Magazines Always Deliver... Whether Numbers Are Up Or Down - Magazines Never Disappoint

By: Samir Husni

As I surveyed the Mr. Magazine™ Launch Monitor for the first five months of 2017, I couldn’t ignore that the musing I am about to write comes to you with a slight bittersweet positivity. An odd description, you might think, but the reason for the oxymoronic tinge of phrasing is because, unfortunately, as happens occasionally, the numbers being compared for the first five months of 2017 show a slight downward trend, in both frequency and specials. However, on the flip side, that positive flow that always propels ink on paper is still supremely prevalent. No matter the “numbers,” magazines always deliver the goods. Always. Just as Mr. Magazine™ himself feels the random slowdown, so does the stream of magazines rolling off the presses. It doesn’t mean that I or they are down for the count, it merely signifies an “off” day, so to speak.

From January through May, 2017, the numbers are as follows:

• Total Frequency Titles – 47
• Total Special Titles (including bookazines & annuals) – 205

From January through May, 2016, the numbers are as follows:

• Total Frequency Titles – 86
• Total Special Titles (including bookazines & annuals) – 252

As I’m sure you can do the math yourself, I won’t waste your time showing you the actual numerical difference. Suffice it to say, major publishers and companies haven’t let the thought of a “slowdown” curtail them in the least. This year alone, we’ve seen past magazines reborn, leading companies creating new ones, and entrepreneurs stepping out onto that visionary limb to go for their dreams. From the rebirths of Paste, Brio, and Zink magazine to the premiere issue of Airbnb Mag, the successful company’s new travel magazine published with partnership with Hearst Magazines, to the February, 2017 magazine launch, Rova (about millennials who love to roam the open roads in their RV’s) that any entrepreneur would be proud to call their offspring, new launches are still being catapulted into that stratosphere called the magazine market. Slowdown means nothing to the medium that knew what it was like to stand against the forces of darkness a few years ago, namely the naysayers who were determined that the last nail in the magazine coffin belonged to them.

Of course the launch of The Pioneer Woman (this month, and also published in partnership with Hearst Magazines) is not included in this musing, neither the one million new circulation numbers for The Magnolia Journal (published in partnership with Meredith)… just keep in mind we are comparing the first five months of 2017 to that of 2016.

But have no fear magazine lovers everywhere: the printed word is going nowhere. Except maybe onto the page of the next new magazine launch, which I’m sure will be out any day now.

Until we meet at the newsstands…

The chart below compares the first five months of 2017 to that of 2016 and is followed by the month to month breakdown of the numbers:

• January 2017:

• Frequency – 5
• Specials – 32

• January 2016:

• Frequency – 21
• Specials – 56

• February 2017:

• Frequency – 4
• Specials – 33

• February 2016:

• Frequency – 12
• Specials – 57

• March 2017:

• Frequency – 6
• Specials – 62

• March 2016:

• Frequency – 7
• Specials – 46

• April 2017:

• Frequency – 12
• Specials – 30

• April 2016:

• Frequency – 21
• Specials – 50

• May 2017:

• Frequency – 20
• Specials – 48

• May 2016:

• Frequency – 25
• Specials – 43

Author: Samir Husni

Source: mrmagazine.wordpress.com URL: https://goo.gl/Zjqo77

Magazines Learn a New Language

By: Steve Smith

If adults had their own hit toy this holiday—our own Talking Elmo—surely it was a new voice assistant. Amazon’s Alexa topped the e-tail goliath’s sales charts, and even a Google Home was hard to find. Research firm VoiceLabs estimates 6.5 million dedicated voice assistant devices shipped in 2016, with 34.5 million projected for 2017. With Cortana, Alexa, Siri and “Hey Google” competing to talk with us on every major new and old connected device, service media brands like BabyCenterGood HousekeepingAllrecipes and Elle are already trying to learn the new language of voice user interfaces (VUI) and get their content into what many believe to be the future of search—straight talk.

Meredith’s Allrecipes’ recipe search and cooking walkthrough skill on Alexa had a good holiday, with a “steady increase in ‘downloads’” since its launch in early November, VP of Consumer & Brand Strategy Esmee Williams tells min. Early indications for this category suggest similar voice search patterns to the web. Activity peaks late in the day at meal planning time but also on Sundays when week-long planning and shopping take place.

