Masthead Blogs
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
This June 4, I was invited to speak at Magnet 2014 in Toronto by Mara Gulens and Daniella Girgenti from the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) that put on on seminar on email newsletters before an audience of 80 people. I describe email newsletters as the Yin of the Yin-Yang relationship with the web site the Yang, as without each other there will not be any online success. I use this description as email newsletters are a “Push”  strategy and the web site is the “PULL” strategy for online content. Two polar opposites of each other just like Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy.

Why are email newsletters so important? Email newsletters are the number 1 driver of traffic to your web site (sometimes up to 80%). That’s right it is not social media or SEO that drives the majority of traffic to your web site it is email newsletters. I have worked with magazine publishers in the launch of  email newsletters, digital editions and web sites so I saw this first hand. The claims of social media and SEO are over hyped by some of the media out there trying to get noticed or companies making misleading advertising claims that should be banished.

On July 1, 2014 the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) in Canada goes in effect. After looking over the Act it is like closing the door after the horses have left the barn as I feel it will be ineffective with spammers and phishing threats (identity theft artists). It will cost companies money for compliance and this looks like a lawyer gravy train for the uninitiated. Just like security software the bandits will always be 2 steps ahead as they have no ethics or care about laws as they are criminals trying to steal from you. So you can lock the door, but they can still break in. The best deterrent is education ie: digital street smarts not digital book smarts.

This underground economy of spammers have been part of the internet fabric forever. My innocence and naivety of the internet was broken when I talked to a security software expert that says you can hire spammers to do a denial of service attack on your competitor’s web site by them hijacking somebody’s computer and using it as an email server and flooding the target web site with requests and thus crashing the site. This legislation is not going to be effective with this crowd as their servers are most likely in a jurisdiction outside of the reach Canadian lawmakers anyhow and they have been doing this since 2003 or before the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 in the United States was introduced.

Canadian publishers have already lead the way in honest and ethical behaviour for email newsletters since the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act was passed in the United States that required email newsletters be opt-in and have the ability to unsubscribe. And if you use a USA vendor for email services they have protocols to ensure spam laws compliance. For companies this is another matter as they most likely have a list that needs to cleaned up as it very unlikely that their list are opt-in, which explains the flood of emails I am receiving from companies the past two weeks that I have already sent to the junk folder and forgot about. The CASL is also forcing companies to have consent to install computer software on your computer like they do in Europe for cookies that track your online habits. This is a major victory for privacy advocates.

The seminar portion put on by Mara and Daniella talked about their journey in launching an email newsletter  for their organization. They had to clean up their list first and have the people on the list opt-in . Once this was done they saw the open rates of the email newsletter increase. Here is there checklist that they shared with the audience on their learning.


The metrics for email newsletters are open and click through rates (CTR) in addition to list size and reach of the desired target market. Open rates depend on the quality of the list and good writing in the subject header. Open rates I have experienced range between 20-65% depending on the message and time of year. CTRs can range form a low of  0 up to 10%, depending on the message or offer. Open rates are underreported as through my experience technology does not always works as I have had responses from people , but in my report the email was not opened.

Email newsletters are an important part of the marketing mix for advertising as it provides the same quality audience as a magazine subscriber. The question publishers have to deal with is how many emails do they send out before they irritate their readers and they will unsubscribe. In my opinion anything more than once a week is disrespectful and it should have personal salutation to that person. No one like online stalkers that send you emails everyday.  I believe we should go beyond the SPAM requirement and treat your reader with the utmost respect and transparency as it is just good business. The new spam laws will make email list rentals or sponsorships obsolete as I do not think people will ever opt-in for 3rd party emails and when the person signed up to receive the newsletter it is implied that it will be an editorial message not a sales pitch that will only have them unsubscribe from your list and that is bad for business.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
Sometimes it is good to get out of your sandbox for a change of scenery, so I thought I would take a look at how other traditional media are adapting to the new digital media landscape. Before we do that lets have a look at the media universe according to the 2013 Media Digest published by Marketing and the Canadian Media Directors Council (CMDC).

The media consumption habits of Canadians shows that traditional media still captures over 80% of a person’s attention. The chart below also shows the share of advertising dollars vs media consumption share. Magazines are doing very well in this analysis as it shows magazines have less than 1% of media consumption share but have a 4.5% of ad dollars share with an industry index of 555.


This great infographic gives you a good birds eye view of what is happening in the Canadian media universe and the choices a media planner has at their disposal. You you can drill down to see more stats.

Canada’s major media companies now offer a suite of solutions that may include TV, radio, web, newspaper, magazines and out of home.  The chart below on cross media ownership in Canada from the  2013 Media digest outlines the relative offerings and competitive positioning.


