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March 21, 2018

Publishing News

Conde Nast Releases Collector's Edition To Salute MLK Jr.
MediaPost: "Titled “Martin Luther King 50 Years Later: His Life and Legacy,” the issue “attempts to honor the full measure of the remarkable leader––from his beginnings as a preacher to his career as a celebrated, and feared, advocate for social change,” according to the publisher. The 96-page issue contains both archival stories and contemporary essays, picked by The New Yorker and Vanity Fair editors. The issue, which does not contain ads, hit newsstands March 13 and is also available for purchase online on for $14.99. The special issue is free of ads 'given the focus of this collector's edition is centered around such a revered public figure,' a Condé Nast spokesperson said. Stories in the issue include “A Giant Falls,” in which New Yorker contributors Jacob Brackman and Terrence Malick look back at MLK Jr.’s assassination 50 years ago. A 2006 article called “The Man Who Kept King’s Secrets,” by Vanity Fair contributor Douglas Brinkley, has MLK Jr.’s speechwriter Clarence Jones shares private stories about King. “The War at Home,” a piece originally published on by Benjamin Hedin, details King’s appearance at Manhattan’s Riverside Church in 1967, when he criticized the U.S. government for its involvement in Vietnam. The Atlantic also published a special issue last month to commemorate the half century since King’s death, called KING, with original and archived editorial content reflecting on his legacy."

Robb Report Launches The Muse, a Female-Focused Print and Digital Pub
WWD: "Robb Report is launching The Muse, a print and digital magazine geared toward women. 'Right now, the media is so saturated with content, so for us it was really coming up with something that didn’t really exist already--or there was no reason for us to be,' editor Jill Newman said. After a lengthy discussion about doing something in the women’s space, all the pieces seemed to fall into place when Robb Report was acquired by Penske Media Corp., in early 2017. Robb Report, founded in 1976, provides advice and recommendations in superluxe categories such as aviation, boating, automobiles and watches. The brand has steadily expanded its global footprint in the last few years. In 2016, WWD parent company Penske Media Corp. revealed that it had bought a stake in Robb Report from the Detroit-based Rockbridge Growth Equity.“Robb Report is product-focused. This is very much not,” Newman said. 'It was a mix of identifying people who we thought were interesting, and writers who could bring their stories to life.' According to Newman, women have been making strides in traditionally male-dominated consumer spaces such as watches, investing and automobiles--areas that are a natural fit for The Muse to tackle. The inaugural issue includes stories on female “change agents” like Natalie Massenet, architect Barbara Bestor and “tequila’s first lady” Bertha González Nieves. Vogue writer Lynn Yaeger contributed an essay on power suits. Other pieces take on female watch collectors, female culinary figures, female investors and what self-driving cars mean for automotive enthusiasts. Advertising is a mix of female fashion and accessory brands, as well as Robb Report’s existing advertising sectors such as travel. 'I think what’s interesting is that a lot of the advertisers are the same as Robb Report as well. I think that’s because, to some degree, we are speaking to the same luxury consumer,' Newman said. The Muse is also partnering with Spring Place on a speaker series that will be held in both New York and Beverly Hills."

Nautilus, Kalmbach Media Team For Marketing, Creative Partnership
MediaPost: "Reader interest in science and technology is ever expanding. In an effort to reach an even wider audience, NautilusThink, publisher of the award-winning magazine Nautilus, has joined with Kalmbach Media in a “go-to-market” partnership.The partnership allows Nautilus to reach marketers and institutions through a large science media platform in new and expanded ways through Kalmbach Media and its titles Discover and Astronomy."We know that both Discover and Astronomy have large and active education audiences online. The partnership enables Nautilus’ educational content programs to reach those audiences," says Dan Hickey, CEO of Kalmbach. In addition to tapping into an expanded readership, Kalmbach and Nautilus will be working together to produce new content channels.. 'This is a go-to-market partnership, but Kalmbach and Nautilus believe there are both short-term and long-term editorial and operational synergies to explore,' says Hickey. First published in 2013, Nautilus notably took home two National Magazine Awards in its first year of eligibility, the only magazine in any category to have achieved that distinction. It has also won a Webby for best science on the Internet... The nonprofit publication has also struggled in recent years, given funding shortfalls, at one point owing a stable of contributors $50,000. The partnership offers Nautilus a chance to expand its exposure to like-minded audiences, generating new opportunities. Hickey says: 'We saw Nautilus as very complementary to our science strategy. Conversely, Nautilus admired our science brands and audiences. This partnership expands their reach and exposure for their own marketing efforts, as well as their partners.'"

