Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Content Gets Respect

Whether the topic was social networking, user-generated videos, blogging or podcasting, publishers among the record-breaking 10,276 marketers attending November’s ad:tech conference heard renewed respect for content from the panelists reporting on the latest developments in online marketing. Pam Horan, President of the Online Pubishers Association, kicked off her panel on “Publishing in the Digital Age” with a chart showing that consumers now spend almost half their time online with content, up 35% from four years ago (see graph). Horan credited much of the increase to the surge in popularity of social networking, which OPA includes in its content category. Of course, users prefer their content free—and that isn’t always a bad thing for publishers. Vivian Schiller, SVP and GM of, reported that search referrals increased 133% after the Times abandoned TimesSelect, its paid subscription model in September. When Times management found that most of its monthly 13 million visitors were coming from search engines—and not getting access to what they sought—they calculated that advertising could deliver more than the $10 million they’ve been getting annually from their 227,000 paying subscribers. What users want was the theme for almost every panel. “Marketing strategy is no longer about getting people to come to your site. It’s about configuring your content so that people can get it wherever they want,” was how Nada Stirratt, EVP, Digital Advertising at MTV Networks Digital, described the new paradigm. MTV now makes it easy for people to embed its content on Facebook pages, for instance. . . .

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PT thanks guest blogger and New York-based marketing consultant, Rich Kelley.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Someone's Using the Sony Reader

While eagerly awaiting Kindle, netGalley, and all the other cool launches in 2008, some publishers are working with what we have in the here-and-now: the Sony Reader. Simon & Schuster started giving it (officially, The Reader Digital Book) to sales reps, so that they could download manuscripts at will, and carry the Reader on their travels. It saves time and money (the cost of copying and mailing the paper version), not to mention the hassle of lugging all those pages around, notes Adam Rothberg, VP, Corporate Communications at S&S. Reps plug their Reader into their computer and log onto a dedicated site to choose what they'd like to download. Other MS Word documents can also be offloaded directly from the computer.

The experiment has been so successful that editorial departments are also trying it out. Free Press was the first, with proposals and manuscripts being read on the Reader. Though bookmarking is possible, editing and note taking are not. And, the Reader has no backlight, making middle-of-the-night reading (which in the early days of ebook devices was always a selling point) a nonstarter. "It's definitely a mindset adjustment," says EVP and Publisher Martha Levin, but well worth making for the efficiences it offers.

The proof, as they say, is in the imprint pudding, with Touchstone/Fireside and Pocket Books editorial now on board. It's too early to say how widespread this adoption will be, but the anticipated savings of close to six figures is a good incentive.

More about the Reader's homelier sister

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Media & Money, Kings & Castles

Nielsen and DowJones sponsored a conference focused on, well Media and Money, though with few exceptions, they forgot that books are part of the Media landscape. Jeff Berg, Chairman and CEO of ICM, mentioned that movies were the only medium that has used the same method -- a projector in a theater -- to disseminate its content for the last hundred years, presumably forgetting momentarily about the bound book.

Still, Michael Eisner mentioned Remembrance of Things Past not once, but twice in his talk; and Sumner Redstone had some great, albeit nonspecific, references to what writers do: Speaking of media in general he said, "this is an industry that thrives on good old-fashioned storytelling." And later he announced: "If content is king, copyright is its castle." Quick, print up the t-shirts and take to the streets.

The Art of the Media Launch

If you went to the NYU Center for Publishing’s “Art of the Media Launch” looking only for practical tips from media gurus Arianna Huffington (, Susan Lyne (CEO, Martha Stewart Omnimedia), Craig Newmark (Founder,, and Laurel Touby (Founder,, you might have come away disappointed. The inimitable moderator, David Carr, teased his all-star panelists quite a bit, getting them to talk about their new favorite gadgets, how they deal with naysayers, and what keeps them focused on their vision, but most of the nitty gritty advice (i.e. how do you fund a new site anyway? What about Google? Getting traffic?) came during the brief audience Q and A.

Carr asked about obstacles and getting over them: On the day The Huffington Post launched, the
LA Times panned it saying the site was “the web version of Gigli.” Huffington has since memorized it, channeling the negativity into more verve and “fearlessness” (which she talks about in her oft-plugged book, On Becoming Fearless). About the “Gawker chick” who ragged on the notorious boa she’s worn to media parties since 1994, Touby said focusing on the hundreds of thousands of media people who “voted [for her] with their dollars” at kept her going. Lyne talked about being very publicly fired from ABC and bouncing back to head Martha Stewart's empire.

When Carr asked the group their thoughts on
Facebook, “social advertising,” and behavioral ads, saying he felt like “[advertisers'] hands are a little too far up my skirt,” Newmark emphasized the need for transparency through opt-ins and full disclosure from advertisers. Huffington handled the issue in an equally straitforward manner. When Toyota signed on as an advertiser, she asked readers to take pictures of themselves with their Priuses and posted them on her site. All agreed there’s never been a better time to start a media business. It’s less expensive (Huffington started with $1 million, Touby and Newmark with “nothing,” and Martha Stewart was the exception of course). Touby pointed out the importance of good market research, understanding your audience, and figuring out what people will (and won’t) pay for.

Do you do good?

For our December issue, Publishing Trends is looking for any publishing people who contribute a significant amount of effort to charities, from building medical centers in Africa to organizing grassroots political action at home (and because we know we all love books, we're continuing to focus on non-literacy endeavors). Donation information for the charities we highlight will be prominently featured.

If anyone comes to mind (including yourself), please comment here, email, or call us at (212) 447-0855. We look forward to hearing your stories and telling others about them.