Note to Readers: MBR Daily will be on summer break next week, returning Monday, July 24.
Q&A: Time Inc. CEO Rich Battista
Excerpts from a Samir Husni Q&A with Rich Battista, president/CEO of Time Inc.: "In a company that the DNA is incredible content and brands, I think we must find ways to leverage those brands and exploit them in as many platforms as possible, build new revenue streams, and grow old revenue streams. The print business is in a secular decline; I don’t think any of us can deny that. But, our print business is still number one in publishing , which is still a huge part of our revenue base. There are lots of advantages to what we can do with our print platform that helps us in many other ways... I’m someone who grew up loving print. I love the print medium and nothing would make me happier than helping this company win in this new world and grow again. That’s what we wake up every day to do here... we have incredible, loyal readers, we have incredible advertisers who support our print products. We still make a tremendous amount of money from print advertising, so I don’t think that’s going away anytime soon. I think it’s challenged, and so declining over time. I wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak, but I think you are right; there are other models you can explore, particularly if you have a title that maybe is more challenged..." On bookazines: "I think there are a few reasons why bookazines are showing success. One [is], a lot of the time, they’re timely and pegged to an event. When Carrie Fisher passed away and we put out a bookazine a week later, it was on people’s minds...you’re leveraging the news cycle." On whether Time Inc. would consider partnering with another company on a magazine launch: "Just to be clear, we have one very successful partnership with American Express, with our Departures magazine, and it’s basically a licensing deal. We create the book for them... So absolutely, we are exploring and looking at opportunities. Frankly, I think this company has missed that. I talked about us being inwardly facing, and that’s a perfect example of where this company wasn’t thinking creatively enough--particularly this company, which has by far the most resources in the magazine business and the biggest asset base. If someone wants to partner on a magazine, there’s no better company to do it with than us."
Q&A: AIM CEO Andrew Clurman
Excerpts from a Samir Husni Q&A with Andrew Clurman, president/CEO of Active Interest Media/AIM: "This has been a really important year for us, because we’ve hit what we’re calling the 'inflection' point, where we’ve been building these new businesses to drive the business organically, not just by making acquisitions. And scaling these new businesses at a rate that will more than offset any ongoing decline in print revenues... Fundamentally, digital businesses are not the same as the magazine media business. We all have social media and you could say a magazine audience might be, from a community standpoint, like the original social media, but Facebook’s business model and Google’s business model are radically different than the traditional magazine business model. So, it wasn’t a natural progression that if you’re in the magazine media business, you should have, would have figured all of that out... Every time I talk to people at other companies, whether it’s...large or small, I’m always amazed by [their] innovation and inventiveness...people from the outside might look at this as a business that’s slow to change, but I think that perception is because of the scale of the traditional business model and how big a ship it is to move... We don’t have a large scale business, so for us it’s a lot easier for us to move to that inflection point I described... Where print advertising became multiplatform advertising a long time ago, we now have multiple channels and multiplatform advertising, which in many cases has become a full suite of marketing services. I think we keep advancing and changing what advertising means to be a much broader set of media assets and services...it’s just a matter of can you scale that up? Our mission would be to transform our ad business into one [where] the majority would be driven by a more strategic products and services relationship with our marketers..."
'So Cosmo' Won't Get a Second Season
"So Cosmo," the reality show about the professional and personal drama at Cosmopolitan magazine that aired on E! earlier this year, is not scheduled for a second season, multiple sources confirmed to WWD. "Despite heavy promotion from the magazine and its web site, “So Cosmo” never managed to pick up much steam during its eight-episode run," reports WWD. "Over the course of its brief life, the show averaged a so-so 190,000 viewers, according to Nielsen data." Hearst Magazine chief content officer Joanna Coles, formerly EIC of Cosmo "and the show’s fairy godmother figure...convened a meeting to inform the cast/staff, and conduct a post-mortem, of sorts. Perhaps not coincidentally, the show’s star Diandra Barnwell — her official title at the magazine was “assistant brand coordinator”--announced on her Instagram feed that she was leaving Cosmopolitan... Meanwhile, it turns out that fiction may be, if not stranger than reality TV, then at least more interesting. “The Bold Type,” the scripted show closely based on Cosmo, debuted on Tuesday to a good deal of buzz.It remains to be seen whether that translates to ratings as the series gets under way.But so far, things are looking promising. “Average person viewership” (a metric that accounts for millennial’s cord-cutting habits) for the first episode was 355,000 and average person viewership for the second episode was 302,000, according to Nielsen."
