Bosacks Speaks Out
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Bosacks Speaks Out

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Reports from the Publishing Pandemic Roundtable 2

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Reports from the Publishing Pandemic Roundtable 2

    BoSacks Speaks Out: My friend and circulation consultant Joe Berger had a great idea a few weeks ago of getting together a team of publishing professionals to have weekly zoom conversations about what is happening to our industry from a ground floor perspective. We have had publishers, professors, consultants, and this week a printer. We didn’t know how our meetings would evolve, but we deemed them a good idea with benefits for all. So far we have had two reports of our conversations captured by Linda Ruth, who is a circulation consultant, and distributed to you in this newsletter.
     
    At a time when most American businesses are struggling to survive during this challenging time, we need to stay alert and flexible with the still-evolving changing economic conditions. Hotels are empty, retail outlets are closed, and restaurants, bars, and eateries are struggling to exist with carryout or delivery orders.
     
    All media is under stress, and advertising, the lifeblood in most media business plans, is evaporating at a precipitous rate. It’s clear that not everyone is going to make it through this crisis untouched. We as an industry will likely create new business plans based on the yet undetermined rebuilt economy. But rest assured that rebuilding media businesses and perhaps an empire or two is exactly what we will do.
     
    The Publishing Pandemic Roundtable will continue to have these meetings, and report to you what is happening with the supply chain of the publishing industry.
     
    The product supply chain, from source material to store,
    is an organizing map for delivering human rights.
    Julia Ormond

    FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CLICK HERE

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Thoughts on publishing in times of a pandemic.

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Thoughts on publishing in times of a pandemic.

    I’m not sure where to begin. As a man in his 60s with asthma, I sit here safely in self-imposed isolation in the center of Charlottesville, Virginia, frustrated and worried about my family and friends, and like everyone else hoping for effective leadership for all us from our governments both large and small.
     
    I can only briefly try to express my sorrow for those lives already lost and for those yet to come in unknown numbers. The loss of life I expect will be so staggering, so overwhelming, so incomprehensible, as to be at first numbing and then painfully dwarfing anything in the experience of all our lives except for military wars. I hope I’m wrong, but I think not.
     
    I expect we may all know someone who will have lost a loved one or two. We are in a very difficult war—a war with an invisible enemy. Our enemy has no honor, no conscience, no thoughtful methodology, no underlying principles. It is a living, microscopic breeding warrior that needs to infect us so that it can live and infect another day.
     
    There are several moments in history when you can draw a historic boundary line and say, “Today, the universe changed.” This pandemic is one of those days and one of those moments.
     
    On a more positive note, it is in times like these that I’m most proud to belong to the publishing community. It is our job to communicate, inform, counsel, and inject cautious sobriety into the body politic. And that is something we are dammed good at. We will all adapt our work methodologies, our business plans, and, in so doing, protect the people by distributing knowledge to the best of our abilities. That is a responsibility we have always willingly accepted.
     
    My heart goes out to you all. I do not know how we fight an invisible enemy that has no fear and no understandable agenda except by following the advice of our scientific leaders. They are good at what they do, and we are good at distributing and explaining the science to our readers.
     
    I would love to wish you peace and serenity, but I do not think we will have it for some time to come. But we still have love and hope. There is no war in history that has ever diminished love and hope. I love my family and friends and people I have never met. I continue to hope that someday, humanity will achieve a state of global peace and contentment. After all, isn’t that what we all seek? A roof over everybody’s head and a chicken in every pot and our families safe and sound and without fear.
     
    I hope you are all safe and that tonight you get a chance to hug your family and mentally embrace your friends from a safe distance.
     
    Bob Sacks
    -30-

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising

    The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Many thanks to my friend Leslie Laredo who forwarded this article to me. It asks and, in many cases, answers one of the most important business questions in today’s digital world –  What do we really know about the effectiveness of digital advertising?

    My long-time readers will know that I have repeatedly posed the question of digital effectiveness for years but could never find the data or the experts to answer the question to my satisfaction. I’m sure some readers will have specialists in their offices willing to deflect or dispute the conclusions written here, and perhaps there is another side to the story. But, as always, color me skeptical.

    This article is a must-read for anyone in our industry to digest. Please write your thoughts and analysis to me, so I can share them with our readers. Lastly, this a longer read than usual at about 10 minutes, but worth every second.

