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Behind Business Insider’s Paid Content Success Story
Business Insider developed and executed a paid premium content offer, but wanted to further increase engagement, conversion rates, and revenue. They introduced a new approach, in partnership with Piano, of rapid experimentation and learning — targeting specific audience segments with freemium paywalls, registration offers, and personalized promotions with the goal of optimizing every step of the user journey and building on the success of their efforts.
Using Piano’s Composer and VX tools, Business Insider and Piano collaborated to develop a paywall optimization strategy focused on revenue generation and driving long-term subscription growth. Post implementation, Business Insider was able to:
Visit piano.io for more information or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you attending the Folio: Show in New York City? Check out our session on Subscription Stories: Making Paid Content Work—From Exposure to Retention on Tuesday, October 9th at 2:50pm. We hope to see you there!
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21 Sep 2018 | 11:07 am EDT
Montana Magazine Shuts Doors After 48 Years
"Unfortunately, the dynamics of the publishing business have changed, and the magazine has reached the end of its distinguished run," wrote the magazine's general manager, Matt Gibson, in a note to readers. "All of us at Montana Magazine appreciate our loyal readers, and we're sorry to disappoint so many of you."
The news comes about a week after Lee Enterprises abruptly shuttered another Montana title, the alt-weekly Missoula Independent, which Gibson sold to the company last year before accepting a GM role at Lee overseeing both it and Montana Magazine, as well as two other local outlets, The Missoulian and the Ravalli Republic.
A spokesman for Lee Enterprises has not responded to questions about the specific circumstances that led to the Montana Magazine shutdown, whether the company had first pursued a sale of either title as it looks to reduce its $500 million in debt, or how many staffers were let go as a result of the closures.
The Independent's shuttering, which occurred Sept. 11, prompted outrage on social media and even a protest outside the offices of the Lee-owned Missoulian, according to a staff report in the paper.
Earlier that morning, staffers at the Independent—who had voted unanimously to unionize earlier this year—were informed that the newspaper was closed, effective immediately, and that they'd continue to receive salary and benefits for 30 days. They were instructed not to report to work and provided a phone number to call to schedule an appointment to retrieve their belongings from the office.
“It’s just a part of the Montana experience. It’s going to leave a big hole behind,” David McCumber, founder of the competing title Big Sky Journal, current editor of the Lee-owned Montana Standard and guest editor of the last five issues of Montana Magazine, told the Associated Press.
In addition to its four Montana-based outlets, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises publishes some 40-plus newspapers across 20 states primarily in the Midwest and greater Rocky Mountains region—including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Arizona Daily Star. The company claims to reach a combined 1.1 million daily readers in print and 30 million monthly uniques online.
Very sad to be the last editor of a great magazine. I competed against Rick Graetz when I started @bigskyjournal in 1993, but always loved and admired the magazine he founded. Was honored to edit @MontanaMagazine for its last five issues. https://t.co/eWb8UTdr37
— David McCumber (@dcmccumber) September 20, 2018
20 Sep 2018 | 2:42 pm EDT
Pitchfork Taps Puja Patel as New EIC | People on the Move
Puja Patel has been appointed as the new editor-in-chief of Pitchfork. Starting on Oct. 15, Patel will take the lead in defining the editorial vision of the publication and Ryan Schreiber, who founded the brand in 1996 and remained at the helm following Condé Nast’s acquisition of the title in 2015, will remain on in a strategic advisory role and will also contribute to special projects, events and business opportunities for the brand.
Patel joins Pitchfork from Spin where she also served as its editor-in-chief. In her five years at the brand, she rose in the ranks from associate editor to the top editorial role, and focused on reorienting the brand to have a priority on digital, as well as strengthen the brand’s focus on reporting.
“As a devoted reader of the publication for over a decade, I've long admired the site's thoughtful, in-depth writing and clear commitment to discovery and taste,” said Patel in a statement. “Ryan has built Pitchfork into a special place for music obsessives with wide-ranging curiosity.”
Here are the rest of this week's people on the move...
Meredith Corp. tapped Steven Grune as its VP of brand licensing. In his new role, Grune will oversee all of the company’s licensing activities, which spans 60 partnerships and 12 Meredith brands, and will report to consumer products president Tom Witschi. Grune currently serves as the VP & group publisher of the Meredith Parents Network and was the founding publisher of Allrecipes magazine, as well as held leadership roles at Parents, Midwest Living and Better Homes & Gardens.
