Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Panama Papers: For people who love journalism, it’s a “good-news bad-news” story. It’s a good news story because this work demonstrates that despite declining newspaper revenues, shrinking television audiences, and a global, hyper-competitive business environment, excellent investigative journalism can still be done, and be done across borders of employment, medium, and nationality. 
 

 

 

But the Panama Papers are also bad news because the rise of consortiums like the ICIJ (itself a project of the Center for Public Integrity), are the result of mainstream news outlets suffering under rapidly declining revenues and being unable to fund large-scale reporting ventures by themselves. The success of the Panama Papers represents the failure of a business model, and it’s the model that has paid for most of the serious journalism we in North America have relied upon for most of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. 

 

Here in Canada when Postmedia slashed 90 jobs and merged competing newsrooms in Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, the word everywhere was “business.”  Implicitly or explicitly, we heard: It’s a business decision. Specifically, Postmedia must think of its bottom line. The situation in Canada’s broadcast world is similar. As viewership declines, television newsrooms are cutting staff. For reasons of economic efficiency, Global News now routinely partners with the Toronto Star for investigative pieces. So broadly speaking, the news business is in trouble. 

 

But we need to stop having this discussion, as if the only thing at stake is company profits.  Yes, journalism is a business. For most of our recent history, it has been a part of a capitalist enterprise. However, a true democracy needs tough, independent, outspoken media—regardless of platform—to hold publicly elected officials, and publicly funded institutions, to account. Journalism is more than big business; it’s a sacred trust. 

 

To Subsidize or not to Subsidize 

Many Nordic countries have subsidized newspapers for most of the 20th century because they recognize that papers play a unique political and social role that’s invaluable to their democracies.  Instead of throwing up their hands and expecting the market to solve the printed press’ waning readership, countries like Sweden are actively searching for effective ways to maintain support of news media and the social benefits they provide. 

 

Over the last year, the Swedish government held an inquiry into the conditions of its daily press, and introduced a new bill to its Riksdag. To be clear, it’s not that Sweden supports only its newspapers; public broadcasting had a monopoly until the early 1990s, but the current focus of inquiry is on newspapers. Riksdag’s website outlines how the bill contains proposals aimed at creating greater incentives for daily papers with operational subsidies to increase readership revenue, while promoting technological development and the innovative business models, so the functions vital to democracy are sustained over the long term. 

 

The Way Forward 

The kind of journalism that ICIJ is doing, through the Center for Public Integrity, is paid for by donations from foundations and individuals. The ICIJ does not accept money from governments. Generally, these journalists publish their work on ICIJ’s website, and distribute to NGOs and other interested outlets. Because of the size and impact of the data from the Panama Papers, the Center interested a consortium of newspapers and other media outlets, including the CBC, which were willing to commit staff and resources, and publish the results of the investigation. 

 

While the Panama Paper collaboration offers one positive model, and a future for investigative journalism, it’s not without its drawbacks. Because of the project’s magnitude, Robert Picard of the Reuters Institute at the University of Oxford noted that many people and media organizations were interested in being involved, and in funding this particular work. “But for work that’s theirs and theirs alone,” he said, “they [ICIJ] need more funding. Until you have endowments in place, and they are earning their own income, you have to spend money on what your funders want you to spend it on.” 

 

This might mean that stories that are equally important, but less popular, may not get covered. Again, the model is one that can be motivated entirely by profit and not by considerations of what is in the best interests of the public in a democracy.

 

Here at home, we need to stop blaming the Internet and harkening back to a golden age of consumer support for news that never was. Given media’s singularly indispensable role, we must acknowledge that other factors besides media demand can influence their profitability and stop pretending that they’re just another business. We need a policy whose purpose is not to shore up existing enterprises, but only the ones that ensure our democratic needs are met. 

 

While newspapers are on the decline, journalism doesn’t have to be. This is an idea that those of us who teach journalism need to push because declining newspaper and legacy media opportunities have led to declining enrollments.

 

While none can predict the future, the Reuters Institute published a study in 2014, outlining the results of what a sample of news professionals from the U.S. and Europe imagine their profession will look like in years to come. Picard notes sadly, “There is a lot of fear.”  The report itself suggests that as institutional employment diminishes, there is a rise of entrepreneurial journalism—where journalists establish small or medium-size enterprises that produce and distribute their own content through websites, or sell syndicated material to other outlets. Usually, these undertakings support one person, or a small co-operative of people, and are focused on local coverage or highly specific topics.  

 

While this model is clearly having some success, as J-Source outlined recently in a piece titled, “journalism startups carve out niches for themselves,” there are concerns about the precarious nature of this labour.  “Many people believe the future of journalism is one that will be practiced part-time, or by people who have a partner or a spouse with benefits,” said Picard, about the musings of those in the Reutersstudy. 

