Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

No posts on July 1; Happy Canada Day!

Influential Albertans make for an interesting mix in Alberta Venture

Anti-censorship crusader (and ex-editor of the ex-Western Standard magazine) Ezra Levant, shares the honour of being named among the top 50 most influential people in Alberta with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Rick George, CEO of Suncor Energy Inc. (cover subject, seen at right).

The profiles of the 50 are published in the July issue of Alberta Venture magazine. Among the others selected by the magazine -- a somewhat eclectic mix -- are: neuroscientist Bruce McNaughton, telecommunications mogul Jim Shaw, culture donors Prem & Saroj Singhmar and Iris Evans, Alberta's finance minister. The complete list is available on the magazine's website.
"Some of these people are well known, some less so, but they all have done something over the past year that really says something about Alberta at this time. They are a testament to the diversity of this place we call home," says editor Michael McCullough.

Redwood takes home 25 medals, 3 of them gold, at custom publishing awards

Custom publishers Redwood Custom Communications of Toronto took home 25 medals at the 2009 Magnum Opus Awards, including 3 gold and a special recognition grand prize for Acura Style magazine. The Awards, founded in 2004, are sponsored by the Missouri School of Journalism and ContentWise (formerly Publications Management), a monthly newsletter covering custom media and communications.

Redwood won a gold for best design for a new publication – Aeroplan Arrival -- developed last year for the loyalty program. The two other golds were for the Look Good Feel Better charity, for best non-profit publication and best public service series or article. Redwood also received 12 silver awards, 8 bronze and 16 honorable mentions.

“We are thrilled by this year’s results,” says Joseph Barbieri, Redwood SVP marketing and business development. “It is truly gratifying that the quality of our work continues to be recognized, particularly as content continues to play an increasingly critical role in our clients’ marketing and communications programs.”


Vibe magazine, one of North America's biggest music titles, is folding

Vibe magazine, one of North America's biggest music magazines, is folding, according to a post in Gawker, the Manhattan media blog.

Founded by producer Quincy Jones in 1992, Vibe has been described as the black version of Rolling Stone. A post in Daily Finance blog quotes chief financial officer Angela Zucconi saying: "We will be making a statement by the end of the day. That's all I can say at this point."
Vibe enjoyed significant success in the late '90s and early part of this decade as hip hop and R&B became the nation's predominant forms of pop music. But in recent years the title has fallen on hard times under its new owner, the Wicks Group, which bought it in 2006. In February, it reduced its circulation and publishing frequency, cut salaries and moved employees to a four-day workweek to save money.
Surviving music magazines include Chart, Billboard, Source, XXL, Spin, Fader and Paste; recent casualties included Radio and Records, Performing Songwriter, and Blender

Mike Holmes fronting companion magazine to launch this fall

Mike Holmes, the muscular star of the eponymous TV fixit show Holmes on Homes, is launching a companion bi-monthly magazine called Holmes. According to a story in Media in Canada, the Dauphin Media Group (Canadian Architecture & Design magazine) and The Holmes Group are launching the title in November. It will include tips from building professionals, construction projects, products and techniques, the latest technology and appliances and info about insurance, permits, contracts and inspections.
Moen Canada, a maker of plumbing products, has committed to the outside back cover for the launch issue in November and subsequent issues in 2010. "Right now I don't think there's a lot of magazines similar to it," says Charlie Ferguson, Dauphin Media Group VP. "The editorial will be written in Mike's voice and he will be signing off on all content."
The initial print run will be 75,000 copies, and first issues are expected to be approximately 120-plus pages. It will be available by subscription (one year $23.50) and on newsstands across Canada. The Holmes Group is promoting internally via their website that has a data base of more than 50,000, the story said.

Holmes is debuting a second TV series called Holmes Inspection this fall.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Transcontinental Media cuts 29 jobs in
magazine division

Monday morning first thing, Transcontinental Media cut a reported 29 jobs in its newly merged business and consumer solution group, according to a report in Masthead. A staff meeting was told specifically eliminated were 13 jobs in Toronto, 10 in Montreal and 6 in Vancouver, totalling 22; it's not known where the seven other positions are.

