Time will tell, but Patch, AOL’s platform of local news, information and engagement sites, yesterday announced that May of 2012 was its most successful traffic and revenue period in the company’s history.
Patch served a record 11.7 million users in May (comScore data), representing a 14% increase over April (10.3 million users) and an 11% increase over its previous traffic record (10.6 million users in August 2011). But 11.7 million users does not seem much, in terms of monthly internet traffic, and Patch has been a troublesome child for AOL. While it added 33 cities to its portfolio in May of 2011, but was burning through $40 million a quarter in October. Still, it endures, and news of Patch’s May performance follows the recent announcement by AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong that Patch will generate between $40 million and $50 million in revenue this year - quite a turnaround.And Patch has outlasted the Gannett Company’s hyperlocal offering, “Metromix,” which shuttered in January. Patch attracts national advertisers like Verizon and Walgreen’s, alongside local restaurants, realtors and law firms.
Some facts about Patch:
- This 14% month-over-month growth outpaced the comScore Regional/Local category as a whole, which grew only 3% over the same time period.
- Patch had a 12% increase in engagement (visits per unique visitor) from April to May. Within the top ten regional-local properties, this represents the highest increase in engagement month over month, and ranks Patch as the second highest in engagement among those properties.
- With an average site age of just over 18 months, Patch is now the #5 regional/local property on the web, from #10 when it first entered the rankings in December 2010.
- Patch’s total revenue was 14% higher than its previous record (November of 2011). This represents a 17% bump in revenue over April of 2012. Patch has already booked for 2012 130% of its total 2011 revenue.
- Patch also recently announced the launch of Patch Partners, a program to offer exclusive benefits to its local advertisers and resources for business owners at large.
“We are extremely gratified to see these measures of the traction we have gained in our communities and in our business since our launch just over 3 years ago,” commented Jon Brod, CEO & Co-Founder of Patch. “We are laser-focused on continuing to serve our users and advertisers with high-quality content and impactful products, and building upon our success to date in innovative and engaging ways.”
Launched in 2009, Patch is managed by professional local journalists, photographers, and salespeople who live in the regions they serve. The hyperlocal platform is designed as an online destination for residents to get involved in their communities. Patch is now in over 850 communities in 23 states plus Washington, D.C.
Good news from BPA Worldwide, the print and digital circulation oversight group. The BPA board passed a number of rules changes at its May 2012 meeting, which it has just released. All rules are in effect immediately. The short story is that tagging website traffic will become easier, digital subscriptions will be easier to prove, and subscribers will not be tasked with having to fill in a new form to renew (which runs the risk that they do not bother).
Audited Web Traffic Using Tags: Due to advances in technology, the Board took strides toward a truly “tag neutral” approach with respect to reporting audited website traffic data. BPA is now making more options available to members to participate in BPA’s web traffic audit process.
“The change was prompted by the member feedback,” Glenn Hansen, president and CEO of BPA Worldwide told Folio. About 700 of 2,000 member companies used the Nielsen tags. "The question to the other 1,300 was what’s preventing you from doing this? Some had said they were using other analytics providers. The two that were named more often than not was Google Analytics and Omniture.”
Specifically, BPA no longer requires its members to use the BPA proprietary tag powered by Nielsen. It can now work with, for example, including Google Analytics and/or Omniture SiteCatalyst tags. Members may begin reporting Google Analytics data as of July 2012 after completing a simple set-up process.
Reporting Apps: As of December (BPA’s last board meeting), BPA determined that only App downloads could be reported on BPA Brand reports, as there was not enough recipient information to report qualified subscriptions/copies delivered through Apps on circulation statements. But, media owners have developed App registration (free) or payment (paid) gateways, which BPA believes is sufficient proof of qualified circulation.
Business and Consumer Magazines
Pre-Populated Electronic Qualification Forms: BPA will allow publishers to pre-populate electronic subscription forms (web, email, text) with a previous year’s data. The maximum age of the previous demographic data cannot exceed three years in age and the subscriber must be asked to review the data and press a single confirm button to agree the information is correct before completing the renewal.