(This posting is an excerpt from an artcile published in the Spring 2016 issue of Media Magazine published by the Canadian Association of Journalists. You can read read the whole artcile at this link)

 

 

 

Romayne Smith Fullerton is an associate professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario and the current ethics editor for J-Source. Along with Chris Richardson, she is the editor of Covering Canadian Crime: What Journalists Should Know and the Public Should Question (University of Toronto Press, 2016). At present, she is working on a book that compares crime coverage practices in North America with those of select Western European countries.

 
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Canadian supermodel Coco Rocha stars in 35 unique cover art combinations

 

A Canadian first, FASHION Magazine showcases supermodel Coco Rocha looking fierce on not one, but five different cover images for its April 2017 issue.

Featuring a unique five-cover perforated “flip book” approach, the interactive issue allows readers to play with the cover and customize their favourite look on Coco Rocha for up to 35 unique combinations. Celebrity makeup artist for L’Oréal Paris USA Sir John Barnett worked with FASHION’s Beauty Director, Lesa Hannah, to curate and execute each of Rocha’s unique and on-trend beauty looks.

“This is a great example of two brands coming together to create an exceptional content collaboration that provides surprise and delight for our audiences across all platforms,” says Jacqueline Loch, Vice-President & Group Publisher, Women’s Brands at St. Joseph Communications. “L’Oréal Paris is a wonderful partner and a true innovator in beauty. They are the perfect brand for an editorial integration of this scale, embracing our vision while enabling us to bring the concept to life.”

 

Rocha—a noted chameleon—brought each look to life, illustrating a different mood for each portrait. The looks are featured on the cover execution and in the 10-page fashion and beauty feature in print as well as in a behind-the-scenes video. The live cover shoot was captured on social media via Instagram, Facebook Live and Twitter, leveraging FASHION’s 2.6 million social media audience and Coco Rocha’s 1.1 million Instagram followers.

“The cover and the issue theme is grounded in the concept of ‘IRL vs. URL,’ a narrative on the In Real Life moments we experience versus our digital dreams,” says Noreen Flanagan, Editor-in Chief, FASHION. “Understanding how and when our IRL and URL lives intersect — or don’t — is the inspiration for this issue.”

The interactive cover pays tribute to this idea via its unique ability to be manipulated based on the reader’s preferences. The issue also takes readers beyond the page with video features that drive to how-to makeup tutorials with Sir John from the photo shoot. “We want to invite our readers to have some fun and celebrate the joy of beauty, and we wanted to create a memorable real-life experience,” says Flanagan. The April cover challenges readers to have their own faceoff with Rocha and post their favourite combination on Instagram with the tag #FMIRLvsURL.

The April issue of FASHION Magazine features photography by Owen Bruce and styling by George Antonopoulos. The print edition of FASHION’s April issue hits newsstands in Canada on March 13 and at select Barnes & Noble locations in the U.S. on March 28. For the full story and behind-the-scenes content from the April 2017 issue, please visit fashionmagazine.com.

 

Monday, February 27, 2017

As an marketer, data is critical. For email publishers today, it’s more critical than ever to focus on what this data tells you about the subscribers on the other end of the send button – and understand what “makes them click”. If you’re seeing low or declining click-through rates for your emails, you may need to present your content in a more engaging way or offer more value to your email audience. If you don’t, they will begin to tune out your message or unsubscribe altogether.

To help you better engage your subscribers, here are some simple tips to optimize each and every email you send – keeping more eyes on your email and less clicks on the unsubscribe.

 

1. First Impressions Count
Ever hear your mother tell you “don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, email is different. The most important ideas should always appear at the top of your email. Capture your audience’s attention quickly with special offers, or enticing ideas that encourage them to continue reading. Be clear as to what the purpose of the email is and make sure your subject line reflects that as well.

2. Rich Content Experiences
Add images to help make it an engaging read and easy to skim for users on-the-go. And make sure your images render on all devices! More than half of all email sent today is opened on mobile devices – for younger audiences, this percentage is even higher. Ensure your format is compatible for mobile, as well as each device used by your audience. Your email reports should help you determine which devices and operating systems are prominent for your audience.

3. Animation/Video
Create engaging, visual experiences with the content in your email. Increase click-through rates, time spent reading, as well as replies and sharing by targeting your audience with personalized video content. Digital video has been one of the fastest-growing ad formats for the past several years, and is increasingly popular among consumers. It’s unsurprising then to see email marketers getting on board with video.