Pierre Marcoux, who recently was appointed head of the magazine publishing division, said in a memo to staff:
Unfortunately, during the past months, the economic situation has not improved and our customers are still holding back on their advertising investments. Therefore, the Business and Consumer Solutions Group management team must implement additional cost reduction measures.

These measures are needed to adjust to the current economic climate and to review our work methods. Modifying our work processes during this transition period will allow us to pursue our development in a more efficient way. Unfortunately, these changes involve the reduction of positions.
Among the cuts were three sales staff in Toronto and four positions from the staff of Vancouver magazine, though two of those are to be redeployed elsewhere in the company.


"Completely unjustified" magazine mailing costs to increase 3% next January

Canada Post is going to raise Publications Mail rates 3% on January 1, 2010, a hike that Magazines Canada says is "completely unjustified". The magazine association has said in a bulletin to its members:
While CPC expressed its sensitivity to the economic downturn and understands the need to attenuate rate increases while the economy recovers, a weighted rate increase of close to three per cent fails to demonstrate any such understanding. The increase is on par with rate increases over the past few years, as well documented in a recent analysis of CPC rate and services history. A three per cent increase is well beyond inflation and totally out of step with pricing of other products and services to the magazine sector in the current economy.
Magazines Canada president Mark Jamison sent a letter asking CPC to reconsider and cut the increase to zero. It has written in a similar vein to Rob Merrifield, Minister of State responsible for Canada Post Corporation, and to James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

It was pointed out to Canada Post that it
  • has enjoyed a $15 million saving, since it will no longer have to financially support the Publications Assistance Program;
  • has received permission to exceed regulated rates on lettermail, something Magazines Canada endorsed; and
  • based its projected 3% on anticipated increases in fuel costs, which have since moderated.

Labels: ,

Hello! Canada and Maclean's hurry out
Michael Jackson tribute issues

[This post has been updated]In a bid to stay on top of the wave of interest in the late Michael Jackson, Rogers Publishing's Hello! Canada is out on the streets three days early with a "special tribute issue" containing 44 pages on the pop star's personal and professional life. It's on the newsstands in Southern Ontario today and rolling out across the rest of Canada by Thursday.

This is the first time in its short history that the magazine has accelerated its publishing schedule to meet anticipated reader demand, according to a company release.
"I heard the shocking news on Thursday night, while I was away," says Hello! Canada editor-in-chief Ciara Hunt. "I came back earlier than planned to begin the mammoth task of creating a totally different magazine. The whole team really had to pull together and work quickly, but the end result is a gorgeous tribute to the king of pop."
[UPDATE: Maclean's magazine wasn't even intended to publish an issue this week, after a double issue last week. But with Jackson's death, a special 72-page edition was rushed together in less than two days.
"It really was a challenge to put together this 72-page issue when we weren't expecting to go to press this week," says Julie Osborne, associate publisher in a release. "However, as Canada's national newsmagazine, we thought readers would look to Maclean's for some perspective on Michael Jackson's life and death. The result is something spectacular, something we are truly proud of."


Is it time to re-think the rate card?

The traditional way of rewarding magazine advertising customers -- with discounts for frequency and size -- needs to be rethought, according to a column in Publishing Executive. Eric Shanfelt, executive vice president of eMedia for Virgo Publishing (he previously worked for Penton Media and Aspire Media) says that, with restless advertisers shifting from print-only to a mix of media, it's a wonder that magazine media kits and rate cards have failed to respond.
Is our goal really to get advertisers to buy more print from us? Our goal should be to get them to spend more money with us regardless of which media they choose. So let’s stop perpetuating a sales model that no longer works, abandon the old print rate-card frequency model, and instead reward advertisers based on their total spend with us.
He recommends that magazines establish "a la carte" pricing.
What would each media item cost if you bought it separately? List out everything that you sell—print sizes/positions, Web ads, e-mail ads, webinars, booth pricing, etc., along with the open rate (no frequency) that each item costs if someone purchased only that item.
Then he suggests that an escalating series of "partnership levels" be offered, driven by the total amount an advertiser spends, no matter in what medium.
If done right, your partnership levels will somewhat mirror the kinds of discounts you would give for print frequency at the same dollar levels. Typically, the partnership levels would be on an annual basis and would be reset every year.
He provides a simple example:

