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August 17, 2018

Publishing News

Annie's Launches Quarterly, Farmhouse Style
In an emailed press release, Annie's, publisher of Country Sampler, Just Cross Stitch and other enthusiast magazines, announced the launch of Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, a quarterly devoted to "the casual, comfortable appeal of today’s popular farmhouse decorating and lifestyle movement." The magazine offers "step-by-step DIY projects and fully illustrated decorating tips to create an authentic farmhouse-style look. Each issue also features tours into beautiful farm-style homes, tips and advice for simple homesteading such as raising backyard chickens or goats, recipes, features on innovative artists working with rustic materials, special articles for hosting backyard picnics, barn weddings and more." The magazine is available on the newsstand ($9.99 cover price) and by subscription.

Atlantic Hires Global Editor
MediaPost: "Prashant Rao is The Atlantic’s new global editor, as the magazine company works to expand its staff.Based in London, Rao succeeds Kathy Gilsinan, who will now cover the counter-terrorism beat as a staff writer at The Atlantic. Rao is currently the deputy Europe business editor at The New York Times. He has covered business, economics and finance in Europe for the past three years.Starting in October, Rao will lead The Atlantic's coverage 'across a wide range of beats related to U.S. foreign policy, democracy and global conflict,' according to the company. He will also oversee The Atlantic’s reporters in Washington, London and Paris"...

WSJ. Magazine's 10th Anniversary Issue Is Big, But It's Digital Ambitions Are Bigger
BOF: "The anniversary issue marks a new chapter for The Wall Street Journal’s monthly luxury leisure magazine. Available on newsstands and sent to weekend print subscribers each month--which count about 1 million in the US, according to the Alliance for Audited Media--the title is a reliable print advertising revenue driver for the newspaper. While fashion magazines are suffering as luxury advertisers shift more of their spending online, newspaper supplement magazines have continued to thrive because they have built-in audiences who are often older and wealthier than that of monthly magazines. Plus, these supplement magazines provide a more luxury-safe environment for ads than the newspaper itself. But this month, WSJ. Magazine is starting to make serious investments in digital in order to engage more often with its readers, who have an average household income of $348,761 in 2018. 'The advertising side will tell you that they are leaving money on the table, and I will tell you we are leaving content on the table,' said O’Neill. The magazine's vice president and publisher Anthony Cenname sees untapped opportunities for the magazine online, especially as luxury brands move towards a “drops” model of more frequent and smaller product releases. “They will need something that is extremely tactical and tasteful in order to create more ‘want’ around that drop,” he said. Expanded online coverage will therefore need to engage younger readers than the magazine’s typical audience, age 49 on average in the United States. On, the average age of the reader is 43. Until now, the magazine’s website has almost exclusively published print content. This summer, O’Neill launched a newsletter to keep the conversation going in between the weekends the monthly magazine is released... 'The whole organization is digital-first, and while we do this very special print product, we still want to be not just a one-time-a-month experience,' said O’Neill. She hired Sarah Ball from Condé Nast’s GQ as the magazine’s digital director in early August and plans to build that department with more hires to address multimedia, social media strategy and other roles. WSJ. Magazine’s website expansion could also attract more digital subscribers or 'tip the balance' for individuals who are considering buying a subscription, said Rick Edmonds, The Poynter Institute's media business analyst. He also said an expanded website could give regular readers more reason to engage with the title... In Q4 ending June 30, advertising revenue at Dow Jones, the newspaper’s parent company, declined by 10 percent. Subscription revenue, central to the newspaper’s survival strategy, increased 10 percent at The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper averaged 1,590,000 daily digital subscribers in the three months ending June 30, up from 1,270,000 the prior year. The WSJ. Magazine is still a bright spot for the newspaper. The September edition is its largest and most revenue producing issue to date, up 3 percent year-over-year. Last September was also the magazine’s biggest issue to date, underscoring just how important newspaper magazine supplements continue to be in an age of declining print revenues and fragmented audiences"...

