The Time Is Now for Publishers to Get Granular
There was an interesting panel of media executives this week titled "Are Legacy Media Going the Way of the 8-Track." These discussions serve many purposes and are a necessary but sometimes tedious step in our transformation from what we were to what we will become. It is sometimes difficult, when you are in the trenches, to recognize that the war has moved on. This is the latest metaphor I have devised to explain our situation, which is something akin to army-speak, where the generals are always preparing to re-fight the last war. That's what corporate publishers' thinking seems like. Media, advertising and readership have already moved on, and yet we continue to have panels and discussions about "fighting the last war."
In this particular discussion, Donna Campanella, executive director of global media for Avon Products, criticized magazines for being "slow to provide granular audience measurement data on par with electronic media." Duh! There is no publishing granular audience measurement data on par with electronic media. Not unless we quickly accept and adapt to digital magazines. Only the digital magazine enablers have the data that we need. If we finally get that message, then there will be measurement aplenty. If we don't, there is nothing, zilch, nada—except a series of generalizations and surveys that are months out of date and have no granularity at all. That is the advertising problem that the old generals of the publishing world just can't seem to come to terms with. We don't own the data that the advertisers want, need and now demand. It is that simple and that horrific.
Is it still a mystery that Time Inc., Hearst and others are building their own e-reading hardware? Is BoSacks still considered a wacky futurist whose predictions are somewhere way out in the distant publishing future? No, the future is here now. You can't turn away from the inevitable digital future of your business. As harsh as this may sound, from an advertiser's perspective it is your responsibility to get granular audience measurement data on par with electronic media or else be relegated to a less important tier of media wannabees. Not totally irrelevant, just not in the major leagues.