Ahead of AMMC, MPA President Urges Publishers to Remember Their Fundamental Value
Editor's Note: Bob Sacks spoke with The Association of Magazine Media (MPA) president and CEO Linda Thomas Brooks about the upcoming American Magazine Media Conference (AMMC), which will be held on February 6th in New York City, as well as her views on the future of magazine publishing. In this interview, Brooks shares what she believes magazine publishers are doing well -- such as providing brand safe environments for advertisers and delivering impactful marketing messages -- and how they can better market these skills to prospective clients. She also previews some of the speakers and discussions that will be held at AMMC in February.
We are just about a month away from the 2018 American Magazine Media Conference. In this evolving era of magazine media what's top of mind as you prepare?
Two things are on my mind. First, we need -- together as an industry -- to continue to explore new ideas and opportunities. Second, but perhaps more importantly, we need to celebrate what is good about our industry. We seem to be really good at beating ourselves up and we need to remember, especially in this age of disruption, our fundamental values to marketers and to consumers.
There are some sectors in our industry that are doing very well and some that are still facing grave challenges. Will you spend a lot of time addressing the challenges in the magazine media industry as well as the successes?
Sure, we will talk about the challenges, but we will spend more time talking about the opportunities and what makes magazine media different. What makes it better. We talk to each other a lot about how difficult things are, but guess what -- every business is challenged these days. I worked many years in the auto industry. Think they aren't being disrupted? The movie and television industries are completely rethinking how they reach audiences and make money. So yes, we will acknowledge where we can do better, but we will also dive into what is working so that we can build on it.
I have greatly enjoyed the poignancy and timing of the new marketing campaign. Why is it important for the conference theme to mirror the Magazine Media's "Better. Believe It" marketing campaign?
Magazine media provides compelling benefits that aren't matched by other media channels. The industry chatter seems to spend a lot of time focusing on what we are not and not nearly enough time talking about what we do really, really well. For example, we engage consumers with trusted, inspiring, and motivating content. Consumers believe in magazine media brands and they transfer that belief to the advertising.
We recently launched a Social Media Engagement Factor that measures, by brand, the relationship of audience reaction to the content posted by magazine media and non-magazine media brands. The findings prove that magazine media brands are significant social media influencers, outperforming non-magazine brands in most categories and on most social platforms. That's really significant.
We have a position and an influence that other media brands envy. If you view the media landscape through the lens of the consumer, magazine media brands can - and do -- change the world for the better.
You spend a lot of time with marketers -- what are they saying about the state of the magazine media industry?
That's a very interesting question. As the economics of advertising have changed, the ad industry has become responsible for funding the explosion of fake news and low-quality -- even dangerous -- content. I am hearing that a lot of marketers think they went too far in shifting budgets to digital tactics.
They are acknowledging that activity is more akin to direct marketing than to advertising -- and it is not growing their businesses. And [they are] also understanding the damage and the danger of content environments that are not brand safe, much less brand appropriate. We know that print advertising has the highest return on advertising spend -- $3.94 [for every dollar spent] to be exact. And nothing else comes close. Then why wouldn't marketers shift more dollars back to what they know works? Because it's very hard to admit to their bosses and their shareholders that they wasted millions and millions of dollars.
I've always enjoyed attending the AMMC. It sounds like you will have plenty to talk about on February 6th. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Just that we have a very diverse and interesting lineup for AMMC. We will hear from Sir Martin Sorrell, who by the way, also thinks the pendulum swung too far to digital. And we have Ronan Farrow who will talk with Gayle King about how he brought the Harvey Weinstein story to light -- in a magazine brand. We have Christine Beauchamp, president of Amazon Fashion, Kim Brink, COO of WPP's Global Team Blue, plus our own luminaries including Joanna Coles, Adam Moss, and Alan Murray, among others. We'll present the Kelly Awards and Magazine Launch of the Year and recognize Skip Zimbalist with the Lifetime Achievement Award. So yes, we will have plenty to talk about. And plenty of industry influentials to talk with -- like you Bo!
Thanks, Linda. I'll see you in New York.
Related story: Why Marketers Can’t Count Out Print in 2018
Bob Sacks (aka BoSacks) is a printing/publishing industry consultant and president of The Precision Media Group (BoSacks.com). He is also the co-founder of the research company Media-Ideas (Media-Ideas.net), and publisher and editor of a daily international e-newsletter, Heard on the Web. Sacks has held posts as director of manufacturing and distribution, senior sales manager (paper), chief of operations, pressman, circulator and almost every other job this industry has to offer.