Digital Request, Electronic: At the December 2011 meeting, the BPA Board ruled that subscriber access to digital copies (by downloading the issue or accessing it online) may be used to substantiate a renewal to continue receiving a digital subscription. The rule requires minimum access for a six-month reporting period: but because most members analyze either May or November issues, media owners found they were not getting the benefit of subscriber access in the months of June or December, effectively losing two months out of the year. The Board amended the rule to maintain the original access requirements, and the six-month period, but the six-month access period will now end with the analyzed issue, and, in so doing
Rodale Inc.’s Men’s Health magazine has a number of instructional apps already, including "Eat This, Not That!" and a workout designer: But you could not read the magazine or advertise in it on the iPhone, until now. Beginning with the September issue of the magazine (available in August) special content will be developed specifically for the iPhone in order to create an enhanced viewing experience that is unavailable on other devices. Men's Health currently has several branded apps for the iPhone, but this new app is the first that allows the magazine to expand its digital publication delivery across iPhone and iPod Touch devices with more than 220 million users globally. Existing Men’s Health iPad subscribers will have access to the publication with no additional charge on their iPhones.
The app was developed using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, and Rodale claims this is the first iPhone application to launch on the Adobe platform in the United States.
“This brand prides itself on being first to market, so developing an iPhone version of Men’s Health quickly is a natural next step for us,” said David Zinczenko, Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health and GM for Rodale’s Healthy Living Group and Rodale Books.
“Offering iPad subscribers a chance to view Men’s Health on their iPhone gives readers a new outlet to consume our content on-the-go or at the gym,” said Sean Bumgarner, Interactive Design Director for Rodale.
Men’s Health has had success with its digital apps before, as Folio describes. Its “Skin Care Center” was the 2012 recipient of the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) award for digital media, known as the Digital Ellie, in the personal service category honoring service journalism on digital platforms. Its “Eat This, Not That!” also won a Digital Ellie in ASME’s inaugural year of the awards, 2010. The brand offers more than 40 apps across the iPhone and iPad.
Men’s Health bills itself as the “go-to source for guys,” and is published 10 times a year in the U.S. by Rodale. The magazine has garnered numerous industry accolades, including being named by the Media Industry Newsletter (MIN) as the “#1 Most Notable Magazine Launch of the Last 25 Years.”
With no fanfare at all, The New York Times has joined ABC News, NBC, Fox and The Wall Street Journal on Hulu. As the Niemen Journalism Lab describes, NYT has signed a content licensing agreement with the streaming video site.
Right now, there is just one Times offering: “Punched Out: The Life and Death of an N.H.L. Enforcer,” which NYT produced alongside a three-part series about hockey player Derek Boogaard. In-stream advertisers included State Farm and Verizon. But NYT generates plenty of video content to supplement each of its print categories (e.g., "The Future of Zoos" in its Environment category). The video.nytimes.com content sits behind the NYT paywall, but Hulu readers will be able to see the content for free on computers, with a Hulu Plus subscription on mobile devices.
By contrast, The Wall Street Journal has 57 titles on Hulu, many of them "Top 5 In Tech," but also content like its 31-minute special report, "Europe at the Brink" (with Citizens Bank advertised instream and in a display ad).
Newspaper video content is not “journalism lite”: A Boston.com (the Boston Globe website) video series on the late Senator Ted Kennedy was up for a national Emmy. (NYT has yet to be so nominated.)
Nor is Hulu “broadcasting lite.” ComScore in February revealed that Hulu is ninth among online video content properties, behind Google sites, VEVO and Viacom Digital among others; but first in video ad impressions. In April, Hulu delivered 1.6 of the 9.5 billion video ads, followed by Google Sites with 1.3 billion, BrightRoll Video Network with 943 million, Adap.tv with 881 million and TubeMogul Video Ad Platform with 831 million. And Hulu in April announced that it would guarantee 100% completion of its in-stream ad placements. (It already delivers 96%.)
