Friday, July 29, 2005

Suppose they couldn't call it Star Weekly, eh?

Another weekly magazine? This week the Toronto Star announced that it was going to launch the Weekly Scoop, a star-struck newsstand celebrity title (gawd knows, we don't have enough of those) starting October 3.

The Star's track record at producing publications other than the daily has not been stellar; eye is a perennial also ran (though it allows Torstar to keep its dignity and somehow still take those raunchy sex ads).

Scoop will be set up as a separate division, like eye. Two ex-Rogers staffers, Kathryn Swan (ex publisher of MoneySense) will be publisher and Vivian Vassos, ex ME at Flare, editor-in-chief.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Integrated advertising -- is THAT what you call it?

Media in Canada, a website run by Strategy magazine, published the following item in recent days:

2 Magazine takes ad integration to new level

by Paula Costello

Due to popular demand, Toronto-based book 2: The Magazine for Couples is expanding its integrated advertising opportunities. The pub, which celebrates its first anniversary with its summer issue due on newsstands this week, has been running advertorial features that it calls "2 Magazine Promotions." Participants' products are used to create an attractive spread into which advertiser logos are also integrated. The feature is promoted in one issue and then executed in the next issue so advertisers get a double hit.

The vehicle, which covers topics like bedroom makeovers, has proven so successful that 2 has expanded its offering by introducing a contest for its anniversary issue. Readers can enter until July 5 at for a chance to win a "Couple Makeover," a package that includes, this time around, clothing from Point Zero and a weekend retreat at The Couples Resort, among other things.

The retreat will occur in mid-July and will provide the setting for an advertorial in the fall issue. For example, 2 is looking for a car sponsor as well as one from the d├ęcor category and personal finance, among others. The car sponsor would give the winning couple a vehicle to test drive for four days and the product would be shot at the resort and shown in the feature. In kind, there will be product integration in the retreat and therefore the fall issue for all the participating advertisers.

2 plans to run one of these advertorials each issue. There is no flat rate for participation; it varies according to what the advertiser provides and whether their participation is bundled with an ad buy.

The magazine targets couples 25-39. It has a total circulation of 100,000 across Canada but 80,000 of those go to couples who are signed with HBC's wedding registry.

Neil Morton, editor-in-chief/associate publisher, says that, as editor, he is vigilant about the separation of church and state. "We need to make sure it's not called editorial but it is a service to the reader to see how the products can blend into their lives," he says. "As editor I make it very clear to distinguish between the two," but he says the features have proven popular with readers as well as advertisers. "Readers have been very receptive and have been reading and entering the contests."

Morton says 2 is doing the integration partly in response to the fact that TV, films, etc. do it. "This is our answer to it," he says. "We wouldn't allow product placement in editorial but this is our way of somewhat appeasing advertisers in that regard."

2 is one of three magazine launches that were assisted a couple of years ago by the Ontario Media Development Corporation's short-lived Volume One program. It got $75,000 in startup money.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Fighting the good fight

Up against a government monopoly, Saltscapes magazine, published out of Dartmouth, is suing the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission for stealing its idea for a new food, drink and lifestyle magazine. Jim and Linda Gourlay, the co-publishers, set out the facts in the "publishers pencil" column in the magazine's July/August issue (the one with the handsome Atlantic puffin on the cover).

Saltscapes Publishing Limited had approached the liquor commission confidentially to enter into a distribution partnership. Encouraged by the commission, the publishers made a very detailed presentation in March 2002, which was ultimately rejected. In December 2002, the liquor commission issued a tender for an identical magazine concept. When Saltscapes objected that it was a breach of confidentiality, the commission backed down. Saltscapes then proceeded with the launch of Good Taste in November 2003.

But the liquor commission did eventually start a competing magazine and every one of the beverage alcohol ads that Good Taste had, switched. As the editorial put it: "Several agency representatives indicated verbally that they were doing so reluctantly, but felt pressured by the NSLC monopoly." So the Gourlays felt they had no option but to sue.

Are there many similarities of this situation with that of the beseiged competitors of the Food & Drink publication from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario? You bet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

How the mighty have fallen -- TV Guide retrenches

According to the Associated Press, TV Guide in the U.S. is effectively getting out of the listings business, cutting its guaranteed circulation by two-thirds and relaunching in a larger format with an emphasis on lifestyle and entertainment. The new format will launch October 17, with just 25% listings (currently it is 75%).

There is no indication what impact this will have on the Canadian edition of TV Guide, owned by Transcontinental Media; the Canadian edition went through a major makeover recently, increasing to a "super digest" format. The Canadian edition has about 392,000 circ and an estimated total revenue of about $21 million. Circulation and revenue have been declining steadily for the past decade.

The magazine in the U.S. currently guarantees 9 million readers to advertisers, according to its most recent filing with the Audit Bureau of Circulations. But the new guarantee will be set at just 3.2 million, which partly reflects the elimination of 3 million in "sponsored" sales or circulation paid for by third parties (such as distributing the magazine in hotel rooms).

On a conference call with investors and analysts, Gemstar Chief Financial Officer Brian Urban said the magazine's revenues have been declining over the past decade as other forms of TV listings proliferate and as the magazine's newsstand and advertising sales have declined.

The company will also be eliminating its 140 localized editions in favor of a national edition, with either an Eastern or Pacific time zone designation. And it will also lower its cover price to $1.99 from $2.49 as part of an effort to build up newsstand sales, which are more profitable than subscription sales.

Gemstar-TV Guide International is about 40 percent owned by New York-based News Corp., the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Meteoric rise

Announced today that Sharon McAuley will join St. Joseph Media as V.P. Group Publisher of Toronto Life and Saturday Night, at the end of August. Few in the Canadian magazine industry can have had such a steep career curve. Not so long ago she was publishing the tiny affairs of Quill & Quire. Now she is charged with the -- some would say unenviable -- task of revitalizing Saturday Night magazine, as well as directing the St. Joseph flagship Toronto Life. Sharon has shown her mettle as Chair of the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association and brings a circulator's sensibility to the job. Plus she has deftly navigated the shoals of Transcon, so St. Joe shouldn't prove too much of a challenge.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Stamp of disapproval

The recent flurry of releases from Magazines Canada (formerly the CMPA) concerning postal rates and the Publications Assistance Program (PAP) is taking a new, tougher attitude and a more public stance towards the issues. Previously, CMPA releases were long, technical and somewhat mealy-mouthed and most grumbling took place behind closed doors. Now a spade is being called a goddam shovel, although sweet words are always included about the minister in charge.

In fact it must be noted that the ferocious lobbying of recent months seems to have made Canada Post back off to less than 3% over all, much less than in previous years. Still, it's a mystery why the corporation would want to gouge one of its best customers. It may be based on two factors: the industry has never been able to demonstrate its delivery cost structure to postal's satisfaction; and Canada Post may believe, with some justification, that these customers have nowhere else to go.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Texting and the young and single

In most of the discussion about the relationship between magazines and various kinds of new media and technology, texting hasn't figured very much. Magazines seem much more concerned about "monetizing" their websites and making them effective sub-generators, but they may be missing a bet.

Instant messaging is still the preferred means of communication for youth, but recent research demonstrates just how important text messaging is to 18 to 24 year olds. (This was driven home on a recent visit to both Glasgow and Dublin -- the latter a very "young" city -- where cellphones seem to be everywhere, but used mostly more for texting than phone calls. )

BIGresearch's newest Simultaneous Media Survey (reported in Media Digest), says the use of new media has a counterintuitive effect among the younger age groups. Joe Pilotta, BIGresearch's VP of research said "...users of new media are using radio, magazines and newspapers more, while TV has suffered the overall negative effect. Some new media have more effect on the traditional media than others, e.g. blogging, IPOD/MP3 usage, and text messaging."

Percentage of Respondents Who Regularly Or Occasionally Use New Media

New Media Usage










Instant Messaging










Satellite Radio





Picture Phones





Text Messaging





TiVo/Replay TV





Web Radio





Source: BIGresearch, June 2005

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

In-house sub fulfillment software for tiny magazines

DB Scott is on vacation and I told him I'd try to think of something exciting to say in his absence, but I've only now found something exciting to say:

For any small-maggers who aren't already familiar with the CLMP database template for subscription fulfillment, AND for any other small-maggers who knew of its existence, I've just heard that a new version has just been released.

As before, it's a FileMaker Pro template, and it's a very good deal for the nominal price. I've had limited exposure to the original version, but it seemed quite impressive, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the new version differs.

In-house fulfillment software is usually either (a) lousy or (b) excellent and extremely expensive (we're talking tens of thousands, folks). For around US$100 or US$200, however, the CLMP database template is a very practical alternative, and would probably handle most routine requirements of most small magazines -- INCLUDING such things as "reports", which are sorely lacking in most cheap fulfillment software packages, but which are absolutely essential for any publisher.

Anyway, here's the link, for anyone who wants to investigate it:
CLMP Sub fulf template.

I don't know how many Canadian publishers have experimented with the template, or who are using it on an ongoing basis, but if anyone out there has some relevant experiences with it (good or bad), please jump right in here and post a reply with your input.