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October 17, 2019

Publishing News

Note to Readers: MBR Daily will return on Tuesday, Oct. 22nd.

Katie Couric to Create Videos For People
Variety: "Couric’s media company, Katie Couric Media is teaming with the Meredith-owned magazine to produce the weekly digital video series “#SeeHer Story,” that will feature short vignettes of female trailblazers and rulebreaks. The series is meant to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which prohibits barring citizens from voting on the basis of sex.Renew Life, a digestive wellness brand that is owned by consumer-goods company Clorox, will sponsor the first 21 episodes of the year-long series.The first episode in the series will debut Friday, October 18, on and other digital venues. It will also be highlighted in the print edition of People, in the weekday morning newsletter “Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric,” on Couric’s social media platforms, on PeopleTV’s entertainment show “People Now” and on “People Now Weekend,” , which airs across Meredith-owned stations.“#SeeHer Story” is part of Meredith’s support of the Association of National Advertisers’ #SeeHer, a movement to increase the accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising and media... Julie Andrews, Wilma Mankiller, General Ann Dunwoody and Ruby Bridges are among the women who will be celebrated."

What’s Next for American Media, LLC?
Folio: "After nearly two years of ongoing scrutiny related to the alleged activities of its CEO, David Pecker, and chief content officer, Dylan Howard, the company now known as American Media, LLC is moving on to life after The National Enquirer, the cornerstone upon which Pecker built his tabloid empire after taking over the company in 1999.The $100M sale of the Enquirer and its sister titles Globe and National Examiner to Hudson News heir James Cohen—agreed upon in April and reportedly pursued at the behest of the company’s hedge fund backer, Chatham Asset Management—is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Pecker has said that going forward, American Media is “keenly focused” on its portfolio of non-tabloid brands, many of which, including Men’s Journal, Us Weekly, In Touch and several adventure sports magazines, have been acquired over the past year. It also plans to further reduce the debts it incurred through these purchases (after the Enquirer sale, the company says its overall debt will total “only” $355M). Another area in which the publisher is apparently placing its bets is the increasingly legal $13B North American cannabis industry.Earlier this month, Neptune Wellness Solutions—a Quebec-based provider of “natural alternative products,” including cannabis and hemp extracts, fish oils and other supplements—announced a new partnership with American Media under which the publisher will provide Neptune with advertising and creative services for the next 12 months in exchange for the option to purchase equity in the company, which aims to bring its consumer-facing products to the U.S. Under the terms of the agreement, American Media will be issued warrants allowing it to purchase up to 3M common shares of Neptune at any point in the next five years at a fixed rate of $8.00 (at press time, Neptune [NEPT] was trading at $3.47 on the NASDAQ). Neptune, which raised $41M from institutional investors in a private placement over the summer, acquired a North Carolina-based hemp extractor for $18M in May and has signed partnerships with major supply chain players, including International Flavors & Fragrances, over the past year.“We are very excited to partner with Neptune as American Media’s vast portfolio of brands are uniquely positioned to further influence the extraordinary growth potential and momentum of the company,” said Howard, who was identified as American Media’s SVP of corporate development, in a statement. American Media, through a spokesman, declined to comment."

