Note to Readers: MBR Daily will be off on Friday 4.19 for the holiday, back on Monday 4.22.
Meredith Takes Money Off the Block; Taking It Digital-Only
Yesterday afternoon, Meredith Corp. announced that former Time Inc. brand Money is no longer up for sale, and will cease publication in print. Adweek: 'We are going to invest in the digital money.com brand site itself as well as leverage the Money content across our portfolio,' a Meredith spokesperson said in an email. The magazine’s June/July print issue will be its last. The decision came after execs reevaluated what the brand would be worth as a digital-only property versus selling it, the spokesperson said. Total unique visitors to money.com have wavered over the last two years, according to comScore, and peaked at 11.5M visitors in February 2018. Last month, the most recent data available, the site attracted 5.2M visitors. The magazine was put up for sale not long after Meredith completed its massive acquisition of Time Inc. at the beginning of 2018, when executives decided to secure new owners for a handful of brands they inherited and prioritize other lifestyle titles in the portfolio. Meredith executives had previously said they hoped all sales of the former Time Inc. brands would be finalized by the end of summer last year; they later revised their timeframe to the end of last year... Sports Illustrated, which Meredith is still selling, was rumored to be eyed by a group of athletes, but no sale has been confirmed. The Meredith spokesperson said the company was still working with interested parties on selling the brand. He didn’t give an updated timeline on when it might be completed"... NY Post: "Meredith acquired Money in a $2.8B acquisition of Time Inc. in January 2018. It put the mag on the block a few months later along with Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and MySpace parent Viant Technology, with an eye toward raising $500M to pare down some of its debt. The $500M goal now appears to be imperiled, as three out of the five assets have failed to sell, including Money... Meredith had been hoping to get $200 million for SI and $10 million for Money, but nobody stepped up to buy it at that price, sources said. MySpace parent Viant Technology, which Meredith also picked up in the Time deal, is also still on the block."
Time's 'Most Influential' Issue Nearly Half Women; Has 6 Covers
HuffPost: "Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the year includes more women than ever before. “We have 48 women on the list this year, up from 45 last year,” Time Magazine’s editor-in-chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday. Felsenthal said that when the magazine first began publishing the list back in 2004, only 24 women were included. He added that the magazine’s list of 100 most influential people “is in some ways a reflection of our society, but an amazing year for the women on the list.” The issue, published Wednesday, includes [six separate covers, featuring] actress Sandra Oh, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pop star Taylor Swift, CBS’s own Gayle King [and actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and soccer star Mohamed Salah]... Other women on this year’s list include former first lady Michelle Obama (whose profile was written by Beyoncé), Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (written by Kamala Harris), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) (written by Elizabeth Warren).
Esquire Singapore Brings 'Game of Thrones' Star to Life Via AR, Holograms
Prolific London: "London-based augmented reality firm HoloMe has teamed up with Esquire Singapore to give us a glimpse into what it calls the future of print; a fully immersive augmented reality (AR) experience featuring April's cover star. Using an AR enabled smartphone, readers of the issue will experience "Game of Thrones"' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau come to life within the pages as a hologram through HoloMe's augmented reality technology. In April’s issue of Esquire Singapore, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is being presented to readers through HoloMe's AR technology. In the magazine, released both online and in print, readers will be able to use their smartphones to watch a 30-second hologram of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who will be promoting the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. All readers need is their smartphone and the magazine to experience the hologram. Although, if they don’t manage to grab a copy of the physical magazine, HoloMe has developed an app which is available for download on the App Store, especially for this experience. Ensuring that this experience is accessible to global audiences.HoloMe is a storytelling platform which helps brands tell their story in the environment of the customer. Through its specialist software, HoloMe provides a platform that allows companies such as Esquire Singapore to bring their message to consumers via augmented reality. Using simple off the shelf equipment and unique computer vision algorithms, HoloMe brings fashion models, football stars, teachers and in this case Nikolaj Coster-Waldau into users own environments"...