    The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising

    Jesse FREDERIK and Maurits MARTIJN - https://thecorrespondent.com/ - https://bit.ly/2SUWS9Y

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • Bosacks Speaks Out: Quad Graphics, Magazine Literacy and Meaningful Industrial Kindness

    Bosacks Speaks Out: Quad Graphics, Magazine Literacy and Meaningful Industrial Kindness

    Special people and special companies deserve a shout out of thanks and gratitude from time to time. In this case, I want to bring to your attention the tireless work of John Mennell of MagazineLiteracy.org and Joel Quadracci of Quad Graphics. In my book they are unsung heroes performing necessary acts of kindness valiantly even though behind the scenes.
     
    MagazineLiteracy.org supplies recycled printed products, new magazines, and comics to literacy programs around the country. From their web site comes the following statement: “Why are magazines and comics so special for literacy, you might ask? Promoting literacy establishes a lifelong reading habit. Studies show that holding reading materials in your hands increases learning. Magazines and comic books become familiar and not intimidating. They educate and inspire. Magazines and comic books in hands and homes foster ownership and build self-esteem.”
     
    One of their mottoes is “Literacy ends poverty” -- a noble venture, to say the least.
     
    MagazineLiteracy.org has grassroots distribution capabilities, but they don’t have any logistics capability on a large scale. One of last year’s problems was 200,000 donated Cricket Media magazines sitting in a warehouse down in Des Moines and recently three pallets of NWF Zoobie magazines sitting in a warehouse in Peru, IL. 
     
    John told me that Joel Quadracci and the Quad logistics team have picked up magazine pallets and then either delivered them directly to MagazineLiteracy team locations or placed them in Quad warehouses while MagazineLiteracy lined up the receiving end of the literacy programs, and then made deliveries over vast distances.
     
    As an example of 200,000 Cricket Media magazines they delivered 10 pallets to the Greater Chicago Food Depository food bank; 3 pallets to Milwaukee;, 7 pallets the the Fox Cities United Way; 5 or so pallets to Green Bay; a pallet to Toronto, Canada, where they operate a literacy newsstand in a food pantry; and pallets to a Columbus Ohio food pantry network. 
     
    John said that by the time MagazineLiteracy.org gets the call, they need a rapid response. He said, “it’s like the perishable food rescued from restaurants that go to food pantries. The opportunities are so valuable to our literacy programs, we have to act quickly to retrieve them.”
     
    John went on to say, “With these and other Quad supported efforts, we’ve moved over a million magazines." John pointed out that "Joel and his team have been so generous, and never flinching, allowing us to have an enormous impact and showing us what’s possible as we reach for meeting our full promise.”
     
    Well, doesn’t that story make you feel good? My thanks to Joel and John for doing this meaningful and impactful philanthropy and for promoting genuine kindness on such a profound human scale. Magazines can help those in need, and perhaps literacy can help to end poverty.
    Click here to contact Magazine Literacy
    Recycle your magazines and comic books for literacy. 
     
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
    Margaret Mead

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 20, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On a day when we read that digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time, it boggles the mind how much known fraud there is in anything digital. Why does the advertising community "trust" what is obviously a global confidence game?

    Fake humans, click fraud, fake ad placement, paying for ads never seen, fake web sites that look real but aren't grabbing an obvious overabundance of loot. Not to mention the theft of our very selves. Our whole lives and families' interests bundled for sale not to the highest bidder, but to any bidder.

    The online advertising ecosystem is impossible to understand much less control under the current conditions we find ourselves in. Despite what we hear from the lofty P&G, there is no competent leadership anywhere, and I'm compelled to add the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is nothing but a joke.

    Where is the industry leadership? I used to think the US government could be the answer to regulate this problem. Forget that pipe dream. Too many senators have demonstrated clear stupidity about the Internet. It's ridiculous, but the lawmakers who have the power to regulate technology have absolutely no idea how technology works.

    Do you remember when Sen. Orrin Hatch asked Mark Zuckerberg how Facebook is able to sustain a business model while running as a free service. I'm sure Zuck stifled an internal chuckle and was barely able to keep a straight face when he responded, "Senator, we run ads." "I see, that's great," Hatch replied. No, there will be no shining knight from the Capitol to save the day.

    Part and parcel with the fraud, how is it that we all ignore the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of people? Not their rights, our rights. Facebook's lies, duplicity and personal intrusion by hidden surveillance systems all go unchecked. Do you know that Facebook tracks you through third parties whether or not you are logged into Facebook? As Bob Hoffman pointed out a few weeks ago "And the pièce de résistance -- Facebook's new data policy asserts that they track you even if you don't have a Facebook account."

