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November 18, 2019

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Publishing News


Meredith National Media Group Execs Get Expanded Roles
Release: Several National Media Group executives have been given expanded roles. Catherine Levene, president of Meredith Digital, adds oversight of People.com, data, corporate sales, performance marketing and ecommerce. This structure aligns all of the company's digital, video and commerce activities under Levene and links corporate sales with digital sales. Alysia Borsa is promoted to EVP/chief business & data officer, reporting to Levene. Borsa now oversees corporate and digital sales in addition to running data and corporate marketing. Direct reports to Borsa are: Michael Brownstein, EVP/chief revenue officer; Corbin deRubertis, SVP/innovation; Nicole Lesko, being promoted to SVP/data, ad platforms & monetization; Marla Newman, EVP/digital sales; Grace Preyapongpisan, VP of business intelligence; Chip Schenck, SVP/data & programmatic solutions; and Nancy Weber, EVP/marketing & integrated communications. (Will Lee, SVP, digital content, People & Entertainment Group, continues to be responsible for the Entertainment Group's video and digital organization; and Andy Wilson, SVP/Ecommerce & Paid Products, continues to be charged with growing these consumer-driven revenue streams, which also include Apple News+ and Meredith Performance Marketing. Lee and Wilson report to Levene.) Doug Olson, president of Meredith Magazines, adds responsibility for People, Entertainment Weekly and People en Español magazines, aligning the group with the rest of Meredith's brand portfolio. In addition, Giulio Capula is promoted to SVP/group publisher of Meredith's Luxury Group, which includes the Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure and Departures brands; Daren Mazzucca is promoted to SVP/group publisher of the Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living brands. Levene, Olson and Tom Witschi, president of Meredith Consumer Products, continue to report to Meredith President and CEO Tom Harty, as do CFO Joe Ceryanec, chief strategy officer Daphne Kwon, Meredith Local Media Group President Patrick McCreery, SVP/Human Resources Dina Nathanson, and Chief Development Officer/General Counsel John Zieser.
 

Study: What Publishers Lose By Going Digital Only
Mediaite: … "There has been scant meaningful research on what such publications are losing — aside from paper — when they go online-only. But a new study may provide an answer. Published in Journalism Practice, the study suggests that publications that have ended their print editions could be sacrificing a valuable measure of engagement with their readers: time. The study looked specifically at NME, the popular British music magazine also known as New Musical Express that had a circulation of around 300,000 when its print product was discontinued in March 2018. Using data from Comscore and the U.K.'s Publishers Audience Measurement Company, researchers estimated that the amount of time readers spent interacting with NME fell by a staggering 72% in the year following the magazine’s print closure. That amounts to a loss of 307M minutes of engagement compared with the last year that NME was in print, when readers spent 424M minutes with the publication, according to the study. Somewhat curiously, the study also found that NME’s net weekly and monthly readership grew in the year after the magazine was axed. But increased traffic is not always a measure of increased attention or deep engagement, according to the study’s authors, Neil Thurman, a professor of communication at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, and Richard Fletcher, a senior research fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.Online readers of NME only spend an average of about three minutes a month with the publication, per the study, while print readers spent an average of about a half-hour a week with the magazine. “While a post-print existence may be less costly, it is, at least initially, more constrained,” the researchers write, “with much of the attention that was formerly enjoyed simply stripped away"... The study builds on similar findings that Thurman and Fletcher published last year, when they reported that readers spent substantially less time with The Independent, a British newspaper, after it ceased daily print publication in March 2016"...
 