Terese Herbig was named president of EnsembleIQ’s The Path to Purchase Institute. Herbig will be tasked with driving the growth of the institute's community through events and professional development services. She will also continue upholding her existing responsibilities as president of EnsembleIQ’s consultancy platform, Enterprise Solutions. Herbig has over three decades of experience and joined EnsembleIQ in 2014.
Longtime InStyle editor, Kahlana Barfield Brown, announced on Instagram that she is departing the magazine after over a decade working for the brand. Currently serving as the fashion and beauty editor-at-large, Brown has served in various roles at the publication, starting as an intern, and has made several television and event appearances as an expert on fashion and beauty.
The recently appointed editor of The New York Review of Books, Ian Buruma, is out following backlash of the magazine’s publication of an essay by Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian radio broadcaster who was accused and acquitted of sexual assault and battery in 2016.
Buruma took over as editor of the magazine following the death of its founder and longtime editor Robert Silvers in 2017, but had contributed to the publication as a writer since 1985. It is unclear if Buruma stepped down or was dismissed from the publication following his decision to stand by the controversial essay.
Popular Mechanics announced that it's combining its print and digital staffs for the first time since it launched its digital platform and current print editor-in-chief Ryan D’Agostino will have editorial oversight of both operations. Andrew Moseman, who is currently the brand’s digital director, will still serve in that capacity, but will report directly to D’Agostino.
Time magazine announced several hires and promotions just two days before its sale earlier this week to Marc and Lynne Benioff. In a memo to his staff, Time editor Edward Felsenthal introduced the seven new hires, as well as shared seven additional promotions and new assignments at the brand.
Included among the hires is Judy Berman, who will take on the role of television critic, and two new associate audience engagement editors, Annabel Gutterman and Kat Moon. Other appointments include:
Anny Kim was promoted to copy chief, and Feliz Solomon was appointed to senior editor in the Hong Kong bureau. Other internal moves include:
Executive editor at Time, Matt Vella, was tapped by Polestar, a developer of electric performance cars for Volvo, to oversee its global media relations.
Bauer Media Group promoted Natja Rieber to head of group external communications earlier this month. Rieber joined the company in 2016 as its brand PR manager for the local German Communications Department, and in her new role, she will be focus on developing a global external communications strategy for the company with an emphasis on both employer branding and supporting its businesses. She will report directly to the head of group communications, Arnd Wagner.
Bauer Media Group also tapped Tina Gräf as its new head of group internal communications and she will also report to Wagner. In this role, Gräf will work to establish an internal and leadership communications processes in order to build a transparent flow of information throughout the company. Most recently she worked as an independent consultant.
Deborah Skolnik and Katelin Walling were promoted at Davler Media’s parenting division, NYMetroParents, this week. Skolnik, who most recently held the title of editorial director, was appointed as the director of content and Walling was tapped as her successor. In Skolnik’s new capacity as director of content for the division’s eight magazines and its digital platforms, she will be tasked with the expansion of Davler’s parenting properties, in both the areas of print and digital. Walling most recently served as deputy editor for NY.
New York Media expanded both its Intelligencer site and its Books coverage this week with a series of new hires, including Boris Kachka as books editor across all of the company’s brands and the addition of several new contributors to that horizontal.
At Intelligencer, which was launched this week as a stand-alone new politics, business, technology, media and innovation vertical, Josh Barro was hired as a business columnist, Zak Cheney-Rice was tapped as a writer covering race and identity, and Sarah Jones was also hired as a writer, covering progressive politics and policy, to help grow the site.
In an effort to grow its strategy, marketing and original content departments, Cornerstone and The Fader have made several editorial and company hires this week.
Quartz tapped Sam Grobart as its new editor for premium journalism. He joins the brand from CNN where he was the executive editor for technology coverage, and prior to that, Grobart held two roles simultaneously at Bloomberg Businessweek, as both senior correspondent and managing editor of Bloomberg digital videos. He started this past Monday in the New York office.
Condé Nast Traveler articles editor Paul Brady is leaving the brand to join Skift as an editorial strategist. This follows about a month after the announcement that the U.S. and the UK versions of the magazine are combining at the start of next year.
Annie Karni, who most recently served as a politics reporter covering the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Trump White House for Politico, is joining the New York Times in November as its new White House correspondent.
Kate Spellman is joining Questex in the newly created role of chief marketing officer. More on that here.
