Hearst Mags Acquires Clevver Pop Culture News Brand
Hollywood Reporter: "Clevver has found a new home following the fall shutdown of owner Defy Media. Hearst Magazines has acquired the pop culture news brand, a company spokeswoman confirms to The Hollywood Reporter. The deal brings together Clevver's YouTube audience of over 15 million subscribers with the magazine publisher's digital business, which has an audience of around 128M users each month. 'Clevver's content entertains and engages more than 15M subscribers,' the spokeswoman said Friday in a statement. "This investment underscores our commitment to premium video that super-serves our audience of young women and will further accelerate our growth on YouTube and other digital video platforms.' Sister brand Smosh, meanwhile, is in talks with Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment about a sale, according to sources familiar with the deal. It would be a team-up of two of YouTube's earliest and biggest comedy channels... Clevver and Smosh were left without corporate homes in November when partner company Defy Media abruptly shut down. After a brief hiatus, both YouTube-centric brands were back up and running even as the founders and hosts were left with few answers about the fate of their businesses. At the time of the shutdown, a spokeswoman said that a small team would remain at Defy to help sell the brands to new owners. 'We are not going anywhere,' Clevver host Erin Robinson told viewers in one video. Clevver was founded in 2006 and sold to Alloy Digital, which would later merge with Break Media to form Defy, in 2012. Joslyn Davis is Clevver's longtime host and producer alongside Robinson."
Conde's Wintour: Print Will Be Around Forever
in a profile in The Guardian, Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast, "insists that she believes print magazines will be around 'forever.' Really? 'Yes, forever. I really believe that. Print remains the jewel in the crown.' Does she think of Vogue as a magazine, these days, or is it now a brand? 'I don’t care for the word brand, to be honest,' she says. 'It makes me feel like I’m in a supermarket. But I love Vogue--very deeply'"...
Nat Geo's Instagram Account Hits 100M Followers
Release: National Geographic's Instagram account, @NatGeo, has surpassed 100M followers on the photo and video-sharing social platform, joining an exclusive list of most-followed accounts, including those of Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift. @NatGeo's creative control is largely in the hands of National Geographic's contributing photographers. To celebrate milestone, the account's fans can win a National Geographic Tanzania Photo Safari trip by sharing their most Nat Geo-inspired photos in a 24-hour contest.
Facebook Launches Print Magazine in U.K.
Masthead: Facebook "is joining the print magazine industry with the launch of GROW, a quarterly magazine in print and online, aimed at owners/senior business professions. Available only in the U.K., it has a magazine format, including interviews with business executives, but Facebook calls it a "thought leadership platform." GROW is sent directly to marketing clients and distributed in several airports and train business lounges across the U.K. The magazine has no cover price and does not run advertising.
America's Test Kitchen Podcast Finds an Audience
Forbes: "Proof, the new podcast launched late last year by America's Test Kitchen, is outperforming podcast industry audience standards and exceeding all expectations for its sponsors. Proof, which has produced nine episodes since its launch, covers topics that are synergistic with ATK's mission of developing recipes and helping its food-enthusiast users become better at meal preparation. The 30-minute episodes have averaged more than 56,000 downloads as of February 4th, which puts Proof in the top 1% of all podcasts, according to ATK. Since the launch, Proof has been downloaded more than 522,000 times, including more than 14,000 on release days. It's available on Google Play, the Apple App Store, Sticher, TuneIn Radio, and other platforms. ATK CEO David Nussbaum outlined a series of business objectives for the podcast. They include: New audience development beyond the people who already engage with America's Test Kitchen—through its TV shows, YouTube channel, magazines and books; expanded brand awareness; development of an additional content distribution channel; and building out a podcast into a profitable growth-oriented business"...