He also suggests using some pre-set packages with different mixes -- for instance, a "print-lover's special" or the "supreme -- combining print, online, events and other products". That way advertisers have the choice of plucking a package off the shelf, modifying a package or negotiating a custom option.
Yes, this is a radical departure from how we’ve always done business in the past, but this is a brand-new media world, and the old ways of doing things simply won’t work anymore. Even if you don’t use this specific model, find a concrete way to reward your customers based on total spend rather than just rewarding them for print frequency.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Maclean's columnist Wells: Don't fix up
24 Sussex, replace it

Maclean's columnist Paul Wells has launched an open call to Canada's architects to design a new home for Canada's prime ministers, so that 24 Sussex can be torn down. His thesis is that, far from being a heritage fixer-upper, the PM's residence is a case of throwing good money after bad.
For the money it would take to fix the old house, about $12 million, I am certain we could build a far superior new house. I am rather serious about this. There’s a one-month deadline for submissions; we’ll publish the best ideas; and maybe we can remind people that architecture can be exciting. I have no idea whether any serious practitioners of the craft will bite. If they do this could be really fun.

Canadian Living and Canadian House & Home are top newsstand performers

As someone who has complained long and hard about the dearth of good, consistent Canadian magazine industry data, I want to acknowledge the good data that we do get. I would include in that the annual revenue rankings of Masthead and the annual tally of single copy sales that the distributor Coast to Coast publishes. It gives us an excellent opportunity to see where things stand and, sometimes, it's not a pretty picture. For one thing, it demonstrates the overwhelming domination of that precious retail real estate by spillover titles from U.S. publishers.

The Canadian Newsstand Boxscore, now in its third year, ranks the top 2,000 publications -- Canadian, U.S. and foreign -- by total unit sales and dollars.

At first glance it is obvious that only 5 of the top 25 titles by 2008 sales are Canadian-published and one of those, Hello! is really a franchise, a partnership between Rogers Publishing under license from a Spanish company. Hello!, in the box score, is Canada's highest selling single copy seller by total copies, with just over 3 million copies annually. Compare that with the next largest Canadian title, Canadian Living, with 1.4 million.

Similarly, the top-selling magazine in the country would appear to be People magazine, which sells twice as many copies (6.2 million) as Hello! and 10 times as many copies as Maclean's or Chatelaine.

But you get a much different picture if you rework this valuable data another way, in terms that (in my opinion) make comparison even more meaningful. By comparing the published annual sales and revenue figures for newsstands with titles' own published data for frequency, rankings shift substantially and Canadian titles do much better, even though they continue to be swamped by U.S. competitors.

For instance, Cosmopolitan is actually Canada's top seller, moving twice as many magazines per issue as People. And Canadian Living and Canadian House & Home rank 6th and 7th rather than 15th and 16th and outstrip Hello! which, far from being Canada's top-seller, is 21st, rather than 9th in terms of per-issue newsstand sales.

Here is the re-crunched 2008 data:

Per issue Copies Dollars
1 Cosmopolitan 230,550 $ 1,287,797
2 People 126,319 $ 635,758
3 O Oprah Magazine 99,202 $ 570,409
4 Maxim 74,116 $ 456,976
5 In Style 76,021 $ 455,369
6 Canadian Living 116,074 $ 429,661
7 Canadian House & Home 65,144 $ 387,605
8 Star 76,151 $ 376,672
9 In Touch 125,664 $ 375,736
10 Men's Health 56,542 $ 338,685
11 Woman's World 147,241 $ 331,291
12 Vanity Fair 56,643 $ 317,903
13 Hustler Canada 24,395 $ 311,769
14 Style At Home Group 53,664 $ 301,227
15 US Weekly 59,931 $ 287,071
16 National Enquirer 60,647 $ 286,589
17 First For Women 89,228 $ 266,790
18 Glamour 53,260 $ 265,766
19 People Style Watch 46,590 $ 232,482
20 Life & Style 69,850 $ 208,853
21 Hello 59,417 $ 197,831
22 OK Magazine 38,575 $ 153,916
23 Globe 32,409 $ 153,048
24 The Economist Group 9,607 $ 72,054
25 Maclean's 9,285 $ 58,760