NYT’s Ann Derry, who heads NYT’s video property, told Niemen that the Hulu channel will be for longer-form documentary treatments like “Punched Out.” It is a repackaging of a three-part series that ran on nytimes.com last December.
Something is off, when the best magazine of the year cannot attract advertisers.
At last night's Ellie Awards in New York, held by the American Society of Magazine Editors, Magazine of the Year Winner was TIME. But as Folio details, TIME fell almost 21% from 286.95 ad pages in Q1 2011 to 227.01 pages in Q1 2012. Rival Newsweek enjoyed a 27.5% spike to 183.26 pages in Q1 2012.
National Magazine Awards 2012 Winners and Finalists
MAGAZINE OF THE YEAR
Finalists: Esquire; New York; The New Yorker; Popular Mechanics.
GENERAL EXCELLENCE, PRINT
Honors large-circulation weeklies, biweeklies and general-interest monthlies
Winner: Bloomberg Businessweek
Finalists: GQ; New York; The New Yorker; Vice
Honors women’s magazines, including health and fitness magazines and family-centric publications
Winner: O, The Oprah Magazine
Finalists: Glamour; More; Real Simple; W
Honors food, travel and shelter magazines as well as city and regional publications
Winner: House Beautiful
Finalists: Bon Appetit; Country Living; Garden & Gun; Texas Monthly
Active- and Special-Interest Magazines
Honors magazines serving targeted audiences, including enthusiast titles
Finalists: The Fader; Field & Stream; Men’s Health; Popular Mechanics
Honors literary, scholarly and professional publications as well as small-circulation general-interest magazines
Winner: IEEE Spectrum
Finalists: The American Scholar; Aperture; The New Republic; Virginia Quarterly Review
Finalists: Bloomberg Businessweek; Interview; New York; Wired
Finalists: GQ; Interview; National Geographic; Virginia Quarterly Review
NEWS AND DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY
Winner: Harper’s Magazine for “Juvenile Injustice,” October
Harper’s Magazine for “Uncertain Exodus,” July
National Geographic for “Too Young to Wed,” June
The New York Times Magazine for “From Zero to 104,” September 4
TIME for “Birds of Hope,” January 17
Winner: The New York Times Magazine for "Vamps, Crooks & Killers," December 11
National Geographic for “Taming the Wild,” March
TIME for “Portraits of Resilience,” September 19
Vogue for “Lady Be Good,” March
W for “Planet Tilda,” August
Winner: New York for “The Encyclopedia of 9/11,” September 5-12
Bloomberg Businessweek for “Steve Jobs,” October 10-16
ESPN The Magazine for “NFL Preview: The Vick Issue,” September 5
Garden & Gun for “Southern Food,” October/November
Wired for “Underworld,” February
Winner: New York for “Strategist”
Bicycling for “Know/How”
Esquire for “Man at His Best”
Real Simple for “Food”
Wired for “Start”
Winner: Glamour for “The Secret That Kills Four Women a Day,” June
Good Housekeeping for “Fractured,” July
Real Simple for “Your Holiday-Spending Survival Guide,” November
Redbook for “Would You Get a ‘Mommy Tuck’?” April
San Francisco for “The New School of Fish,” February
Winner: Saveur for “Italian American,” December
New York for “The Urbanist’s Guide To . . . ,” April 25
Outdoor Life for “Sniper School,” March
Texas Monthly for “Home Plates,” April
Wired for “The Wired Travel Optimizer,” October
Winner: The New Yorker for “The Invisible Army,” June 6
5280 Magazine for “Direct Fail,” December
Harper’s Magazine for “Tiny Little Laws,” February
Marie Claire for “The Big Business of Breast Cancer,” October
Men’s Health for “The Signature Wound,” November
Winner: The New Yorker for “The Apostate,” February 14 & 21
The Atlantic for “Our Man in Kandahar,” November
Los Angeles for “What Happened to Mitrice Richardson?” September
The New Yorker for “Getting bin Laden,” August 8
Vanity Fair for “Echoes From a Distant Battlefield,” December
Winner: Esquire for “Heavenly Father!” October
GQ for “The Man Who Sailed His House,” October