How Conde Plans to Make Money on Instagram TV
Digiday: "Condé Nast wants to change the way it makes money from Instagram, so it is taking a second stab at Instagram TV.A year after dipping a toe in the IGTV waters with re-edited YouTube videos, the legacy publisher is returning to Instagram’s long-form video experiment with at least five new series. These include “No Wrong Way to Wear,” a fashion series distributed through GQ; “Big Fat Weekend,” a travel-focused food program from Bon Appetit; and “Love Stories,” a Vogue-distributed series about romance in the age of social media. Those five shows got the green light, Condé Nast Global Chief Revenue Officer Pamela Drucker Mann said, because of the success Condé had selling a sponsor integration into “Say I Sent You,” another IGTV series produced and distributed by Condé Nast Traveler. The blueprint for that advertising integration is part of a new advertising strategy Condé Nast hopes to bring to bear on Instagram. Instead of selling reach through the platform’s growing number of products, such as in-feed ads or Stories, Condé Nast is trying to talk advertisers into buying campaigns that manifest across all of them, and guaranteeing business results in exchange.Rather than silo a campaign in one title’s Instagram Stories, say, or ads that a title will distribute to its followers in Instagram’s feed, campaigns sold this way could run across Stories, feed, Instant Experiences (formerly known as carousel ads), depending on the business objectives of the client. The shift in strategy happens as Condé Nast continues to pour energy and resources into video, which it hopes will eventually turn into a billion-dollar stream of revenue, while also trying to prove it can deliver concrete outcomes for its biggest-spending advertisers.“It’s not just video,” said Eden Gorcey, svp of enterprise strategy at Condé Nast. “It’s one thing to create it and hope that a lot of people go see it. It’s another to create an entire experience around it that we can sell.”To date, Condé Nast has only brought one sponsor in to test this strategy, an integration of American Express into a Condé Nast Traveler IGTV series called “Say I Sent You.” Rather than sell ongoing sponsorships of the series, Condé is hoping brands will buy into integrations at the episode level of specific series, and augment that with ads in other parts of Instagram that are creatively linked. For many publishers, particularly those who are still scarred from Instagram parent company Facebook’s pivot to video, IGTV hasn’t been a breakout hit. But a growing number have found it useful as a place to redistribute content made for other platforms; some, including Vice and Group Nine, are using IGTV as a channel for distributing branded content. Condé Nast began testing out different kinds of content on IGTV last summer. Wired floated trial balloons like “Incredibly Satisfying Stock Footage,” while Vogue followed model Winnie Harlow on a shopping trip; GQ repurposed footage shot for various YouTube series and used IGTV to plug the contents of its Best Stuff Box.But while the platform still offers some “first-mover advantage when it comes to branded integrations,” said Benjamin Arnold, managing director of We Are Social, the reach isn’t there yet for all brands.That requires creative thinking when it comes to monetizing IGTV. But more publishers are starting to realize the opportunities to thread Instagram’s different ad products together in campaigns they pitch to brands.“I think Instagram, as a platform, has done a really good job of finding a role in the advertisers’ strategy as a platform that entices shoppability,” said Rachel Bien, svp of media strategy and investment at Zenith.Bien added that publishers have increasingly begun to offer guarantees, if only because brands are beginning to expect that they can buy results"...
 

OK, Millennials: Boomers Have the Money, Says AARP Media's Blyth
Axios: "AARP, formerly known as The American Association of Retired Persons, is one of the largest media companies in the country, bringing in more than $174M annually in media-based advertising revenue, according to public filings. "OK, millennials. But we're the people that actually have the money," Myrna Blyth, SVP and editorial director of AARP Media, said in an interview with Axios, referencing the popular "OK, boomer" tagline that youngsters are using to poke fun at older people online. The nonprofit's print and digital presence makes it one of the most widely-consumed media properties in the U.S. "Our demo drives $7.1 trillion in annual economic activity each and every year," says Blyth.According to the association's most recent financial filings, in 2017 the company made: $142M in print advertising between its two magazines; $32M in digital advertising; $350,000 in revenue from its video studio. By comparison, media giant Vox Media, which houses popular brands like Vox, The Verge, and Eater made around $185M in revenue last year, per The New York Times. AARP makes about $299M annually on membership dues, which cost about $16 yearly per person. AARP has nearly 38M members. Audience: Total print and digital average per-month audience: 38.6M. Bimonthly AARP The Magazine surpassed People as the most-circulated magazine in 2017. AARP's other magazine, "The Bulletin," prints 10 times per year and has the 2nd-highest circulation in the country, per MRI. Two new newsletters--one targeted to women ages 40+ and one to African-American women, have accrued more than 400,000 subscribers in two years, says Blyth. Its podcast "The Perfect Scam," which talks about digital scams that are often targeted at seniors, has "several hundred thousands listeners." The investment AARP has made into content rivals any newsroom or major media company. "We have hundreds of people, including freelancers, that work on The Magazine, The Bulletin, as well as our digital content," says Blyth. There are 115 people listed on the masthead for AARP The Magazine alone. What's next: Like many of today's digital media companies, AARP has built a digital video studio.They have more than 120,000 subscribers to their YouTube channel... Similar to many other big enterprises that have invested in media, like Amazon or Apple, AARP's investment isn't just about the advertising money. It's about providing content so that it can continue to collect membership dues"...
 
