Live from the Publishing Business Conference: Steve Forbes Sees Publishing's Future in Audience Segmentation
Are we doomed?
David Granger, editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine and provocateur at the Publishing Business Conference and Expo's Monday Keynote Q&A, asked that question a dozen ways about everything from the publishing industry to America itself. Steve Forbes's answers never swayed: "If we can just get a benign [economic] environment, these things [innovative entrepreneurs, business practices, technologies, etc.] will come popping up" and be successful.
The Editor-in Chief of Forbes magazine isn't blind to sea change in America or the publishing industry, but comparing the current troubles to prosperity cycles in the 70s, 80s and 90s, he predicts the fall of old profit models, not whole industries.
"In the early days of TV, [soap company] advertisers came up with 'soap' operas" as a way to showcase their products to homemakers," said Forbes. The shows themselves were not devoid of "editorial" merit; they were not advertorial in the main. But their reach and audience allowed special advertising opportunities that producers were able to capitalize on. He sees similar opportunities in greater audience segmentation for new media.
"Marketing is not one-size fits all," said Forbes. "Now you're going in like a consultant," trying to find an advertising solution that's a fit for that client. For example, Forbes recently sold the exclusive sponsorship of a segment of its editorial content to an advertiser in a deal not unlike the old-time TV version of sponsorships.
"It's not enough to have eyeballs anymore. Now you need to be able to break it down," says Forbes. "We may have a smaller audience for certain pieces, but they may be very valuable to certain advertisers."