Time Inc. Using Parse.ly Audience Analytics
Time Inc. announced that it is using Parse.ly's data and analytics solution as part of an effort to unite data across its portfolio of brands. From the release: "Time Inc. leverages Parse.ly’s audience data and features like Parse.ly’s Network Rollup tool, which allows Time Inc.’s editorial teams to compare multiple brands on one editorial analytics platform. 'Parse.ly’s analytic tools are going to be a significant help in driving cultural change at Time Inc., as we work to leverage the combined digital reach of our powerful brands,' said chief content officer Alan Murray. 'Unifying insights across all of our brands allows us to understand, act on and monetize the content our audience engages with most.' Access to audience data is transforming the way media companies organize and compete, and editors can view audience metrics -- like growth, engagement and loyalty -- at both a brand and network level, while business leaders at the company can base decisions off of the same data... People, Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Real Simple and Southern Living are some of the brands that will now have access to Parse.ly’s dashboard as a result of this integration."
The Nation's Newsletter Lets Readers Act on Articles
Nieman Lab: Last month, The Nation launched Take Action Now, "a weekly newsletter designed to offer readers three ways they can act on the issues and stories they read in the news. In one recent edition, the newsletter offered readers opportunities such as donating to the disability-rights organization ADAPT, whose members protested the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and cuts to Medicaid. It also highlighted the work of #AllofUs, Democracy Spring, the Democratic Socialists of America, which were organizing sit-ins at senators’ offices. Another showed how they can help with organize the “Internet-wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality” later this month. Take Action Now also posts advocacy opportunities on its Twitter account... 'We’re about ideas, but we’re also about instigating actions,' says Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel. 'Though I believe our role is to seed ideas for the future, you want a journalism that has impact. It’s news readers can use'"...
North American Comics Sales +5% in 2016
PW: "Combined graphic novel and comics sales in North America grew 5% to $1.085B in 2016, a $55M increase over the $1.03B reported last year, according to a joint estimate by industry news sites Comichron and ICv2.com. Led by the continuing sales growth of book-format graphic novels (which rose to $590M, from $350M in 2015), the $1.085 billion figure represents the combined sales of book-format graphic novels, traditional comics periodicals ($405M), and digital download-to-own comics ($90M).Physical sales of graphic novels sold through the book trade rose 16%, to $405M. While total sales of both comics and books through the comics shop channel were about $570M, the increase was driven by periodical sales. Sales of graphic novels in the comics shop market were flat in 2016, according to the joint report.Milton Griepp, CEO of pop culture new site ICv2.com, cited the ongoing growth of graphic novels as key to the increase: 'This represents growth in the broadest part of the market, where increased variety of content is being found by new audiences for comics, including kids and women.'"
