Publishers have long been adept at gathering information about readers and audiences in the interest of producing better content and more effective advertising. But these processes were a lot more simplistic "back in the day" of print-centric magazines.
Gretchen A. Peck
Publishers have been tapping into e-commerce technologies for more than a decade now, embracing them to sell subscriptions, complementary publications and promotional items directly related to the brand. Today, publishers are pursuing more complex e-commerce models that present much higher revenue potential-when done well. But this isn't a tale of publishers merely appealing to audiences for a bigger percentage of their disposable income. The new e-commerce models benefit the audience, too, by providing readers with an opportunity to dive deeper into the rich brand environment already ingrained in most magazines and extend their relationship in pace with their content consumption.
David Byrne of Talking Heads fame recently passed through Des Moines, Iowa for the 80/35 Music Festival. He wrote about his time there-the bucolic setting, the public spaces, restaurants, the library, and a visit to the local bike shop. "Life here seems to be more or less middle class (the middle class doesn't seem to have been gutted here as it has been in many other towns), and there are amenities like the riverfront, bike trail networks, ball fields, and water sports that show that the city cares about its citizens," Byrne opines in his blog.
This spring, Barnes & Noble announced that it would offer both print publications and digital editions of more than 1,000 magazine titles to visitors of BN.com. The e-editions will be fulfilled by Barnes & Noble partner Zinio. Indeed, it’s just one more indication that, despite some debate on their future, digital editions are becoming a viable alternative to print for a growing number of readers. Cambridge, Mass.-based The Gilbane Group recently published a study, “Digital Magazine and Newspaper Editions: Growth, Trends, and Best Practices,” showing that the number of business-to-business publications offering digital editions increased by more than 300 percent in a two-year span
Workflow and responsibilities might have been clearly divided between a magazine’s creative and production executives in the early days of digital design—the days when art directors could simply concentrate on aesthetics, while the production team fretted over the mechanics of getting that design to reproduce in print with integrity. Today, the lines between the two disciplines are blurred, and creative professionals are increasingly relied upon to manage tasks once associated with production, such as preflighting page files and outputting final-format digital files (PDF/X-1a being the preferred format for publications). So, it seems fitting that magazine creative folks expect so much more today from
The relationships between magazine publishers and their advertisers aren’t matters of “us” and “them.” On the contrary, these relationships—if they’re strong—are true partnerships. And it’s the publisher’s duty to not only supply its readers with valuable editorial content, but to also provide first-class customer service to its advertising partners, which means being able to provide pricing quickly, to notify them of opportunities for premium placement and exposure, to develop long-term programs that best suit the advertisers’ needs, and to ensure that their advertising materials are handled with care and reproduced—whether in print or online—with integrity. Maintaining the Relationship Customer relationship management (CRM)
Though many magazine publishers now have more than a decade of Web experimentation under their belts, few profess to having found the perfect Web model—and, by and large, view their Web sites as perpetual works in progress. Different models appear to work for different publishers, often determined by genre and reader demographics. But one common theme seems to be top of mind as publishers set out to enhance their sites: how to build online communities. Hundreds of tools are available—from ASP to install-based solutions, from freeware to licensed tools. Forums and chat, blogs and comments, and polls and surveys have enabled
Ask a dozen magazine production professionals to define the term “workflow,” and you’ll likely receive 12 different definitions. But despite the unique ways in which magazines are produced, generally speaking, workflow is all about taking valuable content, manipulating it in a way that maintains its integrity (no matter how it’s output), and doing it all lightning fast. “A successful workflow is one that allows publications to produce content and distribute it on a schedule that makes it able to compete with Web sites for readers’ attention,” according to Scott Seebass, CEO, Xinet Inc. in Berkeley, Calif. Given the plethora of technologies accessible to publishers
In today’s publishing world, content must be easily and instantaneously manipulated—no matter whether it’s headed to the Web, a magazine or a directory, burned to a CD or DVD, or broadcast in the form of a podcast. “Content repurposing … should certainly be top-of-mind for magazine publishers,” suggests John Kreisa, director of product marketing, Mark Logic Corp., San Carlos, Calif. “Putting the right infrastructure in place is key to tapping into that market. …” But evaluating whether to “build or buy” is often a publisher’s first hurdle. “I think the decision … should be based upon business objectives and expectations for growth,” says Peter
Looking back, 2006 has been a relatively good year for many publishing companies. If you review the ongoing Publishers Information Bureau reports, it appears overall consumer-magazine ad revenue is up over previous years, and digital revenues continue to climb to help offset print losses of the last few years that for a number of business-to-business and consumer publications have yet to be recovered. Smart publishers, however, aren’t relying solely on revenue to drive profits. Rather, they’re continuing to focus on best practices in publishing processes and technological implementation to become more efficient and cut costs. Publishing Executive found leaders in the industry to share
“My whole career has been about service. Whether you’re on the printing side or the publishing side of things, your role is customer service,” says Dave Kamis, vice president, production and manufacturing for Detroit-based Crain Communications. “That’s been my approach,” Kamis notes. “[To consider], ‘how can I meet the needs of my clients?’ And … in my current job, those [clients] are the publishers, the editors, the art directors and our advertising clients. What can I do to support their specific goals and objectives? That’s always been my objective, and looking back, I’d say that it’s been a consistent theme throughout my career—customer service.” It
Merriam-Webster is a household name when it comes to dictionaries. In fact, its dictionary is said to be the second best-selling hardcover book in American history next to the Bible. So it might be surprising to find out that behind this book is a manufacturing department of just one: David Pelkey. Pelkey, Merriam-Webster’s director of manufacturing, oversees the manufacturing of all printed materials for the company, which has been a forerunner in the age of multimedia publishing. “I do all of the paper purchasing, warehousing and inventory management, and I also have a hand in distribution,” he says. Pelkey’s name may not be as
Some people, in their lifetimes, may stumble upon a dollar bill on the sidewalk or upon a stray cat, or they may even accidentally stumble upon a new idea. But Elaine Fry stumbled upon a career that has led her to positions at some of the world’s most prominent publishing companies, such as Billboard, Ziff Davis Media, Penthouse, Time Inc., and eventually to Forbes Inc., where she currently is group director of manufacturing and production, a position she has held for six years. Her career achievements and her involvement in industry initiatives, such as those undertaken by Specifications Web Offset Publications (SWOP), have earned
“I came out of college with a liberal arts degree, and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living,” recalls Joe Duncan, vice president/director, print innovation and technology for Leo Burnett USA—the worldwide marketing communications powerhouse that manages such household brands as Kellogg’s, Heinz, GM, Wrigley and Hallmark. But this uncertainty resolved itself quickly in the mind of this 2006 Publishing Executive Hall of Fame inductee. When he happened upon an inside sales job at an envelope manufacturer, he says, “I really didn’t like anything about the job, except the printing side of the business. The company mostly did folding and
The PDF/X-1a specification promised to resolve the kinks in the advertising workflow for print publications. But how widespread has its adoption been, and how are agencies supplying the file format to their print partners? Publishing Executive spoke with J.D. Michaels, vice president and director of print services for New York-based BBDO—the fourth largest global agency network, with 290 offices in 77 countries—about his thoughts on PDF/X-1a, the agency’s efforts to see the PDF prophecy fulfilled, and how the Web has changed the prepress model. Publishing Executive: What are your general responsibilities in your role at BBDO? J.D. Michaels: I am responsible for all production after an idea