The New York Times Magazine for “You Blow My Mind. Hey, Mickey!” June 12
The New Yorker for “A Murder Foretold,” April 4
Rolling Stone for “Arms and the Dudes,” March 31
Winner: D Magazine for “He Is Anonymous,” April
ESPN The Magazine for “Game of Her Life,” January 10
Men’s Journal for “The Blind Man Who Taught Himself to See,” March
Rolling Stone for “Santiago’s Brain,” December 8
Sports Illustrated for “Dewayne Dedmon’s Leap of Faith,” November 14
ESSAYS AND CRITICISM
Winner: New York for “Paper Tigers,” May 16
Esquire for “The Loading Dock Manifesto,” May
GQ for “Too Much Information,” May iPad Edition
The New Yorker for “The Aquarium,” June 13 & 20
Slate for “The Stutterer: How He Makes His Voice Heard,” February 22
COLUMNS AND COMMENTARY
Winner: Vanity Fair for columns by Christopher Hitchens
The Atlantic for columns by James Parker
Field & Stream for columns by Bill Heavey
Los Angeles for reviews by Steve Erickson
TIME for columns by Joel Stein
Winner: Zoetrope: All-Story for “The Hox River Window,” Fall
The Atlantic for “Scars,” Summer 2011
McSweeney’s Quarterly for “Ambition,” April
McSweeney’s Quarterly for “The Northeast Kingdom,” August
Virginia Quarterly Review for “La Moretta,” Fall
The news is good for newspapers. The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) has released the semiannual newspaper FAS-FAX and Audience-FAX reports, which include top-line print online readership.
Circulation for the 618 newspapers reporting comparable multiday averages rose a modest .68%. Circulation for the 532 newspapers reporting comparable Sunday data increased 5 percent.
The biggest gainer was The New York Times, the daily circulation of which (digital included) jumped 73.05%, “largely because of the introduction of its paid digital subscription model last yearm” the paper described. The Times’s digital subscription packages, which launched in the U.S. on March 28, 2011.
Still, The Wall Street Journal remained king among daily papers, with a total circulation of 2,118,315. As the WSJ itself described, demand for digital content helped offset a decline in print circulation. Weekday digital circulation grew 61.6%, while print fell 6.7 percent.
Of the major dailies with national circulation, only The Washington Post suffered, with an almost 8% dip in total circulation. Interestingly, as the Poynter Organization describes, several big gainers charge for online access (with paywalls), while almost none of losers do—including The Washington Post. Three of the five papers that posted the largest percentage gains in Sunday circulation now charge for online access (including The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times and Newsday), while four of the five with the largest drops do not. One of them, the Los Angeles Times, put up its paywall in March.
Surprisingly, Gannett, which owns the Detroit Free-Press (down 6.7%) owns the only significant national paper (USA Today) without a paywall, and appears to have no plans for one. It will charge for online access to all of its local newspapers including Detroit Free Press, but not USA Today, which took a modest .64% dip by ABC data.
The Economist and the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) have announced that “The Economist” is the first weekly magazine to release a Consolidated Media Report (CMR).
In January, The Economist slammed the brakes on the “everything is free” ethos, when the magazine’s Managing Director for the Americas Paul Rossi called the free or lower-cost digital model “suicide.” Rossi told the crowd at the Digiday Publishing Summit that “It makes no sense in my mind if you think a mag on a newsstand has a [value] to a reader of $4.99 that you sell that to a reader digitally for 99 cents or $1.99…I don’t understand the logic.” Rossi also addressed the problem of digital advertising not coming close to replacing print revenue—partly because he felt that lower- or no-cost content devalues digital ad placements.