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19 Sep 2018 | 4:04 pm EDT
Tiger Woods, Newlyweds, and a Wildlife Crisis Drove April’s Best-Performing Print Issues
Like in previous months, the top performing print magazine issues of April featured a mix of both escapism and depictions of dire crises, according to the most recent data from GfK MRI's Issue Specific Study, which measures how well individual issues perform against a magazine's 12-month readership average.
The two issues that tied for the top spot were no exception. Featuring a cover story about the discovery in Montana of CWD—a contagious disease infecting free-range deer at an alarming rate—and the lack of government funding to help eradicate it, the April issue of Petersen's Hunting matched the April 16 issue of People—devoted to royal newlyweds Meghan and Harry—with a top Issue-Specific score of 137, meaning each issue attracted 37-percent more readers than their respective magazine's 12-month average.
In an unusual result, third place featured another tie, at 131: the April issue of Bonnier Corp.'s Boating, offering Spring DIY tips for getting vessels in shape for Summer, and the April 2 issue of New York, which featured the laughing face of President Donald Trump with an oversized porcine nose above the tagline, “It’s the corruption, stupid.”
Golf magazine, recently acquired from Meredith Corp. by entrepreneur Howard Milstein, rounded out the top five by heralding the return of Tiger Woods in the lead-up to the 2018 Masters Tournament, which was won by Texas native Patrick Reed. Tiger shot a 69 on Sunday to finish 16 strokes off the lead at +1, but the issue garnered 29-percent more readers than Golf's 12-month average.
Click any of the covers below to view full-size.
1. (tie) Petersen's Hunting
Publisher: Outdoor Sportsman Group
Issue: April 2018
Issue-Specific Audience: 5,908,000
Issue-Specific Index: 137
1. (tie) People
Publisher: Meredith Corp.
Issue: April 16, 2018
Issue Specific Audience: 51,965,000
Issue Specific Index: 137
3. (tie) Boating
Publisher: Bonnier Corp.
Issue: April 2018
Issue Specific Audience: 2,812,000
Issue Specific Index: 131
3. (tie) New York
Publisher: New York Media
Issue: April 2, 2018
Issue Specific Audience: 3,742,000
Issue Specific Index: 131
Publisher: EB Golf Media LLC
Issue: April 2018
Issue Specific Audience: 5,670,000
Issue Specific Index: 129
Note: MRI’s Issue Specific metrics show how magazines perform with regard to their average issue audience estimates from GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer® for the two most recent waves of survey data. Issue-Specific data supplement the company’s 12-month readership averages to show how many people had the opportunity to see ads within a given issue of a magazine.
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18 Sep 2018 | 4:59 pm EDT
Tim Hartman Talks New Business Models in B2B Publishing
Government Executive Media Group is in the midst of an evolution.
Once a traditional b2b publisher with print editions, it's now a digital-only organization with a number of innovative products and events. Its business model doesn't support user-based revenue and instead focuses in other areas, from advertising, to content marketing, to research and more.
Tim Hartman, CEO of Government Executive Media Group, sat down with Folio: to discuss his big picture strategy.
You can hear Hartman speak more on these topics on Tuesday, October 9, during his main stage panel "Lessons from New Business Models in Media" at The Folio: Show.
Folio: It’s been about a year since you rebranded your content marketing division to Studio 2G. Since then, how has this piece of the business impacted the company’s evolution, and how does it contribute to your overall objectives?
Tim Hartman: Studio 2G has been instrumental in helping us build those services that do all those types of programs, and I think it’s a long term, strategic differentiator for us in our market.
In the era of native content, we needed to separate it from our journalistic efforts and Studio 2G can act as a signal to our readers that something is a sponsor-driven marketing piece rather than an editorially driven article.
Folio: Do these types of nuanced sales, like those involving Studio 2G, present any challenges from a leadership or organizational standpoint?
Hartman: The programs that Studio 2G creates are much more complex than our typical advertising relationships. They’re consultative, they often are integrated across multiple distribution channels like social, or newsletters, or websites, so they are very complex to execute. To prepare for that, we had to build the capabilities to deliver on that regularly.
One of the unique things we did was we created a dedicated program management team that oversees all of the strategic marketing programs that Studio 2G creates to make sure that every step of the way, we’re updating our clients, we’re making sure our internal people understand the role that they’re playing on the project, and it ultimately helps us improve delivery and improve consistency for our clients.
Folio: What are your clients and advertisers looking for from their media partners, and how are you adapting to deliver on that?
