Tag Archives: Publishing

MediaGuardian hacks now write for paidContent


Cross promotion is inevitable when one content site buys another, but it gets a little complicated when the publisher of a big content buys another smaller content site which covers the same sector – and decides to keep the smaller one going as a standalone entity.

Such is the case with the paidContent site and its recent acquisition by the Guardian. The mainstream media owner has wasted no time at all in pulling paidContent, er, content, into the MediaGuardian’s own digital news pages. Not sure how this impacted the existing digital news team there, namely Jemima Kiss, but hey, who are we to second guess one of the most successful publishers in the UK?

But integration and cross promotional thingies have increased even more with today’s inclusion of a post from the MediaGuardian’s own PDA digital news blog on paidContent’s site. Not sure if the byline format works for me, but it’s interesting how this is slowly developing into something interesting. Assuming this is step two in a defined long term game plan.

Separately, the paidContent blog talks about a new website by the creators of Dazed & Confused called Dazed Digital. Not a magazine extension site it appears, but a destination in its own right. Quite nice, but no obvious sign of comments or UGC services for us fickle read/write/rip consumers of content. Also, most of the videos seem to suffer from poor lighting, making each interviewee look like they’re in silhouette. Artistic fancy or handycam hitch?

Weekly print mags should change focus, not die

I’m hearing much debate about the future of weekly b2b trade mags of late. What’s the point of weekly print mags now, bloggers are saying, when all news worth reading now breaks on the web.

I’d venture this isn’t strictly the right course of action for all publishers of print weeklies. There’s still a place for weekly print mags even if websites are beating them to the news – but primarily in areas of high activity and news output.

In a world of ever increasing information ‘noise’, I think more weekly magazines should consolidate and summarise the week’s mass of web news and blog output, and leave the breaking news for their sister websites. Mags like Media Week and PR Week have started doing this – and really well.

In other words, weekly print mags can still exist, but their content focus should change. Granted this will only work in areas of high volume news output where mags actually provide a valuable service in de-cluttering our news intake and providing clarity in the increasing ‘noise’ of news output and sources. Until mobile phones begin to give as good a reading experience on the train / tube as paper, the print mag should continue to live on.

Should men’s mags ‘upscale’?

Media Week recently asked four key media players (as in key people, not software) whether they agreed with reports that many publishers are now upscaling men’s mags to attract a more affluent reader and advertiser.

Three said ‘No’, while one said ‘Yes’. I’m still undecided. ‘Yes’, because more lower end readers are getting their fix online (hence the popularity of Dennis’ Monkeymag and IPC’s Nuts.co.uk and NME.com). But then I also say ‘No’ because there’ll always be an audience for men’s mags in the lower end. They perhaps just need to make them less embarrassing to read in public. The Sun, which is still going strong, is a perfect example.

So, if by upscale, we mean put less pics of bikni clad women on the cover a la GQ and Esquire, then I say ‘Yes – kinda’. I blogged about men’s mags upscaling a while back (and probably contradict myself).

Still on the topic of lads mags, great article by the Mirror’s Brian Reade today which pointed out the irony in Michael Gove MP blaming lads mags like Nuts, Zoo and Loaded for objectifying women. Brian wondered why Gove missed The Sun off the list, given that Page 3 was also a big offender. Surely nothing to do with Gove being a columnist for the Times, The Sun’s sister paper?

FT.com web strategy – assuming the site isn’t down

Ien Cheng, publisher and managing editor, reveals in today’s Guardian that publishers should act more like tech firms than publishers.
Not sure what that means when the FT.com site doesn’t load and returns a ‘Cannot find server’ in the browser (as of 10.35am this morning).

Blips aside, Cheng appears to be working wonders by focusing on three strands (or ‘prongs’ if you’re Jemima Kiss). These include new products, subscription models and internal production. It seems to be working – a 33 per cent rise in users from last year to 7.1 million uniques a month.

The report also details strong growth in online advertising (40 per cent – helped by highly targeted ads) and an 11 per cent growth in online subscriptions (over 10,000 users are signing up each week). Hats off to web agency Avenue A Razorfish?

The nod to new products suggests that the FT.com – like the Telegraph and, more recently the Daily Mirror – could benefit from an internal web development team.

He also shrugs off any threat from Google and their strength in the new, more open marketplace. But I’ve always believed that specialist publishers, including the ‘niche’ business audiences of the FT and WSJ, were relatively safe from the advertising giant. More so than the Mirror or the Sun.

Impressive stuff nonetheless.

Mixmag print mag doing well – by keeping it real niche

The Guardian reports that DJ bible Mixmag is doing well (40k circulation) after going back to its pre-EMAP strategy of being a genuinely valuable resource for DJs. No more dancing girls in fluffy bras, it says. The site also supports the print mag in allowing readers to download around 90 per cent of the music covered in print.

Do advertisers don’t ‘get’ digital virtual magazines?

After using them since 2005, the editor of surfing magazine Drift says that digital mags are a tough sell to advertisers. Users also prefer print magazines that they can flick through in the cafe, in a surf shop or in the back of a van (this is so Point Break).

I disagree. If digital editions of magazines, as in virtual page-turning magazines, don’t work because advertisers don’t ‘get’ them, then why is monkeymag.co.uk doing so well? I’d say it’s all about targeting the right audience with the right content.

I agree, the prospect of reading an indepth wordy three page feature in a digital magazine like monkeymag doesn’t appeal to me, but skimming through half page short features about quirky videos or ‘and finally’ oddball features does seem to work better for this medium.

Don’t dismiss the likes of virtual page magazines just yet. I’d argue that advertisers DO get this medium as they can relate it to the traditional print mag ad space concept. Just don’t ask advertisers to place their ads opposite a 600 word 10-point font feature.

Read more about Drift’s comments at paidContent.org.

Can FMCGs or clothing brands be media owners?

Start up drinks brand Suso is gearing up to launch a magazine and website, reports Marketing Week. It’s not yet decided whether the magazine will be charged for.

I’d normally dismiss this story – not all offline brands are successful when it comes to producing magazines or websites. Many clothing to supermarket brands have launched customer publishing ventures only to see them fizzle out. Or they continue to live on as an alternative (and expensive) method of advertising a retailer’s own products.

You need deep pockets to maintain a magazine and its offshoot website. After all, readers are unlikely to be keen on paying a cover price for a branded magazine they feel only exists to sell to them. And only a few FMCG’s are going to want to partner with a drinks branded magazine, so advertising revenues aren’t going to set the world alight.

That said, a Suso magazine might have one thing going for it – no one knows who or what it is yet. Assuming that sceptical customers automatically reject any overtly brand led magazines or websites, no matter how impartial, a Suso branded title may not yet put anyone off.

We’ll see.

Circus Street blog appears to have been spammed

Maybe this should be titled ‘The benefits of captcha’. I was enjoying Richard Townsend’s blog post on the real value of dotcom content and was impressed by the 22 comments he’d received. Until I clicked further and realised they were spam posts.

Despite the website Circus Street are an impressive bunch. They’re a collective of digital media strategists including the likes of ex-Revolution editor Philip Buxton, Henry Stokes (ex-WPP’s Mindshare Digital), Jeremy Hill (ex-Starcom UK) and Aimi Mackay (another ex-Starcom-er).