Trusted Media Brands Names Zach Friedman CRO
MediaPost: "As Trusted Media Brands furthers its efforts in digital media, the company has announced the appointment of Zach Friedman as chief revenue officer. Previously, Friedman served as VP of digital sales and business development for Fox News Digital, where he oversaw digital sale and revenue across the Fox News and Business networks. Under Friedman’s watch, revenue performance nearly doubled at Fox across combined channels, as he drove new partnerships and revenue streams with syndication, distribution, e-commerce and events.Friedman has also lead digital sales operations both nationally and regionally at Zenith and Summit Media"...

Ex Playboy Model Sues AMI to Void Contract Precluding Talk About Claimed Trump Relationship
Politico: "A former Playboy model who claims she had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump sued the National Enquirer’s parent company Tuesday seeking to void a contract that prevents her from speaking publicly about it. Karen McDougal, who filed her complaint against tabloid publisher American Media Inc. in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that American Media executives and her own lawyer pressured her into accepting $150,000 in exchange for exclusive rights to the story of her romantic relationship with Trump, which she says took place more than a decade ago. The contract, finalized in 2016 after Trump had won the Republican nomination for president, also promised that McDougal would appear on two magazine covers and gave her a deal to write two years of feature articles... The suit claims that Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer and a former attorney for the Trump Organization, was secretly involved in crafting the agreement with American Media to keep details of McDougal’s 10-month relationship with Trump out of the press at a critical time in the campaign. McDougal, whose claims were the subject of a long article published in February by The New Yorker, also contends that the Enquirer had no intention of publishing her story and rather paid for the rights as part of a practice known as 'catch and kill' intended to stop stories that cast Trump in a negative light from being published. David Pecker, chairman and CEO of American Media, has called Trump a 'personal friend'... A spokesperson for American Media said Tuesday that McDougal was “free to respond to press inquiries about her relationship with the president. Karen signed a contract that gave AMI the editorial discretion to publish her life story, and she promised to write health and fitness columns and appear on the cover of two magazines,' the spokesperson added. 'AMI has a valid contract with Karen and we look forward to reaching an amicable resolution satisfactory to her and to AMI.' The White House did not respond to request for comment. McDougal’s lawsuit is the third legal complaint to center on Trump’s behavior with women"...
Wall St. Journal (paid sub req.)

Sources Claim Meredith Intentionally Spacing Out Layoffs
NY Post" "Sources inside the publisher" report that Meredith, "which is expected to reveal staff cuts of up to 300 people on Wednesday," intends to make the cuts "in increments of 100 each over the next three months"... "Therefore, Meredith will not be required to file WARN notices, the state-mandated 90-day layoff warning for cuts of 250 people or more. If three rounds of 100 layoffs are each deemed to be separate occurrences, no WARN notice--and thus no 90-day grace period--is required. Counting each 100-person layoff as a separate event could save Meredith up to 90 days severance per worker... A Meredith spokesman declined to comment on the cutbacks."

Seventeen Transports Teen Activists To March For Our Lives
MediaPost: "Over the past few years, magazines traditionally geared toward teen girls and young adult women have transformed into platforms for political and cultural activism. Last year, Cosmopolitan ran a feature package advising its readers on how to run for office. Teen Vogue, now a digital-only entity that continues to expand its brand in new and surprising ways, has built a network of young activists across the country through its popular Summit. This Saturday, Seventeen [will transport] 30 New York City teen activists to the March for Our Lives in D.C. Without the magazine's help, they would be unable to attend. 'Seventeen connects with and speaks to teens every day across print and digital platforms,' executive editor Joey Bartolomeo [says]. 'One of our biggest missions is to support our readers as they use their voices to make change in the world. This bus is a physical extension of that. We’re giving them an opportunity to participate in a movement that affects their lives, and also creating an activist alliance for girls who want to make a difference'"...

