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August 3, 2021

Publishing News

Hearst's iCrossing Buys UK's Mediablaze
MediaPost: "Hearst Magazines’ iCrossing has acquired Mediablaze, a UK-based digital and content marketing agency, in which it has had a minority investment since 2016. Terms were not disclosed. The deal will combine Mediablaze’s digital experience capability with iCrossing’s digital offerings, global reach and access to Hearst’s consumer insights. Together, the agencies will help clients with customer experience, digital transformation, performance media and content-marketing campaigns. “With the digital acceleration brands have seen over the past year, there is a growing demand for complete marketing solutions that can offer engaging and impactful digital experiences and this investment positions us to deliver industry-leading solutions for our clients,” states Heart Magazines President Debi Chirichella. Mediablaze was founded in 2010 as a content-marketing agency but has since evolved into a digital experience shop. Its website already boasts of the Hearst connection. iCrossing UK was founded in 1997. The Mediablaze acquisition is “an investment in our team and represents a commitment to grow our organization and position us for continued success as our clients’ needs continue to evolve,” said Jamie Clifford, managing director, iCrossing UK. Hearst Magazines is publisher of 25 brands in the U.S., including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Men's Health and Car and Driver, reaching 165 million readers and site visitors per month. In addition, Hearst Magazines operates 200 websites worldwide and owns 360 businesses, including cable TV networks and digital services businesses, such as iCrossing and KUBRA."

Hearst UK Extends GH Guarantee Across Brands
Digiday: For nearly 100 years, Good Housekeepig has cultivated a following of readers who trust its product recommendations, reviews and seals of approval enough to spend their money on those tried and tested items. Now, the Good Housekeeping Institute has expanded into the Hearst Institute, enabling the rest of the UK-based titles to use the same resources, experts and testing facility that has strengthened the GH brand’s trust with readers. In the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Laura Cohen, Hearst UK’s head of accreditation, talks about what the expansion means for both the physical operations of the Hearst Institute as well as its ability to drive revenue from working with more brands and producing more content that can be monetized through affiliate commerce... Excerpts: "We’ve taken what the GH Institute does, which is test products and write reviews that consumers find really useful, and we are taking that across the whole of Hearst... Good Housekeeping might talk about a certain number of brands when it comes to eye cream, whereas Harper’s Bazaar would talk about slightly different brands. And so we’ve tested them all [in the end]... The main way in which we monetize the product testing is through selling the accreditation. So the Good Housekeeping Institute-approved or Harper’s Bazaar-approved. Normally, we offer between a six and a 12-month license on that individual product that’s passed the testing. And then clients can come to us and we can have a conversation about renewals at the end of the license period. We also drive revenue through affiliate and e-commerce. There’s a huge amount of content that comes out of all the testing that we do and that content is then hosted on various different Hearst brand websites. What we found is that the products that had a logo next to them were the best-selling products within that article"... Full podcast embedded in article.
Digiday (paywall)

GQ Takes 'New' Vision of Masculinity Global
BoF: "GQ is taking a progressive vision of masculinity global -- one that's more about exuberant personal style than suits and ties. The September issue of GQ will feature the same cover star, Canadian singer The Weeknd, in 17 of 21 international editions, plus a portfolio of emerging musicians in all 21 magazines"...
Business of Fashion (paywall)

