What really happened that caused traditional media to shrink so much over the past decade – and why are so many still struggling to come back?
That’s the subject of this presentation, which I’ve given several times over the past few years.
National Geographic Adventure has lost its passport. It’s the latest casualty in the 2009 media meltdown. Staff was told today that the magazine, a 10-year-old extension of National Geographic, would close, according to a report by Folio:.
Seventeen staffers will lose their jobs, the report says. The brand will continue online and with other affiliated products.
According to AudienceDevelopment.com, audited circulation levels are declining at historic rates.
This actually points to two trends — one economics related, and one customer-induced.
The first is that publishers are cutting circulation in order to reduce cost. AD states that “183 publications decreased circ 5 percent or more compared to 142 a year ago and 101 the year previous. Conversely only 41 publications increased circ five percent or more compared to 76 the year previous.”
OK, so publishers are cutting circulation to reduce printing and postage costs. It happens in every recession, and it won’t come back much, if at all, following this recession because advertisers won’t accept rate hikes in exchange for a larger rate base. There’s simply no money in sending more publications to more people.
But the second trend is bigger and more meaningful to advertisers and publishers – and it could put the auditors out of business. That is that publishers are dropping their audits altogether because the audit process provides decreasing ROI.
AD states: “Departing titles far exceed newly audited titles. A record 69 titles were discontinued or ceased being audited and only 23 titles were added to the audited ranks. The total number of audited “consumer magazines” fell from 545 a year ago to 499.”
More and more advertisers are changing their perspective from wanting to reach a verified audience to wanting to achieve a measurable response from whoever they reach – a painfully fundamental change that I’ve previously addressed, and which most publishers – especially in the glamorous consumer world – are still trying to tiptoe around.
A hundred valid responses from an unaudited audience is worth 10x more than 10 valid responses from an audited audience.
From a publisher’s perspective, if you can deliver the responses, the audit becomes irrelevant.
Based on this, the audit bureaus ought to be frightened.
And while abandoning your audit is still a bold step in the magazine business, I assume that most publishers who do so are reinvesting in products that deliver the kind of results their customers really want.
The parties I’m most concerned about are the publishers who haven’t talked about leaving the audit behind. Because if it hasn’t occurred to you, then you clearly haven’t been listening to what your customers want. And this is one of those watershed times when the only security is to be so close to your customers that you can feel them breathe.
It’s been reported in several media over the past week or two that GM is considering changing its logo to green to reflect a leaner, more environmentally conscious identity.
I can’t think of anything less meaningful to the company or its customers.
GM’s future has nothing to do with telling the world that it’s lean and green — which is what the new logo color is supposed to represent. The only thing that matters is whether the public comes to perceive that GM and its products reflect the right values.
Honda and Toyota do well in the U.S. (and most places) because, to a vast number of people, their brands have come to represent cars that are among the easiest and most enjoyable to own: affordable, reliable, durable and neither too ugly nor too fancy. People didn’t come to feel that way because Toyota and Honda continually told us that their cars were just right (even though they DO continuously tell us). People came to feel that way because their experience was consistent with all the wonderful things Toyota and Honda always say about themselves.
GM would argue that it’s making cars with these same wonderful attributes. Whether that’s true is irrelevant. What matters is whether people perceive that it’s true.
Further, it’s not enough for people to agree when GM says it. People have to assign these attributes to GM products without any prompting before GM can regain its role as a leader in the global auto industry. That’s what branding is all about. And it takes years — not just years of marketing, but years of consistency in what you promise and what you deliver. Today, GM is still too close to the Hummer for anyone to really believe that it cares a lick about lean and about that kind of green.
GM may engineer a financial recovery over the next couple years, and that will be a great thing. But it’s going to take far longer than that for people to know, in their bones, that GM stands for lean and green — if, in fact, that’s really what GM wants for the long haul.
And I don’t even think that’s the right message. Because in 15 years, green is going to be the price of entry in the car business; if your products aren’t environmentally responsible, then you won’t thrive. So is GM going to rebuild its very identity around meeting the next generation’s minimum standards?
Do Honda and Toyota really get respect for the energy efficiency of their fleets? Or do they get respect for pursuing a mission — building cars that people want to own — with so much focus that energy efficiency naturally became a part of it at the right time? Their fleets were energy efficient before the 2008 run-up in gas prices. The only thing that changed was the advertising.
If the new GM is smarter than the old GM, it will focus on the reasons people really buy cars — the perfect combination of price, style, durability, maintainability and lifetime affordability. Green fits in there for sure. But it won’t always be the headline. And even today, I doubt it’s the reason most people choose which car to buy.
Nicholas Kristoff writes in the New York Times that your political leaning isn’t your fault.
Liberals and conservatives not only think differently, he writes, they feel differently. Which means that when a person accuses you of a horrible misunderstanding about the way the world works, an argument doesn’t have to ensue.
First, you should know that this poor confrontational soul has been trained from the day he or she was born — and maybe even programmed in the womb — to disagree with you on pretty much anything that matters.
This is important to a whole bunch of folks, like those at Civilpolitics.org who seem to think that we ought to be able to discuss our differences without calling each other idiots and nitwits.
That’s just crazy talk.
We should care precisely because polite dialogue is a waste of time that we don’t have. Anyone who uses this knowledge to increase the amount of talk should be sent to Guantanamo. The rest of us will use this insight can be used to get right to the heart of the matter ASAP. We can finally settle the critical issues of our time: abortion, gay marriage, access to health care and whether the Constitution is a living, breathing document.
What we need to do is conduct more research into the workings of the political mind. This could get costly, so the government might need to subsidize it. But it would be one area of study that we can all agree is worth the price. Am I not right?
Soon we will know with certainty which end of the political spectrum is not a choice, but rather an unfortunate disability. Once we know that, it’s an easy step to an infrastructure of subsidized treatment centers offering therapy, behavior modification, enhanced cognition techniques and, eventually, carefully monitored release of individuals back into society.
Which side would get this assistance and care? Liberals or conservatives?
It’s obvious already. And if you have to ask, fill out the form below; your plastic bracelet will arrive in the mail in a few days.
Conventional wisdom among many of the people I know — regardless of how they feel about President Obama’s social agenda — is that his economic agenda is pretty tough on business.
As reported by Stacy Blackman at bnet.com, Dr. Robert Frank at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management and a New York Times columnist, feels othewise. I’m especially intrigued by his view on universal health care.