New Vanity Fair EIC Said to Eye Time Creative
NY Post: "Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones is expected to start replenishing her depleted upper ranks by raiding Time magazine to hire Kira Pollack, the deputy editor and director of visual enterprise. Pollack could have the lofty title of Vanity Fair editorial director, sources said. It’s considered a tough blow for Time. Pollack played a big hand in digital as well as in some of its striking cover designs--such as the Jan. 22 cover illustration of President Trump’s hair on fire and the headline “Year One.” Pollack also headed the documentary film unit, called Red Border Films"...

Oliver's Gay Bunny Book Bests Pence's in Preorders, Reviews
NY Post: "Consumers may have to wait awhile before they can get their hands on talk show host John Oliver’s “Marlon Bundo” book about a gay bunny--written to troll a more serious children’s bunny storybook written by Charlotte Pence, the daughter of Vice President Mike Pence.Although the first copies of Oliver’s book won’t hit store shelves until March 23, Hachette Book Group, which is handling distribution for San Francisco-based publisher Chronicle Books, told Media Ink Tuesday it has 150,000 books on back order.Preorders already pushed the Oliver book--written not by the funnyman but by staffers of his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight”--to #1 on Amazon’s best-seller list, knocking to #2 “A Higher Loyalty,” the memoir of former FBI Director James Comey. The Pence family’s “Bundo” book--written by the Veep’s 24-year-old daughter, Charlotte--sits at #4. Preorder of the Oliver book was available only on Amazon." MediaPost: "As of early this morning, 94% of more than 4,000 reviewers on Amazon gave the book the maximum five stars. And reflecting our political polar divide, 5% of the remaining 6% of readers gave it one star... The Pence book, which targets 3 to 8 year olds, garners 86% five-star reviews itself, with 10% of readers(?) giving it their lowest ranking. But the voting base in much smaller: just under a hundred people"...

Opinion: Google, Facebook Were Built to Defeat Publishers
Recode's Peter Kafka argues: "For argument’s sake, let’s believe that Google believes its newest efforts to boost publishers--by promoting subscriptions, news literacy and other things publishers like [see link to Axios story, below]--will help publishers. Let’s also believe that Facebook believed it was helping publishers when it announced its own effort to boost publishers a year ago, and multiple times since then. Here’s the problem: No matter how hard Google and Facebook try to help publishers, they will do more to hurt them, because that’s the way they’re supposed to work. They’re built to eviscerate publishers... Publishers create and aggregate information and present it to users in return for their attention, which they sell to advertisers. And that’s exactly what Google and Facebook do, too: Except they do a much better job of that. That’s why the two companies own the majority of digital ad dollars, and an even bigger chunk of digital advertising growth. (Yes, those numbers can change--but if anyone displaces Google or Facebook, it will be another tech company.) It’s an irreversible trend, and it’s the one that has pushed every media company to belatedly try to figure out a subscription strategy, in the hope that consumers’ dollars can replace the ones advertisers are directing to Google and Facebook. Not a coincidence: Both Google and Facebook say they want to help publishers sell subscriptions to their stuff. And both Google and Facebook range from uninterested to barely interested in selling subscriptions to their own stuff. This isn’t about Facebook’s and Google’s PR efforts, which range from well-executed to bumbling to worse... This is about the structure of the companies’ products--software, trained by billions of users, that efficiently connects people, content and advertisers, with as little human interference as possible. Google says it will spend $300M, over three years, on the initiatives it announced [yesterday]. Which is a nice thing to do. For context: That works out to about 1% of the ad revenue Google generated in the last three months of 2017. And that money won’t go to the publications themselves. If Google and Facebook really wanted to help publications, they would start writing them real, substantial, shore-up-the-business-sized checks, presented as either a please-stop-yelling-about-us handout, or a “carriage fee,” which amounts to the same thing. Up until the last couple of years, the chances of this happening were right around zero percent. Now a publisher who wishes for this kind of thing out loud doesn’t seem entirely delusional, because buying off--sorry, helping--publishers doesn’t seem like the very worst idea in this kind of news cycle. But that kind of wealth redistribution would be a very radical step-- not the kind of thing Google is announcing today."
Recode (Kafka opinion)
Axios (Google's paid sub-boosting initiative)


