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Tag: magazine

Groupon Investing in Traditional Media: Smart Play?

This morning I met for coffee a friend whose website I’m writing.  It’s a pretty casual shop that opens at 7am; the owner was still getting everything together at 7:05am.  Part of the process: firing up the music.

“I can’t think of it … what’s the radio on the internet?” she asked.  “Pandora,” I immediately replied without thinking twice.  “Yeah, that’s it,” she said, adding “I like Slacker, too.  It’s deeper.”

Pandora’s built from the Music Genome Project, which started in 1999.  In its current form with which you’re probably familiar, the website itself started in mid-2006.  In less than 5 years, then, “Pandora” has come to mean “radio on the internet” on a fraction of a moment’s thought.  I don’t even use Pandora and the connection is instantaneous.  That’s an important and impressive achievement.

If Pandora’s growing by anything but word of mouth, social networking and maybe some online banners, I”m not aware of it.  I’ve never seen an ad for it in any form.

Meanwhile, “the fastest growing company ever” is now “experimenting with what’s now typically referred to as traditional advertising – TV, print, radio, outdoor billboards – to maintain momentum.”  The former quote comes from a Summer 2010 story in Forbes; the latter comes from this week’s Ad Age.  Both are about everyone’s darling, Groupon, the company that can say no to Google and its $6,000,000,000.

Groupon, Collective Buying Power, logo, corporate logo, social coupon, group

Groupon and Traditional Advertising: Is that what it takes to be a premiere brand, a true household name?

Written by Rupal Parekh, the Ad Age piece is built on the fact that Groupon tried to buy Super Bowl ads, but settled for title sponsorship of the Super Bowl pre-game show because the in-game inventory has been sold out for months (at $2.8-3M per :30).  It goes on to detail their engagement with Crispin Porter + Bogusky for creative and talks with cable networks about their new agency Starcom.  It seems like they’re embracing establishment in hopes of becoming a premiere brand.

Attention traditional media: put Groupon on your “new client that’s ripe for courting” list.

Neither LivingSocial, Groupon’s chief competitor, nor Facebook, which has 50% more users at 600M than Groupon at 400M, has spent any serious cash on traditional media.  Apple, on the other hand, can’t be avoided if you watch an hour of prime time network television.  Google falls somewhere in between, but much closer to LivingSocial and Facebook.  Microsoft also falls somewhere in between, but much closer to Apple.

It’s worth noting that Pandora passed the 400M user mark more than a year ago, a mark Groupon hit at a much faster pace, achieving it in 2010.

Questions for You

Is the Super Bowl a smart play for Groupon?

Is traditional advertising still a basic requirement for a brand to become top-tier, to become a true household name?  Do the spend and presence add credibility to a brand?

Does Groupon need an agency, a creative shop and traditional media?  If so, why?  If not, how might tens of millions of dollars be better spent?

I’d really like to hear what you think – please leave a comment below.

ForbesLife: Bridal Magazine for the Super-Rich

I like holding reading material in my hands and turning pages as I read.  I like folding a corner or tucking in a piece of paper to mark where I left off before setting it down.  As regards reading, I like not ever having to plug in, power up or power down.  I like books and magazines in physical form.  All that said, I also read a ton online, but that’s beside the point.

One of the magazines I enjoy reading when it arrives in my mailbox by way of the USPS is Forbes.  Occasionally, the magazine is supplemented by the obscenely rich ForbesLife, positioned as “Celebrating the Best of the Best.”  I’ve never seen a publication stuffed with more ads for watches that cost more than my car.

Speaking of being stuffed with ads, here’s the primary observation of this post: ForbesLife is stuffed with ads of all kinds.  Jammed.  Loaded.  Choked.  With advertising.

luxury, watch, Cartier, wristwatch, time piece

The Calibre de Cartier 1904 MC is advertised opposite the table of contents and is priced starting as low as $6,500.

One thing I like to do when a new magazine arrives at my home is to pull out all the postcard-sized, heavy stock inserts.  With the latest ForbesLife, though, I decided to pull out every page with advertising on both sides.  Just for fun and of curiosity.  The issue to which I refer is the 20th Anniversary issue, dated September 2010.

