Archive for the ‘Detritus’ Category

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:  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.


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

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.


Admitting Time

April 4, 2008

It’s hard to run a media brand ( while building another one (The Post-Advertising Age).  Once a 5-times-a-day blog, a one-time-a-day blog, mag grab bag, I’m sad to say, will now be a less-than-that blog.

Don’t worry.  I’ll still write about the parties I go to, and I’ll finish my ad page analysis of Reed Business Information Numbers.  I will also continue to present other sets of ad page numbers.

For now, here’s your Mag of the Week: Sports Illustrated.

– Should have won the week of the SI Swimsuit Party.

– Partnered with Taco Bell on a very misguided but in some ways stimulating ad campaign (you know what I’m talking about guys….)

– The mag is being assailed by animal rights activists this week according to an article at  That scores points in my book.

Britney Cover Creates PR Stir

March 31, 2008

This is my last posting about The Atlantic Britney cover.  I promise.  It’s been a great run, though, hasn’t it?

I ran into Zachary Hooper of The Rosen Group (PR to the magazine world) at The Atlantic‘s tea party last week, and asked him what the PR fallout has been for the Britney Spears cover.

maggrabbag:  When the issue hit newsstands, did the amount of requests you received from journalists increase?  Were they the same journalists as usual?

Hooper:  The Britney cover has attracted a lot of attention from the press.  Although the amount of inquiries has been on par with other recent stories like the Obama cover, the Britney story did open doors to some new outlets.  We also received a lot of attention from the marketing and advertising press.

mgb: What positive marketing effects from PR has this cover demonstrated?

Hoop: In tandem with several other recent stories, the Britney cover story has succeeded in demonstration our continued engagement with contemporary culture.

mgb: When you go out into the media space and try to gauge what people are saying about The Atlantic today and since the cover hit newsstands and what they were saying two or three months ago, what’s the difference?  What were they saying then?  What are they saying now?

Hoop: The Atlantic often provokes conversation and debate on a wide range of issues.  So while the Britney cover is definitely attracting a lot of buzz, we’re also seeing a steady level of discourse about magazine articles and web content on the election, the economy and the war in Iraq.  If anything, we’re adding to the mix another level of conversation that we weren’t necessarily seeing before.  The folks talking about our political content are continuing to do so as they always have, but this story has brought in a whole other realm of media coverage on its own.

IMS Sponsors maggrabbag

March 24, 2008

After a fierce bidding war* between many interested parties that will go unnamed, the first ever piece of ad inventory on maggrabbag has been sold to IMS, the Toronto-based magazine metrics/services company.  Full disclosure time: I use IMS/The Auditor ad page data in my reporting.

*Said “fierce bidding war” was not “fierce” or a “war”.  None of the associated parties put in “bids”.  It wasn’t so much a “fierce bidding war” as a polite negotiation.  It wasn’t even really that.  It’s all lies.

Spears Atlantic Cover is Old News

March 19, 2008

I was in Story Worldwide’s office in South Norwalk, CT (SoNo, fool) today meeting lotsa people and just generally working on building this Post-Advertising Age thing, so I had little time for the usual magazine musings. Apologies. Tomorrow, I’ll have something interesting ad page-wise for you about one of mighty Reed’s books. For now, a quick hit.

During one of the many meetings I was in today, I caught the March 10 Ad Age out of the corner of my eye and saw Nat Ives’s article about how a Britney Spears on the cover of Atlantic Monthly means that the magazine has lost its soul. I’d like to say as a disclaimer that I did not have a chance to read the full article. I do think that something fundamental has changed at Atlantic, though. Quick hits on the Web (see: The Current), a newsstand-focused cover…it’s about money. People ragged on this, one of my favorite magazines, when it was “out of touch” and a sinkhole for greenbacks. Now that it’s doing something to make money, it takes flack — from me included…see this.

All that being said, I read the Britney article today, and I have to say it was quite good. It fit well between Clive Crooks “Sins of Emission” about the Kyoto Protocol and Ross Douthat’s “The Return of the Paranoid Style” about the Iraq war’s effect on the Hollywood machine. And this is from a guy who can’t name more than five Britney songs, if that many, and doesn’t have a TV.

The Disruptive Power of Green

March 17, 2008

Demands by consumers for a greener world has had some predictable effects on the magazine industry: sustainable/recycled paper initiatives; soy-based ink; the rise of digital magazines; not to mention green issues, green covers, green columns; etc, etc.  But just as one unintended side-effect of the rise of the Internet was the death of your newspaper’s print stock page, there will be many unintended side-effects of the rise of environmentalism.  Here’s one that could prove a useful case study for trade magazines:

Nielsen recently surveyed consumers and found out that more than half of them would give up many forms of packaging.  In the short term, this means little more than an editorial opportunity for Summit Publishing’s Packaging World and Reed’s Packaging Digest.  I expect, however, that as the packaging industry changes and responds to the demands of its consumer-facing clients, Packaging World and Packaging Digest will be there to help their industry innovate.  Unfortunately, if all that happens, the industry will be required to shrink significantly, one would assume.  And where does that leave trade publishing, its business partners (brand marketers, designers, materials suppliers, etc), and the trade publishing industry that serves it (Package Design, Package Printing, etc)?  Well, all this is for the industry to sort out in 2-4 years time, when big retailers catch up to the wishes of consumers.

But don’t worry, kiddos: forest fires lead to fertile new soil; the transistor industry rose out of the ashes of the tube industry; from destruction comes creation.  In trade publishing, the key is not to be left behind.  Find out how after the jump.