A Quick Note About the Platonic form of Absence

May 13, 2008

As many of you may know, I’m currently involved in a website launch: www.postadvertising.com.  Tomorrow we go live to the nation.  For now you can click on the link above to see our beta version.  Please do.  Click again and again.

Anyway, many of you have done launches before and know that it’s incredibly time-consuming.  Our team here has been working basically around the clock, myself included.

Stay tuned for some juicy first quarter Reed Business Information ad page numbers in a few days when I get my head above water.


Christina Ricci Gets Cozy With Gotham at Le Cirque

May 5, 2008

Milena Govich of Law & Order, Christina Ricci, Donna Distephano

Nothing ain’t worth doing if you can’t throw a party to celebrate.  Niche Media may take this adage (made up by me) to the extreme, but in a way I like.  To celebrate its latest cover starlet (Christina Ricci), Gotham threw a little cocktail party at the wine bar at Le Cirque.  No Jason Binn riling the crowd into a celebrity-loving frenzy, but still fun anyway.  Ricci was patient with onlookers and journos.  I was too in awe of Wednesday Adams to bother her with inane, magazine-related questions.

But I did meet a man who, along with his dazzling wife, owns St. Germain, a French liqueur.  We had a drawn out conversation about the quality of cocktails and their general place in the American imagination.  We commented on how every time you clink your ice cubes against the side of your glass a new vodka is born.  And about party liquor sponsorship: It shouldn’t just be about free booze but about adding something to the ambiance of the party.  (Not sure I agree on that one…simply out of personal principle.)

Enjoy more pics after the jump.

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Update on Sean Avery/Vogue Intern Story

May 2, 2008

This might be a little late for all you sports fans, but since I reported on multimillionaire NHLer Sean Avery’s aspirations to become a Vogue intern when the season is over, a lot has happened. First, Avery’s team, The New York Rangers, has fallen behind 3-1 in a seven game series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. All signs would point to Avery getting coffee for Anna Wintour’s downtrodden lieutenants in the next few weeks if it weren’t for Avery’s suffering a pretty serious injury: lacerated spleen. Sounds almost comical, but it can be pretty serious. Luckily, Avery’s life was never in danger, but he’s still in intensive care. Here’s more from ESPN.com.

Hip Hip Hooray for Editorial Inegrity in Awards Shows: The ANDY Awards

May 1, 2008

It’s always fun to see what top creatives in advertising come up with in the whirlwind advertising awards show season (The One Show is up next on Weds). I liked much of the work last year better than this year at the annual International ANDY Awards — but what do I know? I do know that my heart was warmed down to its very cockles upon seeing the image below:

The One Show ANDY ad

Why? Doesn’t seem like much, right? Well, it’s an ad for ostensible rival The One Show. There’s editorial integrity, something you often see little of in all but the best awards shows. Kudos to the ANDYs. And thanks for the free booze (as always). And click here to see goofy pics of me in the Yahoo! idea chair.

Also, click here for the article on the show in Adweek

Hamptons Kicks off the Season with Isabella Rossellini on a Cold, Rainy Night

April 29, 2008

Intimate Hamptons Magazine party at the Four Seasons

Magazines have parties for many reasons: high-profile new hires, closing an issue, redesign, holidays, etc, etc, etc. But it mostly boils down to publicity. Rare is the magazine that parties just to party, as rock and roll as this industry might seem. Aside from the usual (but usually tasteful) integrated sponsorship deals, both Gotham and Hamptons magazines fit that bill. Publicity and photos good for a page or two in the next issue are part of the bargain. But seeing Jason Binn work the crowd last night, seeing how he opens his home several weekends over the summer to Hamptonites young and old, you can tell he just wants everyone to have a good time. Maybe it’s the business, but that don’t bother me none. What in this world is worth doing if you can’t throw a party to celebrate it?

Thanks to Isabella Rossellini for gracing the cover of the magazine/making it all happen. And thanks to Ketel One for giving me new ideas for my upcoming appearance on the hit Japanese show, Crazy Extreme Drink Making Explosion!!! (The translation makes the show seem just about as intense as it really is. See the inspiration after the jump.)

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Penton Ad Page Woes

April 25, 2008

As we talked about last week, Penton Media — like so many other trade media companies right now — is having some challenged times. After the jump is a massive, massive chart of the company’s first quarter 2008 ad page numbers, hot off the presses; almost 80 books! If you don’t feel like clicking one, little button, I’ll give you the big number up front: -6.49. I didn’t say I’d tell you what it meant. Enjoy.

