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September 22, 2017

Publishing News

British Media Company to Launch Family Travel Mag
NY Post: "Ardent Media is launching in the U.S. on Sept. 25 to be followed by a 100,000-circulation print edition in January. CEO Andrew Dent, who founded the company four years ago in London, secured a combined $1.2M in backing in 2015 from two venture firms: the Angel Company Fund, a British sovereign wealth fund, and Cass Entrepreneurship Fund, affiliated with the prestigious Cass Business School. Currently, he is working on a deal with an undisclosed “legacy media company” for another round of funding that he expects to close by year end. Dent has already hired Laura Begley Bloom as a New York-based chief content officer, heading up an eight-person staff. Lissa Poirot oversees 18 staffers in London. While there are a lot of family-oriented travel blogs and Web, for example--there are few sizable sites and no print titles aimed purely at family, Dent said. Begley Bloom was briefly the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel until the company shut down the vertical, along with many others. Earlier, she was a deputy editor at Travel + Leisure and witnessed the shutdown of its spinoff, Travel + Leisure Family... 'There are mom bloggers who don’t have the scale or the reach,' Dent notes. 'Most travel magazines only touch on the topic of family travel occasionally.' He thinks a huge market is being overlooked. 'Family travel already accounts for 30 percent of the overall travel market, with $200B spent in this sector in the United States alone,' he said.

Conde Nast Names Moore Chief Business Officer, Women's Collection
MediaPost: "Condé Nast has hired former SoundCloud CRO Alison Moore to become its next chief business officer of the publisher’s Women’s Collection, which includes the Glamour, Allure and Brides titles. Starting Oct. 23, Moore will oversee all revenue and brand development for the group. She will report to president of revenue and chief business officer of Condé Nast, Jim Norton. Moore replaces Kim Kelleher, who became CBO of Condé Nast’s Alpha Collection in July. That collection consists of GQ, GQ Style, Wired, Ars Technica, Backchannel and Pitchfork. Moore has previously held senior positions at NBCUniversal, DailyCandy and HBO, as well as SoundCloud.

U.S. Ads Down In August, But Up 2.4% YTD
MediaPost: U.S. ad revenues were down 7% in August, largely due to unfavorable comparisons to high TV media spending from the Summer Olympics in August 2016. Standard Media Index says overall TV advertising spending for the month was down 25%, with broadcast TV networks sinking 54% and local TV station national spot advertising down 35%. Cable TV networks and U.S. syndication lost just 1% and 2% in the month. Local cable advertising grew 9%, and digital media were up 12%. Magazines were down 12%, newspapers dipped 5%, radio dropped 5%, and out-of-home fell 4%. For the first eight months, U.S. advertising is still up 2.4% vs. same period 2016. Digital media is up 11%, national TV is down 4%, radio is down 5%, out-of-home down 1%, magazines down 13%, and newspapers down 18%.

Paltrow Challenges Goop Critics, Says She's a 'Magazine Kid'
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, actress/entrepreneur Gwenyth Paltrow, who recently launched Goop Magazine with Condé Nast, says, "For me, a magazine kid, the thought of doing a magazine with Condé Nast and being able to leverage their creative and design side and sit with Anna Wintour was so great. Hopefully, we might reach people who heard about Goop from a jade egg but don't know much about the actual content and what our values stand for." THR notes that her business, Goop, has been the object of some derision for promoting what watchdog groups say is sham science, from bee-sting facials to vaginal steaming (including $66 'jade eggs for your yoni'). And in August, Truth in Advertising called on California regulators to investigate the brand for making false health claims. But Paltrow hasn't let it get to her. 'I'm interested in criticism based on fact, not on projections,' she says. In other words, 'If you want to fxxx with me, bring your A game.'" Having opened her first Goop brick-and-mortar store in L.A., Paltrow confirms that the company's growth plan calls for Goop spas a few years from now.

Who Will Save Vermont Life?
Folio: "One of America’s most beloved and longest running regional magazines faces an uncertain future. Quarterly lifestyle magazine Vermont Life has been put up for sale by the the state of Vermont, which has published it since 1946 but no longer wishes to incur the costs of its continued production in a difficult financial environment. The magazine earned a little under $1.17M in operating revenue last year, according to a state filing, mostly from subscriptions but with significant portions from advertising and sales of products like calendars. State lawmakers say it slips about $400,000 deeper into the red each year, while proponents argue that it helps generate valuable unseen revenue through tourism. If the average subscriber is paying the standard $10 annual price, the filing would indicate that the magazine has around 48,000 paying subscribers. Originally intended as a marketing tool for the state tourism department, Vermont Life‘s profile extends far beyond its home state, where it has become known for its use of photography and its coverage of Vermont’s farming, dining, and craft beer scenes, arts, business, and outdoor recreation. The push to sell off the property has bipartisan support in the state legislature, where lawmakers in both houses have expressed concerns over the magazine’s contributions to budget deficits. Longtime editor Mary Hegarty Nowlan resigned in May as the magazine’s future became the subject of public speculation by Governor Phil Scott and state lawmakers. The state says it will also entertain proposals for licensing arrangements or partnership agreements to determine the future of Vermont Life. Bids are due by Nov. 11. As for potential suitors, there is at least one. Paula Routly, owner of the Green Mountain State’s primary alt-weekly, Seven Days, told Vermont Public Radio in June that it would be 'an honor to keep Vermont Life going.'" Folio provides a contact for any interested in exploring purchasing the title: Steven Cook at