Similarly, BabyCenter ported the popular pregnancy tracker format—My Pregnancy—to an Alexa skill in September and is “pleased with the metrics so far,” says executive editor Janet Ozzard. The skill gives subscribers who ask Alexa for the updates week-specific information on their pregnancy.

But VUIs are different from device interactions that preceded it, and there are already warning signs that voice search and interactions will suffer some of the same challenges magazine media brands encountered with mobile apps. A survey of early users by VoiceLabs shows that the most popular use of these devices is playing music and audio books (46.7%), controlling smart home devices (29.1%) and playing games like trivia (29.1%). Worse, the Alexa library is already cluttered with over 7,000 skills, 69% of which are likely “zombies” with one or fewer user reviews.

Discovery and recidivism are again the big challenges for magazine brands venturing into this space. Users not only need to find the right skills and install them to the device, but also must remember the right branded “invocation” term (i.e. “Alexa, open Good Housekeeping”). Williams says that despite VoiceLab’s warning about zombie skills, Allrecipes continues to see installation and usage growth. They are addressing the challenge with a dedicated skill page, FAQs and video tutorials distributed across social media.

Chris Papaleo, head of emerging tech and partnerships at Hearst, a company division that tests and learns from emerging technologies, suggests that promotion from Amazon has been a key discovery driver. Elle’s horoscope was a “Skill of the Day” and enjoyed featured placement in Alexa newsletters. Part of the strategy of starting with a horoscope skill was to provoke recidivism with information that invited daily, habitual use. But as in the app world, publishers can’t rely on the capriciousness of platform promotion. “What we can control is the quality of the experience,” Papaleo says. And again, as in the app economy, word-of-mouth and user ratings power adoption. Good Housekeeping’s stain advice skill, for instance, got voted and featured in Alexa’s customer favorites section at the end of the year.

Despite some similarities to the app-iverse, VUI does pose a unique challenge for media brands. This is an iconless realm without multiple search results. The “invocation” word is the new keyword of voice search that is likely to become hotly contested terrain. Knowing this, Papaleo and his team extended conversations with Amazon about the trigger for Elle’s horoscopes app, which provides daily readings for all signs. Rather than the user having to remember to invoke the Elle brand to launch the skill, Hearst secured the generic term so that “Alexa, ask Horoscope for Gemini” works. “We own that ‘Horoscope’ term right now,” he says. “But we fully expect the voice search economy to explode and generic terms to be highly valued, and costly to publisher partners.”

Still, companies like Hearst are already listening and learning new tricks from Alexa. Papaleo says his team was surprised by horoscope subscribers asking for multiple signs and spending more time with the skill than was needed for a single look-up. He theorizes that multiple people in the room are asking Alexa for their daily horoscope. “The group phenomenon tells us to think harder about designing voice experiences that better suit the scenario,” he says. “Once we have people engaged, what other content experiences can we come up with?”

This is an investment media companies absolutely need to make, because the potential reach of VUI is staggering. Google and Amazon are working to extend their voice assistants to cars. Google packs its VUI into its new phone, and Apple is scrambling to improve Siri, which now also lives on Mac desktops and the new AirPods. The bet (and not a bad one) is that users get comfortable quickly with voice search, which becomes a 24-hour content retrieval platform that extends from home to car to pocket.

It’s Alexa’s turn to ask a question: “Can you hear me now?”

Author: Steve Smith

Source: minonline.com URL: https://goo.gl/aIF3TJ

2017 Could Be The Year of Resurgence for Magazines

By: Sarah Hennessy

Innovation and audience-led solutions will be the key to success for magazines in 2017. While print media as a whole hasn’t been attracting the right sort of headlines, with falling audiences and sliding revenues creating a sense of overall decline, I wouldn’t write off the magazines sector.

In fact, 2017 could be the year it re-emerges as a viable medium with a long-term future. Clearly, there are challenges and the prospect of further consolidation could mean uncertainty. However, the sector has a sense of buoyancy as magazine publishers are looking at innovative ways to engage their audiences, leading to a deeper brand experience.