Cosmo's Editor on Her First Year on the Job
Ad Age: Jessica Pels's career "started in earnest at Condé Nast, where she worked her way up the ranks at Glamour before joining Teen Vogue as features editor and online deputy editor in 2013.It wasn’t long before Pels was poached by Hearst’s Marie Claire and then ultimately named digital director at sibling title Cosmopolitan. In October of last year, at age 32, she was named the youngest-ever editor in chief of the whole operation—web and print.A year in, we take a look at her tenure so far on the “Ad Lib” podcast, where Pels is the latest guest. Traffic at the glossy is up 105% YoY, she says. Digital subscriptions from December 2016 to December 2018 increased from 85,060 to 242,075, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. From February 2018 to February 2019 the number of unique visitors to went from 15M to 41M, according to The New York Times. “Our secret sauce is obsession with data and understanding our reader,” she says on the podcast. “Analyzing data is like breathing at Cosmo.” About that reader: She has a name, at least internally, at Cosmo. “We call her Taylor,” Pels says. “We talk about the reader as much as we talk about the stories and the content that we're making for her to engage with … We call her Taylor because it's easier to talk about Taylor as a person than it is to talk about a data set. But we're constantly updating our perspective on her. It's not a single person. It's a very large 78 million-person group.”And to reach all those "Taylors," Cosmo is not just competing with digital pure-plays like Bustle, Refinery29 and PopSugar, but literally anything that pops up on her phone, from a text to a push notification to Instagram. (Also according to Cosmo’s data: Taylor checks Instagram some 42 times a day, though Pels herself confesses to checking even more often.) “My reader is the savviest audience out there, partially because of the sheer volume of content that she absorbs without even intending to,” Pels says. “It’s all on her phone and it's all finding her. She knows everything. She sees everything, meaning it's very hard to impress her.”Being able to impress her is what Cosmo increasingly sells to clients and brands that want to reach her with their own paid content... “The audience trusts us. When we tell them we're obsessed with something, they go buy it,” she says. “We have seen great success with our e-commerce. Our e-comm revenue is up 100 percent year over year. And I kind of feel like we're at the very beginning of that."" Link to the full podcast below.
Ad Age 
AA's Ad Lib podcast with Pels (reg or paid sub required)

Time Mag Owner Benioff Extols Journalism, Takes on Facebook
In an essay in Time, timed for the first anniversary of his acquisition of the magazine, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff writes in part: "The very technologies and social media platforms that were supposed to bring us together have been used to sow division and undermine our democracy. Power comes from “we the people,” yet public trust in institutions continues to decline. The free press that ensures transparency and accountability is under attack, here in the United States and around the world. We’re surrounded by unprecedented prosperity, but also shocking inequality, leading to calls for a new, more equitable and sustainable form of capitalism. Artificial intelligence can make us smarter, wealthier and healthier, yet algorithms increasingly decide the articles we read. In moments of transformation like this, how do we ensure that we’re elevating humanity and not undermining it? More than ever, the truth matters. Facts matter. Values matter. Whatever organization, business or institution that we’re a part of, we need to realize that we are not separate from the larger social issues that surround us. We have a responsibility not simply to make a profit, but to make the world a better place. We have an obligation to serve all our stakeholders, including employees, communities and our planet. When we do, each of us can be a platform for change and a force for good. This includes a free and vibrant press, which helps us understand our world and the stories of our fellow human beings. We are inspired — and moved to action — by families grappling with the injustice of economic inequality, by entrepreneurs striving to use technology ethically and humanely, and by young activists demanding that we address the climate crisis that imperils our planet"... Separately, on Twitter, Benioff took aim at Facebook, tweeting: "Facebook is a publisher. They need to be held accountable for propaganda on their platform. We must have standards & practices decided by law. FB is the new cigarettes—it’s addictive, bad for us, & our kids are being drawn in. We need to abolish section 230 Indemnifying them." Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 gives automatic liability protection to social media companies for any content posted by their users. Benioff tweeted in response to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's announcement that he would be making a speech about "free expression" on Thursday at 10 am PT. In the past few days, #DeleteFacebook has been trending since it was revealed that Zuckerberg was meeting behind the scenes with various powerful conservatives.
Time (essay on journalism)
CNET (Facebook addictive)
CNET (conservatives)