    This is not a rant about Facebook. They are just a single example of the on-going digital depravity.

    It's an old stat, but did you know that for every $3 spent on digital ads, fraud takes $1 (Adage.com, 2015)

    Did you know that US brands would lose $6.5 billion to ad fraud in 2017. (Marketing Week, 2017)

    Here is a 2018 stat - How much have you spent on fraudulent ads today? How much have your fellow advertisers? Try $51 million. Research estimated that digital advertisers wasted $51 million on ad fraud every single day in 2018. That's a massive $19 billion over the year.
     
    There is an abundance of data that shows that magazines are more trusted than any other delivery vehicle. It is rated and respected by readers for top quality and accuracy in reporting.

    Yet, in review, print which is trusted by all parties loses market share every year, while obviously fraudulent digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time.

    Advertising is the Big Brother we were warned about. Its mission is nothing short of surveillance for a profit. The information on us is stored, sorted and turned against us as an algorithm. And if the algorithm is good, we will march to it.

    Now is the time where I should make some sort of demand or plea for us band together and transform the system. Nope, that isn't going to happen. There is too much greed and too much money for this to change any time soon. How does this rectify? Is there hope in this digital morass?

    I have hope, but no ideas.

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 27, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: How Canon enables personalized print publishing

    BoSacks Speaks Out: How Canon enables personalized print publishing

    Digital press manufacturers have been for many years in a constant hunt to entice magazine publishers to print their magazines as a digital product and not an offset product. It is a fascinating and flexible technology, and I have seen copies that rival offset in quality. It works wonderfully for catalogs and direct mail. But magazines are a different breed.

    Most magazines are already specialized niche products. I would postulate most magazines don't have enough edit to make personalizing printed magazines to each reader possible or profitable. I would also suggest that most magazines don't have a detailed database of their readers, although that is rapidly changing with the growth of surveillance capitalism.

    There are circumstances and some companies where digitally printing a magazine could work quite well, but on the whole offset is still less expensive. And with the creative binding processes that are available, variable editorial based on reader interest has been obtainable for almost 50 years.

    My favorite example is Farm Journal. They have used what is called a Selectronic binder, which is, of course, computer driven binding from a database. It has been around since the 1980s. It works like this - If you are a farmer and you grow corn and wheat and also have some chickens, you will get printed signatures with those editorial pages and ads that match your farm's profile. If your farm grows soy and alfalfa and you have cows, you too would get a different set of signatures and a different personalized magazine. Pretty cool right? This is accomplished while binding the entire magazines press run in one pass. I saw this process in the last century, and I have always loved the creative solutions to the manufacturing process.

    Sadly, the magazine industry neither trained nor compensated their sales forces to learn the technology, thereby diminishing a pretty cool and advanced process to a mostly underutilized "could have been" in the annals of publishing missed opportunities.

    There are always exceptions, but unless you have a strong database on your readers as Farm Journal does and the vast editorial will to produce multiple stories for each issue, a digital press, however wonderful, is at this point a technological exuberance for most printed magazines.

    That doesn't say we shouldn't keep our eyes on the progress of digital printing. There may come a time soon when it is priced at or near offset. At that point why not go digital even if you use the process sparingly? I'm sure every publishing house can and will come up with creative uses for the process in both advertising and in edit. Who knows, perhaps Yoga Journal for the Left Handed reader is in the works as I write this?

    Lastly, I implore any and all digital press manufacturers and publishers to start a dialog here in these pages. Consider it an opportunity to reach out to the perfect publishing audience.

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted January 27, 2020
    (0) Comments

  • Lessons from the 2019 Digital Innovators Summit: Diversify & Invest in Quality Content

    Lessons from the 2019 Digital Innovators Summit: Diversify & Invest in Quality Content

    William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the "noir prophet" of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. It was Gibson who coined the term "cyberspace" in his short story Burning Chrome. He is also responsible for one of my favorite quotes, which I often used to open my lectures in the early 2000's, "The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed."

    In our industry nowhere is that more evident than at the Digital Innovators Summit (DIS) held each year in Berlin. I have had the privilege to attend it for seven years. In doing so I have witnessed the digital transformation of publishing media firsthand and with a global perspective. It is partly this experience that enables me to speak with authority about our industry and its future.

    Publishers Are Finding Profits in Diversification I think the most obvious takeaway from almost every presentation is that the crisis of confidence is over, and we are now in a better state than we were five years ago.