Summer's Hottest Read Is Authored by a Man in Jail
NY Post: The book "Cherry," by first-time novelist Nico Walker, "hit Tuesday with a first printing of only 20,000, but the Knopf imprint of Penguin Random House has already gone back to press twice to add another 10,000 copies to the pipeline. Walker, a former medic in the Iraq War in 2005 and 2006, received seven citations for his service on some 200 combat missions. But he returned to Ohio traumatized and suffering from PTSD, and soon slipped into unemployment, depression and a heroin habit. To support his habit, he went on a spree, robbing 11 banks in four months in the Cleveland area before getting arrested in 2011 and pleading guilty in 2012, when he was sentenced to 11 years. He was encouraged to write his life story by Matthew Johnson, co-owner of the small independent Tyrant Books. The gritty war story, which took four years to write, is earning rave reviews. New York magazine dubbed the book, “the first great novel of the opioid epidemic.” Booklist called it “a masterpiece.” Walker used his advance to pay back $30,000 of the $40,000 he was said to have robbed during his four-month spree. He’s scheduled for release in November 2020."

Facebook Sued Over Audience Metrics
MediaPost: "Facebook has been hit with a lawsuit accusing it of bilking advertisers by inflating the number of people its ads could reach. 'Based on publicly available research and plaintiffs’ own analysis, Facebook overstates the potential reach of its advertisements,' business owner Danielle Singer alleges in a class-action complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Singer, who owns the Kansas-based business Therapy Threads--which sells aromatherapy-related products--says she spent more than $14,000 on Facebook ads between October of 2013 and April of this year. She alleges that Facebook induced advertisers like herself to purchase ads--and to pay higher prices for them--by 'vastly' inflating the number of active users the ads could reach. The complaint claims that Facebook violated a California business law. The complaint draws on reports by outside groups, including the industry organization Video Advertising Bureau, as well as a survey commissioned by the plaintiffs. The Video Advertising Bureau reported last year that Facebook's estimates of audience reach in every U.S. state were higher than the states' populations according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Singer specifically refers to Chicago in the complaint. She alleges that Facebook claimed in 2017 that its ads could potentially 1.9M people in Chicago between the ages 18 and 34, but that Census data showed a population of only 808,785 people in that age range in Chicago. Singer adds that a survey she commissioned shows that 59% of 18- to-34 year-olds in Chicago have Facebook accounts. The upshot, she alleges, is that Facebook ads potentially reach only 500,000 18-34 year-olds in Chicago. The complaint also draws on information allegedly provided by ex-Facebook employees. One of the former employees, identified in court papers as "Confidential Witness 1," said the company's 'potential reach' statistic is 'like a made-up PR number,' according to the complaint. Another ex-employee, "Confidential Witness 3," allegedly 'stated that Facebook was not concerned with stopping duplicate or fake accounts in calculating potential reach.' Singer is seeking monetary damages, as well as an order requiring Facebook to hire outside auditors and to remedy any problems found by the auditors. Facebook hasn't yet responded to MediaPost's request for comment. But last year, the company said its reach estimates were based on many factors, and were not "designed to match population of census estimates.' The company is still facing a separate lawsuit over allegations of inflated video metrics. That earlier matter, which dates to 2016, is pending before U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, Calif."

Instagram Is Hacked, Possibly by Russians
MediaPost: "Instagram has become the target of what appears to be a coordinated hacking operation.Among other unwelcome effects, users are being locked out of their accounts, seeing their profile pictures replaced with animated characters, and even losing their accounts entirely.While it is not known how many of Instagram’s more than 1B monthly users have been hit by the attack, hundreds have taken to Twitter to express their frustration... Evidence suggests that Russian hackers might be involved. For example, some victims have seen the emails connected to their Instagram accounts changed to Russia's .ru domain. Seemingly in response to a story published by Mashable on Tuesday, Instagram finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. 'We are aware that some people are having difficulty accessing their Instagram accounts,' the Facebook unit said in a statement. While continuing to investigate the matter, Instagram offered some users some tips to better secure their accounts. For Facebook, Instagram’s value is immense. Indeed, the network is now worth more than $100B, according to a recent appraisal by Bloomberg. Instagram experienced a 13% increase in growth over the past year, according to recent analysis of Nielsen’s domestic digital content consumption data by Pivotal Research"...