The Economist’s CMR contains information on all of its branded assets, including its print journal, tablet app, website, e-newsletters and social media channels, and they are fairly impressive:
- Print and digital circulation: 893,208
- Economist app total unique devices: 255,425
- Average digital subscription price: $105.11
- Total page views for The Economist online: 14,914,663
- Total monthly unique browsers: 3,592,114
- E-newsletter net distributions: 16,407,019
- Social media interactions for Facebook; 1,009,815, Twitter; 2,279,796, YouTube; 502,118, Tumblr; 43,007, LinkedIn; 23,003
“With the rise of digital reading, marketers want to understand how readers are interacting with magazines beyond the print form,” said Rossi. Referring to the CMR, he added that “While not perfect, we believe it’s a positive first step to show advertisers our brand footprint and to help them make comparisons across platforms and titles.”
ABC’s theory behind a CMR is to provide a single resource for advertisers and media buyers to understand a publication’s reach across both print and digital platforms, through a single, independently verified resource. Two monthlies, Popular Science and Fine Cooking, have also issued reports. The Economist is only the third magazine to publish a CMR.
The news may not be all rosy for Economist: Its own press release boilerplate claims "a growing global circulation (now 1.5 million including both print and digital)," per ABC figures for July through December 2011. Somehow between then and now, and with the more stringent CMR analysis, that figure has dropped to 893,208. But the apps and emails (and an online price of $105.11) still qualify it as a success story, by any measure.
This is the year analysts predicted that digital advertising will surpass print in revenues, and here is some proof. Digital revenues outpaced print at business-to-business group United Business Media for the first time in Q1. UBM publishes InformationWeek, The Journal of Commerce and Psychiatric Times, among other titles. It also owns PR Newswire, TechWeb, and offers marketing services.
The company released its Q1 fiscal report yesterday, and for the first time, its online revenue exceeded print. As BtoB describes, revenues from online marketing services totaled $34.4 million, and print marketing services totaled $30.8 million.
That represents an 11.2% boost in online marketing services for Q1 compared to 2011, while print marketing services plummeted 31.4% in Q1 year-over-year (YoY). This was due in part to drops in ad pages, also, to some divestments in titles.
Earlier this week, its InformationWeek title unveiled three new marketing services products in educational programming, social media and live streaming video. The InformationWeek University product includes a sponsored track, which can supposedly deliver a minimum of 800 leads for the sponsor.
The experts at eMarketer called it in January, when they predicted that the online ad spend would bypass print in 2012—across all media. UBM is a well-diversified business publisher, but consumer publications are expecting a digital boost too, after a healthy growth across media of 42.1% in 2011. That growth will be fueled this year by, among other factors, the move to e-reading and magazine apps, and by advertising around the 2012 election and summer Olympic Games. eMarketer has projected that U.S. online ad spending will grow 23.3% in 2012 to nearly $40 billion, and nearly $53 billion in 2013. This will make 2012 the first year in which online ad spends will surpass the total spent on print ads, with $39.5 billion online versus $33.8 billion in magazines and newspapers.
Q1 2012 was “disappointing” for the magazine industry, as Folio describes it; and “lackluster” by Ad Age—depending on the title. Some niche publications like Architectural Digest, Boating and Latina are jumping for joy, as are Traditional Home and Dash.
According to the latest Publishers’ Information Bureau stats, ad pages among computer magazines were down 8.2% in Q1 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, for a decline from 36,868 pages to 33,828.
Generalized women's titles overall suffered January through March, with declines at Better Homes & Gardens, Essence, O! The Oprah Magazine and Ladies’ Home Journal among others. The beauty- and fashion-conscious Marie Claire defied the trend, with a 10% gain, and women’s luxury title W gained 16.6%.
Meredith’s Executive Vice President and President of Media Sales Dick Porter told Ad Age that advertisers are targeting their audiences. “If they’re doing broad, TV is doing that role.” Meredith titles include Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, and EatingWell. That title dropped 11.2% YoY in ad pages, despite its popularity. Effective with the September/October 2012 issue, EatingWell magazine will raise its rate base from 500,000 to 600,000, an increase of 70 percent from this time last year. In January 2012, Meredith raised the magazine's rate base from 350,000 to 500,000.