Deloitte: Digital Media Makes People Feel Isolated
MediaPost: "Digital media is making people feel more isolated, according to a recent trends report that suggests purpose, human experience, fusion, trust, participation, talent, and agility must become the foundation for relationships with consumers, as well as advertising and marketing campaigns in 2020.Deloitte began working on this human-first philosophy to develop strategies for brands. This week the consulting firm released its 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report that curates interviews with experts from more than 80 subject areas to identify the most pressing trends worldwide that every business must focus on during the next 18 to 24 months.The findings -- seven key trends -- aim to help marketing teams build a socially and human-conscious enterprise. They explore how to navigate economic and social environments in a way that helps preserve and cultivate human connections, although they might be tied to technology. The human connection matters more than anything else, and the findings suggest that it surfaces as one common theme across all trends.While digital technologies make it easier for consumers to navigate through their busy lives, they also can erode the connection with humans, creating what Anthony Stephan, U.S. head of Deloitte Digital, calls “experience debt” between brands and customers.Experience debt is when companies need to make tradeoffs and compromises. In the technology realm, Deloitte categorizes this as technical debt. “It is this generation’s version of technical debt,” he said. “All the tradeoffs we make. All the easy decisions that don’t necessarily improve the customer experience, but are in the heels of technology decisions to cut costs or speed to market, they leave experience debt, which doesn’t meet the expectations of how consumers, employees and partners want to engage with brands and companies""...

Bookstore Sales Down in August
PW: "Bookstore sales tumbled 10.3% in August, compared to the same period a year ago, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales dropped to $1.23B, down from $1.37B one year ago.Given that August is a big back-to-school month for college students, the figures suggest students are continuing to move away from print materials and purchases in their college stores. This also means the group is continuing to embrace, in growing numbers, digital content. Bookstore sales tumbled 10.3% in August, compared to the same period a year ago, according to preliminary figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Sales dropped to $1.23B, down from $1.37B one year ago. Given that August is a big back-to-school month for college students, the figures suggest students are continuing to move away from print materials and purchases in their college stores. This also means the group is continuing to embrace, in growing numbers, digital content."


Retail News

Study: In-Store Grocery Shopping Is More Convenient Than Online
RetailWire: "A Bain & Co. study concludes the reason online penetration remains so low in the grocery category vs. others is because in-store shopping is still far more convenient.The findings based on a Google and Bain survey of more than 8,000 U.S. shoppers include:Planning: While e-commerce sites should make researching, list building and list sharing easier online, consumers remain “highly-dependent” on analog tools such as combing circulars and writing lists on paper. Browsing: In store, shoppers have been taught to quickly find the products they desire, discover and evaluate new ones, and make price trade-offs. Websites lack visual clues for browsing. Online browsing also still tends to produce irrelevant search results, unhelpful product recommendations and limited filtering options. Price comparisons: With visible discount tags, less expensive private label offerings right next to name brands, and shoppers’ understanding that lower-priced options typically sit near the bottom of shelves, comparing prices is easier at the shelf. Further, many consumers don’t trust prices online, either because they believe prices are inflated or because of challenges making price trade-offs in the moment.To some degree, online shoppers are more satisfied once they get accustomed to digital tools. Some 63 percent of those who shopped for groceries online three times report that it saved them time — a jump of 21 percentage points from first-time online shoppers. Yet grocery shoppers who have not shopped online in the past 12 months say that building a shopping list and having ways to compare prices are the two features they would value most from an online grocery retailer. That contrasts with more advanced features such as personalized recommendations and substitution algorithms that some e-grocers are touting"...

More on German Discounters' U.S. Disruption
MNB reports on a WSJ article: German discounters Aldi and Lidl, having done a good job of having disrupted the UK supermarket business and nibbling away at market shares there, now seem to be doing the same thing in some U.S. markets. "According to the story, 'The privately owned foreign companies have increased sales with their simpler stores that offer fewer products at lower prices. In response, U.S. grocers are lowering prices on staples such as milk and eggs and adding more products the discounters aren’t known for, such as fresh foods. The battle comes as supermarkets already are fighting to keep customers from shopping more online.' John Ross, president and CEO of IGA Inc., tells the Journal, “Our country has been invaded by the German retailers, and they have disrupted the ecosystem quite severely." He called it "the biggest shift for U.S. grocers since Walmart Inc. entered the food business in 1988. Today Walmart is the biggest U.S. food seller." In addition, "Walmart executive Steve Bratspies said at a recent conference that the giant retailer is counting on its wider range of products and equally low prices to keep customers loyal." The responses by competition have "pressured Aldi and Lidl to move beyond their no-frills model to attract U.S. shoppers. They are adding more produce and baked goods and renovating store interiors with brighter lighting and new layouts. Aldi said remodeled stores offer 20% more retail space." The story goes on: "Sales at 'limited assortment' stores, a category that includes Trader Joe’s in addition to Aldi and Lidl, are projected to grow 5.6% annually through 2023, according to Inmar Analytics Inc., while sales at traditional supermarkets are projected to increase 0.5% annually … Aldi, which opened its first U.S. store in Iowa in 1976, has doubled its store count over the past decade to about 1,900 across 36 states. Lidl, which entered the U.S. two years ago, aims to have more than 100 U.S. stores open by the end of next year.""