Q&A: New York Media CRO Avi Zimak
AdExchanger: "When New York Media charted its digital strategy, it chose not to go local.Instead, the publisher of New York magazine created standalone blogging brands with national distribution around fashion (The Cut), culture (Vulture) and food (Grub Street). And it’s since added tech (Select All) and science (The Science Of Us) to the list of blogs.New York Media’s blog-focused digital presence is what lured Avi Zimak to join the company as the publisher and CRO in March." Excerpts from Q&A: How is New York Media diversifying revenue beyond print or digital display? "Because of the way that we have structured our business, it’s safe to say the majority of revenue is digital already. We’ve been there for years. When you look at our online properties, the majority of that distribution is national. Eighty-five percent of distribution is outside of New York region. Nearly the inverse is true with the magazine. Seventy percent of distribution is New York and 30% outside New York." What were you brought in to do?They were looking for someone to come in that has that startup and tech background to bring a different kind of thinking to the table. The business units are going to be more data-focused in their approach, which they have grabbed and run with pretty quickly.And they want a different type of thinking in terms of what we can bring to the market: How do we leverage the data we’ve harnessed through our custom content studio? How do our 44 million readers tick? How will they engage with certain pieces of content on our sites?How has your commerce play, The Strategist, worked out? "The Strategist is growing exponentially, and we are seeing significant revenue. We earn affiliate revenue and a few direct deals.It’s eye-opening in a positive way, particularly as we hear that others are failing with commerce, like [Condé Nast’s] Style.com, which just shut its doors. We have a unique and specific voice in terms of how we are curating those recommendations, and our consumers trust it."
Q&A: Reader's Digest Chief Content Officer Bruce Kelley
Excerpts from a Samir Husni Q&A with Bruce Kelley, chief content officer, Reader's Digest: "People generally curate things themselves through Google searches and other ways, but they also rely on various brands to do the curating for them. And certainly with the magazine, that’s still our number one reason why we have such a loyal audience, because they trust our judgment about what will matter to them; what will make them feel good and what will make them feel smart. And that’s why we have a very successful print business. It’s really the foundation of everything we’re doing." On the reader-generated cover on the most recent issue of the magazine (shown here): "User-generated content and reader content is so built into our DNA. We run stories all of the time and cover stories as well that are either roundups of readers telling their stories of acts of kindness or when I fell in love as a couple, and those have really resonated with our magazine audience in the last year, or since I’ve been here. So, in this case we do an annual photo contest in our July issue. The theme was “Sea to Shining Sea,” which is a very Reader’s Digest kind of theme, and it was a good trigger and we received an amazing quality of submissions from our readers. But then as we were looking at them, we saw real candidates for the cover."
Publishers Switch Affections from Snapchat to Instagram
Digiday: "Hearst’s Kate Lewis can easily rattle off the company’s Instagram stats. Half the company’s brands have more than 1 million followers. Harper’s Bazaar has 3 million. But when it comes to their brand’s Snapchat handles outside of the Discover section, Lewis, Hearst’s SVP and editorial director of digital media, hesitates. 'Our Discover following is enormous, but our Snapchat handle following is not as big as Instagram. I don’t know the number of followers of [the accounts].'Nothing is forever in the world of platforms. Two years ago, publishers that didn’t have a coveted slot in the Snapchat Discover section were scrambling to use individual accounts on Snapchat to connect with millennials in a raw, personal way, sometimes posting as often as several times a day there.Today, parent company Snap is facing questions about user growth and retention, with all the moves Facebook’s Instagram is making to copy Snapchat’s features, as its declining stock price shows. Instagram’s moves are paying off with publishers, many of whom have shifted their enthusiasm to Instagram..."
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Shareholder Suit Seeks to Block Amazon's Whole Foods Acquisition
512tech: "A Whole Foods Market shareholder has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to halt Amazon Inc.’s proposed $13.7 billion acquisition of the Austin-based grocery chain, saying that the deal undervalues Whole Foods and is being made without sufficient transparency.Shareholder Robert Riegel filed the law suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. In it, he claims that Whole Foods’ proxy statement filed on July 7 is misleading and failed to disclose information important to stakeholders.“The proxy statement states that, in connection with negotiating the merger agreement, Amazon had preliminary discussions with certain Whole Foods executive officers regarding Amazon's desire to retain such officers following the closing” the suit says. “However, the proxy fails to disclose the timing and nature of all communications regarding the future employment and/or benefits relating to Whole Foods management.”The suit also claims that the proxy statement failed to disclose how the company calculated certain valuations.The suit asks the court to block the acquisition and seeks class action status..."