4. Quality Over Quantity
Break up the text into short, concise paragraphs with bold keywords to call out major ideas. Forget the filler words and get straight to the point so readers click through to read more.

5. Get Social
Successful emails prompt the reader to take action, whether it be a click, reply, forward, or share – you want them to be engaged. Link to your social sites to continue the conversation with your subscribers beyond their inbox.

6. Accessibility
Design for viewing on different platforms. More than just devices, make it accessible for people with disabilities and those that need to be able to navigate easily.

Most Importantly – Test!
Your audience will more than likely respond differently than another so be sure to test subject lines, headers, images, copy, calls to action, colours – the more you test, the more you will learn about what makes your audience respond and create incremental improvement with each and every email campaign you send out.

 

Taina Suomela is the General Manager of the Toronto office for Inbox Marketer, a data-driven digital marketing services & technology company. For more information on email marketing and ways to engage your audience head to www.inboxmarketer.com for lots of resources  

Friday, February 17, 2017

In recent years media planning has fallen victim to absolutism in the form of micro-targeting via digital media. The data can locate precise prospects in the moment they’re ready to buy, the thinking goes, which makes advertising broadly across media a waste of time and money.

Last year, two news events spat in the face of this “new normal.” First, the largest and most comprehensive study on ROI and media impact ever fielded, the Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) How Advertising Works, concluded that abandoning legacy media (where the committed, predictable reach lives) causes sales to drop. Second, Procter & Gamble CMO Marc Pritchard announced that his brands were stagnating due to targeting too narrowly on Facebook.

Other advertisers are coming to similar conclusions. We recently recorded the biggest spike to date in marketer confidence (intention to increase spending) for more traditional, homogeneous media. Specifically, increases of 25 percent for broadcast TV, 26 percent for cable TV and 18 percent for audio/radio—gains of 16, 11 and 19 points, respectively, over a year ago.

Tellingly, the spending optimism gap has narrowed significantly since the beginning of the decade. In 2011, there was nearly a 100-point difference in net “plan to spend” optimism between the highest and lowest media. Last year, this difference compressed to only 42 points.

Why? Advertisers are awakening from the big digital hyper-targeting party to remember three sustaining realities of media.

It takes big reach to make big sales.

The bigger the brand, the more customers, shopping visits and purchases it needs to stay in business, let alone expand. The biggest staple products need to reach tens of millions of real people (read: not bots) every week to set that equation in motion, and they need to do it predictably.

There’s a natural momentum for audiences that have something in common.

The finer you target audiences online, the more places they come from—like a patchwork quilt of the ideal consumer. Beyond the sum of characteristics captured in a data profile, there’s nothing to connect one to the others repeatedly and reliably. With established media like radio and TV programs that air on a schedule, a regular audience builds. And, thanks to social media, builds on itself, using what the characters did or what the DJs and TV hosts said as the rallying point.

Media won’t work in isolation.

Audiences don’t draw the divides that advertisers do. People just attend, listen, read and watch what they like. And today, they’re merging media in the moment more than ever before. The real power is in the intersection, whether that’s the growing connection between TV programs and social media or the awareness lift that ads in multiple media give each other—as evidenced by TV and Twitter increasingly promoting their interdependence and Nielsen studies showing that radio ads lift awareness of a brand’s TV ads substantially. The more roads you drive into the consumer’s mind, the bigger your presence there.

“AM/FM radio’s daytime presence is definitely getting more attention,” says Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer at Cumulus Media, which operates the Westwood One radio network. “Advertisers now tell us they want to reach the greatest number of in-the-market consumers on the go.”

So what’s a marketer to do? Leave the hyper-targeting party and return to the media mix.

For its part, the ARF, arguably a media-neutral authority, recommends three “smart-spending action steps” for advertisers. First, invest in multiple platforms rather than shifting dollars from platform to platform. Second, spend smart by adding back traditional media to your digital investments to maximize ROI. Third, spend to reach millennials on traditional and new media—not just mobile.

“AM/FM radio's daytime presence is definitely getting more attention. Advertisers now tell us they want to reach the greatest number of in-the-market consumers on the go.”Pierre Bouvard, chief insights officer at Cumulus Media

ARF took the average of category verticals and recommended an optimized mix for a $15 million advertiser: 78 percent traditional and 22 percent digital for people 18 and older, and 71 percent traditional and 29 percent digital for people 18-34.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, in data and targeting. However you slice it, there’s a predictable unpredictability in hyper precision. It’s impractical to identify and connect individually with all of the people who are in the market for a product at any given moment in time. The surer route is to reach the most customers possible. That means building the bedrock of a media plan on channels with reliable mass.

 

Andy Sippel is svp at Advertiser Perceptions, a business intelligence firm serving the global advertising industry.

( This article was originally posted on Adweek and posted with permission from the author)

Thursday, February 16, 2017
 

Marketing automation is on the rise as 55% of B2B companies have adopted the technology into their strategies. Although the most common  use of marketing automation is email marketing, James Morgan, senior VP of global sales at SharpSpring stresses that using marketing automation to its fullest will allow you to do three things very well:

Drive leads by learning about their behaviours and interests

Use this information to create hyper-personalized communications

Learn from your actions and apply these learnings to future campaigns

Here’s how you can get the most of your marketing automation system:

Lead scoring

All leads are not created equally, making lead scoring fundamental to every nurture program. Some prospects need to be fast-tracked to sales, while others may need some nurturing before they are ready to make a purchase. Lead scoring identifies these prospects by ranking their level of interest and sales readiness. Marketo explains that developing a good lead scoring framework will shorten sales cycles and improve win rates because the sales team have the right customer at the right time.

A marketing automation platform can house a number of interactions with your audience: a form on a landing page can capture when they download a white paper or click a call-to-action within an email. Collecting these interactions in one place allows you to paint a more complete picture of a lead’s interest in your company or brand. Working with the sales team, you can create a scoring system that converts more leads and wins more business.

“For instance, when it comes to lead scoring, a CMO would receive more points than someone on the IT team because they are the decision makers,” explains Morgan. “They would also receive more points if they had downloaded a white paper and if they were looking at the pricing page of our website, they would receive an even higher score. When they reach a certain score, the Sales team receive a notification to let them know that this lead is hot.”

Segment

Monetate’s Intelligent Email Marketing that Drives Conversions study found that segmented email campaigns produce 30% more open rates than undifferentiated messages. Unless your prospect list is very small, it is impossible to personalize each marketing email, so having a marketing automation system lets you personalize on a large scale. It helps to segment a large list into smaller groups to better target your communications to these groups.

The email marketing experts at Marketo, suggest two main ways to segment your list:

a) Segment by demographic attributes such as gender, age, job title, industry, geography or interests   

b) Segment by behavioral and past transactional data

Once your list is divided, you can then send personalized and relevant emails to each segment; these are known as dynamic emails. With a marketing automation system, you can make use of the dynamic content feature and create one email template with content that varies based on the recipient’s segment. With no coding necessary, even the most technologically challenged can create a hyper-personalized email to help convert leads to sales.

FitForMe segmented customers using the subscriber’s year of birth, adjusting the tone of the writing and the images to ensure that their messages were relevant to each group. 
 

 

Create landing pages

Use your marketing automation platform to create customized landing pages; no web design skills required! The technology allows you to create a form on a landing page to capture lead information and support demand generation. Using a dynamic content feature will customize how different segments will see a landing page, for a personal experience. For example, the diagram below illustrates how a handbag store can add blocks of dynamic content to a landing page to show different content to different segments, depending on which lead is viewing it. 

 

Marketing automation tools not only allow you to create landing pages, you can track them too. Glean insights from the data collected to better understand your customers and their behaviours.

A/B testing

Never miss an opportunity to test your campaigns. Optimize your strategy by testing features such as the subject line, the email template and the even the day and time that you send emails. Use your marketing automation platform to add A/B testing. This means that a small group will get the test while the rest will get the winning template; that is the template that receives the most opens, clicks or the highest engagement level, as defined by you.

Kissmetrics outline a few things to keep in mind when testing to ensure accurate and reliable results:

Test just one variable at a time for best results

Test early and often - you should always be testing to optimize your email sends

The larger the sample, the more accurate the results

Reporting

Email marketing, with the right system in place, is one of the most measurable marketing tactics. Open rates, call-to-actions, link and attachment opens can all be tracked within a marketing automation platform.

Campaign Monitor explains that it’s important to track these metrics for a number of reasons:

Provides a better understanding of how you should be spending your time

Proves the ROI of your efforts

Improves your results

A marketing automation system allows you to quickly and easily build reports to view key analytics on a dashboard. This data can then be used to optimize and power your future campaigns. “In order to create successful campaigns, you need to concentrate on what is working and get rid of what isn’t,” says Morgan. “That’s how you drive revenue.” 

 
 

Amy-Louise Tracey, Communications Manager, CNW


 

 

 
About Me
Industry Guest Blogger
 
This guest blog is for an exchange of stories from members of the publishing industry be it a magazine, newsapaper or digital only publisher to help foster change and innovation in the digital age. These stories will inspire the industry with ideas to help the industry prosper and keep it relevant with readers and advertisers. If you will like to contribute your story contact Martin Seto 416-907-6562 or masthead@reflexmediasales.com.
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