Publishers Hesitant on Amazon Live

Posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 4:02 PM

In the news: Amazon Live falls short of expectations this holiday season. Why aren't more publishers jumping aboard?

The holiday shopping season was Amazon's best hope for its Amazon Live video platform. But things got off to a lackluster start. Writes Max Willens of last week: "Amazon had hoped to celebrate Cyber Monday with a big helping of publisher-supplied shoppable live video this year. With one notable exception, those hopes went unfulfilled."

Publisher recruitment efforts have, thus far, fallen flat. Although Amazon is a key affiliate, many media companies remain skeptical of its intentions, says Willens: "In sizing up Amazon's Live entreaties, many heard something that was unfocused and vague, with the only real clear priority being training publishers' audiences to use Amazon Live, according to sources at four publishers that Amazon pitched." What's more, Amazon subsidies to help offset video production costs are smaller than publishers had hoped. Read more here.

Also Notable

The Key to Retaining Employees

It's an employee's market right now, and publishers across all the major industries are seeing turnover as employees seek better pay, more flexibility, and more generous benefits. So what can publishers do to keep their best talent? It's about more than just a paycheck. Al Tompkins of cites a recent Gallup poll showing that "52 percent of people who left their job during the pandemic said their employer could have done something to make them stay." Tompkins' advice to publishers is simple: "Tell the people that you want to stick around that you want them to stick around.... How many journalists who left their job in the last year needed the flexibility to manage children's schooling, care for parents and deal with COVID-19 concerns but had a boss who was clueless about these pressures?" Read more here.

Mixed News for Print Magazines

Some print magazines temporarily shuttered by the 2020 lockdowns are slowly making comebacks, but others have yet to return. Kathryn Hopkins of Women's Wear Daily examines some of the challenges publishers have faced and some of the iconic magazines still absent from newsstands. In addition to "a slide in advertising, producing certain magazines became almost impossible in some months during lockdowns," Hopkins writes, "with only limited numbers of people allowed in studios and fashion items hard to come by as factories produced hand sanitizer instead of apparel and handbags." She highlights four titles that shuttered during the pandemic and have yet to return: Paper, Love, Time Out New York, and Nylon. Read more here.

Publishers Speak Out Against State Censorship

"States starve publishers of ad dollars if they refuse to pledge political allegiance," reads a recent Editor & Publisher headline. The story focuses on a recent dust-up at the Arkansas Times, which recently saw essential funding cut off at the state level. "When Arkansas passed an anti-boycott law, it sought to prevent state funds from going to any business partner that refused to sign an agreement -- a pledge of allegiance, really -- to support Israel," reports Mike Blinder in the E&P Reports Vodcast. Alan Leveritt, publisher of the newsweekly, refused to sign any such pledge, which he saw as a First Amendment infringement. As a result, Blinder reports, "the University of Arkansas yanked its ad spend" and the ACLU quickly intervened to challenge the decision. The controversy highlights the growing number of anti-BDS laws in the United States, currently in 33 states. Read more here.

Buzzfeed Goes Public

Last week Buzzfeed issued a press release announcing that the company was to become the first publicly traded digital-only news outlet. The company hit the NASDAQ this week and is off to a slow start. Todd Spangler of Variety reports that stock is down 11 percent on its first day: "BuzzFeed stock started trading on Nasdaq under the symbol "BZFD" on Monday. Shares opened at $10.95 per share and rose as much as $14.77 (up more than 50 percent), before slipping into negative territory in late-morning trading. The stock closed at $8.56/share, down 11 percent for the day, amid a rise in broader market indices. BuzzFeed's market cap currently stands at $363.85 million." Read more here.

Architectural Digest Goes Global

Condé Nast title Architectural Digest is publishing its first global print edition in December, as part of its company-wide global content initiative. Sara Guaglione of reports: "Editors from AD's U.S. and nine international editions came together to work on the brand's biggest issue of the year, as parent company Condé Nast continues to shift to a consolidated global content strategy that has editorial teams around the world working more closely together." The publisher sees myriad benefits of a global publishing program, particularly in terms of increased editorial collaboration and integration, cost savings. Read more here.

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Selling Ads: Closing the Deal -- Part III

Posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 4:02 PM

Selling ads involves more than just great feature-benefit statements. First, you need to probe your prospect to determine what he or she needs and how you can fulfill that need.