Zinczenkos Unite: Ex Bonnier CEO Join's Brother's Digital Media Biz
Digiday: Galvanized Media is hoping an old media trick helps to sustain its growth: Family. The digital media company’s founder/CEO and its newly appointed COO (and president) are brothers — Former Bonnier Corp. CEO Eric Zinczenko is joining brother David Zinczenko’s digital media company, Galvanized Media. "Their first order of business is to create new brands and verticals to capitalize on traffic and revenue growth, the latter of which they say has doubled in the past year... Galvanized specializes in evergreen, health-related content. Its two biggest digital brands are Eat This, Not That!... and Best Life (an advice and lifestyle website). Last week, the company launched a new brand called CelebWell, about celebrity health. In June, Eat This, Not That! had 15.4M total unique visitors, up 34% YoY... Best Life had 10.4M uniques, a 43% increase. All three brands have an average of two minutes spent on site per session, roughly marketers’ benchmark for average session duration, according to research by Databox... Galvanized, which is fully owned by David, is profitable, he said, and claimed revenues more than doubled YoY, but declined to share specific numbers. About 70% of Galvanized revenue comes from programmatic advertising and 25% from content syndication (such as with its travel brand Travelicious, a syndication partner of The rest of the business is made up of trade book publishing and affiliate fees. Galvanized is on Meredith Corp’s advertising platform, meaning the publishing giant handles its programmatic ad operations. David attributed this growth to the “lengthy global pandemic, which increased interest in personal health, at-home fitness products and services. There was an explosion of interest in self-care.” The influx in traffic led to programmatic ad revenue growth, David said, adding that the company will work to maintain this momentum with “continued investment in editorial, new brands, and brand extensions — which Eric will help explore"... Eric wants to take advantage of the company’s first-party data, and launch premium subscriptions and newsletters down the road — and both brothers spoke of wanting to launch an e-commerce business"...

Canadian Book Sales Recover in First Half
PW: "A new report from BookNet Canada, the organization that compiles sales and other data about Canadian publishing, shows book sales for the first six months of 2021 were much stronger than 2020, but have not yet reached the level seen in 2019.According to BookNet, print sales for the first six months of 2021 rose 11.2% over the comparable period in 2020, rising to C$463M ($370M) while unit sales increased 7.6%, to 22.5M units. Still, sales in the period were approximately C$15M and 1M units shy of 2019's figures for the same time last year. Canadian bookstores, particularly those in Ontario, suffered one of the longest lock-downs in the world but began reopening in the spring, prompting a sales surge which saw sales in March and April 2021 well ahead of those in 2020 and 2019, according to the report. Children's and young adult books accounted for 42% of all print book sales in the Canadian English-language trade market, up from its 41% share for the same period in 2020. This was followed by nonfiction at 30% of sales and fiction at 27%. Sales of frontlist titles accounted for 27% of sales -- up three percentage points from 2020 -- and several categories showed strong growth, including comics and graphic novels, (up 92%, with the manga category seeing significant increases of 145%), poetry (up 81%) , psychology (up 84%), and YA fantasy (up 129%)."


Retail News

NLRB Official Recommends That Amazon Union Election Results Be Thrown Out
NY Times: "A hearing officer of the National Labor Relations Board has recommended that the board throw out a union election at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., where results announced in early April showed workers rejecting a union by a more than two-to-one ratio. The union announced the recommendation on Monday, and Amazon quickly said it would take steps to ensure that the original election result prevailed. The hearing officer’s recommendation... will be reviewed by the acting regional director of the agency, who will issue a ruling on the case in the coming weeks. If the regional director rules against Amazon, the company can appeal to the labor board in Washington"... The union claims Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union.

Rite Aid Overhauling Price, Promotion and Loyalty Programs
PG: "Rite Aid has chosen customer data science provider dunnhumby as its strategic partner to update the drug store chain’s price, promotion and loyalty programs. Rite Aid and dunnhumby are employing customer data models and consumer-led insights to optimize these investments to boost customer value perception digitally across the retailer’s footprint. As part of this undertaking, Rite Aid’s loyalty program will be completely reimagined to offer improved value for customers. “Enhancing the customer experience is key to our RxEvolution strategy and to meeting our growth-target consumers’ needs,” noted Erik Keptner, Rite Aid’s chief marketing and merchandising officer. “Our goal is to improve our value proposition with prices, promotions and a loyalty program that are meaningful and relevant to them. After an extensive process to review potential partners for this initiative, we chose dunnhumby because of the company’s proven experience in helping to improve value perception. The dunnhumby team’s expert data science capabilities and customer-first orientation ensure a natural fit with Rite Aid. We look forward to working with dunnhumby to revamp these programs and help our customers get beyond healthy to thriving""... Rite Aid has more than 2,500 retail pharmacy locations across 17 states.