Bloomberg Al Arabiya Launches In Mideast
MediaPost: "Bloomberg is partnering with one of the Mideast’s biggest publishing groups, Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), to launch an Arabic-language edition of the business publication in the region, as well as a television and radio network... Called Bloomberg Al Arabiya, the multiplatform deal means the publisher of Asharq Al-Awsat, Arab News and Aleqtisadiah will produce a 24/7 television and radio network and digital platform with Bloomberg. Though Bloomberg already has Bloomberg TV running out of its Dubai-based studio and production crew in English, this partnership with SRMG means a new Arabic-language offering will be produced, as well. The two companies will also launch a conference and live events series, and publish an Arabic-language version of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. Content in Bloomberg Al Arabiya will be a mix of Bloomberg content translated into Arabic, as well as local content from the editorial staff in the Mideast..."

Publishers' Apple News Monetization Struggles Continue
Digiday; "Apple’s Safari update that limits ad trackers isn’t the only sign of the company’s disdain toward advertising. In January, after all but giving up on selling ads itself, the tech giant started having NBCUniversal sell ads in Apple News, Apple’s news aggregation app. Nine months later, the deal has borne little fruit, according to publishers and sources close to them. Some of the largest publishers on Apple News haven’t seen any incremental revenue and monetization from the partnership, according to several publishers and vendors that work closely with them... One factor holding back advertising is that some of the publishers that distribute their content on Apple News are resistant to having NBCU, a rival broadcaster, sell their ad inventory... Audience is another factor. Publishers said users of Apple News skew older at a time when advertisers are obsessed with reaching the young... However, the bigger reason observers think sales aren’t taking off in a big way goes back to Apple’s whole approach to advertising. Apple has long stood for protecting the privacy of the consumers who buy its pricey phones and other electronic devices, which pits it against advertisers’ interests... Bloomberg Media isn’t directly monetizing its content on Apple News yet, but is happy with the traffic and engagement it’s getting and is optimistic that Apple will eventually give publishers seamless and scalable ways to monetize their audience, said Scott Havens, global head of digital for Bloomberg Media..."

Harvard Business Review Expands Its Bot Strategy
FIPP: "Harvard Business Review last week launched their new bot on Facebook Messenger, building on its success with a similar bot on Slack. The aim is to increase the number people having regular, frequent interactions with HBR to ultimately have them subscribe and/or up loyalty. 'Our focus has been on how we increase the number of people having very regular, frequent interactions with HBR content,' said Walt Frick, senior editor. 'We know that that's one of the biggest predictors of getting people to subscribe, and so, we thought a lot about what are the daily, or at least, weekly interactions people could have with HBR content that might introduce them to the brand, and potentially get them to subscribe.' In the last year and a half, Harvard Business Review has been focusing on chat as a platform to reach their audience and new audiences. 'We think these are really great opportunities for people to have regular interaction with our content,' Frick said..."

Google Puts AI Behind Sub Sales
MediaPost: "The Financial Times reports that Google is putting its formidable artificial intelligence capabilities at the disposal of publishers in order to boost their digital subscription sales.According to the FT, Google is already working on new AI tools for developing more sophisticated sub-sales strategies with News Corp., The New York Times and the FT. The AI programs will draw on Google’s own user data to identify likely subscribers and produce individualized marketing offers. Google will introduce similar programs for other publishers in the near future, promising to revolutionize the laborious and sometimes cost-intensive process of marketing subs for a wide range of media companies..."


Retail News

B&N Affirms Focus on Smaller Physical Stores
PW: During its annual meeting on Tuesday in NYC, Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio supported its new CEO, Demos Parneros, who was named to his current role in April. During the meeting, Riggio called Parneros 'the perfect fit' to help the company grow its top line and improve profits. Observing that Parneros 'has brought lots of energy to the company,' Riggio said he is looking forward to watching the executive over the next few years, noting that Parneros shares his vision and will revive B&N 'store by store'... no update was given on the overture by new B&N investor Sandell Asset Management that the retailer should consider selling itself. Riggio and other B&N executives, including Parneros, emphasized that the company is looking to shrink the size of its stores, with Riggio observing that it is unlikely the company would open a store the size of its flagship location in Manhattan's Union Square neighborhood. Riggio also assured shareholders that B&N is no longer in the tech business. While the Nook e-reader and e-books will remain a part of B&N's offerings to customers, bricks and mortar stores will be its focus... According to Riggio, B&N will focus on its physical stores and will partner with tech companies to keep a presence in the digital space. 'There is no business model in technology' for B&N, he said."