Meredith's Tom Rowland on Brand Extensions
FIPP: Tom Rowland, VP international at Meredith Corp., who oversees the licensing of the company’s 30 iconic brands, has also had to deal with both the challenges and opportunities created by the acquisition of Time Inc. last year. Excerpts from his observatons: "Meredith Corporation and Time Inc. were two, well-established, large publishers. Identifying the overlapping systems and setting up teams to bring those systems together on various platforms is complex, but the integration has gone exceedingly well and watching Meredith go through this transformation has been impressive... Shortly after the acquisition closed, we took the opportunity to combine the international business of Meredith and Time. It has been great getting to know the Meredith international businesses and licenses, and it is very exciting having such a powerful and well known portfolio to represent. Both companies’ existing partners were pleased with our expanded portfolio and the additional content verticals we’re now able to provide them. As an example, our Shape licensee in Singapore is now able to incorporate Health content into its current offering in the market... [On what criteria are used to decide on brand extensions]: "We have one rule: it has to be good for the brand. The new business must help grow the brand value. With that in mind we try to be flexible market by market. What might work in China may not work in Mexico, for instance. In each territory, and for each opportunity, we listen closely to partners and prospective partners to learn from their expertise, their success and their failures... [On OTT/TV extensions]: "The company has invested significant resources in expanding video, so the quality is excellent and we now have both OTT and standard television deals in place for the network. We are finding that a number of markets are looking for lifestyle and celebrity video for television and digital, and so the timing seems to be good. Naturally, content that works well in the US may not be suitable in certain markets overseas, and so we need to be able to review and edit our feeds, as do the partners. And we remain focused on consumption habits and how they may vary from market to market... [On problems overcome:]: "We were a traditional magazine company now showing the world in recent years that we make great video content that can travel with our brands across any platform – wherever and whenever our customers want. This is transformative and anything transformative is challenging. It’s still early days, but from my perspective things are very positive. One issue arose when we launched PeopleTV as a linear channel on StarHub in Singapore. In this case, because it is a linear channel, we had to fit our playout to the licensees specs which required identifying a third party service to transcode all of our programs... [On customizing for local markets:] It depends on the content and the market. For PeopleTV we have an internal team that reviews our shows for usefulness and suitability overseas, and we work closely with our partners to help identify any content that might cause an issue in particular markets. We also, of course, have the ability to use a third party for dubbing or subtitling as needed. Additionally, we have a number of short-form video channels and brand verticals that we can provide partners overseas. In that case, our partners can pick and choose what they use. For our longform television show documentaries, our partners choose whether or not to translate or customize (with our cooperation)… [On emerging opportunities:] Right now, I don’t see any single platform or technology that would play a major role across multiple territories, much like print did 15 years ago. Right now we are focused on matching great content with great brands, and being able to deliver those on any platform our audience requires."
Barron's Group Focuses on Portfolio; Partners With James Grant
MediaPost: "Dow Jones Media Group--which oversees Barron’s, MarketWatch, Mansion Global and Financial News--rebranded to Barron’s Group in December, and now has landed a partnership with James Grant, founder of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. Grant, a former Barron’s writer, will write two columns a month for Barron’s, which will appear both online and in print.In October, Barron’s Group’s digital audience hit nearly 50M unique users across the portfolio--more than double its audience of two years ago, according to Almar Latour, publisher and executive vice president at Barron’s Group. Print and digital subscriptions exceeded 623,000 in 2018, up 30% since the group was created in 2016. Overall revenue for the group 'is up sharply' compared to last year, Latour announced in a release. Barron’s Group’s “first phase was focused on the individual success of the individual properties in the portfolio,' Latour told Publishers Daily. The next phase of growth is to collaborate more across the portfolio.WSJ Custom Studios, the division behind Dow Jones’ branded content and brand marketing, was rebranded this week: it will now be called The Trust – The Wall Street Journal | Barron’s Group. That’s just one example of the increased collaboration Latour foresees across the group. 'As we collaborate more, we will be less complex and easier to work with as a group, with a clearer one-stop shop for all aspects of our business,' he said"...
