5 Ways Publishers Can Hyper-Target Print Like Digital Marketers

By: D. Eadward Tree


Marketers’ disgust with online ad fraud has created an opening for our industry, but we’re not ready to take advantage of it. Our out-of-date, out-of-synch approaches to magazine advertising proposals are holding us back from taking advantage of this new opportunity.

Judging from my interactions with advertising sales reps, they’re seeing fewer digital-only RFPs these days and more media-agnostic ones. Marketers who were in the “print is dead” camp now seem intrigued with the ability of print to engage their most valuable prospects. But simply buying ad pages in general-interest magazines is not their idea of effective targeting.

In this environment, niche titles are holding up best because their readership provides a natural target for certain advertisers: An archery magazine is obviously a great place for a bow manufacturer to place its ads. (Still, that manufacturer may be shifting more of its dollars to a programmatic campaign targeted to people who have shopped online for crossbows in the last two weeks.)

These days, our magazines are mostly represented by two types of ad reps, neither of whom is equipped to do the job: 1) Print-only veterans who are out of touch with marketers’ ability to identify their prospects -- and the kind of money they’re willing to spend to reach those prospects. Their idea of targeted advertising doesn’t extend beyond old-school demographic sections, such as women’s or affluent editions. 2) Multimedia reps, who are typically hired for their digital chops and have little, if any, print experience.

Here are five scenarios that illustrate what can happen when we take a millennial’s grasp of hyper-targeting, blend it with an old print dinosaur’s tricks, and add a pinch of imagination:

Challenge #1: The audience for your parenting magazine is too broad for a prospective advertiser that’s mostly interested in affluent parents of teens.

Solution: Place sponsored cover wraps on copies mailed to orthodontists’ waiting rooms. Parents with time on their hands will pick up your magazine because it’s relevant to them, and the sponsor will have plenty of space and attention to make its pitch.

Challenge #2: Exhibit sponsors complain that they’re not meeting enough good prospects at your show.

Solution: Customize the exhibit copies or show guides for pre-registered attendees, enabling your exhibitors to include messages that are targeted to people based on job title, employer, or the break-out sessions they have selected. It could be as simple as inkjetted messages on the cover. Or as complex as using variable data with digital printing to produce individualized versions of the conference schedule. Instead of just “1 p.m.: Exhibit floor opens,” a participant might also see, “Jane, stop by the Acme Rocket booth before 4:30 to pick up your free iPad!” and an invitation to a sponsored roundtable discussion to which only purchasing directors are invited.

Challenge #3: A grill manufacturer is intrigued by your foodie magazine but focuses its advertising on people who are “in market” for a grill.

Solution: Use repurposed content from your magazine to create a downloadable “How To Buy a Grill” guide, with plenty of room for the sponsor to tell its story and perhaps to offer embedded videos. Promote it in the magazine, in the midst of grilling recipes on your web site, via social media, etc. (Whoever said “magazine” advertising has to be about print?) Besides the sponsorship revenue, you might pick up some valuable email addresses and first-party data.

Challenge #4: The grill manufacturer isn’t re-upping the how-to guide campaign because it’s shifting more money to point-of-purchase marketing.

Solution: Create a retailers’ toolbox that is sent to stores selling the clients’ grills. Include printed copies of the how-to guide. Three-hole punch a few of the copies and place them in binders, along with extra information and resources for store employees. Throw in some magazine-branded laminated tip sheets, illustrated with photos of your clients’ grills. Include hang tags that highlight awards or favorable reviews your editors have given to any of the clients’ grills.

Your client probably knows better than you what will work and may be in a better position to execute as well. Fine: Just license your content to the client or sell it copies of your how-to guide.

Challenge #5: Several clients are reducing ads in your regional magazine to put more money into reaching new residents. “Your readers are ‘from-heres;’ we need to talk to the ‘come-heres,’” one advertiser tells you.

Solution: Create an evergreen welcome-to-town guide with repurposed content from the magazine, along with ads targeted to new residents. (Plus a subscription offer and a promotion for your web site, of course.) A lead sponsor could get a back-cover ad that is digitally printed, providing a map from the recipient’s house to the sponsor’s nearest retail location.

You can buy new-movers lists that are derived from month-old change-of-address data. Or work a deal with the local electric or water utility and you could get the copies delivered shortly after people move in.

