experience, from short articles to the included book mark and pictures that help tell the story. Interesting to note, the photos in Real Simple are styled after every article is written, not scrap art. Must be incredibly expensive for the shoots and talent, but the effort comes through in print.
Off to my first NYC party!!! Some launch for some music reality show from what my friend with the tix told me. Concept sounds like it may be lacking, but I could use a few free drinks after these long days. Woohoo.