Axios 

High Times Seeking a New Backer
NY Post: "High Times Holding has extended its troubled IPO offering two more months while also retaining a Toronto-based strategic adviser to search for a capital infusion. “They are helping us identify capital for equity, debt or preferred instruments,” said CEO Kraig Fox, who joined the cannabis media and events company five months ago when Adam Levin, the chairman of Oreva Capital, who purchased the company in March 2017, moved upstairs to become executive chairman.In recent days, the cash-strapped company laid off most of the staff of Seattle-based Dope magazine, which it acquired last year from founder David Tran, who has since exited. It’s currently being edited by Jamie Solis out of the LA office of High Times and will cut back from monthly to quarterly. Lazer & Lazer is the strategic adviser, and Fox said it has already given the struggling company a $1M infusion of cash through their British Virgin Islands company, identified as El Capital in SEC filings.The last IPO data released May 31 said High Times had raised $15.2M--far short of the maximum allowable $50M and not enough liquidity to permit its crowdsourced stock offering known as a Reg A+ to trade on public markets. The latest extension pushes the IPO back two months to Dec. 31"...
 

Ward, Desser Have New Roles at Random House
PW: "At Penguin Random House's flagship imprint, Andy Ward has been promoted to publisher, while Knopf's Robin Desser has been tapped as SVP and editor-in-chief. Ward is replacing Susan Kamil, who died, suddenly, last month. In an announcement about Ward's promotion, Gina Centrello, president and publisher of Random House, said Ward, who is currently editor-in-chief at RH, has shown "steady, caring stewardship, as well as his own talents as an editor." Centrello said that Ward, in his new role, "will help set the priorities for not just Random House but also the Dial and Hogarth imprints," as well as acquiring and editing. Ward, who joined RH in 2009, has edited such books as George Saunders’s Booker Prize–winning Lincoln in the Bardo, Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Michael Moss’s Salt Sugar Fat. Now reporting to Ward are SVP and president, deputy publisher Tom Perry; VP, deputy publisher Avideh Bashirrad; VP and editorial director of Dial Press Whitney Frick; and editorial director of Hogarth Alexis Washam, editorial director of Hogarth"...
 

Publishers Try New Ways to Drive Interest in Their Ad Platforms
Digiday: "Publishers’ ad buying platforms have faced persistent skepticism from agencies and advertisers. So they are trying new tacks to drum up business... This past summer, Condé Nast began offering business guarantees to any advertiser that spends at least $250,000 on proprietary ad formats offered through its ad platform Spire. And on Nov. 11, Hearst Magazines joined the ad platform foray with Hearst Audience Select, a product aimed at DTC brands and advertisers with smaller budgets. These moves are designed to navigate around a set of ad buyer perceptions that have frustrated publishers for years: That publishers’ ad platforms offer inventory that is commoditized, at scale that doesn’t measure up to large demand-side platforms, which makes it hard to justify the training and brainpower that a platform asks of a buying team.The easiest solution — taking inventory out of open exchanges and making it exclusive to one’s buying platform — is also the least practical; few publishers could withstand the short-term pain of losing out on that display revenue. So instead, publishers are betting that different pitches will catch ad buyers’ ears, while hoping that a swing back toward contextual targeting provides its own nudge... But publishers’ dreams for these platforms have to confront marketers’ realities. Many agencies say that the value provided by the publishers’ products doesn’t necessarily justify the added work of learning how to use the publisher’s platform, or the premium that comes from going direct, versus buying in an open exchange... Buyers also say that these platforms also face a problem familiar to most publishers: scale. While most of the publishers that have invested in ad platforms are large by media standards, they still do not have the scale available on platforms such as The Trade Desk, or Facebook... “If you’re looking at a reach and frequency play, we can use the DSPs of the world,” said Max Germain, svp and digital director, East, at the media agency Assembly. “If you’re looking for a true, branded moment, it makes sense to utilize their properties [individually]"... Some publishers, such as Hearst Magazines, have taken a pragmatic approach to this dilemma with Audience Select. While the platform is open to any kind of buyer, its first customers will be smaller fish that do not have the scale needs that global advertisers have.“The more niche buyers we’re talking to have a very great interest in our inventory, but they don’t have buying seats on those platforms,” said Charles Wolrich, gm of the Hearst Data Studio. “The only option they have is an IO [insertion order], which creates inefficiencies.”Publishers have also begun dangling carrots in front of advertisers. Back in May, Condé Nast announced it would guarantee results in key business metrics, such as store visits or increased sales, for any advertiser that spent at least a quarter of a million dollars on a campaign using Condé’s Prime Web ad units.Proprietary units are one way around the perception that ad inventory on these platforms is available elsewhere. But for smaller advertisers, particularly newer ones, the focus on business goals might be more important. Karalyn Zamora, the director of marketing and growth for Gravity Products, said Gravity doesn’t advertise on publisher platforms because she thinks they aren’t as sophisticated as Google. Most of Gravity’s spending, Zamora said, is concentrated on social platforms, but Zamora said she thinks that display, when paired with a branded message, can help contribute to sales. But in deciding whether to spend on a publisher’s ad platform, Zamora said, transparency and validation are more important than any gaudy audience or data stats"...
 

OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:






Retail News


Walmart Names Kathryn McLay CEO of Sam's Club
SN: "Walmart executive Kathryn McLay has been promoted to president and CEO of Sam’s Club, taking over from John Furner, who this month succeeds the departing Greg Foran as Walmart U.S. CEO. McLay, 45, takes the reins as Sam’s chief executive effective Nov. 15. Reporting to Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, she also holds the title of corporate executive vice president. Since February 2019, she had served as EVP of Walmart U.S. Neighborhood Markets. Walmart disclosed the appointment Friday in an 8-K filing with the SEC. Furner, 45, became CEO of Walmart U.S. on Nov. 1 after serving as president and CEO of Sam’s since 2017... Plans call for Foran, who had been Walmart U.S. CEO since August 2014, to stay on at Walmart through Jan. 31 to help with the transition. McLay joined Walmart in April 2015 as VP of U.S. finance and strategy. In December 2015 she became SVP of supply chain, and led the development an integrated, end-to-end Walmart U.S. supply chain, as well as overseeing the import and reverse supply chain teams. Earlier this year, she became EVP of Neighborhood Markets for Walmart U.S., directing the growth and operations of nearly 700 Neighborhood Markets nationwide. Prior to Walmart, she served for 14 years in strategic, finance and supply chain roles at Australian retailer Woolworths Ltd. On Thursday, Walmart reported improved third-quarter results at Sam’s. The wholesale club chain saw net sales inch up 0.7% to $14.63B from $14.52B a year earlier. Comp-store sales grew 0.8% (0.6% excluding fuel). Transactions were up 5.7% year over year, but ticket size was down 5.1%. Walmart noted that reduced tobacco sales negatively affected comp-store sales by 350 basis points. “At Sam’s Club, the team drove strong comp sales of 4.1%, excluding fuel and tobacco, reflecting the response by members to the improvements we’ve made in merchandising as well as the work we’re doing to run a simpler, more focused club model,” McMillon told analysts... E-commerce sales at Sam’s increased 32% overall in the quarter and were up 1.7% on a comparable basis. Operating income fell 13.7% to $32M. “Operating income was pressured in part by accelerated strategic investments in price, technology investments and the growth of e-commerce,” CFO Brett Biggs said"...
 