One of the digital leaders in Canada is TSN, a tv station, and they were the keynote at the ClickZ digital marketing conference in Toronto on May 15. Mark Silver, the Head of Digital at TSN, talked about the changes TSN is undergoing in the bridging of TV to digital for their audience and advertisers by offering a multi-platform experience. He revealed that TSN will be growing from 2 channels to 5 and will be unveiling a new web site this fall, plus new apps.

Their planned digital offerings will include native apps such as TSN Go (a TV  companion app for paid cable subscribers) plus free specialized content apps, TSN Hockey and TSN Golf. They currently have a free TSN mobile app available that gets high usage on smartphones. The TSN offerings also include Sports AM radio stations with local broadcast rights of NHL games.  The appetite for sports content will be tested with Sportnet’s bold moves that includes TV, radio, magazine and online as part of the brand’s offerings and Rogers ownership of pro sports franchises as content.

Radio has not died but has maintained it position as the #2 most used medium and there has been some interesting usage habits. The #2 ranking is no surprise as smartphones are banned in cars and 51% of radio usage is in cars. Another fact 30% of radio usage is online. This trend is supported by the launch of Indie 88.1 a FM radio station in Toronto that was launched this past September 2013. In February 2014, it had 230,000 visitors per month with 50,000 listening to the station online for 1 hour a day 6 times a month and 11,000 daily. Typically, a 30 second radio spot will reach 10 - 20,000 people in the Toronto market through traditional methods. The station is actively selling display ads on their web site in addition to 30 seconds spots that reach both traditional and online audiences.

The media offerings from TV and radio stations, perhaps, spur or fine tune an idea to help give your media brand a competitive edge in today’s hyper-cluttered media landscape. The question I ask? Do advertisers really care how the message is sent as long as the target market is delivered with enough frequency that will generate the expected marketing outcome. In some cases digital will not work in the car as  media planner use radio or OOH to reach this audience.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto
Today’s media environment is a world with no borders. Traditional boundaries between mediums like print, TV and radio have become blurred in the digital universe. The best example is how media brands no longer exist in a single platform, like a TV station. Now they are offering website ads and a magazine (print and digital), or a radio station with both radio and internet listeners plus a website. We have companies launching their own media brand as part of their content marketing strategy. There is also a strong underground economy on the internet that causes publishers and advertisers a lot of pain.

This is an exciting time in the publishing world as the old school models are no longer valid. The mission of the COPAs is to foster digital publishing excellence in Canada and reflect what is happening in the marketplace. Great content cannot survive without great ads and corporate web sites that link to them.

Competition brings out the best in both people and companies. It shows you where your weaknesses are and inspires you to do better. The Call for Entries for the 2014 COPAs begins May 1. Click here to see the 2014 rules. To help inspire you, I have two comments from last year’s judges below on how the industry can do better.


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Charlene Rooke

Charlene is the group editor of the custom publishing team at the Globe and Mail. She has written about travel for various magazines and authored two books on the subject. She was a judge in the Best Online-Only Article or Series category in 2013.
“I enjoyed reading most of the entries in this category the same way I would enjoy reading a well-written, long-form magazine article. Yet I expect more from top-notch digital storytelling: I expect it to take advantage of the digital platform and how people consume digital content. I expect it to make the most of multimedia and programming capabilities. I expect it to be daring, in content and format, in ways that print publications would not. Most of the entrants, surprisingly, didn't realize the full potential of online content.”

Jean Snow

Jean is based in Tokyo and is the executive director of the Pecha Kucha organization. He runs The Magazine, a website about magazine culture.

“More than any problem with the content itself, which I found to be generally strong throughout all the entries, the biggest problem with the current crop of blogs lies in the design and layouts. For the most part, we are dealing with a basic look that has barely progressed from the early days of Blogger. Although it's a tried and tested format, as readers who are now getting used to reading all manner of magazine content in digital form (especially on tablets), blogs on the web need to compete with that and web technologies these days can certainly enable more adventurous design layouts, as well as the inclusion of various media (slideshows, audio, video, etc.). The biggest offenders tend to be the websites of print magazines. For the most part, all of these sites follow the same basic structure, and they're all indistinguishable except for the top logo.”

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As we try to innovate, the latest buzzword is engagement. But what makes effective engagement for publishers and advertisers? Does it follow the traditional ladder of involvement (i.e. awareness – interest – desire – shop – buy – repeat customer)? I have seen publishers thinking that a Facebook ‘like’ is the path to success online, but where does it fit in the ladder of involvement. New metrics have been invented by technology companies that have minimal marketing value, like clicks, likes and shares, that at best contribute to awareness. The promise of shortening the customer sales cycle through technology may be an over-promise.

When I wear my media buyer’s hat all I am looking for is to reach of my target audience in a trusted media brand, and cost efficiencies. I do not see how a Facebook like or share has any impact on a media plan. Clicks are good but not as important as a brand impression. The goal of any advertising program is top share of mind at time of purchase and sales are always the best metric at the end of the day.