Retail News

Albertsons’ New Digital Marketplace Ups Vendor Exposure, Optimizes Consumer Data
PG: "A new digital marketplace launched by Albertsons Cos. will help vendors grow their business by direct-shipping to the retailer’s customers while providing important customer data in various markets. The consumer-facing launch will occur in early summer. The new marketplace is supposed to help customers across Albertsons' banners to find and purchase hard-to-find items while also quickly discovering new products and trends that suit their tastes and lifestyles. It also will benefit the products’ vendors by giving visibility to goods on a prominent digital platform and handling common ecommerce front-end functions, such as search, product description and ordering. The new site also will supply Albertsons Cos. with proprietary data on food and wellness product trends in various markets, helping merchants at the Boise, Idaho-based company evaluate what innovative products to stock in stores while informing vendors on where they should build distribution"...

Amazon Offers Glimpse of New Whole Food Prime Program
MNB cites a Fortune report that "at a meeting yesterday with some of its biggest vendors, Amazon-owned Whole Foods 'outlined its new affinity program in which Amazon Prime members will get exclusive discounts on the most popular Whole Foods items and additional savings on regular weekly sales. During the meeting, Whole Foods stressed to its suppliers that buying into the new program was a way for them to grow.' The supplier meets also are being used to reassure vendors about changes that are being made in the Whole Foods buying process - centralizing some functions so that they are more efficient, but also assuring through a hybrid system that smaller suppliers will be able to get their items into local stores and use them as an incubator."

Earth Fare to Shutter Two Atlanta-Area Stores
PG: "Earth Fare will close two stores in the Atlanta area at the end of the month, according to a local report citing a representative of the Asheville, N.C.-based natural food grocer. The affected locations are Emory Point and Village at Peachtree Corners, according to What Now Atlanta, which reports on openings and closings in Atlanta’s restaurants, retail and real estate. 'As part of Earth Fare’s strategy for accelerated growth, we have carefully reviewed our existing portfolio of store locations and made the difficult decision to close our Peachtree Corners and Emory Point locations,' the company representative told the website, adding, 'Despite the hard work of our team members, the real estate challenges associated with these locations have proven too difficult to overcome.'"

Wegmans Again Lowers Prices on Popular Items
Buffalo News: "Wegmans has again lowered prices on produce, grocery, dairy and frozen food items it says families buy most. The latest round of price cuts includes 22 varieties of Wegmans cereal priced two for $3, tomatoes on the vine for $1.99 per pound and a dozen varieties of Wegmans frozen pizza for $2.99. Some prices are only available with the Wegmans Shoppers Club card. The items join a list now totaling roughly 102 products representing 530 varieties, which was last refigured in 2016. The full list of products can be found at 'For the most part, we have been able to keep prices at the same level since they were lowered in 2016; some of the prices have actually gone down. A couple have gone up,' said Jo Natale, a Wegmans spokeswoman. Wegman said monitoring the competition’s prices and lowering its own is important to remaining competitive. The list is comprised almost completely of Wegmans products, because the company has the most pricing leverage with its own brands."

Amazon Passes Alphabet as U.S.'s 2nd-Largest Company, for 1st Time
WSJ: On Tuesday, "Amazon closed up 2.7% at $1,586.51, giving it a market value of $768B, while Alphabet shed 0.4% to $1,095.80, lowering its market cap to $763B. Apple Inc. has the largest market cap, at $889B"...
Wall St. Journal (paid sub req.)