Whole Foods to Add $10 Delivery Fee in 6 Markets
Grocery Dive: "Whole Foods Market will charge a $9.95 fee in select markets for grocery delivery orders beginning Aug. 30... This includes those placed by Amazon Prime members, who previously got free delivery on orders over $35. In an email sent to shoppers in the Detroit, Chicago and Boston areas, along with Portland, Maine; Providence, R.I., and Manchester, New Hampshire, Amazon said it was levying the fee to cover equipment, technology and other online operating costs without increasing product prices. The pilot program, as the Whole Foods spokesperson referred to the change, indicates the grocer and its parent company want to gauge the degree to which shoppers are willing to shoulder the steep costs of grocery delivery"...

Kroger Names Former Transportation Secretary to Board
Grocery Dive: "Kroger has named Elaine Chao, who most recently served as U.S. Secretary of Transportation under former President Donald Trump, to its board of directors.Chao was also labor secretary under former President George W. Bush’s administration and has served on the boards of several Fortune 500 companies. Chao has been elected to the board until Kroger’s annual shareholder meeting next June, at which point she will stand for election by shareholders"...

Amazon Reveals It Employs Nearly 1M in U.S.
NBC News: "Amazon has revealed for the first time the number of people it employs in the U.S., putting the figure at 950,000, according to the e-commerce giant's quarterly earnings call on Thursday. While the headcount was boosted by an additional 64,000 people hired in the second quarter, it does not include the thousands of contractors such as drivers whom Amazon depends on to run its Amazon Prime delivery operations. The company's total employee count was shared in a lengthy press release, in a section titled “Investing in Employee Safety and Providing Good Jobs,” where Amazon revealed it has “introduced a new mental health benefit for all of its 950,000 U.S. employees, their families, and household members.” Globally, the company employs 1.3M people. It is the second largest employer in the U.S., behind Walmart, which currently employees nearly 1.6 million people in the U.S.As of June, the national private sector workforce is roughly 161M people, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means about 1 out of every 169 people in the country’s workforce works for Amazon, while about 1 out of every 100 people in the U.S. workforce is employed by Walmart. Even with such a large fleet of workers, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said the company’s demand for more employees remains high. The demand for labor is “probably one of the bigger elements of inflation in our business right now,” Olsavsky said on a call with reporters, acknowledging the competitive labor market. “We’re spending a lot of money on signing and incentives,” Olsavsky said, adding that the wage increase the company typically offers in October was “pulled forward into May""...

UFCW, Teamsters Land New Contracts With Kroger, Fred Meyer
SN: "The Kroger Co. has reached new labor agreements with United Food and Commercial Workers in the Kroger Central Division and with Teamsters in the Fred Meyer division. At the Indianapolis-based Central Division, UFCW Local 536 members last week ratified tentative contract deals reached earlier in July with Kroger. The agreements for grocery and meat clerks represented by Marquette Heights, Ill.-based UFCW 536 cover more than 1,100 associates working at 13 Kroger supermarkets in Peoria, Bloomington and other cities in central Illinois. Kroger said the Central Division will invest $11.3M in wage increases over the course of the new three-year contracts"...

Hy-Vee Launches Agency to Sell Medicare Insurance Plans
SN: "Hy-Vee is entering the Medicare health plan business with the launch of Hy-Vee Medicare Aisle.West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee said Monday that the Hy-Vee Medicare Aisle agency serves Medicare beneficiaries across its eight-state Midwestern market. Customers can choose from coverage plans such as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D and Medicare Supplement Plans, offered via national and regional health insurers"...


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