    There is now overwhelming proof from multiple global sources that digital can supply revenue and profits. Subscriptions are real and readers, especially those that trend younger, are willing to pay. Parallel to that is the formula of: Quality + Specialization = Premium Pricing. CLICK HERE FOR THE ENTIRE ARTICLE

     

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted April 07, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: Print should be a shining beacon in a sea of criminality

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Print should be a shining beacon in a sea of criminality

    Last week I wrote a sober article about the state of digital fraud invading our lives, our families, our jobs and our psyche. I wasn't wrong, as each day new intrusive assaults are discovered.

    Last Friday we received news of yet another of what seems like weekly Facebook abominations. Now it has been revealed that Facebook collects intensely personal information secretly from thousands of popular smartphone apps and just seconds after users enter their personal information. Facebook gets it, even if the user has no connection to Facebook. More surveillance for a profit. George Orwell in the book 1984wrote "If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself." Good luck with that, there are no secrets any more. Pretty depressing, right? Well it is, and it should be. 

    According to The New York Times... Parliament denounced Facebook and its leadership as "digital gangsters."  The British are always so damn polite. 

    But wait, there is a bright side here, and that is print and the magazine industry. It's not that we can prevent what's going on digitally. We can't. But we can be fertile ground for profitability and safety. Print is and should be a shinning beacon standing tall among the fraudsters. There are successes in many places for the magazine print industry and billions still being made.

    I go to many magazine conferences all around the world each year. And guess what? There are profitable publishers in every conference. Here is a true example where size doesn't matter. Large or small, many publishers are doing well and creating centers of profitability. I had lunch last week with Alison Dickie, the publisher of a local magazine here in Virginia called Albemarle Magazine. It's a smallish, local publication that has to fight for every dollar. It's not easy, but they do it. And the results are impressive.

    In a week or two I'll be having lunch with my friend Bernie Mann, the publisher ofOur State magazine.(196 pages last issue) They are doing gangbusters and, as far as I can tell, they are among the most successful regional magazines in the country.

    Last month I spoke at the Canada Magazines Business Summit. Here again is a group of successful B2B publishers.

    In a few weeks I'm off to DIS (the Digital Innovators Summit) in Berlin. It is a collection of publishers from around the globe sharing success stories in publishing. Not one of those tales will be about digital abuses of power, but rather about gaining revenue and market share, and from my perspective, honorably.

    This year I'll also be attending IRMA International Regional Magazine Association. This is a terrific group of regional print publishers growing and making revenue positive strides.

    And dare I not mention Samir's Husni's Annual Magazine conference ACT at the University of Mississippi. As conferences go it is probably the smallest by population, yet the biggest in comradery and geniality. The auditorium is filled with 40 professional speakers and about the same number of journalism/media students. All the publishing professionals represent successful publishing operations.

    Let's not forget the printers and paper companies of our industry. They, too, represent on-going strength and successful revenue streams.

    I could go on and on, but my point is that print is viable and profitable.

    The irony should escape no one that the nature of our product of off-line media is safe and totally non-intrusive to sharing anyone's personal secrets.

    Let's use print and thoughtful, thorough journalism to stop, hinder and otherwise mute the digital surveillance network of privacy pirates and not let them distract us from our successes.

    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 25, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Understanding Advertising Today

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On a day when we read that digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time, it boggles the mind how much known fraud there is in anything digital. Why does the advertising community "trust" what is obviously a global confidence game?

    Fake humans, click fraud, fake ad placement, paying for ads never seen, fake web sites that look real but aren't grabbing an obvious overabundance of loot. Not to mention the theft of our very selves. Our whole lives and families' interests bundled for sale not to the highest bidder, but to any bidder.

    The online advertising ecosystem is impossible to understand much less control under the current conditions we find ourselves in. Despite what we hear from the lofty P&G, there is no competent leadership anywhere, and I'm compelled to add the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is nothing but a joke.

    Where is the industry leadership? I used to think the US government could be the answer to regulate this problem. Forget that pipe dream. Too many senators have demonstrated clear stupidity about the Internet. It's ridiculous, but the lawmakers who have the power to regulate technology have absolutely no idea how technology works.

    Do you remember when Sen. Orrin Hatch asked Mark Zuckerberg how Facebook is able to sustain a business model while running as a free service. I'm sure Zuck stifled an internal chuckle and was barely able to keep a straight face when he responded, "Senator, we run ads." "I see, that's great," Hatch replied. No, there will be no shining knight from the Capitol to save the day.

