Monthly Archives: August 2007

Sport magazine – a great quote…and yet another Ceros ‘virtual mag’

“We’re 10 and a half months old, and we’ve got BMW and Mercedes as advertisers.
If you had asked me a year ago, I would have given my right arm for that. Now
I’ve got them, and still have my arm.”

Greg Miall, publishing director for the British edition of free street magazine Sport, tells The New York Times about the good fortunes of the mag.

Sport magazine started out in Paris three years ago and began publishing in Britain late last year. More than 700,000 copies of Sport are distributed weekly in France, with 320,000 handed out in London. The French edition, according to the NYT, is already profitable, while the British version is on track to break even within three years.

I thought the website was an ad sales platform. But low and behold – Ceros’ ‘virtual magazine’ comes to the rescue.

Read the latest edition of Sport magazine.

NatMags pulls Jellyfish – is Monekymag next?


Natmags is believed to be pulling its virtual magazine website for girls, citing “distribution challenges.”

Duncan Edwards, chief executive of NatMags told Brand Republic that he couldn’t see a sustainable business model in the magazine. Live for 20 weeks, the mag recently shifted its focus from 13-19 year-olds to 18-25s.

Despite being received well as a product, NatMags managing director Jessica Burley said that distribution and marketing challenges were too significant.

What? As in the cost of hosting? Email marketing management? Is it the terms of the deal with Ceros, the virtual magazine application it sits on?

Well, no – according to PaidContent, Jellyfish had problems with its email newsletter and spam filters/firewalls.

A comment posted on the Brand Republic story asks if it’s a matter of time before Dennis Publishing’s similar virtual magazine Monkeymag.co.uk goes the same way. He also questions the choice of the virtual magazine application, given focuses on technology, saying that it’s ‘not very widely adopted’ software. Given that it loads in your normal browser, I doubt this is an accessibility issue.

I don’t think this is a debate about the end of ‘virtual magazines’. Nor is about email marketing and firewalls (I’m still stunned this was such a problem in this day and age).

It’s more about targeted content. Boys / males veer towards the (inexpensive) aggregation of existing content (e.g. cheap and widely available bone curnching videos of skateboarding dogs jumping through hoops of fire), while girls may favour the more crafted (and expensive) fashion tips, features and celeb pic content (not so available and ‘aggregatable’ on the web to use a non-existant word).

I’d say Monkeymag still has legs (it’s doing well with display ads, which Jellyfish wasn’t doing much of according to PaidContent).

A minor point – does anyone know the terms of a Ceros licence? Are publishers charged per user accessing the site for example? Let me know.

Go to Jellyfishmag.co.uk

Read the Brand Republic story

Yahoo Star Wars ‘passion centre’

These aren’t the posts you were looking for…

In line with Yahoo’s strategy to launch themed / branded niche interest microsites, behold Yahoo’s new Star Wars microsite (at http://starwars.yahoo.com/)

The game it’s featuring (The Force Unleashed by Lucas Arts) looks great – no mention of the PS3 or Xbox360 platforms though).

IPC appoints new head of online men’s lifestyle: Nuts and Loaded

IPC’s Ignite Digital arm has appointed Keith Walker as head of online men’s lifestyle which includes overseeing content for the Nuts.co.uk and Loaded.co.uk websites.

Quote of the week:

Anthony Thornton, editor-in-chief for Ignite Digital, who will work alongside Walker: “Keith is the ideal choice to take Loaded and Nuts to the next level. It’s a bit like Ron Dennis hiring Lewis Hamilton only without the big, expensive shiny car, obviously.”

Advertisers – how to audit a site for your ads

Another day, another post about iMedia Connection. But this is genuinely useful.

As I said in my recent post about the Facebook advertising ‘storm’, advertisers have always been at risk of being placed on a page with objectionable content. It happened a while back with another major portal apparently.

Read the ad audit article in full.

An MP moves on – what happens to their quote?