Amazon to Expand in NYC, With New Office
Bloomberg: Amazon "is set to open a large new office in New York City and create 2,000 high-paying jobs. The e-commerce giant, which already has several locations across the city, will expand its presence with a 359,000 square-foot office in Manhattan that will employ people in finance, sales, marketing and information technology earning an average of $100,000 annually. Amazon will invest $55M in the building project on Manhattan’s west side, according to a statement from the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The space, at Brookfield Property Partner’s Five Manhattan West, will be the primary New York location for Amazon’s advertising, the real estate firm said..."

Wal-Mart Tests Direct-to-Fridge Delivery; Amazon Partners With Olo
Reuters: "Wal-Mart Stores Inc is testing a service to stock groceries directly to customers’ refrigerators as it seeks to take on e-commerce giant The delivery of groceries and meal kits is emerging as the next frontier of competition among retailers. The world's biggest brick-and-mortar retailer said on Friday it is partnering with August Home, a provider of smart locks and home accessories, to test the service with certain customers in the Silicon Valley... Also, Amazon Restaurants on Friday teamed up with online food ordering company Olo whose network of restaurants includes Applebee’s and Chipotle. The partnership will help Olo’s restaurant customers connect with Amazon’s delivery services..."
Reuters (Wal-Mart, Amazon)
Supermarket News (Wal-Mart)

Report: Amazon, Wal-Mart Beat Tradtional Supermarkets at Digital Service
SN: "Traditional supermarkets and food stores are losing the digital customer service battle to Amazon and Wal-Mart Stores, a recent report found.The 2017 U.S. Online Grocery Shopper Study found that Amazon scored a 4.63 out of 5 in customer service, while Walmart clocked in at 4.41. Traditional grocers trailed these ratings with a 4.32 score.The survey also determined that half of online shoppers plan to increase their digital spend on groceries in the coming year. While both digital magnates outpaced the digital presence of traditional grocers, Amazon outshined W-M in the study in categories such as online checkout, website and app usability, and navigation and efficiency in pickup or delivery.Despite trailing Amazon in these categories, Walmart remained ahead of traditional supermarket e-commerce platforms in terms of checkout, the ability to identify and utilize sale or special prices, and in pickup and delivery efficiency. 'Amazon has effectively leveraged its deep roots in online retailing to inform their efforts in online grocery, leading to the strongest ‘highly satisfied’ marks found in our research,' Brian Numainville, principal at the Retail Feedback Group, which commissioned the study, said. Amazon and W-M ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in SN’s 2017 Digital Top 10, with $6.2B and $2B in sales, respectively. Both companies far exceeded online sales from the No. 3 spot, Ahold Delhaize, which saw digital sales of $883M. 'Walmart, although registering lower than Amazon on overall satisfaction and on several of the elements measured, also scored meaningfully higher than supermarkets/food stores in several areas core to their brand, including value, as well as identifying and receiving discounts,' said Numainville. 'It appears supermarkets and food stores have work to do to improve their scores in online grocery shopping relative to these retailers.' Though they may be behind the curve in the e-commerce arena, traditional retailers still hold the upper hand with fresh perimeter items in many shoppers’ eyes. About eight out of 10 online shoppers pointed to freshness and quality as the top factors they consider very important when purchasing produce online. Among those who do not purchase produce online, 66% said that they wanted to select these items themselves in person and 55% expressed doubt over the freshness of produce that arrives via digital shopping..."

Giant Eagle to Launch New Rewards Program in Ohio
Dispatch: "Giant Eagle is aiming to do battle with the growing number of competitors in the central Ohio grocery market with a new loyalty program. The program, called fuelperks+ will be rolled out Monday in central Ohio, the first major market to get it. It lets customers earn points not only toward fuel discounts at Giant Eagle’s GetGo stations but to also use toward grocery purchases--up to 20% off..."

Whole Foods's Englewood Store Still a Work in Progress
Chicago Tribune: "Almost a year ago, the doors of Englewood’s Whole Foods Market swung open, the culmination of a bold plan to open an upscale grocery store in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. No 'mission accomplished' banner has yet been hoisted at 63rd and Halsted. WF has made good on promises of providing jobs, supporting local vendors and boosting healthy food options. The store has, for some, improved quality of life and perhaps even paved the way for future large-scale investment in Englewood. But WF acknowledges there’s still much work to be done, particularly in connecting with shoppers on a tight budget who may be unfamiliar with natural and organic products. And the mostly black neighborhood’s well-documented struggles of poverty and crime, exacerbated by lack of economic development, remain steep challenges for business..."


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