Magazine Publishers Race to Leverage Paywalls
Folio: "From streaming music and video services to the regular delivery of groceries or meal kits, the online subscription business model is booming across multiple industries.That’s good news for magazine publishers, who are refocusing on the idea that subscriptions—to both print and digital content—can provide a significant source of revenue. A growing number of publishers are charging readers for access to at least some of their content. Against slipping ad sales and insufficient CPMs, this shift comes as publishers have been forced to find new ways to monetize their content amid the rise of programmatic and the Silicon Valley duopoly. 'The subscription business is one of Wired‘s most rapidly growing and important revenue streams,” says Wired‘s site director, Scott Rosenfield. 'It has become a core part of our brand DNA over the last year.' Wired introduced its paywall a year ago, and Rosenfield says the metered model—under which users can access up to four free articles each month before purchasing a subscription—has allowed the publication to “strike a balance” between its growing digital advertising and subscription businesses. 'The metered approach has enabled us to deliver the inventory advertisers want while still giving readers a compelling reason to subscribe,' he adds.A membership model allows publishers to follow and learn from their readers, says Jay Kirsch, president of media at B2B publisher ALM, which uses a combination of metered paywalls and gated content—transactions in which readers gain access to articles in exchange for information, such as their email address or job function.“Digital subscriptions have advantages in some ways because we know so much more about our readers than we do in print,' Kirsch says. 'With a meter, readers create their own bundles of content that they want, and publishers then really understand how to market to them.' In some ways, a metered paywall has taken over the role that newsstands or “pass-along” readership used to play, allowing readers to sample content to decide whether it makes sense to purchase an annual subscription. The best methods for getting readers to pony up for content vary by brand, with many publishers using a combination of different models such as paywalls, tiered subscriptions, membership programs and micro-payments, as well as traditional print subscriptions with digital access included.At Trusted Media Brands, which publishes Reader’s Digest and Taste of Home, among others, subscriptions account for the majority of the company’s revenue, making it an outlier among the major consumer publishers.“Advertising was always secondary to consumer subscription revenues, and that was based on the premise that we wanted to create great editorial content that our readers were engaged with and would pay for,” says Alec Casey, the company’s chief marketing officer. “That’s always been first and foremost in our thinking about what type of content we’re producing'"... Article also covers targeting, renewal strategies.
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Walmart Reports Strong Fiscal-Year Finish
SN: "Walmart topped Wall Street’s earnings forecast for its 2019 Q4 and fiscal year, as robust U.S. and e-commerce sales gains more than offset declines in its Sam’s Club and international businesses. Net income for the quarter ended Jan. 31 totaled $3.69B, or $1.27 per diluted share, up from $2.18B, or 73 cents per diluted share, a year earlier, Walmart said Tuesday. Excluding a charge of 17 cents per share for a tax reform adjustment and an unrealized gain of 3 cents per share on the company’s investment in JD.com, adjusted EPS were $1.41. On average, analysts projected Q4 adjusted EPS of $1.33, with estimates ranging from a low of $1.29 to a high of $1.42, according to Refinitiv/Thomson Reuters... 'We're even more convinced that [customers] want us and expect us to bring our stores and e-commerce businesses together in a digitally connected, seamless way that makes shopping easier,' President and CEO Doug McMillon told analysts... Walmart tallied total revenue of $138.8B in Q4, up 1.9% from $136.3B in the prior fiscal Q4. Full-year revenue rose 2.9% to $510.3B from $495.8B. In constant curr6ency, Walmart’s revenue climbed 3.1% to about $140.5B and 3% to $515.1B for the year.Q4 net sales for Walmart U.S. rose 4.6% to $90.5B from $86.6B a year earlier. Fiscal 2019 net sales came in at $331.7B, up 4.1% from $318.5B in fiscal 2018. Walmart U.S. e-commerce sales grew 43% in Q4 and 40% for the year. Same-store sales for Walmart U.S. excluding fuel rose 4.2% YoY in Q4, reflecting gains of 0.9% in customer traffic, 3.3% in ticket size and 180 basis points in e-commerce. Including fuel, comps were up 4.2%. Full-year comps rose 3.6% excluding fuel and 3.7% including