Magazine Companies Bullish on Growth for 2018

By: Tony Silber

Put the brakes on the narrative that says the magazine-media industry is in an inexorable decline. It’s not the case for the people actually on the ground, making this happen. That’s one highly noteworthy takeaway from a new survey of Folio: readers asking their outlook for 2018.

Asked whether they anticipate their revenue will grow next year, and if so, by how much, nearly 40 percent of respondents said yes, they do, and by double digits. Another 30 percent said they expect to grow in the single digits. Combined, that’s just shy of 70 percent of survey respondents saying they expect to grow next year, in a period dominated by turmoil, downsizing, the “Duopoly” and migration of advertising and of readers away from print.


In that same question, 25 percent of respondents said they expect revenue for 2018 to be flat, and just 5 percent expect to see a decline.

You can spin this remarkable finding in a number of ways, but the upshot is that respondents in this particular survey expect to see growth. The survey was conducted in August and September, with respondents covering a wide range of media sectors, including B2B, association, and mass and niche consumer.

So naturally, the obvious next question is, if you expect growth, where is it going to come from? And here, the answer is events. Nearly 54 percent of respondents said events will drive growth in 2018, with print and digital advertising—separately—close behind, with 46 percent of respondents saying those revenue sources will drive growth. Interestingly, other services performed on behalf of advertiser customers—clustered under the title of marketing services—is a big priority for 2018, according to respondents. Almost 36 percent of respondents say this is a critical area of growth as well.


This group of respondents skews in the direction of the print-centric part of the Folio: audience. Their current 2017 revenue is overwhelmingly print oriented, with print making up nearly half—46 percent—of these respondents’ aggregated revenue. Digital was slightly more than 20 percent, events were 15 percent and marketing services was 12 percent. Various other revenue sources made up the remaining 5 percent.

Connecting the dots, if print is the current primary source of revenue for respondents, and growth is expected in events, digital, and marketing services in addition to print advertising, then it stands to reason that those first three are the fastest-growing areas of business for respondents. Our data bears that out, with digital being the fastest growing, followed by marketing services and events.

Underpinning growth, of course, is investment. We asked our respondents to state their priorities for 2018, and the number-one priority, cited by 23 percent of respondents, was investment in database-management tools. This was followed by a commitment to bring in new skillsets (presumably to manage and analyze that data) and by entrepreneurship: launching a spinoff brand, to be specific.

In terms of technology investments specifically, the top priority for respondents was web development, with a unified database also very important. These were cited by 47 percent and 41 percent of respondents, respectively. Marketing automation and content management were also deemed important tech priorities.


Author: Tony Silber

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Better Together: Print and Digital

By: Kim Davis


"These are not unimportant messages," said Cali Tran, president of Valassis, the "intelligent media delivery" vendor.

Tran was explaining how the messages Valassis delivers on behalf of its clients, in both paper and digital form, drives savings to American consumers. "They have a real impact on the products and services they choose to purchase."

The company was founded by George Valassis in Detroit, almost half a century ago, and revolutionized the coupon industry through the first co-operative free standing insert. That's history, of course, and Valassis has come a long way — as CRO/COO Wayne Powers told DMN last year. Not that it's come anywhere close to abandoning print.

Integrating print and digital

"Consumers today live as much in a connected as a terrestrial world," Tran told me, explaining the effectiveness of combining digital and print media. Over the last three years, he said, Valassis has developed new capabilities that leverage knowledge of consumers' online and mobile behavior to enhance offline messaging. 

Digital data, he said, is "fantastic at targeting consumers based on real-world behavior." Valassis uses "as much data as we can get our hands on," he continued. "We borrow, we rent, we buy data from sources which show consumer engagement." This includes search, display ad and email interactions, and mobile app usage — by time of day, day of week, location; all signals of what a consumer is seeking to do in the context of a specific place and time. "We digest as many digital signals as we can."

Based on appending offline profiles to online data, Valassis develops media plans for defined consumer segments, across the best combination of channels — including print media, but using digital media, he said, "to reinforce the brand message with display ads and mobile messaging when the consumer is geographically close to a place of business."

Case by case

Tran emphasized that Valassis has been able to "prove attribution" in the context of foot traffic campaigns. For a quick service restaurant chain, for example, Valassis showed a waste of ad dollars running campaigns in cold weather. Once the temperature crawled above 55 degrees, desktop banners, plus targeted mobile ads — including directions and incentives, and limited to consumers within walking distance on weekday lunchtimes — generated a 135% increase in foot traffic over a controls. The campaign reached 29 million consumers, and also produced a lift in repeat visits (54%) among those reached.