    Part and parcel with the fraud, how is it that we all ignore the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of people? Not their rights, our rights. Facebook's lies, duplicity and personal intrusion by hidden surveillance systems all go unchecked. Do you know that Facebook tracks you through third parties whether or not you are logged into Facebook? As Bob Hoffman pointed out a few weeks ago "And the pièce de résistance -- Facebook's new data policy asserts that they track you even if you don't have a Facebook account."

    This is not a rant about Facebook. They are just a single example of the on-going digital depravity.

    It's an old stat, but did you know that for every $3 spent on digital ads, fraud takes $1 (Adage.com, 2015)

    Did you know that US brands would lose $6.5 billion to ad fraud in 2017. (Marketing Week, 2017)

    Here is a 2018 stat - How much have you spent on fraudulent ads today? How much have your fellow advertisers? Try $51 million. Research estimated that digital advertisers wasted $51 million on ad fraud every single day in 2018. That's a massive $19 billion over the year.
     
    There is an abundance of data that shows that magazines are more trusted than any other delivery vehicle. It is rated and respected by readers for top quality and accuracy in reporting.

    Yet, in review, print which is trusted by all parties loses market share every year, while obviously fraudulent digital advertising is to surpass print and TV for the first time.

    Advertising is the Big Brother we were warned about. Its mission is nothing short of surveillance for a profit. The information on us is stored, sorted and turned against us as an algorithm. And if the algorithm is good, we will march to it.

    Now is the time where I should make some sort of demand or plea for us band together and transform the system. Nope, that isn't going to happen. There is too much greed and too much money for this to change any time soon. How does this rectify? Is there hope in this digital morass?

    I have hope, but no ideas.

     
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
    (0) Comments

  • BoSacks Speaks Out: On Bezos, AMI and the American Newsstand

    BoSacks Speaks Out: On Bezos, AMI and the American Newsstand

    BoSacks Speaks Out: Why is our industry always seeming to be at a crossroads of crisis when it comes to the newsstand part of our industry? 

    When I got into the magazine game in the 1970s the newsstand was in some parts corrupt and yet reliable and profitable. Once you figured out the "system" you could do very well and never worry about its brittleness because it was a strong delivery business with a functioning national infrastructure. These days many knowledgeable professionals constantly talk about its fragility.

    The newsstand is often misunderstood and is more complex than most realize. There are an unusually large set of varied businesses focused on the selling of magazines on the newsstand. There are thousands of people and hundreds of businesses dedicated to the shipping, driving, selling, stocking, coordinating, consulting and returning of magazines in the retail supply chain. Their salaries depend on the success of the newsstand. It is a complex process that thousands have devoted their careers to. In this mix not only are the newsstand organizations, the supply chain subgroups, but also actual magazines that live and die on the newsstand alone as their main source of revenue.

    Last year a friend/publisher e-mailed me the following, "The newsstand system is becoming increasingly irrelevant to most magazine publishers. Big publishers now create covers more with the goal of getting clicks and social-media buzz than selling copies. I can't say that I disagree with them. The newsstand system is a shit show of incompetence and inefficiency."
     
    This esteemed friend is wrong about most publishers and not so wrong about efficiency. The newsstand is not irrelevant to most publishers, in fact just the opposite. It is only the large publishers to which "The newsstand system is becoming increasingly irrelevant." In 2017 there were 7,176 titles and many, perhaps most, gain their revenue from retail sales.
     
    Which brings us to Linda Ruth's article about AMI and the newsstand. Does AMI, now exposed to possible legal issues or at least an in-depth examination, put more stress on the now admittedly fragile newsstand?
     
    What if? That is what I keep thinking. What If an implosion happens? What would be the real time effects on our printers, publishers and, as I said before, thousands of employees in the distribution side of the business? 
     
    We need the newsstand to survive and thrive. Over the years there have been forecasts of its death and proposed plans to save it. Neither have happened. No modernization, little-to-no overhaul and, of course, no death.

    Regardless of what happens to AMI I don't foresee the death of the newsstand as we know it. I don't believe the newsstand will ever evaporate, because there are still billions to be made in it. No businessman likes a vacuum, and someone will eventually reconstitute a distribution system. But the intervening space between implosion and reconstruction would obviously be devastating. 

    Since the demise is unimaginable, I prefer to think the newsstand will continue along its way with a stumble or two every now and again.  
    by Bob Sacks
    Posted February 22, 2019
    (0) Comments

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