Thursday, April 24, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
Legion Magazine has won first place at the Gala Gutenberg awards for the outstanding printing and design of the 2013 special interest publication Canada’s Ultimate Story: Canada And The Victoria Cross.

The award was announced April 22 at a gala in Montreal.

The Gala Gutenberg awards are presented by the Printability and Graphic Communications Institute, formerly known as the Quebec Institute of Graphic Communications, to recognize excellence in graphics and the printing industry.

Printed at TC Transcontinental Quebec, the 100-page magazine published in the fall featured archival photos and illustrations and a text by historian Hugh A. Halliday. An embossed Victoria Cross was featured on its cover, designed by the magazine’s art department.


Thursday, April 24, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

The Summer 2014 issue of Fly Fusion is set to hit newsstands on May 26th, 2014.

This is the first cover we’ve ever done that shows the fish as seen from the front, as opposed to a side-view.

We’ve combined the ultimate prey (trout) with the ultimate predators (our pros), who will share their secrets to success.

For the past four years, each cover in the Summer time slot has set a new sales record! (See images below.)

Monday, April 21, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

The Jun/July 2014 issue of Canada’s History uses an iconic image to illustrate the cover feature.

A rather bold type treatment with alternating colors helps “shout out” the main sell.

Here’s what editor Mark Reid has to say about the issue:

“While most people today associate Hudson’s Bay Company with retail shopping, fewer realize the crucial role the company played in creating Canada. HBC is the oldest company in North America, founded 344 years ago in 1670. With this issue, we tell the gripping and dramatic story of how this once-obscure fur-trading company beat the odds to become a business titan. For the cover, we chose this painting of HBC voyageurs shooting rapids somewhere on the frontier — an iconic image synonymous with the story of Canada itself.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

The Legion Magazine is adding a second SIP to the 2014 schedule. On sale May 26th (just in time for Father’s Day), the Legion will publish the fifth SIP in its series.

LIBERATING NORMANDY will be 100 pages of rarely seen photographs and features action packed maps.

After polling on the Legion’s web site and on, the decision was made to publish both covers, since the voting was so closely contested.

This will give retailers the opportunity to decide which cover to feature, or to offer dual facings if they please to celebrate the 70th anniversary of this critically important battle.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

The May 2014 issue of Golf Digest is getting a lot of flak for its cover featuring Paulina Gretzky.

In an article from the Globe & Mail we learn:

“Juli Inkster made her 120th start in a major Thursday at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. A seven-time major winner and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Inkster is one of 11 women since 1969 to appear alone on the cover of Golf Digest. The list, which includes Marlene Hagge, Jane Blalock (twice) and Nancy Lopez, grew this week with the unveiling of the May issue, with Paulina Gretzky on the cover.

“Who is that?” asked Inbee Park, the world No. 1 and the defending champion at this event.

Park, of South Korea, a nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour, won three consecutive majors in 2013 to tie a record set in 1950 by Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Park has never appeared on the cover of Golf Digest.

Stacy Lewis, who has won two major titles, has also never appeared on the cover of Golf Digest. Last year she was briefly No. 1 in the world on her way to winning the Vare Trophy for the tour’s lowest scoring average.

Asked for her reaction to the magazine’s cover choice, Lewis said: “It’s frustrating for female golfers. It’s kind of the state of where we’ve always been. We don’t get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you’d like to see a little respect for the women’s game.

Jerry Tarde, the editor-in-chief of Golf Digest, who approved the cover, said: “Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine’s beginning. Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She also might get some new people interested in the game.”

It sure does look like Golf Digest has gotten a bit desperate. Very lame.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock
The May 2014 issue of Zoomer looks like a winner.

The press release says:

The May 2014 edition of ZOOMER Magazine hits newsstands next week with an excerpt and stunning photography from Highgrove: A Garden Celebrated by HRH The Prince of Wales and Bunny Guinness. This Canadian print exclusive and royal invitation to the grounds of Prince Charles’ beloved rural retreat comes as he embarks on his 17th visit to Canada in May.

“We are honoured to have HRH The Prince of Wales on our cover,” said Suzanne Boyd, Editor-in-Chief of ZOOMER Magazine. “The world has caught up with Prince Charles. In the ‘80s he was like a voice in the wilderness, presciently sharing his progressive views on all things environmental from how best to nurture plants to organic farming to conservation. Thirty-four years later, it is most fitting he would be sharing his gardens.”

Quite a celebrity cover, and the timing is perfect. Look for this one to sell!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

The Spring 2014 issue of Canadian Art is an eye-catcher. Saw it on the shelf at my local Book City store. Impossible to miss it. The image actually makes you want to reach out and see if you can pull the bandage off the cover.

The cover subscribes to the “less is more” approach. And it works!

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sebastianuk says:
nice...informative blog...
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