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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Podcasts & Publications: Take Your Content to a New Level

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The word “publisher” has evolved drastically in the past 25 years. Once a term reserved for printed works, the advent of the internet has now taken publishers into entirely new media. One particular medium that has garnered extreme success for publishers is the podcast. A hybrid between radio and blogging, podcasts focus on educational or entertaining content, often featuring guests to provide validity and expertise.

In terms of success, iTunes alone recorded it 50 millionth podcast stream earlier this year. Podcasts average an 80% complete listen rate (80% of people that start a podcast finish or almost finish it), according to the 2018 Infinite Dial report. Also, the Interactive Advertising Bureau stated that in 2017, the U.S. podcasting industry reached $314 million in revenue, an 86% increase over the $ 169 million in 2016.

Now, what does this have to do with print publications, like magazines?

Use podcasts to make the most of your existing content

Magazines and timely print publications crank out more content than any other publishers. This means on top of the constant flow of new stories, there are ever-growing archives.

Archives are full of great content that should be leveraged, but taking dated content and make it relevant again is not a simple task.
Many opt for the “throw it up on social media” plan or add a boilerplate to every new story that links to the archives. These do make your archives easier to discover, but they don’t make your archives more relevant.

A more successful solution is to switch up the format of the content. This is where podcasts can come in. Look through your archives for stories that follow a theme, and curate a podcast series of your old stories. With a few minor adjustments and improvements to the content, it is easy to turn an existing editorial piece into a podcast story. Reaching out to the original sources for quotes or soundbites is great too.

These podcasts are entirely new content and will reach your existing audience and new audiences. They can also increase site traffic in two ways: publishing the podcast on the front page, and publish each podcast stories on the web pages of the original story.

Generate new content that print can’t cover with podcasts

Two of the most powerful forms of communication are the written word and imagery, but there is some content better suited for other types of media. Video and radio are long-standing options to cover the other content, but podcasts have become just as viable an option, possibly an even better one due to one thing: money.

To do video and radio right, a high-end studio and off-site equipment can be tens of thousands of dollars upfront. Even if doing the bare basics, both involve decent spend to produce, and then there are distribution costs on top of that.

Podcasts serve as a much more affordable solution. For a publisher looking to do it on a budget, a podcast can be produced for a few hundred up front and less than $100 a month (outside of time spent). To do the high-end podcast, $1000 upfront and a little over $300 a month after that.

Best of all, podcasts are extremely versatile content. They can live on a website, be on a radio, be used in video, and be downloadable or streamable. Also, audio is the easiest format content to consume, as it requires little to no effort, and can reach people on the go, like drivers.
Building a brand and audience takes an immense amount of effort. Publishers know that best, as they dedicate a lot of time and money building a sizable circulation.

Podcasts provide an instantaneous audience and distribution

Fear of having to start building an audience from scratch often keeps publishers from delving into other media platforms. It’s logical; if the existing print or online audience is not there, it is hard to justify the effort of making unique content to dedicating energy deliver it on those other platforms.

Podcasts escape both the issue of building a new audience and delivering the content. Actually, both issues are resolved by the same solution: where podcasts live. Almost all podcasts are hosted and delivered on high-profile applications, like iTunes, Stitcher, and Google’s podcast app.

A massive pool of people utilize these applications, and that pool covers almost every demographic and geographic group. The likelihood that a publisher’s audience already has a presence in that pool is very high. Not to mention, these people are already seeking content via podcast, and all congregated in one place.

Newer, more creative advertising options thanks to podcasts

Almost every publication makes its margins off advertisement, so more advertising options is a fast way to a publisher’s heart.

On top of the traditional commercial spots, podcasts provide prime placement for sponsored content. Interview an advertiser as a podcast story. Review a product. You can even run a print story with it to upsell the opportunity. Best of all, because it is recorded, you have full control of the script, even in an interview. You also have the ability to sell sponsorship for the podcast, offsetting the costs of the podcast and generates even more profits.

Further Information

For more information regarding podcast opportunities for publishers, click here. To learn more about podcast industry statistics, click here. Further details on why podcasts should fit into your content strategy are available if you click here.

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

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It’s a niche magazine market

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Large, national titles continue to struggle

The question of “is print dead” is still circulating around the magazine industry. However, it is the larger, more general-topic titles that are finding themselves truly pinched and struggling. Smaller, more specific titles, commonly called “niche,” are actually growing and expanding. Dedicated, specific audiences are the driving force behind this. They aren’t just consumers of content, but advocates that actively promote and support these titles. Titles that cover a wider demographic and geographic spread do not have that same buy-in from their audiences.

Titles that rely on their longstanding brands are having difficulty retaining audiences against the targeted content of niche publications. In fact, new niche titles are being created to fill the gaps being left by the larger titles. The other major component as to why larger titles are having issues: profits. The brand loyalty issue results in fewer subscriptions, which when combined with paper cost increases and shipping difficulty, all lead to struggles balancing profits and overhead.

Niche titles can skate some of these issues due to the audience buy-in, which helps bring in subscription and ad dollars. Also, smaller circulations means less print and fulfillment cost. Being niche doesn’t resolve the issues, but it helps in today’s market. Difficulty for all titles will likely continue unless industry-wide changes occur. In the meantime, niche publications will continue to expand their reach.

The Playboy Magazine Example

Playboy magazine is an example of this. Still one of the most recognizable titles in the US, it’s once 5.6 million circulation has now dwindled to below 500,000, and what was once a monthly will be a quarterly in 2019. Much of the change happening at Playboy can be attributed to a decrease in brand loyalty over the last 10 years.

The Chief Creative Officer of Playboy, Cooper Hefner, has even expressed that he plans to put more focus into online content, in an effort to “shift away from putting a lot of effort into the magazine” because of a lack of profits from the print publication.

Further Information

For more information regarding the success of niche publications, click here. To learn more about the changes to Playboy magazine, click here.

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

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