This, coupled with improvements in measurement that will finally catch up with multiplatform behaviour, means there will be a better growth story for magazines. One area that is giving magazines a boost is a focus on specialism.

With more than 130 launches in 2016, the outlook is positive for specialist products. Segments such as leisure interests, children’s and men’s lifestyle all saw double-digit circulation growth.

Current affairs titles, including The Economist and The Week, also saw improvements during an epic year of news, from Brexit to Trump.

The resilience of the luxury segment has been impressive and shows no signs of abating. Vogue’s successful centenary celebrations, Glamour’s move to full size and the 20th-anniversary (and biggestever) issue of Wallpaperare all examples of the robust health of the luxury end of the market. In 2017, this ground will be hotly contested as news brands set their sights on the same advertisers.

News UK laid down a marker by relaunching Luxx for The Times and poaching Lorraine Candy, editor-in-chief of UK Elle, to be luxury content director.

However, in my view, there are still too many magazines on the newsstand. It would be beneficial to see the closure of weaker titles such as InStyle in the UK, which shut its print edition in October, so that publishers can breathe greater life into those that remain.

This would allow for a more positive and compelling focus on the titles that will attract stronger support from advertisers.

Magazines are exploring brave, dynamic distribution models to secure the future of their print titles. Getting the product into the hands of the right people, whether they are prepared to pay for the magazine or not, will continue to be key.

Significant changes from Cosmopolitan (cutting its price to £1), NME (going free) and Elle (letting readers pre-order a print cover of their choice "on demand") resulted in big circulation increases and proved that pricing and distribution really can change a brand’s fortune.

Alongside innovation in print, it will also remain critical that magazine content is made available on more new platforms. Cosmopolitan has established first-mover advantage with Snapchat, reaching readers each day on Snapchat Discover. I expect to see more demand for this platform in 2017 from magazine publishers, providing Snapchat can keep pace with the resource required.

Events and brand extensions have emerged as a new revenue stream for publishers that understand their audience and are intent on building stronger relationships around passion for the brand.

Experiences such as Stylist Live, Radio Times Festival and Empire Live attract paying audiences and bring them closer to the experts they care about. These events will be bigger and bolder in 2017, with smaller pop-ups also getting in on the action. They also offer big commercial partners highly engaged audiences.

The Esquire Townhouse with Dior is a brilliant example of a commercial partnership that will genuinely deepen relationships. Magazines that think like brands across every touchpoint will be the ones that build even stronger connections with their most valuable readers.

A related point is the rise of the magazine content studio. Those that have already launched include Hearst Magazines UK’s Made, Immediate Media’s Imagine, Time Inc UK’s The Foundry and Shortlist Media’s recent addition, Family.

Significant resources, data and technology are being committed to make multiplatform, measurable content an everyday reality for advertisers. This augurs well for 2017.

The opportunity to monetise audienceled solutions, driven by data insight, has accelerated growth within publishers’ commercial teams. Finding more innovative "portfolio solutions" for brands is the key to unlocking bigger budgets for publishers and will deliver more scale for advertisers.

Significant progress will be achieved when we see collaborative relationships develop across publisher portfolios. This is where Magnetic, the marketing body for consumer magazines, can help to harness the opportunity for clients. It is vital that publishers are able to show demand and audience data across the many platforms on which magazine brands now exist.

By the end of 2017, we should see Pamco, the Publishers Audience Measurement Company, introduce Audience Measurement for Publishers, replacing the National Readership Survey in providing audience figures for the published media industry.

This is an exciting development – albeit a long overdue one. The rigorous methodology of AMP – which combines a digital panel with 35,000 face-to-face interviews – will allow publishers to monetise de-duplicated audiences across all of their platforms.

It should be a leap forward in enabling cross-platform planning for a substantial number of brands for the first time and providing a more accurate picture of consumer demand for magazine content. Much will depend on the nature of AMP’s launch but, if it is effective, it will have a profound impact in terms of improving inventory management and commercial relationships.

This boost for the sector is one of the many reasons to be excited about magazines in 2017.

Author: Sarah Hennessy

Source: fipp.com URL: https://goo.gl/vlXDOw