B&N Offers Free Pre-Order of Mueller Report
CNN: "Barnes & Noble said Wednesday that it's offering "The Mueller Report" for pre-order to customers... On its website, Barnes & Noble said it is offering a "PDF/direct replica" of the nearly 400-page report--Barr redactions and all." It can be pre-ordered using the company's Nook e-reader or app, and delivered upon release Thursday... B&N described the report as "essential reading for all Americans on both sides of the aisle... "We've received strong demand from our customers for this report, and want to make it as easy as possible for them to access it for free as soon as possible," Tim Mantel, the bookseller's chief merchandising officer, said in a statement." [The redacted report, in PDF, can also be downloaded at no charge from the Justice Department's site, at the link provided below.]
FIPP Report: Print Continues to Thrive
WNIP: "FIPP, in collaboration with UPM Communication Papers, recently released a whitepaper, The Future of Media. It looks into the value print adds, and how it fits into the wider publishing ecosystem. The whitepaper states that “despite the emergence of digital channels, print continues to thrive.” It explores strategies of publishers around the world who continue to put print at the heart of their offerings. According to the whitepaper, rumors of the death of print media have been vastly exaggerated. It mentions that 58% of subscribers still describe themselves as primarily print-oriented, and 60-80% of publisher revenues are still generated from print. MPA’s Magazine Media Factbook 2018-2019 states that in the U.S., “The top 25 print magazines reach more adults and teens than the top 25 prime time shows. And, despite generational differences, magazine consumption is strong.” The New York Times reports that its own base of print subscribers is holding fairly steady. There’s only been slight declines year over year, despite its digital subscriber base growing by 265,000 in the 4th quarter of 2018 alone, according to FIPP’s 2019 Global Digital Subscription Snapshot. The Times remains committed to serving its print subscribers. The whitepaper suggests that print’s resilience is being driven by its ability to fit in with and alongside a universe that combines all platforms. Successful magazines have reinvented themselves as brands that serve their audience via a range of channels, of which print is just one. This started with the same content being made available in print, online and later on, mobile. Troy Young, President of Hearst Magazines, says, “Print is heavily edited and curated and it’s like an event that happens once a month.” He adds, “Print plays a really important role in saying this is important and this has a place in culture, and take a moment to think and read about this and consume it. And I think our magazines are going to play an important role in how we do that for a long, long time.” The BBC History magazine has a print circulation of 100,000 and has been in business since 2000. According to its staff writer Ellie Cawthorne, “The ideal scenario is not print or digital, but a print and digital mix, all of which are adding to the experience for the consumer.” She adds, “We start with an idea and what comes out of it is a relevant feature for print, an online video or podcast, and debate through social channels. That’s offering a full experience for all – and it demonstrates the value of a true print and digital mix.” Bauer, the publisher of newsstand titles such as TV Choice, Take a break, Bella and That’s life, is renowned for its print-title heritage. Rob Munro-Hall, Group Managing Director at Bauer Media says, “We’re quite unusual in that a large part of our business is still powered by big, weekly publications – often still with a low cover price, high volume and a reliance on the newsstand.“That’s still a big chunk of our business. If you take TV Choice, for example, we are still selling millions of copies a week, through the newsstand, in a very traditional way.” However, Bauer has been at the forefront of expanding its magazine brands into new areas. Munro-Hall adds, “With many of our bigger products, like Take a Break, there are other revenue streams outside of the print magazine that are really complementary. “I call that our 360 model, where we have a print brand in the middle of it with lots of satellite and brand extension products that sit all around it and do lots of different things.” He shares the example of the Bauer title Motorcycle News, which sells 60,000 copies a week as a newspaper. It also has a website that gets 2M unique users per month.The newspaper is complemented by a magazine, MCN sport, an online store and an insurance product, which according to Munro-Hall is, “a significant business in its own right.” The publisher also organizes four motorcycle shows under the Motorcycle News brand. According to the whitepaper, the appeal of magazines--combined with the demand for digital and social, and expansion of print brands into events and partnerships – has seen a new reliance upon reverse publishing. In this, “publishers flip their traditional approach of taking magazine content and later making it available online, to one whereby digital content is published online first and later repurposed in print form.” While reverse publishing has been around for some time, the complexity of multi-channel strategies and the need to ‘compete for eyes’ is lifting its prevalence. In fact, some digital-first brands including Facebook, Allrecipes and Net-a-Porter, have launched new print offerings for specific audiences. Facebook’s Grow was made available in business class lounges at Heathrow and a few more exclusive spots in and around London in June 2018. Figures have not been shared and the company states that “a printed version is sent to a handful of Facebook clients.” While this may not matter in actual business terms, the launch was significant coming from the social media giant. Net-a-Porter launched its print title, Porter in 2014 after the publisher was informed through polling that there was an appetite for the “tactility, the look and feel of print.” The whitepaper states that within two years, the bimonthly magazine was available in 220 cities across 60 countries. Currently, it has a circulation of 180,000. Allrecipes by Meredith is one of the biggest global reverse-model successes. It was a digital brand acquired from the Reader’s Digest. Currently, the bimonthly title has 7.7M readers. Incidentally, other well known digital brands like Netflix and Buzzfeed are also experimenting with print products. Hearst circulates over 5M magazines a month and reaches more than 20 million people per month through its websites. According to James Wildman, President & CEO, Hearst Magazines UK, “In the latest round of ABCs, we had nine brands record period-on-period growth and four brands record year-on-year growth. “The fact that several of our magazines are increasing their readership in print highlights the extraordinary quality and continuing appeal of our print products.'"
Opinion: Conde Nast's Priorities As First Global CEO Takes Reins
Forbes contributor Dirk Smillie writes in part: "Si Newhouse, the late chairman of Conde Nast, always said his company was in the business of “class, not mass.”Today it’s in the business of both: a legacy publisher of magazines like Vanity Fair, Vogue and the New Yorker, but also a growing force across digital media, operating in 30 markets on six continents, with 45 active film projects, three series on Netflix and drawing an annual 14B views across video platforms. This is where Roger Lynch comes in, the man Conde Nast named its first global chief executive. Lynch is from the digital world, not publishing. He’s about to take over the company’s newly merged domestic and international business, which should make it easier to catapult Conde Nast’s storied legacy brands across new video, social media and B2B ventures"... Reflecting its positioning across global markets, Conde Nast has been working on a major white paper on brand safety and content quality for its clients. Authored by CNX, its newly formed in-house ad agency, the white paper grew out of a recent meeting CNX head John Deschner had with Conde Nast Artistic Director Anna Wintour... Vogue’s international editions have been around for decades. So has its branded vertical content. What’s different now is execution. Vogue Business, launched in January, is a B2B title splicing the company’s editorial DNA between fashion and commerce. It will be based on subscriptions, not advertising. Vogue Business is the first product from the incubator within the development team at London-based Conde Nast International (CNI), soon to be merged with its domestic counterpart... Back in the U.S., Conde Nast’s three chief business officers have been guiding new product launches with a sharper focus on engagement. Eric Gillin, who oversees the Lifestyle division (Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler), recalled an editorial package Conde Nast Traveler published for women travelers on International Women’s Day. A member of Gillin’s social media team spotted women readers posting about the content on Facebook. The team created a Facebook page, Women Who Travel,to capture some of the conversation and engage with like-minded travelers. It’s now one of the largest private groups on Facebook (134,000 women-only members).The page has been a catalyst for travel meetups with editors and Conde Nast Traveler-hosted trips to Columbia (at $3,000 a seat) and a standalone content vertical. Women Who Travel hosted a live podcast and meetup at this year’s SXSW. Plans are in the works to add destinations like Mexico and Cuba and an advertiser-sponsored trip to Bermuda... Print still translates: Next month, just before Ramadan, Wired Middle East will launch first by web site and social media (as tech readers would expect). Published in English and Arabic, the new title’s coverage zone will stretch from large Gulf states like Saudi Arabia to much smaller circulation areas like the city of Dubai. “It’s not a market defined by borders, but by culture,” says Markus Grindel, director of CNI’s global brand licensing. This follows four new international editions of Vogue -- Hong Kong, Greece, Poland and the Czech Republic.Does all this brand alchemy leave print in the dust? Not exactly. “The demand for print is still huge,” says Grindel. Roger Lynch may be surprised to discover that every one of Grindel’s new international launches, including Wired Middle East, will have a print edition."
PRH Creates Reader Loyalty Program
PW: "Penguin Random House has begun a Reader Rewards Loyalty Program that will enable customers to earn points that will allow them to receive a free book. Under the program, readers who buy PRH books across print, electronic, and audio formats will be able to collect points for purchases made at online or physical stores. According to Sanyu Dillon, EVP and director of marketing strategy and consumer engagement, the program taps into what consumers are looking for when making purchases. "Penguin Random House Consumer Insights research shows that today’s consumer expects to be rewarded by the brands they purchase from frequently, and this program delivers an initial step toward building deeper, more meaningful relationships with readers," Dillon said.To participate in the program, readers can create a free account at PRH.com/rewards and enter basic proof-of-purchase information to begin earning points. The majority of PRH titles are eligible to earn points. Once a member has earned 120 points—which PRH said is the equivalent of uploading proof of purchase for 12 books—a rewards code will be issued that can be redeemed for free PRH books, up to a $30 value, on PRH.com. The company will ship the books free of charge to customers. In addition to earning points, Reader Rewards members will receive personalized book recommendations based on PRH’s editorial expertise combined with its proprietary AI platform, via email and through the member’s PRH.com account dashboard"...
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:
Retail Sales Rebounded in March
MarketWatch: "Sales at U.S. retailers surged in March by the most in a year and a half, the latest in a string of reports suggesting the economy is firming up after a soft spell of growth earlier in the year.Retail sales soared 1.6% last month, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected sales to climb 1.1%... In less welcome news, Americans also spent more to fill up their gas tanks. The average price of gas nationally rose almost 10% in March to $2.62 a gallon, government figures show. The last time prices were that high was in November.... Oil prices have risen sharply in early 2019, though prices are at similar level compared to the same time last year.Even if gas and autos are set aside, retail sales still rose a robust 0.9%. Among the big winners: Internet retailers, clothing stores, home-furnishing outlets and grocers. Sales rose between 1% and 2% in those segments.Sales rose in every category except for stores that sell books, musical instruments and hobby items. Traditional brick-and-mortar department stores were also laggards: sales were flat"...
Tops Kicks off Major Renovation Projects
PG: "Tops Markets LLC is investing $40M in a number of its stores, including several major floor-to-ceiling interior renovations and updated exterior facades, landscaping and parking lots. The stores will remain open during renovations. The remodeled locations will offer brand-new interior décor that aims to create a warm, inviting atmosphere highlighting the fresh departments, with larger produce, bakery and deli/prepared food sections, as well as a wide selection of natural, organic and gluten-free offerings integrated throughout the main aisles. Additionally, the stores will feature new flooring, energy-efficient equipment, cart corrals and shopping carts... Tops is also introducing such services as click-and-collect and the ability to order groceries online for delivery to home or office in as little as an hour. “By the end of May 2019 Tops will have 20 stores that will offer grocery pickup service to its customers, with expansion into our other major markets on the horizon,” said Persons. “When we create an even more exceptional shopping experience and help make grocery shopping simple, friendly and easy, our shoppers benefit at the end of the day.” The first phase of renovations is already in progress at Tops locations in Elmira (including a new fuel station), Saranac Lake, Cheektowaga, Alden, Leroy and Buffalo, N.Y., with grand-reopening dates scheduled from May through July. The grocer is already involved in the planning and permitting process for renovations to take place during phase two of the program. Those locations will be revealed at a later date.After emerging last November from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection “with a substantially stronger balance sheet, reducing its debt by approximately $445M, and with over $100M in liquidity,” and completing a financial restructuring, the company said it would be able to invest in its stores to create an enhanced shopping experience, as a result of its “significantly enhanced financial flexibility." Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops operates 159 supermarkets in New York, northern Pennsylvania, and western Vermont, employing 14,000 associates, with five additional stores operated by franchisees"...
Stop & Shop Runs Strike-Related Ad in New England Newspapers
PG: "Stop & Shop ran full-page ads in several New England newspapers as around 31,000 striking workers in the region continue to picket about 240 stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.“This strike is hard for all of us,” Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop noted in the ad, which ran in the Hartford Courant and the Providence Journal, among other newspapers. “This shouldn’t be happening.” The grocer went on to describe its offer to the unionized workers, which it said included “pay increases for all associates, health care with deductibles that wouldn’t change, increased contributions for the employee pension plans, [a]nd no changes in paid time off or holidays for current associates.”Stop & Shop then urged the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union to work with it to “solve the problem.”The ad echoes an April 12 message posted on Stop & Shop’s website from President Mark McGowan, in which he affirmed, that despite the current “challenging time,” he “and the entire Stop & Shop team remain firmly committed to getting a fair new contract in place for all of our associates in New England"... UFCW Locals 328, 371, 1445, 1459 and 919 weren’t impressed by the grocer’s campaign, however.“Stop & Shop can buy as many ads as they want, but they can’t change the facts,” the locals countered in a statement, adding that the grocer’s “latest proposal will drastically increase out-of-pocket health care costs, kick approximately 1,000 employees’ spouses off of their health care plan, and make it more challenging for 31,000 people to provide for themselves and their families. If the company’s most recent offer becomes a reality, every working family, neighborhood, consumer, and community will be hurt.”The locals went out on strike on April 11, after voting earlier in the year to authorize such an action. The two sides have been negotiating a new contract since January, with health care premiums and coverage of spouses, pension benefits, and time-and-a-half pay on Sundays and holidays for part-time workers proving to be particular sticking points. Stop & Shop operates more than 400 stores throughout New York, New England and New Jersey, with 60,000-plus associates"...
Will Americans' Love of Paper Coupons Ever Die?
RetailWire republishes MarketingCharts: "Despite a slight rise in the preference for paperless discounts, more adults still prefer paper coupons, according to the latest annual survey of coupon use from Valassis.Fully half of adults in the U.S. prefer to get coupons in the mail, a figure that has continued to rise over the past three years. The proportion of respondents who prefer to get coupons from a coupon book found in a newspaper continues to rise as well, from 42% last year to 44% this year. Some 42% agree that they prefer to get paperless discounts from the internet that they can download onto their store shopper/loyalty card. And even though a smartphone offers the convenience of carrying coupons anywhere, just 38% say they prefer paperless discounts on their smartphone/mobile device. Consumers’ preference for paper coupons is reflected in their high usage of them: fully 91% claim to use some form of paper coupons, compared to 93% last year. This shows that the use of paper coupons is still deeply ingrained as an American consumer habit. By comparison, the use of paperless coupons has remained steady at 75% for the second year. Paperless coupon use is particularly high among Millennials (96%) and parents (92%). Parents are also the biggest users of paper coupons, with 95% of parents and 96% of millennial parents using coupons received in the mail, newspaper, at the store or printed from their computer.Data last year from Kantar Media showed that even as the number of paper coupons circulated had dropped by 12% and digital promotion offers significantly grew, the number of digital coupons available is just a small fraction of the overall total. Kantar Media’s analysis found manufacturers distributed about 34 times more print than digital coupons in the first half of 2018."
Amazon to Close Domestic Marketplace Business in China
Reuters: "Amazon.com Inc plans to close its domestic marketplace in China by mid-July, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, focusing efforts on more lucrative businesses selling overseas goods and cloud services in the world’s most populous nation.Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan via the firm’s global store. Amazon expects to close fulfillment centers and wind down support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days, one of the people said.The move underscores how entrenched, home-grown e-commerce rivals have made it difficult for Amazon’s marketplace to gain a foothold. Consumer insights firm iResearch Global said Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Tmall marketplace and JD.com Inc controlled 81.9 percent of the Chinese market last year"...
Price Chopper/Market 32’s Jane Golub Dead at 80
PG: "Jane N. Golub, who held various leadership roles at the family-owned Golub Corp. and the grocery store banners it operated, Price Chopper Supermarkets and Market 32, has died at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles, following a brief illness. She was 80. As well as being an accomplished businesswoman, Golub was a noted philanthropist whose causes included fighting against bigotry and intolerance, and working to improve education and health care, according to the Albany, N.Y., Times Union... Among her many accolades, Golub was named a Progressive Grocer Top Woman in Grocery in 2011, along with [her daughter] Mona, now the Golub Corp.’s VP public relations and consumer services, who is a philanthropist in her own right... The Golub Corp. owns and operates 133 Price Chopper and Market 32 grocery stores in New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The company’s 20,000 associates collectively own more than 44 percent of the company’s privately held stock"...
OTHER NEWS OF NOTE: