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.”


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


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



Saturday, February 04, 2017

Last week, the Public Policy Forum released it's much anticipated report on the Canadian media industry.  The report echoed several policy amendments for which Newspapers Canada has long supported. In particular, changes to section 19 of the Income Tax Act would be very helpful to helping contribute to a more vibrant Canadian media ecosystem.

The below is a column written by Bob Cox, board chair of Newspapers Canada, which addressed the recommendations put forward in the Public Policy Forum's report 'The Shattered Mirror'. It appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press

Little good news from journalism report

Manitobans know that when the snow comes and your car is sliding around corners, you switch to winter tires. You don’t stare at the summer tires and think about how you could design a different system to push the vehicle forward. In short, you don’t try to reinvent the wheel.

It’s a lesson the Public Policy Forum could have learned in its report on the news media, The Shattered Mirror, which was released Thursday.

The report provides lots of detail on how much ad revenues have declined for traditional news media – newspapers, TV and radio – and lots of detail on how this has cut staffing in newsrooms and curtailed the amount of civic function journalism being done in Canada.

It asks: “Do the media, and particularly the civic function of journalism – the coverage of public institutions, public affairs and community – need a lifeline?”

It answers the question with a clear “Yes!” But then its main recommendations are not anything that I recognize as a lifeline.

It recommends a 10 per cent tax on purchases of digital advertising in foreign-owned media. This is primarily a tax on Google and Facebook, the two U.S. giants that gobble up billions that used to be spent in Canadian-owned media.

The rationale is twofold: it would make Canadian companies more likely to advertise in Canadian-owned media and it would address the fact that large U.S. digital companies take a lot of money out of Canada and put little back in the way of creating content for Canadians.

The tax could amount to $300 million to $400 million each year. That money could go a long way to shoring up responsible journalism across the country. It could, for example, underwrite the entire newsroom budgets of dozens of major daily newspapers.

But that’s not where the money would go. Instead, it would go to a Future of Journalism and Democracy Fund that would support digital news innovation with a special emphasis on early-stage local and indigenous news operations, and research into issues relevant to the interaction of news and democracy.

In other words, the money would not go to support what existing news outlets do to ensure ongoing coverage.

There would also be money for a whole new service by the Canadian Press to cover local news that would be shared. For example, a common reporter at the Winnipeg courts would provide stories that all local media could use.

Apart from the fact that local news media are already doing this, you have to ask: Does it serve Winnipeggers well to have a single source of such news, with the exact same story being repeated in every local media outlet? I would answer “No.” A key part of strong civic function journalism is a variety of reporting, with different versions that provide different perspectives that allow people to come to their own conclusions.

As well, this kind of service is only viable in larger centres. Who is going to do this in Steinbach and Beausejour and every other smaller centre across the country that is currently served by local newspapers?

The report has some useful recommendations. It suggests taking sales taxes off subscriptions to Canadian news outlets, in large part because such taxes are not currently applied to subscriptions to foreign news outlets.

It also suggests that the federal government advertise only in Canadian-owned media and that charity laws be changed so that people can make tax-deductible donations to non-profit news organizations. These would help civic function journalism.

But, after devoting 80 or so pages to the state of news media today, the report’s recommendations do not go very far towards helping the news media with measures to strengthen economic sustainability.

Currently, there are newspapers and news outlets across Canada doing their best to cover their communities, build out digital platforms and adapt to the new business realities. This is the bedrock of civic function journalism in Canada. The best bet for ensuring its survival is to find ways of helping it get better traction in changing conditions, and not reinvent the wheel.

Thursday, January 19, 2017
Growing up, I always did very well in school—specifically in math. I loved numbers and thought for sure I would be a mathematician one day. As I entered high school my love for education shifted. I still focused on my schoolwork, but I began to expand my horizons to friends and social activities. It wasn’t long before I became the leader of my peer group. It was a tough job ensuring that everyone got along and that we all had a great high-school experience (with as little drama as possible). I managed the team, so to speak, and learned quickly that I liked this role, as a leader and an influencer.

At home, it always seemed as though there was so much to do and so little money. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and my dad worked in a foundry, earning an income that supported a family of five. In those days, Levi’s and Baby Jane shirts were the bomb, but we couldn’t afford those luxuries unless my parents saved up for a gift for a birthday or another special occasion. I knew what I wanted and I knew that I was on my own to achieve my goals, so I proceeded to apply for jobs at basically any business that would consider hiring a child of 12. Delivering papers, collecting pop bottles, picking up groceries for the elderly and selling magazines over the phone were just a few of my early gigs.

It wasn’t until I was 16 that I experienced my first real position in sales. I was hired for a summer job to sell advertising space to local businesses in a community sports program. I was a star! Number one in sales every week. That came with (what I considered at the time) huge financial gains. I was getting bonuses on top of my minimum wage that almost doubled my salary. It was the perfect fit for me, and the beginning of a long career in media.

I landed my first “big girl job” in sales, as a senior account executive with Yellow Pages, which back then was known as Tele-Direct. I loved influencing the buying decisions of a well known brand, and having an impact on people’s lives with my recommendations. I would often have the same clients year over year, and looked forward to their success stories. It was deeply satisfying watching small business owners grow, open new locations, hire more staff, build their brand and reputations, and of course, spend more of their budgets with me. It was all so rewarding, this era when print budgets were huge and digital was non-existent. (Much more simplified when it came to revenue streams, I must say.)

My next career move was into a sales management role, with a leader in the credit collection and credit reporting industry. I wanted to have more influence on the overall numbers, not just my own. I found opportunities to drive revenue in everything I did, and wanted to share those wins and vision with others. I thrived on growth and the bottom line, building new business portfolios and relationships. Coaching and mentoring became a part of my everyday accomplishments; building a strong team came naturally to me.

But I missed the media world, and now, with management experience, I ventured back to where my passion was: in advertising. I wanted more; more responsibility, challenges, control, and accountability. Along came a publishing opportunity that ticked off all of those boxes.

Still in my twenties, I was offered a senior role with Auto Trader Magazines. It meant more responsibility, bigger challenges, and a higher degree of control and accountability. I jumped at the chance to “own” something, and that particular something was the launch of a magazine that’s now known as Auto Mart. I would have full autonomy to build the business from scratch, hiring every role required, building out the pricing model, marketing plan, editorial content, distribution channels and more. It was a dream come true, with one caveat: a cut in pay that represented half of what I’d been earning previously, with a large opportunity to earn 4 times my earnings, should I be successful in this new role. I took the risk, jumped in with both feet, and kicked off my publishing career.

While with Auto Trader, I had many different roles, including senior director, director of dealer services and group publisher. I launched numerous magazines, some of which are still in publication today. Walk along any street in Toronto, and you can still see the original yellow Auto Mart boxes, now reused by other titles. Auto Mart was launched in seven different markets across Ontario, reaching sales (at peak) of $21-million. It was a true success story.

While I was at Auto Trader, the digital world emerged. To me, it felt like a lion in a cage, desperately wanting to break out! I made it my goal to learn everything about this exciting new media (and revenue) opportunity. I was involved in every senior management meeting from the very beginning of’s inception. I saw it grow from the early days when each webpage was a PDF with no functionality or search ability to where the website is today.

We were one of the first to adapt the print business to a digital platform, and in the process, successfully transferring print revenue to digital revenue without taking a huge bath along the way. It was a very exciting time in my career, and I was lucky to have been mentored by the best: John Francis, owner and president of Auto Trader. John inspired me to take strategic risks, innovate without fear of failure, and to work harder than I’ve ever worked, while still having fun. I live by those philosophies and I try to create that same culture today.

After Trader, I dabbled in a couple of other digital and print media ventures that came my way (,,, mainly on the consulting side, helping build business plans and successful launches. I owned the projects until stability was met within the business unit and then moved on to the next challenge.

Along this journey, I met an entrepreneur who owned (and was continuing to amass) local community newspapers. I started off as a consultant but he quickly recruited me as a full-time employee, overseeing 10 local community newspapers as publisher and VP of sales. It was an uphill battle. Each paper was a different size, with different rates, a different printer and inadequacies that proved detrimental to the success of the business. It was clear that change was needed, and over the next three years, we completely transformed those papers, launching automotive and real estate supplements, developing partnerships and synergies within the community and bringing the business to scale. We doubled overall sales within those three years, and with that mission accomplished, my work there was done. It was time to begin another chapter.

That chapter turned out to be a wonderful opportunity with Reader’s Digest, as publisher for Canada. The brand resonated with me, having vivid, fond memories of the magazine from my childhood. I knew that there would be challenges with the brand, as it’s a Canadian icon as a print magazine. How could we develop a digital strategy to reach a different audience while leveraging the brand’s unassailable reputation for truth and engaging storytelling?

We made significant changes to the brand websites and content deliverables to meet the needs of a younger demographic, while ensuring the quality of our content remained at Reader’s Digest’s legendary standards. We built a strong programmatic & Ad Ops team, and partnerships within this segment, that would deliver a revenue opportunity that was nonexistent in past years. We hired a new sales team that has proven to be passionate about their contribution and willing to share each other’s assets to bring in team wins. Last but not least, our marketing solutions team is the best I have ever worked with. Their creativity and innovative ideas have brought on new clients who had never imagined we have the capabilities to do the things that we do. It’s been a challenge, but we feel confident with where we are today and with what the future holds.

I feel fortunate and privileged to have worked with some of the best in the industry, to have had the opportunity to steer well-known brands and to have helped the underdog find success along the way. It’s been a great ride.


Karin Rossi is the publisher of Reader's Digest Brands, Canada

Saturday, January 14, 2017
The use of market research is a valuable tool to engage advertisers and is a good way to help magazine brands stay relevant and top of mind with them.

Reader’s Digest conducts an annual Trusted Brand™ survey in which Canadians are asked in an open-ended question to identify the brands they trust the most. In this study, Canadians voted for brands across 30 product categories from consumer packaged goods, to financial institutions and Canadian retailers. It has been estimated that 49% of Canadians agree that they buy items solely based on price, more than half do not, which leaves other influences, like trust, to drive their purchase decisions. Trust influences how Canadians spend and invest their money.

This is an independent opinion poll commissioned by Reader’s Digest, Ipsos Canada conducted an online survey of 4,009 Canadians to identify brands they trust from Sept 9-16, 2016. Respondents were asked for their most trusted brand within each category, in an open-ended question format. Results were weighted to census data to be representative of the population. Using a credibility interval, the overall results are considered accurate to within +/-1.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would be had the entire population of adults been polled.

Survey Findings

Overwhelmingly, 93% of Canadians say they tend to buy products or services from companies they trust more. In fact, 81% of Canadians disclosed they would be willing to pay a little more money to support a product or service from a company they trust. Trust also influences investment decisions, given that 91% of Canadians reported they are more likely to invest their money in trusted companies. “Companies compete for share of wallet; and to influence purchase decisions, companies need to present consumers with a point of difference—trust is that difference,” said Karin Rossi, Publisher, Reader’s Digest Brands-Canada.  

Findings from the study indicate that 86% of Canadian consumers pay more attention to trusted companies. Furthermore, 77% say they are more likely to remember advertisements from companies they trust. Six in 10 Canadians (63%) say they trust third-party recognition of products and services such as awards and seals of excellence—up 4% from 2016. “Companies have the responsibility of earning and nurturing consumers’ trust in their products and services. The Trusted Brand™ award program celebrates the 2017 winners, and is also a means for companies to effectively communicate Canadian consumers’ confidence in their brands throughout the year,” said Rossi.

Here are the 30 Reader’s Digest 2017 Trusted Brand™ Winners, including  GOLD WINNERS, who have been voted as a most Trusted Brand™ for five or more consecutive years.




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
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