Hartman: They are looking for expertise in reaching government decision makers. It’s actually very complicated to execute programs in the government space because the audience has a lot of turnover in it now. The technical abilities to reach them need to be advanced because the government has a lot of firewalls in terms of how you engage and reach their inbox, or even as a website, how they’re able to access you.
And so, our clients are often looking for access to the government audience and the expertise to actually reach them with digital programs or have them turn out for an event. What that means is that we really have become a one-stop shop for engaging government decision makers. We’ve built a suite of services that a marketer can use to fill any gaps they might have in their program when they're trying to engage a government decision maker.
Folio: It seems like most, if not all, of your revenue comes from advertisers and bigger clients as opposed to readers. Is that your primary focus at the moment?
Hartman: Yes, almost 100 percent of our revenue comes from advertising, marketing services, and events. We’re about 70 percent digital and 30 percent events. We no longer have print revenue, we’ve never had user-based revenue in our mix—although one of the surprises this year has been our paid revenue products, a small paid research product and attendee revenue at our events, have been surprisingly strong for us. We’re looking at ways to capture that energy in the future.
Folio: Do you think then that your brands won’t trend towards a reader-supported revenue model? Do you not see your company creating paywalls or charging a digital subscription for premium content at all anytime soon?
Hartman: I know a lot of b2b companies are looking at user revenues right now and I would advise them to really look at the market for professional content that they’re in. Our primary audience is government readers and it’s a very complicated process to get them to pay for subscriptions for content.
It’s very challenging to become a government contractor and to actually get that end user to get their agency pay for their subscription, so there’s almost nobody in our space that’s charging for government content right now. I think its a valid business model for lots of different markets, but it just doesn’t serve us, given the underlying dynamic of our users.
Folio: Are there any new business models or revenue streams that Government Executive Media Group is currently working on that you’re excited about?
Hartman: I’m very excited about our evolution of lead generation and digital products. We’ve invested a lot in data and technology to provide better account-based marketing capabilities than any competitor in our market. And what we’re finding is that that’s leading to a new type of relationship with companies where marketing clients are more willing to pay for the data directly versus for an advertising program that they ultimately get the data as an end result.
We’re also very encouraged by research and the willingness of government contractors to pay us for insights about our market and our audience.
Hartman: Our focus over the last five years has been to identify and engage every government decision maker in every segment of the public sector. We’ve built two brands in that time period, Defense One and Route Fifty, where audience acquisitions and engagement was the number one priority for those businesses.
They’ve been very successful in building loyal audiences and competing with legacy companies that were already serving those markets. We do it in lots of different ways, but it involves really great journalism, really great digital marketing, and an awareness of who the key audience members are and what your penetration of that market is at all times.
Folio: Does working in the government sector during a tumultuous period of politics such as this one present any unique nuances or challenges, and has this translated into a surge of traffic or subscriptions for your brands?
Hartman: At this time when the country is polarized on so many issues, I think it reemphasizes our mission to help our readers in government, in Washington, and across the country, do a better job and get their jobs done more effectively.
The current political dynamic has definitely driven more engagement for our brands. People are hungrier for news and analysis that helps them make sense of it all. There are so many cultural and political issues that are rising to the forefront of people’s minds that it can be beneficial for companies that are addressing the challenges with real journalism and are focused on the truth.
It’s allowed us to reinforce our brand to our users and it’s allowed us to reinforce the value that we provide them. The result of that is we’ve seen greater and greater loyalty from them. It’s really important, I think, for media companies at this moment to emphasize reader loyalty over just page views or growth in unique visitors or viral hits.
Our jobs have never been more important as arbiters of the truth and your readers and your potential readers will reward your focus on that with their ongoing loyalty and attention. And that’s a central part of the advertising business model.
Folio: What advice do you have for smaller brands who want to explore more in creating content marketing and branded content, who might not have the resources to create a whole division dedicated to that?
Hartman: For companies trying to get more involved in content marketing or strategic marketing services, I’d recommend that they consider partnerships with content creators, with digital agencies, with PR agencies that are in their market, to supplement the relationships and capabilities that they have.
We’ve partnered with a number of different people and organizations in our market also, that have proven to strengthen our capabilities very quickly versus having us have to do every piece of the puzzle. Now we may be doing 70 percent of the project and outsourcing 30 percent of the project. It creates a lean, but scalable model and also can serve to drive business development because often those other companies are those that haven’t been tapped.
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18 Sep 2018 | 4:24 pm EDT