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NHLer Sean Avery to Be a Vogue Intern

April 23, 2008

I love hockey. And I love magazines. In my sexy, sexy dreams, when these two are smashed together, it doesn’t exactly look like this.

This summer, after the NHL season is over, New York Rangers forward Sean Avery will become an intern for Vogue magazine. This is a guy who is known as the most hated man in the NHL. Partly because of his on-ice taunting, fighting, and all around dirty play. And maybe partly because after everyone hits the showers he walks off with actresses and models (not that other hockey players do so badly…).

Below, Sean Avery with Elisha Cuthbert.

Elisha Cuthbert and Sean Avery at some pleasant boondoggle together.

Click here for the original story.

Is the Giant B2B Online Ad Network Created by Pontooning RBI, Cygnus, McGraw, and Nielsen a Good Idea?

April 22, 2008

In short, yes.  In long, no.  What I mean by that is:

In the Short Run

B2B publishers are under terrific pressure right now due to declining ad page numbers and page yields.  I won’t rehash some of the negative stories we’ve seen this year so far (not to mention the negative numbers we will be seeing in the weeks and months ahead.  “Sucking wind” is a phrase I’ve been hearing a lot from magazine folks.)  Lashing the boats together during a storm to go after non-endemic advertising sounds like a pretty good idea.  This reminds me a bit of the “A-level” advertising initiative that gave a low 7-figure boost to Cygnus’ top line late last year.

You have captivated business customers — decision makers, buyers, influencers, and people with high incomes and steady jobs — but you’re too small to go after large, national business and hybrid advertisers for your little manufacturing site.  So band together with other somewhat similar sites to be a more attractive buy for marketers.  But….

In the Long Run

I see two negative possible side-effects.  First, this initiative will help turn space on sites into a commodity, which is bad for the idea of the brand as a central strength of trade publishing.  And if the strength of brands online is meaningless, then how can you make those all-important endemic sales?  How can you tell an advertiser that what they’re getting is better than what they can get at the competitors’ sites?  Second, Talk to an editor at The Hollywood Reporter and then one at Variety and tell them that they’re selling the exact same thing, and they may disagree with you.  Worse, they may lose the competitive edge that has propelled both books to be among the best in trade publishing.

Verticality has served trade publishing well.  Hitting all those points on the long tail with targeted outreach works — in print, online, face-to-face.  Will flattening those verticals on the advertising side have unintended consequences?

One Reason Behind Penton’s Current Woes: Managers Are Actually Idiots

April 16, 2008

Not the managers of Penton, per se. But any manager that says everyone is replaceable and uses this oft-quoted manager-speak to scare its employees into obedience and to encourage them to aspire to mediocrity. First off, if you plan on running a great business and besting the competition, not everyone is replaceable. See my old blog, theminsider, here for more on how this principle helped destroy a large part of Ascend Media’s business. Second, how does this apply to Penton?

The community marveled when Penton/ABRY turned its penny-stock, at-times-near-bankrupt, highly-leveraged business around and sold it to Prism/Wasserstein/et al for a nice little profit, and around a 60% premium above current stock prices (depending on what you consider current). That trick involved a lot of managerial wizzardry. What has happened since? Two things that I’d like to point out:

1. Most obviously, the economy has softened during an industry-wide (world-wide, really) revolution: One that changed the way the winning players did business; and one that allowed the introduction of many, many new players into a business with a traditionally impossibly high barrier to entry.

2. Much of the management team that turned Penton around is now elsewhere:

– At the top, Penton lost David Nussbaum, the CEO at the time. He is now at ABRY-owned F+W Publications as CEO.

Eric Shanfelt, who headed up e-media for Penton, left the company soon after. He’s now at Aspire Media.

Much more after the jump.

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Reed Building & Construction Books Weather First Part of Housing Storm

April 15, 2008

From their high of over 2,000,000 in 2005, housing starts are projected to be a dismal 1.24 million in 2008.  This is according to the National Association of Realtors.  The US Government has provided a less-rosy outlook, with a monthly annual rate that dips below 1,000,000 in April 2008 and continues to decrease through August, the lost month for which there is a projection.

Yet, Reed’s Building & Construction group was resilient in 2007.  See the numbers below.

Reed Business Information Building and Construction ad page numbers