Add the Ad that Counts: Cover Wraps

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The decline of ad revenue is one of the magazine industry’s greatest concerns. It is also one of the reasons that the whole “print is dead” concept came about; if you are not making ad dollars, and subscriptions are harder to come by, how does a magazine make money?

The answer to the question lies in resolving a huge industry assumption. Traditional ad dollars, meaning the sale of ad spaces in a magazine, are lower. They are not gone. Further, internal ads are not the only ads available for a print magazine. Cover wraps, for example, are a great alternative, and also one of the few sources of print advertising revenue that has increased in recent years.

What is a cover wrap?

Cover wraps differ from traditional magazine ads, so not everyone knows what a cover wrap is. Think of it as a 4-page cover, completely composed of ads, that runs over the actual cover. For saddle-stitch magazines, this means a 4-page signature placed on top of the regular cover. For perfect bound magazines, the cover would be the cover and spine, and the “real” cover would be two inserts placed inside of the cover wrap.

In most cases, a single advertiser purchases the whole 4-page wrap, or two advertisers split the wrap. In the case of two buyers, one usually buys the front and cover, the other buys the back cover.

There is also the option for a front-only cover wrap, where an additional sheet, sometimes made from a different paper, is placed on top of the front cover. This is more complicated to produce, but still a viable option.

Why are cover wraps working when other ads are not?

The first thing to address is that print ads are working, just not as well as they used to. Cover wraps happen to be performing well at this time, more so than other print ads. With that said, why are they working when other print ads are not?

  1. Not every print for an issue needs a cover wrap. A publisher can sell a cover to a specific segment of the readership. Publishers can sell multiple cover wraps for the same print issue. If an advertiser wants to target a specific list within a readership, that is a premium opportunity. Sell it as such.
  2. A magazine’s value to the reader is not its ads, but its content. So rather than disrupting the reader, cover wraps immediately affiliate the ad with the content, and give the reader the chance to experience the ad prior to consuming the content. This also affiliates the ad with the brand more than an internal ad, because of the magazine branding and cover page elements, and almost hides the ad in the form of editorial content.
  3. They can be used for self-promotion. By directly affiliating with the content and brand of the magazine, the chance of engagement is much higher. Using cover wraps for subscription renewals, corporate updates, or to promote the release of new titles through existing titles are all functional options.
  4. Cover wraps can be an alternative to an internal ad, or an upsell opportunity. If an advertiser is already buying a cover ad, it is easier to sell a discounted internal ad to them as well. It may not be as large of margins, but selling two ads helps offset that.
  5. An advertiser can run a campaign across multiple publications at once using cover wraps. Advertisers want the most bang for their buck, so being able to generate one main campaign cover wrap, and work with multiple titles would allow them to run the same ad to multiple markets and readerships at the same time.

What are the limitations of cover wraps?

Cover wraps are additional pages being added to a publication. Regardless of how many issues include a cover wrap, there are additional print costs associated with cover wraps. The weight of each print with a cover wrap also increases, thus increasing shipping costs. The ads sold in a cover wraps often offset these costs, but the publisher needs to do research and price the ads appropriately to ensure an ROI.

Branding also comes into play. Even though there is still a real cover underneath the cover wrap, what readers see first is the wrap. A magazine’s brand must be strong enough to ensure the reader knows, even with the ad on the cover, what magazine it is. The wrap is unsuccessful otherwise, and hurt the magazine’s brand in general.

Lastly, cover wraps, when used for targeted segments of a readership, reach only general groups. Digital advertising gives advertisers the means to define incredibly specific audiences, like “farm owners in Indiana with a preference for comic books.” In comparison to those digital audiences, print audiences target generic groups. That applies to the struggles of print versus digital advertising in general though, not just cover wraps.

Further Information

To learn more about cover wraps, click hereTo see more information on functions and examples of cover wraps, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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Freight’s Impact on Delivery

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The United States relies heavily on trucking and freight to deliver any number of goods across the country, including magazines and other print publications. For this reason, the current shortage of drivers – exceeding 50,000 – is heavily impacting the delivery timelines and costs of publishers nationwide.

According to the American Trucking Association, truck companies are working to increase driver pay to make the job more appealing, but increasing pay will likely result in further increases in shipping costs.

Can Electric Cars Save the Freight Industry?

Electric car companies like Tesla see an opportunity and are developing driverless trucks. This would resolve two longstanding issues with trucking: costs and timelines.

First, without the need for drivers, the costs of trucking would decrease substantially, as around 43% of trucking operational costs is driver compensation, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

Second, no drivers means no time limitations on driving. Trucking would no longer be bound by 8 hour driving days, so delivery times could be hastened significantly. All this said, driverless trucks are years away from implementation, and the shortage of drivers is only set to increase.