Retail News

Kroger Reveals Pilot Market for Autonomous Grocery Delivery Vehicles
PG: "A month and a half after first announcing the pilot, the Kroger Co. has revealed where it plans to begin testing grocery delivery via autonomous vehicles. Scottsdale, Ariz., will be the first city to receive groceries via self-driving cars developed by Nuro, which claims to be the 'maker of the world’s first driverless delivery vehicle.' Fry’s Food Stores--a Kroger banner that serves Arizona--will build the orders for Scottsdale residents, who can shop for their groceries via the banner’s website or its mobile app. 'Kroger wants to bring more customers the convenience of affordable grocery delivery, and our pilot with Nuro will help us test and learn to understand customer acceptance of autonomous vehicles in our seamless offering,” said Kroger Chief Digital Officer Yael Cosset. 'We thank Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and the Scottsdale community for being terrific partners and for supporting customer-focused innovation.' Residents can schedule grocery order, based on slot availability, for same- or next-day delivery. The cost is a $5.95 flat fee, with no minimum order required. In an interview with Progressive Grocer, Ken Fenyo, head of consumer markets at McKinsey Fast Growth, and previous VP of loyalty at Kroger, noted that one key to profitability in the grocery delivery game is automating back-end processes to reduce costs and improve service levels, which makes autonomous delivery a likely win for Kroger. The grocer also recently partnered with U.K.-based delivery service Ocado to develop robotically operated warehouses. Moreover, McKinsey research shows that a 40% saving in delivery costs would translate into a 15- to 20-percentage-point increase in profit margin or a 15% to 20% cut in prices. 'This is a substantial opportunity in an industry with margins ranging between 2% to 5%,' Fenyo observed. 'Most likely, retailers will need to adopt a range of last-mile delivery options depending on location, demographics, competition and other factors, including autonomous vehicles, drones, on-demand services, click-and-collect, and even dedicated trucks.' Mountain View, Calif.-based Nuro will begin the pilot using its self-driving Toyota Prius fleet, introducing its custom R1 driverless vehicle this fall"...

Distribution Biz Spurs Q2 Sales Gain at SpartanNash
SN: "SpartanNash Co. got a lift in the fiscal 2018 second quarter from growth in its distribution businesses, but losses from a product recall at its Caito Foods unit bit into earnings per share, which fell short of Wall Street estimates. For the 12-week quarter ended July 14, SpartanNash’s consolidated revenue rose 2.1% to nearly $1.9B... Food distribution sales grew 4.3% to $941.7M in the quarter, while sales in the military segment were up 3.9% to $489.7M... In the retail unit, Q2 sales fell 3.6% to $464.6M, mainly due to $15.5M in lost sales from the closing and sale of retail stores, as well as a 1.9% decrease in same-store sales (excluding fuel). SpartanNash now operates 140 supermarkets, primarily under the Family Fare Supermarkets, D&W Fresh Market, VG’s Grocery, Dan’s Supermarket and Family Fresh Market banners.

Alibaba Deal Underscores Kroger's International Strategy
PG: "Earlier this week, the Kroger Co. revealed its intent to introduce its Simple Truth line of private label natural and organic products in China through a partnership with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the world’s largest retailer, one of largest internet companies and often called the Amazon of China... While it’s unclear whether this partnership was the sole topic of conversation or there are more partnership opportunities on the horizon between the Cincinnati-based grocery giant and the Chinese behemoth, the deal further proves an important point: Just as it revealed in its agreement earlier this year with U.K. online grocer Ocado to enhance its ecommerce program, willing to partner with international technology companies to bolster its efforts to take on Amazon, Tom Gehani, director of client strategy and research at New York-based business intelligence company Gartner L2, told Progressive Grocer.“It’s possible that there still may be further partnerships with Alibaba, particularly on in-store technology--mobile payments, ship-from-store in-store routing and logistics--as this has been where Hema has been experimenting the most,” noted Gehani, referencing Alibaba’s Hema supermarkets, which are said to be the “purest manifestation of Alibaba’s ambitions to marry online with offline,” offering shoppers a “more efficient and flexible” shopping experience"... Gehani offered two primary goals of this partnership for Kroger: Marrying Simple Truth’s power with China’s fast-growing consumer economy; and developing customer audiences in markets where it doesn’t have stores. PG elaborates on the facts behind each goal.

Amazon, Microsoft Team to Make Alexa, Cortana Compatible
Washington Post: " and Microsoft have officially set up the friendship between their two voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana, a year after announcing the partnership to expand the reach and abilities of the competing assistants. But how does this relationship of rivals work? The voice assistants will only be used to “wake” the other one up. In other words, customers have to say either “Cortana, open Alexa” or “Alexa, open Cortana.” From there, people can talk to the other assistant as usual. The integration is available through Echo devices, Windows 10 devices and Microsoft’s Harman Kardon Cortana speaker. Someone with an Alexa-powered speaker, for example, can open Cortana to check for new emails in Outlook or set up appointments for their calendar. It’s also possible to ask Alexa through your Window PC to flip on your lights or check your order status.


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