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 26, 2009

New wine custom pub Vino to launch
in Calgary

A new quarterly three-times-a-year wine magazine called Vino is planned for launch in Calgary; a partnership between Zyn.ca (a new wine store with a massive online shopping site) and custom publisher Poise Publications. Apparently the new magazine will "explore the latest trends in the international wine community, with a focus on the Calgary wine market."

Its total circulation, starting in September, will be 20,000 (of which 8,000 will go to wine enthusiasts digitally and in print, 5,000 through retail and other outlets, 5,000 delivered direct by postal code). A full page ad will be $1,600.

Poise publishes Calgary Polo Club magazine and The Cellar Door.


Major British b2b publisher to charge for most of its content, starting this fall

A major British b2b publisher is going to charge users for access to "significant parts" of its websites, starting this fall. Emap Inform's CEO Simon Middleboe told the Press Gazette that the company would be moving back towards a pay-for-content model. There will still be some free access content, but much less.
"We are in the process of building all the bits of technology in Abacus [Emap's content management system provider] to allow us to put subscription barriers in. We won't be able to bring in subscriptions until the autumn."
Emap Inform, which is jointly owned by a private equity firm and the Guardian Media Group, publishes 10 b2b titles, including Retail Week, Local Government Chronicle and Broadcast.

In May, at the World Magazine Congress, GMG chief executive Carolyn McCall said:
"More people are looking seriously at how they can make money charging for content that costs a lot of money to make.

"I don't think we will be doing much content online in B2B unless we get money for it."


Final butt out on magazine tobacco ads
seen as inevitable

There seems to be a certain air of resignation on all sides about the impending ban on the limited advertising of tobacco in magazines. An amendment to the Tobacco Act awaits only Senate approval to end all print advertising by tobacco companies. (The right to place ads in publications with an adult readership of at least 85% came about in 2007 when a Supreme Court ruling clarified regulations laid out in the Tobacco Act of 1997.) The rationale is that, even when a magazine has an overwhelmingly adult readership, there is some "spillover" to young people.

In fact, says Gary Garland, the executive director, advertising services for Magazines Canada, the new legislation is likely to have little economic impact on the industry because few of those magazines eligible to run such ads have done so. He told the Rogers website everbetter.ca:
“Every publication looks at their readership to determine if they meet the test, and if they do, whether they want to see tobacco advertising,” said Garland. “From what we can tell, most publishers were not accepting [tobacco advertising] anyway, as a matter of policy.”
Catherine Doyle, a spokesperson for Imperial Tobacco Canada, said her industry too was resigned to the Senate’s eventual passage of Bill C-32, although she questioned its fairness.

“Right now, we have very limited opportunities to advertise and we do it in a very conscientious and serious way, understanding the risks of the product,” said Doyle. “We only advertise in 85% adult readership publications, we only do brand or information advertising—all of which was allowed by the Supreme Court of Canada—so it just seems like going an extra step to eliminate even that.”

A determination about when the amendments to the Tobacco Act proposed by Bill C-32, which also include a prohibition on flavoured cigarillos, “blunt wraps” and cigarettes, take effect will not be made until the bill receives Senate approval and royal assent.

Labels: ,

Video of talk about "embattled media" now available online

For those who were unable to attend (because it was sold out or because it was in Toronto), the recent MASS talk by Walrus co-publisher Shelley Ambrose and St. Joseph Media president Douglas Knight, a video has now been made available for online viewing or downloading.

