Category Archives: print media

If your readers fell in a forest, would you hear it?


WSJ.com proves that affluent readers continue to move online. In March unique visitors at the site were up 175% to 15 million, despite the fact that WSJ.com continues to charge for much of its content.

Meanwhile, traditional paper-based news magazines are tipping over. Newsweek’s circulation is down 16%; Time has plummeted 19%; and U.S. News & World Report announced last week it would cut its rate base a whooping 500,000 to 1.5 million — and print only 36 issues a year instead of the former 46.

These numbers mean that anyone advertising in traditional print may be seeing declining inquiries and rising customer acquisition costs. If you have been reluctant to explore web display advertising, it’s time to start that engine. (Photo by Cicada.)

The tyranny of Christmas cards


You know you hate them. Those little pretty things we write on in cursive until midnight, trying to keep up with everyone else, the damned illustrated manifestations of yuletide cheer called Christmas cards that are a bad virus gone boomerang, replicating among colleagues and old relatives and whipping back every season, forcing you to regurgitate the virus and mail it back again.

Not that we’re bitter. We’d just rather be drinking eggnog and singing carols, not licking stamps at midnight.

So it’s no wonder the first Christmas cards were a commercial creation, designed by Sir Henry Cole in London back in 1843, who printing 1,000 cards showing a family (and child) swigging wine and sold them for a shilling each. Wikipedia gives the entire rundown, but suffice it to say, some marketer began this card-mailing hysteria just motivated to make a buck. Christmas card mailings have dwindled with the advent of email, down 30% to only 20 cards per U.S. household in 2004 — but at 110 million homes in the States, that’s still 2.2 billion pieces of paper.

Ponder this. At one minute each, with writing, licking, stamping and posting, Christmas cards eat up 36.6 million hours of our time each year — equal to 916,600 work weeks, or 18,300 full time employees working 50 weeks each year. Those same hours could be used to plant one tree a day for 4.5 million trees a year stopping greenhouse gases. No matter. We’ve have to cut all the trees down for pulp to make more holiday greeting cards.

We say, stop the madness. If you know us, then you know we love you. Nuff said. Happy New Year.

Hmm. Is it the Journal without Wall Street?


Word is Rupert Murdoch may change the name of the Wall Street Journal to just The Journal. We actually like this.

Put aside our brand memories for an instant, and let’s consider the future impact. One: A name change would likely upset some readers, but WSJ’s audience has survived several recent design changes, including color and the new children’s edition small format. The only real screams we heard were when WSJ moved the letters to the editor to a separate section, posting reader responses far, far away from its ice-cold conservative editorial page … and WSJ quickly caved and moved the readers’ voices back. If readers could survive that insult, a name change probably won’t kill existing circulation too much.

Two: Now, let’s think about the current readers … baby boomers, wealthy to be sure, but slowly, inexorably headed for that green golf course in the sky. The Journal, er, Wall Street Journal needs to embrace a younger audience. Broadening its brand might help attract new readers. WSJ has already moved far beyond finance into personal technology and feature stories about chefs, cooking, travel and wine.

We’re huge fans of WSJ, since it includes some of the best, most thoughtful reporting in the world. Here’s hoping they’re careful with the brand, but with readers bailing out of traditional print, a bold move may be just the thing.

Offline research


OK, so we’re two days away from the office with only sporadic hooks into the internet. Wanted to do some research on marketing and media trends. Plus side: bought nine magazines we never read, including the find Seed (sweet science), Business 2.0 (what happens when web 3.0 arrives?), MIT Technology Review, Geek (we love Tina Fey), GQ’s 50th anniversary edition, and the ever-exciting Campaigns & Elections (when in Rome …). Downside: it all cost $50.

Two media thoughts come to mind:

1. Traditional print magazines are still fascinating.

2. Traditional print magazines are damn expensive.

Invasion of the serious media


Brits at The Economist have seen U.S. circ climb 12% in the past two years, and now they’re launching million-dollar media campaigns in Chicago (this week) and other top cities to get us silly Americans to pay attention to world news. Seems The Economist is buoyed by the recent success of NPR in grabbing new audience share, and seeks to double readership in major U.S. markets. Media planners, take note: serious formats are still holding strong in print and radio among upscale, educated, affluent demos.

No word yet on whether they’ll increase coverage of Britney Spears.