14 Magazines Shaking Up the Publishing Industry, One Reinvention at a Time

By: Adweek Staff

It’s been another transformative year for the media universe, as legacy publishers continue to reinvent themselves as multiplatform brands, a reinvigorated newspaper industry one-ups the competition with political scoops and old-fashioned media like audio storytelling suddenly seem new again. Adweek’s annual Publishing Hot List is also going through its own transformation, combining both print (below) and digital outlets for the first time in its 38-year history. This year’s honorees capture the media zeitgeist, from Washington Post publisher and CEO Frederick Ryan, who’s helped shape the legendary newspaper into a digital behemoth with the help of Jeff Bezos, and Allure editor in chief Michelle Lee, who is shaking things up at Condé Nast by redefining the role of the glossy women’s magazine. Read on for 2017’s most noteworthy publications, podcasts and much more. —Emma Bazilian


Magazine of the Year

In the two years since editor in chief Michelle Lee took the reins, Condé Nast’s beauty book has undergone its own makeover, with covers that celebrate diversity of all types, stories that encourage readers to challenge convention and a sleek new website that isn’t afraid to tackle hot-button topics alongside makeup trends and hair tutorials. Readers are loving the new direction: as of August, Allure’s average monthly cross-platform audience had grown 30 percent YOY to 5.9 million. —Emma Bazilian


Cover of the Year
The New Yorker, “Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley” (March 6, 2017)

In a year in which so many publications have proven how powerful magazine covers can still be, choosing just one was a difficult task. But The New Yorker’s March 6 issue, “Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley,” which reimagines the magazine’s mascot Eustace Tilley as Vladimir Putin and replaces its iconic masthead with Cyrillic type, manages to stand out for its use of subtle humor (and a touch of dread) to comment on Russia’s influence in U.S. politics. The issue was The New Yorker’s biggest newsstand hit since 2012, selling out in a third of all Barnes & Noble stores that week. —E.B.


Hottest Design/Photography
Bon Appétit

With its minimalist covers and youthful art direction, Bon Appétit has managed to capture the “Instagram aesthetic” in print. The dramatically redesigned August issue touting the launch of two “simple” sub-brands (which marked the first time that a Condé Nast publication had featured a new digital vertical on its cover) helped boost that month’s newsstand sales by more than 51 percent YOY. —Sami Main


Hottest Food Magazine
Bon Appétit

Trendy food coverage and simple cover designs helped boost Bon Appétit’s audience 10 percent to 7.3 million readers in 2017, making it the fastest-growing food title. This year, with more than 100 events around the U.S., the brand adjusted its revenue model to better provide its partners with access to Condé Nast’s Food Innovation Group audience, helping attract new advertisers like Crate & Barrel, Folgers and Alfa Romeo. —S.M.


Hottest Reborn Magazine
Bon Appétit

Condé Nast’s 61-year-old brand has made a big play for younger consumers. The magazine introduced a vibrant new design aesthetic, increased its focus on fresh, easy recipes, and drew acclaim for its March “Generation Next” issue, which featured second-generation American chefs. The rejuvenation effort (along with two new sub-brands, Healthyish and Basically) is paying off: between 2016 and 2017, Bon App’s millennial audience grew by 13 percent. —S.M.


Hottest Sports/Automotive Magazine
ESPN The Magazine

With more than 100 million readers across print, desktop and mobile, ESPN The Magazine claims the largest cross-platform audience of any magazine brand by a mile—runner-up People lags by more than 22 million—and boasts 2.1 million paid print subscribers, up nearly 5 percent YOY. Unique sports coverage sheds light on politics, society and culture and continues to drive the conversation across all of ESPN. It’s also banking on a big 2018 as it celebrates its 20th anniversary as well as the 10th edition of its always-popular annual Body Issue. —A.J. Katz


Hottest Men’s Magazine

GQ is having a sharp 2017. With its buzzy covers (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Chance The Rapper, LeBron James) and influential stories (including features on North Korea, Mike Pence, Corey Lewandowski and Charleston shooter Dylann Roof), the periodical has seen its total audience grow 16 percent YOY to 17.2 million. The magazine is also up 19 percent in non-endemic revenue categories, including finance and spirits. —A.K.


Hottest Thought Leader
The New Yorker

The New Yorker stands out for its enduring ability to produce the kind of deep-dive magazine journalism that few outlets can match. Blockbuster pieces on North Korea, the Trump administration’s Russian ties and more have made it more of a must-read than ever, helping to grow print and digital readership to 5.5 million (up 24 percent YOY), adding 545,000 new subscribers since last November, drawing 20,000 people to the annual New Yorker Festival and increasing ad revenue 12 percent in the first half of the year. —E.B.


Hottest Lifestyle Magazine
Town & Country

Proving that an old-school luxury mag doesn’t have to be stodgy, Town & Country continues to draw in readers (and advertisers) by providing smart cultural commentary and lifestyle coverage—all with an eye on the next generation of tastemakers, business leaders and artists. The title’s cross-platform audience is up an impressive 28 percent YOY, while the recent October issue boasted the magazine’s largest portfolio of advertising in 17 years. This year also saw the introduction of Downtown & Country, a Cadillac-sponsored content series aimed at the magazine’s millennial readers. —E.B.


Hottest Business Magazine

Fortune has a new look and a new logo—just the 10th redesign for the 88-year-old magazine. Like other Time Inc. titles, it will cut its frequency (from 16 to 12) in 2018. Still, Fortune is striking gold in print (magazine audience is up 12 percent YOY) and on the web, with traffic pacing ahead of 2016 by 16 percent. Its conference business is booming and, along with Barclays, it has launched a new stock market index based on its iconic Fortune 500 list. —Chris Ariens


Hottest Travel Magazine
Travel + Leisure

Time Inc.’s monthly guide to leisurely pursuits is seeing robust growth: as of August, T+L’s print audience was up 11 percent to 6.7 million, while its website drew 6.2 million unique visitors, up 29 percent from last August’s 4.8 million. T+L this year saw its first-ever flip cover—with opposite sides devoted to Europe and Asia, showcasing the latter’s growing importance to the global traveler. —C.A.


Hottest Home Magazine
HGTV Magazine

Since hitting newsstands five years ago, HGTV Magazine has been a resounding success. Its affordable, DIY approach has made it a hit with the younger crowd and helped grow its overall audience 10 percent YOY to 9.8 million. The magazine really stands out in the branded content arena, producing three interactive sponsored covers (with Sherwin-Williams and Behr) in 2017, along with high-impact native print units with brands like 3M. —E.B.


Hottest Celebrity/Entertainment Magazine

The go-to source for pop-filled news and celebrity disclosures is as hot as ever as it approaches its 44th birthday. People has an unduplicated monthly audience of 70 million across print, desktop, tablet and mobile. sees 35.6 million monthly uniques with millennials making up 42 percent of the audience. Its year-old streaming network PeopleTV (formerly PEN) has racked up more than 100 million viewers across its platforms this year. —C.A.


Hottest Wellness/Fitness Magazine
Women’s Health

Rodale’s female-targeted fitness brand is engaging with readers across numerous platforms, from print (audience is up 12 percent YOY) to digital to social to live events (like the Macy’s-sponsored Run 10 Feed 10 meet-ups across the country) and even their pantries (thanks to a partnership with Planters nuts). Native campaigns with advertisers like Nordstrom and Jockey are helping fuel the brand’s sixth consecutive year of growth. —E.B.


Hottest Women’s Magazine
O, The Oprah Magazine

Plenty of women’s titles offer branded events, but O, The Oprah Magazine took the concept to a new level this year with the ultimate reader experience: a seven-day Alaskan cruise featuring Oprah herself. The multiplatform deal with Holland America, which will put O-themed programming on more than 300 cruises, is just one of the mag’s brand partnerships, like a Talbots capsule collection, curated “Favorite Things” and L’Oréal-sponsored “Beauty O-Wards” shops on Amazon and even an Alexa skill. —E.B.


Hottest Newcomer
The Magnolia Journal

Meredith’s year-old Magnolia Journal, based on HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia brand, puts a fresh spin on the lifestyle trend. With its heavy paper stock and rustic-chic aesthetic, the quarterly feels like an indie mag. Its initial 400,000 print run sold out (200,000 more had to be ordered) and with its Spring 2018 issue, the magazine will raise its rate base to 1.2 million. —E.B.


Hottest Fashion Magazine

Under the watchful eye of editor in chief (and Condé Nast artistic director) Anna Wintour, the legendary fashion bible is pulling out all the stops to celebrate its 125th anniversary, launching product collaborations with the hottest labels (Hood by Air, Comme des Garçons), running four separate September covers (created by Annie Leibovitz, John Currin and others) and hosting a daylong conference in New York (speakers included designer Stella McCartney and Instagram’s Kevin Systrom). Thanks to insightful content across numerous platforms, its audience is continuing to grow, hitting nearly 12 million in August. —E.B.

Author: Adweek Staff

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5 Ways Publishers Can Use Digital Printing to Get Personal & Drive Revenue

By: D. Eadward Tree


A financial analyst who specializes in the printing industry recently speculated that “the potential to produce personalized magazines at scale is not too far in the future.”

He was a bit off: That potential already exists – and is irrelevant to most magazine publishers.

Here’s the question we should be asking: Is digital printing -- the technology that is already creating magazines that are personalized from front cover to back cover -- relevant to our business?

The answer is yes.

Let me explain: Most of us don’t need a “solution” that quadruples (or worse) our production costs, kicks us out of co-mail, makes inserts difficult if not impossible, and may require additional investments in writing, editing, photography, and design.

But digital printing – which has no fixed costs and can use data to give each reader a different version of the same page – is creating many real opportunities for magazine publishers. After all, it has revolutionized book publishing, created whole new types of direct mail, and enabled catalogs and retailers to deliver more precisely targeted promotions. Here’s a peak at what it can do right now for magazine publishers:

1. Inkjet Messaging

Most U.S. magazine copies are already personalized with a form of digital printing – the inkjetting of each recipient’s name and mailing address. It can cost next to nothing to add additional inkjet messaging to the cover, a technique often used by catalogs but rarely by publishers.

Imagine the possible messages:

  • Subscriber: “Marie, we’d hate to lose you. Please renew your subscription today!”
  • Acme Rocket executive (who’s a potential advertiser): “Acme Rocket made our Top 100! See page 84.”
  • Calling out a particular ad inside the book that is likely to interest the subscriber, based on her online behavior and newsletter subscriptions.

2. Programmatic Direct Mail

Programmatic direct mail is a lucrative, rapidly growing approach to marketing that cries out for the kind of content we magazine publishers create. Yet, as far as I can tell, the magazine-media industry is not even thinking about this opportunity.

The tactic involves identifying web site visitors who are prospective buyers based on such actions as their clicks, searches, and cart abandonment. Then, using databases that link online identities to physical mailing addresses, a customized mail piece – usually a postcard or mini-catalog – is digitally printed and mailed First Class to the prospect.

We publishers should have a leg up in this field: Not only do we have web visitors, we have relevant, high-quality content. Consider: If you’re thinking about buying a particular model of car, would you respond better to a simple sales-pitch postcard or to a mini-magazine that includes a Car and Driver review of the model? Many marketers who employ programmatic direct mail should be eager to license the use of our branded, trustworthy content.

3. Customized Cover Wraps

Sponsored cover wraps are a proven method of using popular magazines to reach highly targeted audiences – such as copies mailed to ENTs’ waiting rooms with a promotion for a hearing-aid brand. Now imagine if each cover wrap were customized with a listing of nearby dealers, perhaps with directions or a map from the ENT’s office to the nearest dealer.

This isn’t just hypothetical. Audience Innovation, one of several companies that offers marketing campaigns that use sponsored cover wraps on popular magazines, reports that it sometimes employs digital printing to customize the wraps. An insurance company’s campaign of cover wraps affixed to copies of Good Housekeeeping, for example, includes information about and a photo of the agent who is located closest to each recipient’s home. Doing that for a national campaign with traditional offset printing would be inordinately cumbersome and expensive.

4. Distributed Print

Using an international network of digital presses aboard cruise ships and luxury hotels, the PressReader service for years has sold same-day copies of daily newspapers and current issues of magazines in places that would be nearly impossible for the publishers to reach on their own. As the cost of full-color digital printing continues to drop, publishers may be able to build up their foreign circulation by printing in-country rather than using slow and expensive overseas freight.

5. Print-on-Demand

In the past few years, book publishers have cut down on the number of “just in case” copies they print, knowing that if they run out they can switch to digitally printed just-in-time copies. Although unit cost is more expensive than traditional offset-printed books, publishers can save money by printing fewer wasted copies and using less storage space. And they can make money on titles that would otherwise have gone out of print.

How many just-in-case copies does your magazine print? And how many times do you pass up opportunities – to capitalize on an issue that becomes a collectors’ item or to bolster the circulation of an issue with poor newsstand sales – because you don’t have enough copies?

With print-on-demand, bookazines and back issues could be sold on your web site with no upfront printing costs, inventory, or risk. You could offer commemorative books featuring compilations of your best articles on a particular topic, celebrity, athlete, or car. With a bit of programming, you could even let the buyer choose the cover photo or add a personal message to turn the book into a one-of-a-kind gift or keepsake.

Author: D. Eadward Tree

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