Ways to Help Offset Costs

Due to this, publishers are looking for ways to cut costs. The best way to do this: talk to the printer of your publication. Altering page counts, paper, and adjusting print schedules can be options to save money. Each printer has specific preferences, so talk to them about what fits them best.

Further Information

To learn more about the current lack of truck drivers, click here. For more information on the impact of freight on the magazine industry, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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Why Online Editions Matter!

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Online editions are not just a virtual version of your print publication. They are a major opportunity for advertising dollars and subscription profits, and they also provide your audience with the access they expect. Print is and should be the focus for niche publishers, but not making use of online editions is the same as leaving blank ad spaces in the print; it is losing money you should make.

Sidenote about online editions and publishing content online

Before going into more, there is a huge point that needs to be made clear. Online editions and posting your content as unique articles on a website are not mutually exclusive. In fact, doing both is highly recommended. This is because online editions are their own entity, in the same way the printed publication is a standalone entity. All the contents, the advertising, and everything related to monetizing it is inside the online edition. When you take individual content out of the print or online edition and publish it on a website, that too becomes its own entity, which can have completely different advertisements and audiences. The more forms of distribution you have of the same information, the more audiences you can develop and the more ad spaces you have to leverage.

Now to online editions!

It is like having two publications instead of one

Your print publication has a specific circulation and distribution. You print it, organize it by who it goes to or where it needs to go, it gets shipped, and then it arrives. At that point, people read it and enjoy it and you have done your job. The online edition offers the same. The only difference is that the “who” the circulation goes to and the “distribution” to that circulation are different.

The who for an online edition can have the same demographic and geographic audience as the print, but the difference is where they are looking for content. Print readers want print. Some may also enjoy the digital option, but most seek the print for a reason; they prefer it. That means that, if you are only doing a print publication, you are missing half of your ideal audience. Having an online edition, even if it is 100% identical to the print, will immediately increase your circulation and help you reach even more of your ideal audience.

Also, online editions do not have to be carbon -copies of their printed counterparts. Sure, they will likely share a lot of editorials. They will likely share a cover. Even the non-editorial content, like an editor’s note or house ad, will likely be the same. However, you can run different covers (which you can charge for), different internal ads, and even unique content specific to either the online edition or the print. Essentially, if you want, you can have two publications, each distributed on a different medium, that share enough to make it easy on the publisher, but differ enough that you can sell them as unique from one another.

Start selling subscriptions without changing the “free print” concept

At the end of the day, publishers are publishing for two reasons: to inform the audience, and to make money. The content takes care of the informing part, so that just leaves the making money part. Advertisements are the most functional and lucrative option, but subscriptions are equally as viable. Now that does not mean they will replace ads as the means to keep a publication afloat, but it does mean they can pad the bottom line. The problem is that with the internet and the demand for content by all audiences, many publishers decided to rely on ads alone, and give away the publication for free.

Problem is not entirely the right word. There is nothing wrong with a publication that does not charge a circulation. However, it does mean not making money when you could be. Also, once you give it away for free, it becomes very difficult to shift to charging for it down the road … at least on the same medium. As stated earlier, print and online editions of a publication are separate entities. One is a physical commodity with content “X.” The other is a virtual commodity with content “Y.” If you make them differ just enough, or you provide uniqueness in the form of medium-specific content or covers or ads, they can be “sold” as different publications.

If the print is free to receive, keep it that way. For the luxury of accessing the content through an online edition, charge a subscription or membership registration fee. Or create an online edition application for mobile use and charge for it. Either option allows you to monetize the publication without jeopardizing a current situation where a publication is free.

Creating an online edition is incredibly easy

Two of the biggest concerns for a publisher are time and money. With all the time and money focused on the print, how can you dedicate more towards an online edition? The first reason to do so is profits. You spend money to make money, and investing in an online edition can bring in profits. You just need to make sure you approach it correctly. That is where time is a factor. Even with a majority, if not all of the online edition, being shared with the print publication, it takes time to upload and edit and moderate and all the other factors.

So take it out-of-house. There are any number of softwares that make creating an online edition easy. Most offer a hands-on package where you provide the final file, and they handle the rest. In fact, almost all commercial magazine printers have partnerships with an online editing software. This means you can get your print and online editions from the same people, and often get a discount on one by also doing the other. Publication Printers Corp. has an entire team that handles digital editions and handles the labor for you.

If you don’t have online editions yet, ask yourself these questions. Why am I passing up the opportunity for easy profits? Do I want to reach my entire niche audience, not just the print-readers? Who do I already work with that can do it for me?

Further Information

To learn more about getting value out of your online editions, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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