I love government websites. One thing that always crops up is the outsted MP quote.

Campaign or policy websites for central govt always have the odd sprinkle of Cabinet member glitter on pages to provide their endorsement. But what happens to the quote when said member moves on?

Should the quote be taken down? Should it be amended to ‘Dave Tea-tray, former Minister for Peanuts’? What’s the score?

It’s OFFICIAL: Most content editors are crap.

I once got a freelancer in to review editorial on a youth focused website.

We’d developed it over time and wanted to get a second opinion on whether it was doing its job properly. An editor can get a little too comfortable after a while so I wanted to make sure we weren’t suffering from ‘beige creep’ (yes, a completely made up word).

Her CV was above average and her experience at a number of decent youth sites (MTV, BBC etc) convinced me that her £180 day rate was good value.

The anecdotal feedback and opinion on audience preferences for language and tone were sound, but when I asked about the basics, I got a shock.

“Best practice web copy says avoiding passive sentences, so keep an eye out for those,” I said.

“What’s a passive sentence?” came the reply…

Advertisers drop social networking – so what?

It had to happen. The AA, Vodafone and other major brands are experiencing first hand the risks of advertising on a popular but unregulated platform.

Many have doubted social networking and its ability to monetise products for months, but this is surely going to add airplane fuel to the fire. The one clear revenue stream they had has now been undermined.

Surprisingly, this is nothing new when it comes to websites – even for traditional ‘magazine’ sites which create and monitor their content. Brands are happy to advertise on envelope pushing magazines because they are assured by a publisher’s commitment to churn out ‘responsible’ and controlled content. But if a media buyer or brand ever feels a publisher’s gone too far (whether it be links to external user generated content or staff produced copy), ads will be pulled. Remember ads being pulled from Monkeymag.co.uk?

Websites like Facebook and MySpace are in a tricky position – more monitoring and censorship will see audiences up sticks and move to another less regulated platform. Smug web purists will, of course, tut out the usual observation that this is a perfect example of why the ‘people’s web’ can’t be monetised. But given that they still think the moon landing didn’t really happen, let’s ignore them for the time being and pretend revenue is a crucial factor in web innovation.

So – what are the real alternatives to revenue? Subscriptions? User data mining and market intelligence consultancy?

I’m going to suggest that very little will change. Except that ads will be relegated to safe pages (log in screens, home pages and section home pages e.g. MySpace.com/music). Like a magazine, these ads will sit next to content that’s been selected and showcased by a human editorial team.

Who knows? It could even be a money spinner once the panic has settled down – reduce the number of ads and watch those placement fees rise. Expect to see homepages (or bland log in pages for profiles) work much, much harder.
Read more about the ‘Storm over ads on social sites‘ over on Brand Republic.

Content editors – is the market screwed?

I’ve just spotted something on new media job markets.

Talking about the life that Account Executives lead, Ask.com’s Sean X Cummings calls for higher pay for staff and observes: “In a tight job market two things happen: You pay more for talent that is less talented, and that talent never ceases to stop reminding the AE of their other options.”

Reading this reminded me of the recent staff / pay review by NMA which suggested that content staff and web editors are some of the lowest paid staff in new media. Yet, whenever I’m looking to hire a decent editor, I’m experiencing the nightmare scenario that Sean describes.

Have all the decent content editors run for cover at Sky, the BBC, MTV or ITV, because freelance isthin on the ground and the market’s slowing down? Or is it the lure of employers paying higher than average salaries?

It’s nigh on impossible to find a decent content editor who can turn their hand to all things content – ie copywriting, uploading content via a CMS, IA work, content review work and even a little journalism. It’s really tricky getting an expert in just one of these disciplines. Does no one try to develop their skills in all areas? Do they not buy books on copywriting? How to be a better journalist? Ever read Andrew Marr’s book on journalism ‘My Trade’?

Perhaps it’s time I set up a recruitment agency…
[Via iMedia Connection]