Five Jaw-Dropping Reactions From These Ad Execs' Visit To Amazon Go
MediaPost: Two execs from the Media Kitchen media buying agency share their--uniformly positive--impressions from a live visit to the Amazon Go store in Seattle. Excerpts: "The strength of this store is that it provides the convenience of whatever shopping experience a customer needs at a reasonable cost, without any of the time constraints. And a fast check out that still surprises and delights... When we reported back to The Media Kitchen, everyone was curious about how Amazon would use the data being volunteered by shoppers. We didn’t see any evidence to support that Amazon was, but given how quickly we got our receipts it’s clear that data is flying around the store and through Amazon’s servers very quickly. Additionally, before this experience Amazon already knew a lot about us through our online shopping; now they know even more. They know about our offline grocery experience and also watched us make grocery decisions as we looked at ingredients, calories and prices. They even have a better understanding how we put meals together starting with the salad, working through the entre, and sides (and that we didn’t buy dessert). It’s clear Amazon just disrupted the shopping experience, raised the bar and along the way learned a lot more about us. Given the experience we were happy to let them learn whatever they wanted."

Amazon Patent Suggests Intro of Award-Based Ad Unit
MediaPost: "Hidden in the narrative of a patent description are the details of Amazon’s awards-based advertising technology that drops the price of the merchandise as the consumer views the ad. Based on the patent--content-based price reductions and incentives--granted in October 2017, the advertisement might include audio, video, or interactive content. In the case of video, the price on the merchandise will drop as the consumer views the ad. The idea is to allow the consumer to obtain a lower price for an item or service after receiving, listening to or viewing at least a portion of the content. Amazon began making video ads available in March 2017, calling them Amazon Video Ads (AVAs), through the Amazon Media Group (AMG). Then came DIY ads in search results within product listings. Often, when consumers search across the marketplace the query returns a listing and a video demonstrating how to use the product. Now it appears that the marketplace will begin to use a value-based video ad unit similar to the game advertising industry. At least one industry executive predicts these ads will begin rolling out in the summer of 2018. 'Based on chatter I hear in the industry, this is coming in June or July,' said Adam Cohen-Aslatei, VP marketing at the Jun Group, a mobile advertising company that focuses on distributing video and branded content in apps. He admits that this type of video advertising 'puts pressure on Jun Group,' but also validates that non-interruptive types of advertising are welcome by consumers. 'EA and Zynga championed value-exchange advertising over ten years ago,” he said"...

Deloitte Exec: Most Retailers Still Flunking on Engagement
MediaPost: "While retailers are becoming increasingly adept at collecting and using data to sharpen their marketing, they still say they’re stumbling when it comes to effective strategies for engagement and discovery. In a recent survey of 500 retail executives around the world, Deloitte finds that stores say these two areas are most problematic." Excerpts from a Marketing Daily Q&A with Kevin Hogan, Deloitte’s engagement management director: " In the past, [retailers] were likely to think that adding a new website, redesigning it or maybe creating a mobile app was enough. But it’s becoming clearer that what’s missing is a better use of data. Who owns it? Where is it siloed? How is it integrated? Too often, they’re pushing out campaigns based on the most macro use of data, and they just don’t hit the mark. The brands that are winning are doing so because they’re using data on micro-segments, which means they can talk to consumers in ways that other brands can’t. They’re creating contextual conversations... The big thing is reaching out beyond pushing a product and creating an experience that’s about the brand, not the sale. For example, retailers can use AI to build some canned stories that can enable them to reach out in a new way." On which brands are doing best: "Retailers reporting a revenue increase of 10% or more last year are those focusing on data at nearly twice the rate as underperformers. The Home Depot is one, and it’s adapting digital technology in many ways, right down to finding someone in an orange apron in its stores. Walmart is doing a better job, too, getting very hyper-interactive in some ways. Target is also coming along, and Nordstrom, in the luxury space, is as well. We see tremendous opportunities for big-box stores, as well as luxury."


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