Behind the Scenes of Walmart's New 'On-Time, In Full' Policy
Supply Chain Dive: "Shoppers are demanding retailers make more products available, more quickly, and through various points of sale. The consumer-driven supply chain is here, and as a result, retailers are in a sort of arms race, seeking out the best tools to satisfy consumer needs... behind each new sale lies an entire process dedicated to its fulfillment. If retailers want to unlock greater sales, they must first look to make their supply chains more efficient. At least, that’s what Supply Chain Dive learned on a recent trip to Bentonville, Arkansas, where Walmart explained its reasoning behind its latest on-time, in-full supplier policy. Here’s another thing we learned: With good business planning, supply chain managers in other stores or another industry may be able to replicate Walmart’s efforts and improve efficiency... On-time, in-full (OTIF) is not a new concept in supply chain management — it simply means suppliers should deliver their products when and how the buyer needs it — but pick-and-pack mistakes, transportation delays and communication issues are all common causes for an OTIF miss. For that reason, Walmart previously provided suppliers with a three- to four-day window to deliver their products, and was forgiving of packaging mistakes.Walmart announced its new OTIF policy last July, but had signaled its intention to suppliers as early as 2016.Now, food and consumable suppliers must deliver within a one-day window, while general merchandise or soft line suppliers must comply with a two-day period. If a delivery arrives early, late or improperly packaged, a supplier could be fined a 3% off-invoice charge.What seems like a simple task, however, is a major change for the thousands of suppliers that work with the retailer. Recognizing the challenge, Walmart is asking suppliers to comply with the policy 95% of the time by February, but had only reached 70% compliance as of August 2017"... Article details the process and timeline it took to achieve OTIF.

Barneys Bidding War Reflects Future of Retail
MNB cites a NY Times article reporting that the bidding war for bankrupt Barneys "isn't just about money--it actually reflects divergent perspectives on what the future of retail will look like. One of the bidders is Authentic Brands Group, which owns more than 50 brands including Nine West, Nautica and Hickey Freeman, which "made a formal $264 million offer for Barneys that was accepted by the store’s lenders." According to the story, "A.B.G. has said it would try to keep Barneys stores open, especially the Madison Avenue flagship, it is prepared to close all seven of them if better rental agreements cannot be reached. It has already lined up the Great American Group to run liquidation sales. No mention was made in its offer of what would happen to current employees." Digital also is said to be at the core of this group's approach. (Note: There were reports this morning that A.B.G.'s "stalking horse bid," which sets the terms for competitive bids, actually will result in all of Barney's stores being shuttered.) The A.B.G. bid prompted another group, described as "a consortium of New York investors led by Sam Ben-Avraham, the co-founder of the streetwear brand Kith and owner of a group of trade shows," to prepare a competitive bid; its plans, according to the Times are to "keep at least two of the remaining seven Barneys stores open, including the Madison Avenue flagship with its nine-floor footprint. It would retain at least some of the current management." The Times story suggests that these two groups seem to have fundamentally different views of what retailing is going to look like in the future. One believes in "the abstract values of brand names rather than in-person shopping experiences," while the other seems more focused on a more traditional approach to retailing."


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