Wal-Mart Pressures Suppliers on Delivery Schedules
Bloomberg: "Long known for squeezing its vast network of suppliers, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is about to step up the pressure.The focus this time is delivery scheduling, and the company’s not messing around. Two days late? That’ll earn you a fine. One day early? That’s a fine, too. Right on-time but goods aren’t packed properly? You guessed it -- fined. The program, labeled “On-Time, In-Full,’’ aims to add $1 billion to revenue by improving product availability at stores, according to slides from a presentation obtained by Bloomberg, and it underscores the urgency Wal-Mart feels as it raises wages, cuts prices and confronts a powerhouse rival in Amazon.com Inc. that’s poised to grow with its planned purchase of Whole Foods Markets Inc..."
Back-to-School Growth Projections Differ
NY Post: "Overall back-to-school spending will grow 10% from last year, to $83.8B, the National Retail Federation said on Thursday.The bullish forecast left some scratching their heads and wondering if a new crystal ball is in order.'We are looking for 1 to 3% growth in back-to-school,' said apparel analyst Eric Beder of FBR & Co. “We haven’t seen mall traffic improve or double digit comparable sales. The reality is that this will be a slow growth business.'Don’t tell that to the NRF.Their robust forecast includes an uber-bullish case for spending by college students--or their parents.College-bound kids will jack up their spending by 11.5%t, according to the NRF, as they scoop up electronics, clothing and food like never before.The rise in spending is being fueled by consumers feeling confident about the economy, by more people having full-time jobs and rising wages, the NRF said.'The retail industry is in a very good place,' said NRF CEO Matthew Shay during a conference call..." Marketing Daily reports that "Deloitte is less optimistic, although it too predicts that the earlier parents start shopping, the more they’ll spend. Its report predicts that parents of kids in grades K through 12 will spend just $501 per student, on average, even with last year’s spending.And it is expecting a big shift into apparel, which it believes will account for about 55% of spending, a gain of 10 percentage points from last year, mostly at the expense of school supplies and computers.And unlike the NRF, it’s got gloomy news for department stores: While some 81% of the parents in its 1,200-person say they’ll do at least some shopping at mass merchants, a jump of 24 percentage points from last year, far fewer predict they’ll shop at department stores. Just 28% say they will make purchases in such stores, down from 54% last year."
Antitrust Concerns Sunk Jewel's Strack Bid
SN: "Federal antitrust concerns unraveled Jewel-Osco’s bid to acquire Strack & Van Til stores in a bankruptcy auction this week, paving the way for the chain’s founding family to swoop in with a surprise, winning offer, sources told SN.As reported previously, Jewel’s offer of $100M for 19 Strack & Van Til stores was designated as the 'stalking horse' going into the auction, which took place on Tuesday as part of the proceedings of the Central Grocers Chapter 11 case. Jewel’s offer, however, was subject to regulatory approval. According to a source, Jewel dropped pursuit of three of the properties due to Federal Trade Commission concerns. That helped turn the tide toward Indiana Grocery Group, which made a competing offer for all 19 stores Jewel bid for, in addition to an Ultra Foods store in Merrillville, Ind., that was not part of the Jewel offer, and a commissary in Valapariso, Ind., and Strack’s headquarters building in Highland, Ind..."
Harris Teeter Closing Two Stores, Opening One in North Carolina
SN: "As Harris Teeter prepares to open its newest store in Raleigh, N.C. next week, it is also winding down operations at two stores elsewhere in the state.The Kroger division, which is based in Matthews, N.C., said in separate statements that it would close stores in Greensboro, N.C., (Battleground Ave.) on July 29, and in Cary, N.C., (High House Crossing) on Sept. 16. The changing footprint reflects an ongoing shakeup in the Carolinas markets,which are undergoing a wave of new investment on several fronts, including Harris Teeter..."
Meijer Expands Delivery to Louisville, Lexington, KY
PG: "Meijer will begin providing store-to-door delivery service to more than a half-million households in Louisville and Lexington, Ky., starting July 27.Made possible through a partnership with Birmingham, Ala.-based delivery provider Shipt, the service is part of Meijer's delivery-service expansion across its six states of operation, first announced in March. It will result in more than 250,000 deliveries this year..."
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: