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December 5, 2019

December 5, 2019

Publishing News

MPA Releases 5-Year Study on Mag Media Audience Growth
PE: MPA announced the findings of a five-year study of magazine media audiences at the MPA Biennial Research Symposium yesterday. Under the umbrella of Magazine Media 360°, the magazine media trade group measured consumer demand by brand across formats and platforms using third-party, verified and audited data since 2014. Divided into three areas – Brand Audience, Social Media and Online Engagement, MPA reported on magazine audience growth across formats; magazine media performance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and magazine brands’ engagement on online platforms. The resulting research provides a comprehensive, accurate and proven picture of consumer demand and magazine media vitality. “Magazine brands have evolved into true multi-media platforms that grab and hold the attention of audiences,” said Linda Thomas Brooks, president and CEO of MPA. “The Magazine Media 360° reports demonstrate that regardless of format or platform, consumers are passionate about magazine media and continue to trust and deeply interact with the professionally researched, written, edited and curated content.” Over the course of five years, MPA studied more than 135 brands representing 95% of the American adult reader universe. Since 2014, magazine media’s total audience has grown 24%, to 2B. [The report] shows that the magazine media universe as a whole has grown, while the segments within it have changed in size in the past five years, said Jeri Dack, MPA's director of research initiatives. The research confirms that consumers have made a dramatic shift from computer screens to tablets and cell phones. Mobile (defined as websites viewed from a mobile device) has grown 122%, while video (defined as video viewed on either a desktop or mobile device) has grown 425%. “Magazines are the original influencers,” said Thomas Brooks. “By using verified, third-party measurement and research, we verified that magazine brands still have what other ‘influencers’ are trying to find – consistently growing audiences who seek reliable content.” The Social Media Engagement Factor compares the number of social actions to the number of posts on social media. Using this methodology to create a median engagement factor, MPA was able to compare magazine and non-magazine brands by social network, across the 15 content categories covering the participating magazine brands. Over nine consecutive quarters of tracking engagement metrics by category, magazine brands’ average Social Media Engagement Factors on both Facebook and Instagram were higher than that of non-magazine brands. On Twitter – more of a ticker of real-time information – the two sectors compared more equally. At the end of 2018, MPA began looking at online engagement metrics for web and mobile web sites. “The data has provided further support that online users are passionate about magazine brands’ content,” said Dack. “In almost all the opportunities we analyzed, magazine media brands were superior or equal to non-magazine brands.” Measuring widely accepted attributes of engagement in consumer media: loyalty, immersion, intensity and connection, using third-party metrics sourced from comScore and statistics from the Social Media Engagement Report, an Online Engagement Report was created. That report shows that 81% of the time, the audiences to magazine media sites are more engaged than those consuming similar content on non-magazine brand sites. They are lower only 13% of the time. Overall, the reports conclude that continued and growing consumer demand for magazine media, across channels and platforms, proves magazine media’s vitality and influence."

Arch Digest Publishes 100th Anniversary Issue
MediaPost: "As Architectural Digest prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2020, it has unveiled its January collectors’ issue, its annual AD100 list and a new column, "Then and Now."The magazine reports a 34% uptick in ad pages year-over-year. Building on those numbers, the 100thanniversary issue includes a special tribute section featuring brands such as Ralph Lauren, Flexform, Shade Store, Snaidero and Theodore Alexander.Hermes has locked in a premium cover sponsorship featuring high-impact units. Milanese design duo Studio Peregalli and European interior designer Jacques Grange appear on the AD 100th anniversary issue’s cover.Inside, readers will find this year’s AD100, noting the best in architecture and design. The list appeals to both industry professionals and consumers seeking designers and architects for their personal projects. “For this special issue, AD's editors went all out, seeking major projects from AD100 talents around the globe,” AD EIC Amy Astley told Publishers Daily.New column "Then and Now" taps the AD archives with an insiders look at iconic rooms from the magazine’s history. Top designers take a look at their continued importance to design today. Mario Buatta’s New York City living room from 1997 appears first, with a review by Alex Papachristidis. Along with the release of the print anniversary issue, AD will build out exclusive digital packages and a series of social videos set to launch in January.“[The issue] is the kickoff to our 100th anniversary platform, which runs through all of 2020. We'll be creating content moments across print, digital, social and real-life events with our partners,” said Jeff Barish, head of sales, home.Barish added: “We've been rallying our partners since the start of the year that the January 100th anniversary issue is the moment to join us and recognize how AD has elevated interior design and style for generations.""

Field & Stream Packages Existing Content into Seasonal Venison Newsletter
PE: "In the great shift to consumer revenue, publishers are experimenting with newsletter products that provide content and services specific to reader interests. Keeping with this trend, outdoor publication Field & Stream, a Bonnier Corporation brand, launched a seasonal newsletter called The Venison Course on Nov. 1. Sent daily and only during November, the newsletter delivers venison recipes and kitchen gear recommendations to subscribers at the peak of deer-hunting season. A newsletter dedicated to cooking one type of wild game meat may sound niche, but it caters to a large portion of the Field & Stream audience, says Editor-in-Chief Colin Kearns. “White-tailed deer is by far the most popular species of game animal that our audience likes to hunt, so I knew the seasonal timing of it was right, and I knew it was going to be a popular topic.” Kearns got the idea for a month-long, hyper-specific newsletter series from fellow Bonnier brand Popular Science, which launched a 30-day newsletter earlier this year called Digital Deep-Clean. Unrolled for spring cleaning season, that newsletter sent subscribers daily tips for managing their spam folders, securing their data, and accomplishing other digital ‘cleaning’ tasks. While Kearns knew he wanted to replicate the concept for a wild game-themed newsletter in November, he says tailoring it around venison was editorial intuition. Like organizing your email inbox, butchering and preparing venison is often a daunting task... F&S targeted The Venison Course to subscribers in its current weekly newsletter base who have interests in hunting, fishing, or deer hunting. Of the roughly 300,000 people on the total list, about 69,000 received the new daily offering for November. As of Nov. 26, the seasonal series has more than 73,000 subscribers with an average open rate of 46.06% and a click rate of 33.76%. “The stats we’re seeing are pretty good,” says Kearns. “I could see us doing a monthly newsletter like this maybe once a season. The Venison Course contains mostly existing F&S content; Kearns’ team updated some of that content with fresh artwork, current gear reviews, and newer recipes. While the newsletter includes a small number of personal essays, Kearns says it is 80% recipes. The other 20% is butchering tips and recommendations of relevant kitchen appliances, such as smokers and meat grinders. “For a lot, if not all, of the gear we’re recommending we’re sending links through Amazon,” says Kearns. “That plays in line with our affiliate content strategy, so that is something we’re hoping to capitalize on with this.” The recipe content differs from that of major food media brands, as well as competitive publications in the hunting and fishing media landscape, notes Kearns"...

Real Simple, VidMob Team on Nonprofit Holiday Video
MediaPost: "Win, the New York-based provider of shelter and housing for families, is receiving a boost to its holiday toy drive through a partnership between VidMob Gives, the tech platform’s nonprofit arm, and Real Simple. In New York City, homeless children account for more than one-third of the 60,000 people sleeping in shelters nightly, said Burr Purnell, director of social good at VidMob Gives. The campaign focuses on this vulnerable population, in addition to women who are employed, but face obstacles in finding permanent housing.More than half of the women highlighted in the video campaign come from this demographic.The campaign marks the first collaboration between VidMob and Real Simple. “At Real Simple, we seek to provide practical solutions for today’s busy woman, and we recognize the invaluable gift these toys will offer families who have limited resources,” said Heather Morgan Shott, senior director, digital content strategy. “This partnership amplifies the mission of Win and makes a real-world difference to an often-overlooked community and a vital charity that is striving to make their lives better.”The video campaign, which will run across Real Simple’s site and social-media channels, will effectively reach more than 14M consumers. It is produced by VidMob. Through VidMob’s platform, Agile Creative Studio, Win will gain access to “a new kind of first-party data: creative data,” Purnell said. “Powered by proprietary machine-learning tools, the solution allows marketers to analyze visuals that comprise ads and ultimately know, with precision, the degree to which every visual element impacts campaign performance.” The solution will allow Win to measure the efficacy of “creative details like objects, emotional sentiment, weather, colors, on-screen copy, call to action buttons, voiceover, text density, ad format and duration and even the direction of a model’s gaze.” After gleaning those insights, Win can leverage VidMob’s network of experts to apply those insights to ad optimization, with the goal of maximizing returns for Win’s holiday toy drive.The campaign is expected to launch today and will run through Dec. 31."

Kalmbach Redesigns Discover Site, Adds Astronomy Subscription Box
MediaPost: "Kalmbach Media continues to expand the reach of its Discover brand, this time with a redesigned website and paywall.The new website and paywall were unveiled yesterday, with a sleek design and faster load time for stories.“As a brand, Discover aims to deliver relevant and engaging science content in an approachable manner. We believe science can and should be for everyone,” Angela Cotey, Kalmbach’s director of digital strategy, told Publishers Daily. “It was important to us that those qualities were reflected in the new website. An enhanced user experience was a top priority and resulted in a cleaner, more modern, easier-to-navigate site.” The new design features content categories displayed in a more intuitive way; cleaned up headers and navigation allows users to easily select a category without being encumbered by lengthy drop downs. Cotey says the brand’s mobile experience has dramatically improved with the redesign, as well. Discover has also created new avenues for revenue and ad opportunities into the site. Ad zones have been programmed with greater flexibility, allowing for expandable ad units. Advertisers can also sponsor a particular content category. Discover is also able to create highly visible content hubs for special events or special reports, she adds. Sponsorship opportunities are available across these hubs. Prior to the redesign, Discover kept a portion of its content behind a subscriber wall. However, all content is now open through a new metered paywall that allows nonsubscribers to read up to three articles a month. “This allows us to showcase our great science journalism in a more approachable manner for all website visitors, while increasing opportunities for conversion,” said Cotey. “We believe the metered paywall will increase new email signups, as well as paid subscriptions.” [In addition, fellow Kalmbach] science brand Astronomy prepares to ship the first edition of its new Space & Beyond Box. Each box will include five or more high-quality items that include products exclusive to subscribers. Cotey said box orders are on track "to exceed our launch revenue projections.” (The box joins a successful subscription launch from Kalmbach's Bead & Button last year.) Kalmbach’s Science Group, which includes Astronomy and Discover, now reaches more than 10M people. It reports revenue growth of over 300% across its ecommerce site since its launch in 2015. The science storefront has released more than 500 new products."

B&N Education to Begin Strategic Review
PW: "Barnes & Noble Education announced yesterday that its board has approved the hiring of a financial advisor to help the college store company review its strategic options. B&NE also released its fiscal second quarter results for the period ended Oct. 26. Sales fell 5.2% vs. the year-ago fiscal quarter, declining to $772.2M. Net income declined 40%. CEO Michael Huseby said that B&NE decided to engage a financial consultant to help it find ways to accelerate a number of digital initiatives the company has put in place to keep pace with the rapid changes in the college course materials market. The strategic review, Huseby said, will look at all paths that can enhance shareholder value... Huseby said the priority for B&NE is to rapidly scale its profitable digital properties, something that could be helped by arranging some kind of deal with an outside party. Officially, the company said it was looking for an advisor to “assist in a review of strategic opportunities to accelerate the execution of customer-focused strategic initiatives and enhance value for BNED shareholders, including, but not limited to, continued execution of the company’s current business plan, new partnerships, joint ventures. and other potential opportunities.""


Retail News

Kroger Misses Analysts' Q3 Earnings Expectations; Will Divest Lucky's Stake
SN: "Despite continued comparable-store sales momentum, The Kroger Co. posted virtually flat overall sales in the fiscal 2019 third quarter and fell short of Wall Street’s earnings projection. Kroger also said Thursday that, after a portfolio review, it has decided to divest its stake in specialty grocer Lucky’s Market. In April 2016, Kroger announced a strategic partnership with the Niwot, Colo.-based natural and organic supermarket chain that included an undisclosed equity interest. “The amount of investment that it would take for Lucky's to be a meaningful contributor to Kroger overall and the efforts that it would take, we just didn't think it created a good return for the investments that were needed to be made relative to that,” Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said Thursday in an earnings call. “So it was really driven by narrowing our focus and the additional requirements to make it something that would be meaningful to Kroger.” The decision on Lucky’s Market came amid Kroger’s Investor Day event in November, Kroger CFO Gary Millerchip said... “During our investor conference last month, we committed to continue to be disciplined in prioritizing capital allocation to improve return on invested capital and create sustainable shareholder return"... For the quarter ended Nov. 9, Kroger totaled sales of $27.97B, up 0.5% from $27.83B a year earlier. Excluding the impact of fuel and dispositions, sales increased 2.7%... Identical-store sales excluding fuel rose 2.5% YoY, more than double the gain in the 2018 quarter. Gross margin came in at 22.1% of sales for the quarter. Kroger said the FIFO gross margin rate excluding fuel declined 24 basis points, mainly from industrywide lower gross margin rates in pharmacy and continued growth in the specialty pharmacy business. Excluding fuel and pharmacy, the gross margin rate improved slightly, the company added. The LIFO charge for the quarter was $23M, vs. $12M for the same period last year, driven by higher inflation in dry grocery, pharmacy and dairy.“We are growing our supermarket business by focusing on three levers to drive identical sales: fresh, power brands, and data and personalization. And we continue to build a seamless ecosystem that is available, relevant and accessible for our customers. All of this combined to generate positive results in the third quarter,” McMullen told analysts in the call... Among results in grocery, produce “led the way” during the quarter, according to McMullen. “In addition, we launched our ‘Fresh for Everyone’ brand transformation campaign, and the initial feedback from both our customers and our associates is very positive,” he said"...

Dollar General Ups Forecast After Exceptional Q3 Comp Sales
Reuters: "Dollar General Corp raised its full-year profit forecast on Thursday after reporting its best quarterly same-store sales rise in nearly five years, benefiting from a wider selection of products and revamped stores. The efforts boosted same-store sales growth to 4.6% in Q3 ended Nov. 1, above the average analyst estimate of 3.34% increase, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. The company now expects full-year same-store sales to grow in the mid-to-high 3% range compared with the prior low-to-mid 3% range. The upbeat forecast comes in contrast to rival Dollar Tree Inc, which cut its full-year profit forecast last month, as the discount retailer fell short in its efforts to counter the impact of latest U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. Dollar General’s net sales rose 8.9% to $6.99B in the quarter, above the estimate of $6.92B. Net income rose to $365.6M, or $1.42 per share, from $334.1M, or $1.26 per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.38 per share."

Holiday Calendar Shift, Web Glitches Impact Costco Sales
 SN: Costco "saw sales rise in November and its fiscal 2020 Q1, but took a hit from this year’s later Thanksgiving shopping weekend and a website outage that hurt ecommerce business for the Black Friday rush. For the retail month of November, which Costco defined as the four weeks ended Dec. 1, net sales came in at $13.62B, up 6.7% from $12.77B a year earlier.Costco reported first-quarter sales with and without the Thanksgiving Day-Black Friday shopping period, which occurred a week later in 2019. For the 12 weeks ended Nov. 24, Costco tallied net sales of $36.24B, up 5.6% vs. a year ago. Including Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, net sales for the 13 weeks ended Dec. 1 totaled $39.95B, up 6.3% from $37.57B in the year-ago period. Analysts projected Costco’s Q1 sales at $37.37B, on average... On a comp-store basis, Costco’s November sales (four weeks ended Dec. 1) climbed 5.3% YoY. U.S. comp sales were up 4.8%, and the retailer posted gains of 5.6% in Canada and 7.5% internationally for the month. Excluding the impact of changes in fuel prices and/or foreign exchange, Costco had comp-sales growth of 4.8% for November, including increases of 4.3% in the U.S., 5.8% in Canada and 6.8% internationally. “Food and sundries were positive mid-single digits. Departments with the strongest results were deli, freezer and liquor. Hardlines were positive low single digits, despite being negatively impacted by the holiday shift. Better-performing departments were majors, health and beauty and hardware,” David Sherwood, assistant VP of finance and investor relations at Costco, said [about] November sales results. “Softlines were up low and mid-single digits. Better-performing departments included housewares, special-order kiosks and apparel. And finally, fresh foods were up mid- to high single digits. Better-performing departments included service deli and produce. Within the ancillary businesses, gas, hearing aids and optical had the best comp-sales increases.” Gasoline price inflation positively impacted total reported comp sales by about 40 basis points. Sherwood said comp-store traffic including the holiday calendar shift rose 2.6% in the U.S. and 3.3% worldwide for November. The average transaction edged up 1.9%, reflecting the impact of fuel price inflation, foreign exchange and the timing of the holiday period. Ecommerce sales fell 3.6% (-3.7% excluding fuel/foreign exchange) on a comparable basis for November. Costco said e-commerce sales were negatively impacted by 20 percentage points, mainly from the TDay through Cyber Monday shopping period occurring a week later this year than last, and website glitches on the retailer’s U.S. and Canadian ecommerce sites on TDay and Black Friday. According to published reports, Costco lost as much as $11M in sales from the technical issues. Because of the outages and slow response times, Costco had posted a website banner that said it was extending one-day Thanksgiving sales into Friday. Comp sales grew 5.1% overall for the 13-week quarter ended Dec. 1, including gains of 5.5% in the U.S., 3.8% in Canada and 4.2% internationally. E-commerce comps for the period were up 6.9%, Costco reported.In the 12-week period, total same-store sales rose 4.3%, reflecting increases of 4.7% in the U.S., 2.9% in Canada and 3.2% internationally, while e-commerce comp sales advanced 5.5%. Excluding the impact of fuel and/or foreign exchange, Costco turned comp-sales growth of 5.7% for the 13-week quarter, including upticks of 5.7% in the U.S. and Canada, 5.4% internationally and 7.1% in e-commerce. The comp-sales gains without fuel and forex for the 12 weeks were 5% overall and 5% in the U.S., 5.1% in Canada, 4.5% internationally and 5.7% in e-commerce"...

700K+ to Lose Food Stamps Due to Trump Admin Makes Change
NBC: "The Trump administration Wednesday formalized work requirements for recipients of food stamps, a move that will cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Brandon Lipps, the deputy undersecretary for the USDA’s Food Nutrition and Consumer Services, spent about 18 minutes on a call with reporters outlining the changes to the rule that will take effect April 1... The USDA rule change affects people between the ages of 18 and 49 who are childless and not disabled. Under current rules, this group is required to work at least 20 hours a week for more than three months over a 36-month period to qualify for food stamps, but states have been able to create waivers for areas that face high unemployment. The new rule would limit states from waiving those standards, instead restricting their use to those areas that have a 6 percent unemployment rate or higher. The national unemployment rate in October was 3.6 percent.During the call Wednesday, the USDA said that about 688,000 people would lose access to food stamps. That’s down from its earlier estimate that 750,000 people would be affected.The USDA said that this was an extension of President Donald Trump’s April 2018 executive order, called “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility,” that aimed to create more work programs and limit public assistance. This work requirement rule would save the government $5.5 billion over five years, the USDA said.The agency said that it found 2.9 million adults on the SNAP rolls were able-bodied and did not have dependents, and it said 2.1 million were not working.Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said this rule would do little to help anyone find work. All the rule change does is strip people from accessing the benefit, she said."This Administration is out of touch with families who are struggling to make ends meet by working seasonal jobs or part time jobs with unreliable hours," Stabenow said. "Seasonal holiday workers, workers in Northern Michigan’s tourism industry, and workers with unreliable hours like waiters and waitresses are the kinds of workers hurt by this proposal."The senator also noted that an attempt to add work requirements to SNAP had failed in Congress when they had considered the Farm Bill last year. The House rejected it in a bipartisan vote of 330-83, and the Senate voted down a similar amendment 68-30."There’s a reason Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly rejected this callous proposal in the Farm Bill and instead focused on bipartisan job training opportunities that actually help families find good paying jobs,” she said.Hunger advocates have repeatedly emphasized that SNAP is intended to address hunger and not compel people to work. Many also noted that those affected are impoverished, tend to live in rural areas, often face mental health issues and disabilities. Black and Hispanic households, women and LGBTQ people would be disproportionately affected by the change"...

Target to Open Small Times Square Store
CNBC: "Target is bolstering its presence in the Big Apple with a store in the heart of Times Square, CNBC has learned. The discount retailer has signed a lease to open a small-format store on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. The store, projected to open in 2022 at roughly 33,000 square feet, will be Target’s 10th small-format shop in the Manhattan area.Target has rapidly expanded its presence in the New York area in the past year, including on the Upper East and Upper West Sides and multiple locations on the Lower East Side. Target’s strategy to move into densely populated areas like New York and to college campuses, with stores that span a fraction of the square footage of a traditional big-box store, has been key to the retailer’s overall success, according to CEO Brian Cornell. Its small-format shops can be as tiny as 15,000 square feet, with the average being 40,000 square feet, or a third of a full-size store. But they’re small and mighty. Cornell has said these stores are twice as productive as Target’s larger ones.Target announced in August that it had opened its 100th small-format location following its announcement of a $7 billion investment plan in 2017. The company is still planning to open 30 small-format locations nationwide annually"...

Lidl Preps 1st Philly Location
PG: " Lidl, which will open its first Philadelphia store on Dec. 11 in the city’s Port Richmond section.The retailer, which debuted its first Pennsylvania store last year in Ridley Township, currently has five locations in the Keystone State. Another Philly store, on Roosevelt Blvd. in Northeast Philadelphia, is scheduled to open before the end of the year, Lidl spokeswoman Chandler Ebeier told The Philadelphia Inquirer, adding, “We are exploring a number of sites in the area and will continue to expand.” Lidl has been on a roll this month, gearing up to open its first two stores on New York’s Long Island, also on Dec. 11, as well as celebrating the Dec. 4 opening of its inaugural stores in Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C. The company noted earlier this year that it would roll out 25 stores in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia by the spring of 2020, with the aim of having more than 100 U.S. stores at the close of next year.Additionally, the grocer has revealed plans to open its first Baltimore store, which will anchor a 100,000-sq.-ft. shopping center, by early 2022. Based in Germany, with its U.S. HQ in Arlington County, Va., Lidl operates more than 11,000 stores in 32 countries, employing about 287,000 employees worldwide. It currently operates more than 75 stores in nine east coast states."


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