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Senior Editor

Pub Talk

By James Sturdivant

About James

 

Publishers' Dojo

Linda Ruth
How to Look at Your 2014 Sales
Feb 23, 2015

So far I have spent 2015 deep in analyses of publishers' sales in 2014 and before. That probably puts me...



Media Vent

Bob Sacks
Why Print Magazines Are Not Necessarily Facing Armageddon
Feb 19, 2015

My optimism may be hard to understand with all the data that on the surface seems so damned negative. To...



B2B Beat

Andy Kowl
Private Equity Firms Taking Over B2B Media
Jan 13, 2015

Private Equity firms are now the dominant players in B2B publishing. They probably own less than half of all B2B...



Industry Insiders

The Insiders
The Real Cost of Content Marketing
Dec 10, 2014

How do you respond to advertisers who want to blog more and advertise less? Do you discuss with them the...



The Digital Market

Thea Selby
Top 5 Mobile Trends for Publishers—It’s Good News, Folks
Jul 7, 2014

Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is one of my s/heroes. In this day and age of branded...



Publisher's Paradox

Andrew Davis
Publisher’s Paradox: Your Newsletter Subscribers Are Being Overfed
Apr 28, 2014

Charlie Magazine, based in Charleston, South Carolina, isn't asking its readers to subscribe to everything. Instead, Charlie is inviting readers...



Web Devaluation: What to Do When 'More Isn't More Anymore'

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I found myself annoyed last week by all the Web chatter about Super Bowl ads and the return of the TV show "Community." For a few days it seemed like the entire globe was either analyzing commercials or celebrating the fact that an offbeat show with a hip imprimatur was starting a new season.

Don't get me wrong; I watched the Super Bowl, and I like "Community." I don't blame Ad Age, Paste, Forbes, MediaPost, Huffington Post, Slate, and all the rest for running these stories, nor I am about to hold forth on the inanity of spending so much intellectual capital on Bar Refaeli's kissing a nerd, or Troy not kissing Abed. 

No, I blame myself. Or rather, I know it's by my choice, because, for work and personal reasons, these are the feeds I follow. It used to be that we would only read about a show like "Community" once, probably in the entertainment section of our local paper. Now we allow ourselves to be inundated by prodigious coverage of every cultural event, major or minor. Because everything is always everywhere, all at once, the innocuous can easily seem overblown and overhyped.

This ubiquity has economic consequences, too. In his recent excellent piece for Reuters, Ryan McCarthy worries about media's "massive oversupply problem." Exploding online content has not yet baked a bigger economic pie, as we all hoped it would. While not exactly a zero-sum game, online revenues, as we are all aware, are still nowhere close to matching what used to be earned by print. Every bit of that new digital content potentially creates space for a display ad; it also, as McCarthy notes, drags down prices for those ads. Mobile, he says, is only making the problem worse.

McCarthy offers a few potential solutions to this conundrum, such as BuzzFeed's building custom ads to draw more eyeballs. I'm reminded of the recent discussion, in the wake of the Manti Teo revelation on Deadspin, of how websites can better capitalize on sudden spikes in viewership. The answer to the devaluation problem seems to lie in good data and tools that allow publishers to respond quickly to take advantage of revenue opportunities online, more home-grown creative to support custom ad buys for display or (carefully planned and executed) native ad strategies, as well as—for some—paywalls and other forms of tiered access.

And what about the hype fatigue? Deadspin reminds us that it's still possible for a well-researched, explosive news story to make the publisher who broke the story be a part of the news. The massive coverage in the aftermath of the fake girlfriend revelations only heightened Deadspin's profile, as it remained the much-cited, go-to source for the story. So maybe part of the answer lies in good old-fashioned journalism: tell a story right, tell it best, and the teeming masses will beat a path to your door. If they're not tired of hearing about it already.

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