In the case of a rent-to-own furniture retailer, Valassis Apio (proprietary enhanced targeting methodology) matched traditional offline targeting tactics with cross-device matching to deliver a multi-channel campaign of shared print inserts, as well as standard desktop and mobile display ads (using cross-device tracking). The results? A 23.5% attributable increase in foot traffic, an increase of almost 20% in rental agreements, and a 3.4X ROI.

The relevance of print

"I love print," Tran insisted. "But I do believe print, digital, audio, video, all have a place and time in business live. Depending on the business, and the campaign objectives, different channels will be relevant."

Tran made a strong case for print's relevance, especially for "habitual" purchases like food. Messages on Facebook or Twitter are seen, and then vanish. "Print media sits on a coffee table or kitchen counter." It can be seen by multiple consumers. "It doesn't mean they'll look for a deal in the moment, but the constant touch-point maintains brand relevance." 

In big box retail, in the "shopping moment," of course, mobile takes center stage; but when it comes to considered purchases — like automobiles — the combination of print and digital ("beautiful images") is highly relevant. Best-of-breed targeting, the right channels, "all wrapped with a beautiful ribbon."

Author: Kim Davis

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Avoid Pitfalls When Designing Your Direct Mailpiece

By: USPS Delivers

To create a successful direct mailpiece, at some point you may need to think like a machine—an automated mail-processing machine. That’s what will be “reading” your envelope or card for key information. Mistakes in design can mean your mail doesn’t qualify for automation discounts—or in the worst case, prevent your pieces from going through the mail at all.

Here are three pitfalls to watch out for:

Odd Shapes

You want your mailpiece to look unique to catch customers’ attention, but an odd shape may not be the best way to do that. Certain shapes like squares and tubes are charged a higher price because those pieces must be processed manually. Such pieces are referred to as Customized Marketing Mail, or CMM.

Speaking of odd shapes, don’t mail bulky, odd-shaped things like pens or bottle caps in regular letter-size envelopes. You’ll pay more in postage, and the items are likely to damage the envelope and be lost.

Address Mistakes

The delivery address must go on the front of the mailpiece, the same side as the postage. And on a letter-size piece, we recommend placing the address within the optical character reader (OCR) area. This means the address should be within these boundaries:

  • 1/2 inch from the left edge of the piece
  • 1/2 inch from the right edge of the piece
  • 2-3/4 inches from the bottom edge of the piece
  • 5/8 inch from the bottom edge of the piece

A return address is required in some cases. For instance, you’ll need one if you’re asking the Postal Service™ to return mail to you that can’t be delivered, or if you’re paying with precanceled stamps or a company permit imprint. The return address always goes in the upper left corner of the address side of the mailpiece.

For more details, refer to the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 202.0, Address Placement, and 602.1.0, Elements of Addressing.

Misplaced Markings

When you look at a piece of direct mail, you’ll see several markings on the envelope or card. While they may mean nothing to your prospective customers, they are important to delivering the mail, and they need to go in specific places. These include:


Postage, which can be paid with a stamp, meter, or permit imprint, goes in the top right corner. Information on the class of mail—for instance First-Class Mail®, Marketing Mail™, or Nonprofit—must be printed as part of, directly below, or to the left of the permit imprint, meter imprint, or stamp. For details on other options for price-specific markings, refer to the DMM 202.3.5, First-Class Mail and USPS Marketing Mail Markings.


Endorsements are markings that tell the Postal Service what to do with mail if it can’t be delivered. For instance, you may want them to return it to you or provide you with address change information. For details on where endorsements can be placed, refer to DMM 202.4.0 Placement and Physical Standards for Endorsements.


Barcodes contain a wealth of information that helps USPS® track and route mail more efficiently. To receive automation price breaks, your mailpieces must have a barcode. For details on barcode placement, see DMM 202.5.0, Barcode Placement Letters and Flats.

Consult a Mailpiece Design Analyst

Regulations can be confusing if you’re just starting out. To be sure your design will work, it’s a good idea to work with a Mailpiece Design Analyst (MDA). An MDA is a specially trained postal employee who can tell you if the finished piece will be mailable and suggest ways to make it eligible for the lowest possible postage rates.

By carefully following these suggestions and working with an MDA, you can design a mailpiece that is cost-effective and, most importantly, reaches your prospective customers.

Author: USPS Delivers

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