I pulled out 14 pages (28 single-sided pages).  That included a couple multi-page “advertorial” sections for Marquis Jet and for Charleston, South Carolina.

That left just 35 pages.  Of those remaining, 20 had advertising on one of the two sides.

In this tabulation, I was gracious enough to except the “Down Time, For Fall: Effortless Dress-Down Chic” photo spread from the advertising counts, despite the fact that every clothing item is brand-named and priced.  For your reference, I’ll run down item and price on one of those pages (randomly selected): $11,390 wool coat, $535 cotton shirt, $790 jeans and $70 belt.

To summarize: 49 total double-sided pages, 98 total sides, 48 sides with advertising.

That’s a fat lot of ads!  More than 50% the printed piece is advertising.

Bottom line: ForbesLife is a bridal or high fashion magazine for the super-rich.  In bridal and fashion mags, the advertising plays an important, functional role as content.

Beyond the obvious role of revenue-provider to the privately held media company Forbes, Inc., the ads are critical element of the publication for the reader.  The advertising in this type of magazine complements the content proper, provides supporting images and information and casts upon the reader a sought-after sense.

In the case of ForbesLife, it’s a sense of opulence.

iPad to Save Magazine Publishing?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine, present an idea at Ad:Tech San Francisco.  He’s also the author of The Long Tail and Free.

Anderson seems to have a strong vision and strong voice for what’s going on and what’s happening next.

Chris Anderson Wired Magazine AdTech Ad Tech iPad publishing

Chris Anderson sees a future for magazine publishing; it's all about the tablet.

His idea involves Wired, Adobe, Apple’s iPad and a healthy future for magazine publishers like Conde Nast (Wired, Vogue, GQ, and loads more).

He’s presented this idea for a few months now, so I won’t belabor it.  Instead, I’ll share my version of it in bullet-point form.

  • The tablet is the “third great platform” (PC > phone > tablet)
  • The tablet is permitted by the movement of of storage and computing/processing off the local machine and into “the cloud”
  • The web lowers barrier to entry and eliminates scarcity so competition is wide open
  • If the tablet goes rich and dynamic, traditional media may once again be able to deliver their skills in a commanding way
  • Wired/Conde Nast is working with Adobe to establish new publishing process
  • They’re seeking the efficiencies of digital, but with the pricing of analog – need a new economic model to survive, tablet era provides opportunity to create new model
  • Magazines provide the height of production value – layout, design, photos, etc
  • HTML and browsers limit the reproduction of this rich experience online – the magazine is lost in translation
  • At present, Wired magazine and wired.com are produced and sold by two separate groups
  • In a new future, digital can be designed and sold in parallel with print, simultaneously
  • Same thoughts, same people, same process
  • Print, portrait and landscape displays all laid out at once
  • It can be made to be worth paying for, not “less than print” like HTML/browser reproduction, but actually more
  • For the first time ever, Anderson sees a 21st century magazine business

I don’t have the knowledge, foresight or even interest to judge whether or not the tablet will, in fact, become the third great platform.

I support the production values argument, but the web has proven “good enough” for most people.

I also feel strongly that new economic models for publishers based in yesterday’s media must be developed.  So many people take such great pride in not watching TV, not reading magazines and not subscribing to newspapers.  Example: “I just get my news from Google.”  Meanwhile, a disproportionately high portion of their media consumption online is provided free by television-, magazine- and newspaper-based publishers.  This can’t go on forever.

So: good luck to Anderson, Adobe and Conde Nast – I wish healthy futures for all content producers, especially ones pushing forward production and display.

HP Slate (their tablet) versus Apple iPad: engadget

Verizon and Google team to make tablet: gizmodo

Another take on his keynote speech: Mobile Marketer

Chris Anderson’s blog: The Long Tail

Chris Anderson on Twitter: chr1sa

Video Demo of Wired Magazine on iPad

iPad Billboard high over Union Square, San Francisco:

Apple iPad Billboard over Union Square, San Francisco, California

iPad Billboard over Union Square, San Francisco

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