fuel. At Sam’s Club, net sales fell by 3.7% to $14.9B in Q4 and were down 2.3% to $57.8B for the year. E-commerce sales at Sam’s surged 21% for the quarter; the company didn’t report the YoY change for fiscal 2019. Membership income increased 2.2% in the quarter. Same-store sales at Sam’s were up 3.3% excluding fuel (3.7% with fuel) for Q4 and 3.8% excluding fuel (5.5% with fuel) for the year. Excluding fuel, traffic rose 6.4% and ticket size decreased 3.1% in Q4. E-commerce sales edged up 90 basis points on a comparable basis. Walmart International saw net sales dip 2.3% to $32.3B in Q4 but rise by the same percentage to $120.8B for the full year. At constant currency, the division’s net sales were up by 2.7% to nearly $34B for the quarter and 2.9% to $121.5B for the year. 'I'm particularly encouraged by our sales results in the quarter. In Q4, Walmart U.S. grew comp sales 4.2% excluding fuel, e-commerce sales increased 43% and we gained market share in key categories such as grocery and toys, according to Nielsen and the NPD Group,' McMillon said. 'Part of our strategy is to build on our existing strengths, such as having a broad assortment, including fresh and perishable foods within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population,' he explained. During fiscal 2019, Walmart expanded online grocery delivery to about 800 locations and pickup to more than 2,100 locations in the U.S. It expects to have 1,600 delivery and 3,100 pickup locations by the end of fiscal 2020. 'We've learned that those customers who shop with us both in stores and online spend about twice as much in total, and they spend more in our stores,' McMillon noted. CFO Brett Biggs told analysts that Walmart 'finished the year with good momentum' and is reaffirming its previous guidance for fiscal 2020"...
Kroger Seeking Its First Creative Agency
Adweek: "Throughout the advertising industry, there is a continual fear that the traditional agency of record is going by the wayside... according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), 78 percent of its members reported having some form of an in-house agency in 2018, up from 58 percent in 2013 and 42 percent in 2008... Yet recently, Kroger, the nation’s second retailer with more than $122B in annual sales, announced that it is seeking its first-ever creative agency of record. The company, based in Cincinnati and founded in 1883, sent out its first RFI about two weeks ago that includes, according to Mandy Rassi, Kroger’s head of brand building, a range of creative agencies.“We’re considering larger firms and independents,” she said. “What we’re really trying to do is make sure that we’re casting a [wider] net to consider all of our options.”What makes the Kroger brand an enticing opportunity for a creative agency is the sheer breadth of the brand itself. In addition to its own banner, Kroger owns more than a dozen well-established local and regional brands across the country including Ralph’s in California, Fred Meyer and QFC in the Pacific Northwest, King Soopers in the Rocky Mountain region, Mariano’s in Chicago and recently-acquired Harris Teeter in the Carolinas. With an ad spend of over $78M from January to September 2018 (among Kroger, Fred Meyer, King Soopers, Mariano’s and Ralphs according to Kantar Media), there is a level of complexity yet, according to Rassi, the agency chosen will have an opportunity to create a consistent, flexible platform that allows for local opportunities as well.But, the biggest thing that Rassi, a 14-year veteran of Procter & Gamble in various global strategy and consumer insight roles, is looking for is an agency that can help bring a fresh perspective.“[We are looking for an agency] that can come in and push us out of our comfort zone and help us transform this iconic brand in a way that’s true to our roots, but that is extremely relevant to customers in culture today,” she said.Another big part of what will help an agency win the business is having success in working with brands that have a deep history and complexity has strengths across channels and can execute on the strategic vision. But, most importantly, the agency that wins will be able to tell Kroger’s story well.“The creative has to make you feel something,” said Rassi. “This brand has a lot of heart, and we hope to find someone who, first and foremost, really gets the brand and is able to play that back to us in the strategy, but then also in the creative transformation in a way that actually connects with people on a human level. We don’t want to chase someone else or try to be something that we’re not.”Critically, the notion of partnership is another significant consideration for Rassi and Kroger. “We don’t want to get to a place where we have agencies managing agencies,” she said. “We want to be close to the work.'"