Generalized news magazines saw some extreme highs and lows. TIME dropped nearly 21% to 227 ad pages, and The Week plummeted 31.5%; while Newsweek bucked the trend with gains of 27.5%.
Spanish-language titles are strongly on the uptick. People En Espanol gained 16.2%, Ser Padres (the Spanish-language version of Parents, another Meredith title) 24.6%, and Siempre Mujer 26.2%.
Highs and Lows by Category
As Min Online details, only two categories (toiletries and cosmetics; apparel and accessories) saw increased ad pages in Q1, while automotive took a pounding with a 35.8% decrease.
Still, home and lifestyle titles overall had some strong gains.
Fine Cooking was up 76.9% to just over 15 ad pages; Veranda leapt 64.1%; and new-ish food title Dash was up 52.2%.
Ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising—an increase of 18% since 2007, according to a new study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70% of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform, an increase of 15% in four years.
Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising Survey of more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries shows that while nearly half (47%) of consumers around the world say they trust paid television, magazine and newspaper ads, confidence declined by 24%, 20% and 25% respectively since 2009. Still, the majority of advertising dollars are spent on traditional or paid media, such as television. In 2011, overall global ad spend saw a seven% increase over 2010, according to Nielsen’s most recent Global AdView Pulse. This growth in spend was driven by a nearly 10% increase in television advertising, with countries, including the U.S. and China, attracting more advertising dollars versus the year prior.
“While brand marketers increasingly seek to deploy more effective advertising strategies, Nielsen’s survey shows that the continued proliferation of media messages may be impacting how well they resonate with their intended audiences on various platforms,” said Randall Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen. “Although television advertising will remain a primary way marketers connect with audiences due to its unmatched reach compared to other media, consumers around the world continue to see recommendations from friends and online consumer opinions as by far the most credible. As a result, successful brand advertisers will seek ways to better connect with consumers and leverage their goodwill in the form of consumer feedback and experiences.”
Nielsen’s survey shows that 58% of global online consumers trust “owned media,” such as messages on company websites, and 50% find content in emails they consented to receive to be credible.
Forty percent of global respondents find product placements in TV programs to be credible, while 42% trust radio ads and 41% trust pre-movie cinema messages.
Trust in Online Ads
Thirty-six percent of global online consumers report trust in online video ads, and 33% believe messages in online banner ads, up from 26% in 2007. Ads viewed in search engine results are trusted by 40% of global respondents in Nielsen’s survey, up from 34% in 2007. Sponsored ads on social networking sites are deemed credible by 36% of global respondents.
“The growth in trust for online search and display ads over the past four years should give marketers increased confidence in putting more of their ad dollars into this medium,” said Beard. “Many companies are already increasing their paid advertising activity on social networking sites, in part due to the high level of trust consumers place in friends’ recommendations and online opinions. Brands should be watching this emerging ad channel closely as it continues to grow.”
Trust in Mobile Ads
According to Nielsen’s survey, one-third of global respondents trust video or banner display ads on mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. Approximately one-third (29%) of global online consumers said they trust mobile phone text ads, an increase of 21% since 2009 and 61% since 2007.
When considering ad relevance, 50% of global online consumers find TV ads to be personally relevant when they are looking for information on products they want or need, particularly among consumers in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, where 65% find TV ads to be highly pertinent to their needs. By contrast, 30% of European respondents consider TV ads to be relevant.
One-third (33%) of global respondents find online banners ads to be relevant, compared to ads on social networks (36%) and online video ads (36%). Forty two% of global consumers find ads in search engine results relevant.
“The high cost of advertising in today’s fragmented media world forces marketers to strive for the most effective and efficient ads,” said Beard. “In order to boost advertising ROI, marketers need to make sure an ad’s content and message is relevant to the consumer who sees it. While we expect to see high relevance levels in ads where the consumer is actively seeking information, such as on a brand’s own website or solicited emails, Nielsen’s survey shows that there is still much potential for marketers looking to reach the right audience through advertiser-driven messages.”