25 years on, ROB magazine celebrates

I quite like the cover of the 25th anniversary issue of Report on Business magazine, out today. It was done as part of a competition between graphic design firms and advertising agencies, with the design by Andrew Cloutier of the Toronto boutique firm Zig winning out. It has 1,000 maple leaves, colour-coded by industry included in the listings.

Some of the very interesting runners-up, from the likes of Rethink (Vancouver) and Trigger (Calgary) and Paprika (Montreal) may be compared and contrasted by going to the magazine's website. Also to be found there is a reprise of some of the magazines' covers over the past 25 years. (This may inadvertently highlight the fact that the 'red box' logo was still very good, bold and distinctive and is sadly missed.) Readers can vote on their favourites.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chatelaine still #1 among top 50 magazines

Chatelaine magazine remains number one in the ranking of top 50 by revenue, published annually by Masthead magazine. The data, released today, estimates that in 2008 Chatelaine had total revenues of $56.5 million (89% from advertising).

(Masthead uses published ad page data by Leading National Advertisers (LNA) and published rate card info to calculate advertising revenue, discounting it by 30% to reflect expected discounting. For circulation, it uses published circulation figures and published subscription and cover prices; sub revenue is discounted by 40%; single copy revenue by 50%.)

The ranking of the top 10 are virtually unchanged from 2007 (Coup de Pouce swapped places with Châtelaineto take over 8th spot. (Time Canada held number 6, but has since ceased publication.)

The top 10 by revenue in 2008 are:
The Masthead Top 50 can be downloaded here as a pdf.

Magazine world view

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ontario cabinet shuffle keeps culture minister, but brings inevitable delays

The good news, for Ontario magazines, is that at least the latest cabinet shuffle has left Aileen Carroll in place as culture minister.

The less good news is that the other changes in responsibility will inevitably result in lags in dealing with critical issues to magazines like the impact of the harmonized sales tax, blue box levies and the unfair subsidized competition of Food & Drink magazine with other food and beverage titles.

The usual excuse will be that the shuffled ministers will need to "read in" or be briefed in how these issues have an impact in their new or expanded portfolios. Result: delay and duplication of effort.

The market is being "reset" says Microsoft CEO: get with the program

The chief executive of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, says that the global advertising market is not in recession, it is in what he called "reset". Media companies should not plan for revenues to bounce back to pre-recession levels, he said (as reported by the Guardian), speaking at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

He argued that traditional broadcast and print media would have to plan business models around a smaller share of the advertising market, as revenues continue to move to digital outlets.

"I don't think we are in a recession, I think we have reset," he said. "A recession implies recovery [to pre-recession levels] and for planning purposes I don't think we will. We have reset and won't rebound and re-grow."

He reiterated a self-serving point he has made many times that within 10 years all traditional content will be digital and yet publishers are failing to generate serious digital revenues.

"All content consumed will be digital, we can [only] debate if that may be in one, two, five or 10 years," added Ballmer."There won't be [only traditional] newspapers, magazines and TV programmes. There won't be [only] personal, social communications offline and separate. In 10 years it will all be online. Static content won't cut it in the future," he added.

Labels: ,

A design perspective on adding value to magazines through attention to detail

A recent post in Creative Review's blog reported on a talk by Scott Dadich, the art director of Wired magazine. And some of the observations by Matt Willey are worth noting (the boldfaced emphasis is mine):
It was nice to have confirmation of the importance of obsessive attention to detail inherent in successful magazines. There is an extraordinarily rigorous and exacting attention to detail that holds Wired together; it serves as a prerequisite for the creative freedom in the magazine. One of the chapter headers for his talk was Details Matter which included an interesting look at the custom type­faces Vitesse and Forza, designed specially for Wired by Hoefler & Frere-Jones, and an explanation of the ‘law of equal volumes’ where the area between any two letters in a word must be of equal measure.

I was struck by how adventurous and varied the spreads he showed were. They seemed to me to be the result of a willingness to try things out and to experiment, to take risks and not be too fearful of failing. Pages that were playful and dynamic and done with a supreme confidence. There were highly complex layouts that were utterly fascinating and there were very restrained photo-essays that were simple and beautiful.

The magazine is as brave and as intelligent in terms of its editorial as it is with its design. That’s a crucial point for me, the design isn’t compen­sating for anything. It’s rare to come across a magazine that does both so completely and with such conviction. Wired is fully aware of and utterly engaged with its reader, in a way that most magazines could never hope to achieve, and yet the range of content and the depth of reporting is vast. It is, at its heart, a nerdy science and technology-based geek-zine but the wonderful strength of that central scientific premise is that, editorially, it allows the magazine to look at almost anything it wants, anything that it finds interesting.

Long before the economic panic really set in, before it took a firm hold, the magazine industry was already going through a fairly severe intro­spection of its own worth and relevance. There was apocalyptic noise about print being dead, the future being an online place where magazines serve no purpose. Wired magazine seems to me to add value to the internet, not the other way around. It offers the kind of experience that the internet still can’t give you. The use of infographics, the many metallic and fluorescent inks, the huge attention to detail – they are all done with the utmost importance placed on the experience of Wired as a magazine.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Magazine world view

Quebecor World to be chaired by former head of major printing rival

Brian Mulroney is no longer chairman of the board of Quebecor World, replaced by a veteran of the U.S. printing industry Mark Angelson, according to a story from Canadian Press. It seems ironic that Angelson was the head of R. R. Donnelley, a major printing rival, until 2007. Donnelley was recently unsuccessful in an unsolicited $1.55 billion bid to take over Quebecor World as it emerges from bankruptcy protection.

Only one QW board member was returned at Monday's vote: CEO Jacques Mallette.

Other new appointees to Quebecor World's board include former Reader's Digest chief executive Tom Ryder and Jack Kliger, ex-president of Hachette Filipacchi. Both men are former chairmen of the Magazine Publishers' Association. Ryder sits on the boards of Amazon.com, Virgin Mobile and Starwood Hotels.

Filling out the nine-member board are Raymond Bromark, a retired senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, turnaround specialist James Gaffney, printing industry veteran Michael Allen, former Alcan executive David McAusland, and Gabriel de Alba, managing director and partner of Catalyst Capital Group of Toronto.

The story said the appointments come a day after Quebecor's Canadian and U.S. creditors voted to support restructuring plans that will allow the company to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

Monday's vote will allow Quebecor World to convert nearly US$3 billion of debt into new equity. The Montreal-based printer has been under court protection in Canada and the United States since January 2008.

Quebecor World expects to unveil its new corporate name before Tuesday's New York Bankruptcy Court hearing confirming the creditors votes.


Brüno cover apparently too racy for
the windy city

The Sacha Baron Cohen cover of GQ magazine, featuring him nude as one of his characters “Brüno”, is apparently too racy for at least one Chicago newsstand, according to a story in the New York Times media and advertising Decoder blog. The newsstand has put the magazine (which is clearly a send-up of the January GQ cover featuring a nude Jennifer Anniston) behind a "blinder" panel normally reserved for soft-porn titles such as Hustler.

Has the U.S. magazine ad sales decline started to bottom out?

Data from U.S. magazines suggest that the decline in advertising page sales may be levelling off; July issues of monthlies are down 20% compared with July a year ago, says an article in MediaDaily News, but it is less of a decline than recent monthly figures. Top titles have experience major year-to-date declines:




Town & Country



Architectural Digest



Conde Nast Traveler









Scientific American



Elle Décor



Harper’s Bazaar












O the Oprah magazine






National Geographic



Overall, of 160 monthly magazines tracked by MIN Online, only 11 (or about 7%) have not posted declines for year-to-date, and 27 (17%) did not post declines in July. Ninety-one monthly titles (57%) have seen ad pages fall 20% or more for the year-to-date, with 40 (25%) experiencing declines of 30% or more.

It's hard to put a good spin on a monthly decline of 20%, but in comparison to other recent monthly figures, July is less. Total ad pages fell 26% in February, 24.5% in April, and 22% in June, so there may be reason to hope that losses are gradually evening out.