NRF: 165M Expected to Shop Over T-Day Weekend
Release: "165.3M people are likely to shop Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics... 39.6M consumers are considering shopping on Thanksgiving Day, 114.6M on Black Friday, 66.6M on Small Business Saturday and 33.3M on Sunday. The shopping weekend will wrap up on Cyber Monday, when 68.7M are expected to take advantage of online bargains. Among those ages 18-24, 88% of those 18 to 24 and 84% of those 25 to 34 say they're likely to shop, vs. 69% of holiday shoppers overall.Of those planning to shop, 47% plan to start in stores, and 41% online. Those under 25 are even more likely to say they expect to start shopping in-store (52%). “We expect the biggest increase in potential shoppers for Thanksgiving Day this year,” Prosper Insights' Phil Rist said. “We anticipate that people may head to stores if they are open or shop from their phones while watching football""...
 

Target and Shipt Offer Same-Day Delivery Through Nov. 26
SN: "Target announced Friday that same-day delivery shopped by Shipt is now available on the Target app with no membership required. The new service allows customers to receive their purchases in as soon as one hour with just a few taps on their smartphone.To promote the service, Minneapolis-based Target is offering free same-day delivery from now through Tues., Nov. 26 on orders of $75 or more when they use the Target app or shop Target.com"...
 

Smart & Final Names 2 SVPs
PG: "Grocery warehouse chain Smart & Final has promoted Sean Mahony and Matt Reeve to SVP, store operations and SVP, sales and merchandising, respectively. Mahony began his career at Smart & Final nearly 27 years ago as a store associate, working at night while attending college. In 2015, he became group VP of store operations, overseeing the company’s operations team for all locations... Bringing more than 29 years of grocery industry experience to his latest role, Reeve heads the sales and merchandising team responsible for category management and private label. He came to Smart & Final as a category manager in 2004 and four years later helped transform the chain through the launch of the larger-format Smart & Final Extra! concept, which now accounts for more than 75% of the company’s locations"...
 

Stop & Shop Names New SVP Finance
SN: Mary Lynn Phillips is joining Stop & Shop as SVP finance. Her decades of financial experience includes most recently serving as CFO for Stuart Weitzman, serving as a financial consultant for luxury women’s apparel brand Eileen Fisher and the CFO of prestige apparel retailer Talbots from 2013 to 2015. Prior to those posts, she was SVP/CFO for North America and VP of finance and operations at accessories brand Coach Inc. Stop & Shop is in the midst of a multiyear program to upgrade the supermarket chain’s 400-plus stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey.
 

Retail Sales Rebounded in October
WSJ: "Retail sales—purchases at stores, restaurants and online—rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in October from a month earlier, the Commerce Department said Friday, after a drop in September.“Overall, this isn’t a really strong number, but it should do a lot to soothe the fear that consumers were going to struggle into year end,” said Calvin Schnure, senior economist at Nareit, an organization that represents real estate investment trusts.Growth in consumer spending—a driving factor in the decadelong U.S. economic expansion—contrasted with another drop in U.S. factory production. A report from the Federal Reserve showed U.S. industrial production fell 0.8% in October, the third decline in four months"...
 
Wall St. Journal (WSJ, paid sub req.)

Growth Comes Naturally to Natural Grocers
PG: "One of the most overlooked players in the grocery space just had another impressive fiscal quarter as it looks to continue expanding a store footprint that has a long runway for growth.Natural Grocers, based in Lakewood, Colo., increased its net sales by 4.5% to $227.2M during Q4 ended Sept. 30. Same-store sales, meanwhile, increased 1.8% during the period (with a 3.1% increase for fiscal 2019) as shoppers flocked to its stores full of natural and competitively priced food."We are pleased with our fourth-quarter and full-year results, achieving our guidance for daily average comparable-store sales growth while exceeding our diluted earnings per share guidance," said Kemper Isely, co-president. "As we look forward to fiscal 2020, we remain focused on driving profitable growth and will continue to execute our operational and marketing initiatives, while leveraging our differentiated model and commitment to our founding principles."With a current footprint of 153 locations in 19 states, Natural Grocers is poised for store unit growth and improved profitability. The company’s small format (stores of around 10,000 square feet) provides lots of flexibility to open stores in various urban and suburban locations. In addition, Natural Grocers so far has been opening just a few stores a year. This moderate store growth strategy, along with a focus on keeping expenses down and an aggressive expansion of its increasingly popular private-brand products, is poised to support slow but sustained growth for the company.So far in 2019, Natural Grocers has launched 47 new Natural Grocers brand products. During a fourth-quarter earnings call, Isely said that the grocer would launch 70 more of them in 2020"...
 

Five Below Now Going Above $5 on Some Items
RetailWire: "Five Below has started selling some products for more than $5 following a test of higher price points. The higher prices address rising costs and offer the opportunity to stock costlier items at “extreme value” in the home and tech categories.The expansion was marked by the introduction of a new “Cool Stuff. $1-to-$5-to-$10” logo and a “We owe you an explanation” note posted on its website and social media pages.The note read: “For 17 years, Five Below has been providing our customers with cool, trendy stuff for $1-$5. We’ve always done everything possible to absorb cost increases. Recently, we had to raise prices above $5 on tech items to keep providing the products you love. We’re calling this ‘Ten Below Tech... We also discovered a handful of $6-$10 toys and games we thought you wouldn’t want to miss. We’ve separated these items in a special ‘Ten Below Gift Shop.’ Once you’ve had a look, we hope you’ll agree that these high-value gifts are priced as low as only Five Below can.”Five Below said the company has no plans to change its name because most prices are at $5 and below.On its second-quarter conference call on Aug 28, Joel Anderson, Five Below’s CEO, said the “Ten Below!” in-store section tests were enabling the retailer to offer higher-end products like Xbox and Wii video games, Nerf toys, remote-control robots and spa items, like neck and foot massagers. “We continue to be pleased with the customer response,” said Mr. Anderson.The 10 Below! tests were also “very valuable,” he said, in guiding pricing and communication with tariff-mitigation strategies. Comments on the price change on Five Below’s Facebook page skewed negative, with some blaming tariffs and higher wages"...
 

Trump Flip Flops on Flavored Vaping Ban
Washington Post: "President Trump’s ban on most flavored e-cigarettes had been cleared by federal regulators. Officials were poised to announce they would order candy, fruit and mint flavors off the market within 30 days--a step the president had promised almost two months earlier to quell a youth vaping epidemic that had ensnared 5M teenagers. One last thing was needed: Trump’s sign-off. But on Nov. 4, the night before a planned morning news conference, the president balked. Briefed on a flight to a Lexington, Ky., campaign rally, he refused to sign the one-page “decision memo,” saying he didn’t want to move forward with a ban he had once backed, primarily at his wife’s and daughter’s urging, because he feared it would lead to job losses, said a Trump adviser who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. As he had done so many times before, Trump reversed course--this time on a plan to address a major public health problem because of worries that apoplectic vape shop owners and their customers might hurt his reelection prospects, said White House and campaign officials"...
 

Online Grocery Market Nears Tipping Point
SN: "Faster-than-anticipated growth in online food sales will push retailers to change their business model in ways they might not expect, former Amazon and grocery industry executive Sam Mayberry said at PLMA’s 2019 Private Label Trade Show"...
 
Supermarket News (premium, paid sub req.)

OTHER NEWS OF NOTE:




 
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