By William Dunkerley

A productive way to appeal to a prospective advertiser is to focus your presentation on his or her specific needs and interests. But how do you know what they are?

Get the prospect to tell you. That's the most effective way. In Part II we discussed three variant techniques:

--Taking an open and friendly personal approach (extroverted personality).
--Using an understated sincerity to sound reliable and trustworthy (introverted personality).
--Asking survey questions to engage the prospect (either personality type).

While different personalities will be better suited to different techniques, there is one connecting thread: It is really important that the salesperson get the prospect to do a lot of the talking. The focus of the call must be on the prospect, not on your publication. That's the purpose of the first phase of a sales call: to establish rapport and to probe.

That means each of the above techniques should net the same result. You need to find out where to focus your sales presentation from data elicited in the probe.

The Probe: Getting to Know Your Prospect

Your probe should yield two valuable pieces of information: First, you want to learn what the prospect’s needs and interests are, what he or she wants to do. Second, you need to determine for yourself which needs and interests the prospect can satisfy by advertising in your publication.

Once you know those things, you can start talking about your publication. Do that by explaining how advertising in your publication will help the prospect achieve his or her objectives. Be specific. Don't offer generalized brags about your publication.

In our last issue, while discussing the "survey questions" technique, we suggested these questions:

--What position do you see your company playing in the market?
--How long has your company been active in this market?
--How long have you personally worked in this market?
--What do you think your company's best accomplishments have been?
--What competitive threats do you face?
--What are your expectations for the market in the future?
--What are you aiming to accomplish in the next twelve months?

The idea behind these questions is to get the prospect talking and, hopefully, revealing what his or her objectives are.

The Feature-Benefit Statement: Delivering Your Pitch

Once you are comfortable in knowing those objectives, you can transition the conversation from probing to delivering targeted feature-benefit statements.

Let's examine that with a hypothetical situation: Say you publish a magazine about consumer communications technology. Your readers are at companies that are professional users of related equipment and services. Advertisers are the producers, providers, distributors, and sellers of such.

You are talking with a prospect that is a major nationwide distributor. You've learned from your probe that the prospect company is dissatisfied with its market share in the move to 5G technology.

The following conversation ensues:

Ad salesperson (A): From what you've told me, it sounds like you need to gain ground in 5G. Is that right?

Prospect (P): Yes, we have competitors out there that are moving ahead of us.

A: Do they have more visibility than you?

P: Yes, they are larger companies, with greater resources.

A: So you really need to find a way to achieve greater visibility?

P: That would help a lot, yes.

A: Actually, that is something we can help you with. You see, over 90 percent of our readers have a strong interest in 5G. Our latest survey attests to that. Catching their interest would be helpful to you, wouldn't it?

P. Well, yes, I guess.

A: The best part is that our readers are the decision makers in the buying process. Almost all of them are involved, and 75 percent make the decisions themselves. These are the kinds of people whose attention you need, right?

P. Yes, of course.

A. I have a direct recommendation for you. We can run a conspicuous ad about what you offer and the benefits of doing business with you in our next issue. Our readers are hot on 5G and represent the kinds of prospects you want to reach. How quickly would you able to get your ad to us? We can offer help in production if that would expedite things.

So that was an attempted close. It's what is called an assumptive close. It is not appropriate in all situations, but in this one it seemed appropriate.

This simulation is somewhat truncated for brevity. In practice, you would cover points in addition to gaining a competitive advantage.

Will the prospect go along with the close? Will you get the sale? Or will the prospect respond with an objection? In a future issue, we'll discuss resistance handling along with other strategies for closing.

One final note: Observe that the ad salesperson was asking a series of questions that were designed to elicit a "yes" response. Some say that if you get the prospect to answer a series of questions with a "yes," he or she will be more likely to say yes when you attempt to close. It's a technique worth using.

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants,

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Free Assistance and Recovery Help

Posted on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 4:01 PM

During this time of crisis, we stand ready to answer privately any specific questions our readers may have, time permitting. You can contact us at:

When the national health crisis subsides, publishers unfortunately should not expect to easily resume business as usual. Economists are predicting tough times ahead. In addition, the impact of the crisis may well result in different expectations of us on the part of our audiences. STRAT is providing a series of articles to help you all through the period of recovery and readjustment.