Kroger Unveils 2 More Ocado Automated Warehouses
SN: "The Kroger Co. and Ocado have named central Florida and the Mid-Atlantic as the next two areas where they will build automated warehouses for online grocery fulfillment.In announcing plans for the two new facilities on Tuesday, Kroger didn’t specify locations or give timetables for construction. Kroger and Ocado so far have announced three customer fulfillment centers (CFCs), or “sheds,” of the 20 that they aim to build over the next three years as part of an agreement unveiled in May. Kroger said in November that the first CFC will be in the suburb of Monroe, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. 'Kroger is excited to partner with Ocado — one of the most innovative, advanced companies in the world — to redefine the grocery shopping experience for customers along the East Coast," Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said in a statement. 'We are incredibly excited to introduce customer fulfillment centers in this region to deliver on our Restock Kroger vision to serve America through food inspiration and uplift." Previously, Kroger said it’s investing $55M to build the CFC in Monroe, which will be sized at 335,000 square feet. Plans call for the CFC model — an Ocado-powered warehouse, featuring digital and robotic technology — to be replicated nationwide to fulfill 'anything, anytime and anywhere' online orders from customers. 'Kroger is developing the retail model of the future through our exciting partnership with Ocado, a U.K.-based company with global ties," according to Alex Tosolini, SVP of new business development at Kroger. 'We will co-innovate with Ocado to develop the best possible experiences for our customers, leveraging advanced robotics technology and creative solutions.' In Q3, its most recently completed reporting period, Kroger saw a 60% increase in digital sales. Industry analysts have said the partnership with Ocado will enable Kroger to turn up the heat on grocery competitors by extending its omnichannel reach"...
Amazon Takes Next Step Toward 1st Go Store Outside U.S.
PG: "Amazon has taken a further step toward setting up its Amazon Go checkout-free convenience concept in London, Reuters has reported, citing a report from U.K. business-to-business intelligence brand The Grocer.The Seattle-based ecommerce behemoth secured central London retail space for the concept, the news outlet noted. This development would make for the first Amazon Go location outside of the U.S... The number of sites secured is not known, Reuters said. This wouldn't be the first time Amazon sells food in the United Kingdom, however: It currently does so through its Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry and Prime Now delivery services.Amazon now operates 10 Amazon Go locations, all in the U.S.'
Amazon Aims to Cut Carbon Footprint by 2030
AP/Komo News: Amazon "announced plans Monday to make half of all its shipments carbon neutral by 2030.To reach that goal, the online retail giant says it will use more renewable energy like solar power; have more packages delivered in electric vans; and push suppliers to remake their packaging... Amazon is calling its program "Shipment Zero," and plans to publicly publish its carbon footprint for the first time later this year.Seattle-based Amazon said it spent the past two years mapping its carbon footprint and figuring out ways to reduce carbon use across the company."It won't be easy to achieve this goal, but it's worth being focused and stubborn on this vision and we're committed to seeing it through," said Dave Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations."
Bashas' Names New Marketing/Merchandising Chief
PG: "Bashas' has named Barry Craft VP of marketing, merchandising and procurement for more than 100 grocery stores across Arizona. He will replace Bashas' veteran Phil Hawkes, who is retiring.Craft brings to the Chandler, Ariz.-based grocer an accomplished background in merchandising, marketing and category management in the grocery channel. He has held leadership roles at a number of regional retailers in the western United States, and has earned recognition as a developer of new brands and private labels, as well as what is claimed to be the largest consumer baby expo in the world"...
MOM’s Organic Market CEO Calls for Revised Food-Dating Regulations
SN: "After chronicling his consumption for more than a year of foods whose expiration dates had passed, MOM’s Organic Market CEO Scott Nash is calling for the government to change its approach to food-dating regulations.In a recent blog post, Nash contended that vague and variable dating practices have led to confusion and waste. In fact, he noted that readers “wouldn’t believe the amount of items that are returned by customers or thrown away because of a rather arbitrary date (even donated food is required to not be past date at some food banks).”The solution? “The food product-dating system for food (and nonedible goods) needs to be revised,” wrote Nash, who routinely eats foods past their expiration dates. “Consistency in labeling (use one term for quality such as ‘best by’ or ‘for best quality, use by,’ and another term for food safety such as ‘expires by’) would create clarity. And these dates need to be set to match reality. Some items don’t need a date at all – like salt, canned goods and baby wipes.”
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: