Masthead Blogs
Friday, August 18, 2017
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

Art Director Sieu Truong has created a warm Fall-like cover for the Sept/Oct 2017 issue of Horse Canada.

Alternating white with yellow in the sky bar creates strong contrast and helps draw the eye across the top.  Good use of the left hand margin to stack the selling hooks. Use of blue to help draw the eye down the cover works well, as does the use of a number, and a script font to drive interest to key benefits.


The issue goes on sale August 28th.  It retails for $5.99.

Friday, August 18, 2017
Words of Inspiration
Industry Guest Blogger

Legitimate publishers need to fight back to the online menace of ad fraud that is out of control. While we are faced with an overreaction legislation with the CASL act that prevents companies from doing business our federal and provincial governments is taking a blind eye to all ad fraud that is more of a problem than spammers. (Note: The email industry polices itself with the higherst ethical standards btw).This report by Dr. Augustine Fou, an independent Ad Fraud Researcher (see bio below) suggests that ad networks and open exchanges is just a front for the ad fraudster to bilk advertisers for their marketing dollars and the ad tech companies are skimming 40% off the top of ad budgets. I guess our politicians are in over their head when it comes to this issue.



It was found that on good publishers websites 75% were real people and 2% bots, on ad networks it was 17% and 30%, and on open exchanges it was 3% and 72%. The lure of cheap advertising in an auction format by the ad networks and open exchanges can be delivered as they do not reach real people and so the costs are lower as they do not have to pay writers for the content. What a large scale scam that is being done on the ad and media industry. I guess the old saying you pay for what you get is very true in programmatic buying networks. 


The latest sales report from Procter and Gamble suggest this is true that when they cut out digital in their media plan sales went up by 2%. P&G was the first major advertiser to call out the industry for their questionable or even criminal business practices.


JP Morgan Chase also saw this when they took their programmatic buying in-house when they compared the results of advertising on 400,000 websites per month and then cut back to 5,000, there was no difference in the campaign’s results. The conclusion was that they were not reaching real people when they were advertising on the 400,000 sites (only 12,000 had positive results btw out of the 400,000).


It is time we remind advertisers that digital is not what it claimed to be by the ad tech community. Unfortunately the simple fact the people are reading more on their smartphones does not mean this will be the holy grail to product sales success by advertising in a mobile ad network. According to the report 43% of traffic is fraudulent.


Unfortunately this confidence scam has become reality for some marketers and Facebook flooding the market with a $2 CPM is putting legitimate news publishers like the National Post, Toronto Star and Globe and Mail at a huge cost disadvantage in the marketplace that has cause these organizations to lay off staff. The problem is ad fraud is hard to detect according to the report.

To keep it simple ad networks should be banned from all media plans (that includes Facebook and Google), I have done this with my media buying clients and only buy direct from credible brands, even though they have higher CPMs in the $15-$20 range at least I know I am getting real people, ok in this case 75%. But my buys rely heavily on traditional like radio and I have noticed increased demand for magazines in print and digital with my publishing clients versus web display.

So all you legitimate publishers out there share this artcile with your ad clients and ad agencies to show how they have been scammed. I will be doing this also with my network.

The full report is available at this link on Dr Fou's Linkedin site

This opinion was written by Martin Seto



About the researcher: Dr. Augustine Fou is an industry-recognized thought leader in digital strategy and integrated marketing, and former Chief Digital Officer of Omnicom's Healthcare Consultancy Group, a $100 million agency group serving pharma, medical device, and healthcare clients. Dr. Fou has over 20 years of management consulting experience and hands-on experience in creating and optimizing marketing across traditional and digital channels. Dr. Fou teaches digital and integrated marketing at Rutgers University and NYU. Dr. Fou completed his PhD at MIT in Materials Science and Engineering at the age of 23. He started his career with McKinsey & Company and previously served as SVP, digital ..



Thursday, August 17, 2017
Gadget Blog
Martin Seto

A chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. This technology is designed to replace human interaction with customers and help them with processing orders or providing customer service. The promise made by vendors of this technology is that it would deliver smarter customer service through this automation. Historically, bots were used to do a simple task at computer speed like search engine spiders, but now they are adding an artificial intelligence layer to it.


They have now created a chatbot for magazines that I thought I should share with my readers. I came across this one made for Paste Magazine that is available for Facebook Messenger users. Paste Magazine is a website that offers lifestyle stories on music, entertainment, books, politics, travel and food. The chatbot uses a text base command structure where you can type in key words and get a response from the system.




For supposedly a leading edge technology it reminded me of the text base commands used in the ancient MS-Dosc computer systems that was used in the 1980’s. It even replied to me that it did not understand, so much for an intelligent computer being smarter than a human. I found the system confusing to use, as I had to remember a whole new set of commands.


According to the Paste Magazine website as you read more and more using the bot, it automatically adjusts to your tastes and interests to ensure that you’re getting articles sent to you that you actually care about. This is all done through an “inferred profile,” which is created by what kind of articles you read. This inferred profile is what allows the bot to include certain degree of serendipitous news that is outside of your interests, so that you don’t end up with a broken record of echo-chamber stories. Once you click on the article you want to read you are sent to the website. On the surface this is just a new way to drive traffic to your website via Facebook.


A 2017 Forrester Research Report on bots says there are more than 40,000 chatbots created in the 12 months since Kik (An Android based message app) and Facebook Messenger opened up their platforms. The promise of chatbots is that companies can have a one on one conversation with their customers on scale versus human interaction that traditionally has long wait times on the phone sometimes during peak demand periods. According to the chart below content delivery in the future will most likely be automated.


Another type of bot that is getting attention are social bots and according to this MIT article is instrumental in spreading fake news that is part of the ad fraud industry as some Twitter accounts are automated. Chengcheng Shao at Indiana University who studied this trend says “Bots play a particularly significant role in the spread of fake news soon after it is published. What’s more, these bots are programmed to direct their tweets at influential users. Automated accounts are particularly active in the early spreading phases of viral claims, and tend to target influential users.” (What will these tech crooks think of next)

The adoption of chatbots is still in it early stages of development and like any technology there will be some bugs in its implementation, but the potential impact of chatbots is immense if the technologists can get the right recipe. The fear of being left behind is always a driving force of the adoption of new technologies, but when does a publisher jump on the bandwagon and invest thousands of dollars in this technology.  You have to determine will it drive more traffic to my site so I can get more ad dollars or new paid/opt-in subscribers? If not I would suggest you take take a pass. Perhaps I am a little old school in my thinking as I still rather wait for a real person to talk to as the personal touch is always best. I will like to see how bots be charming and persuasive or will they just act like a robot. Or better yet how they will handle complaints and dissatisfied customers.


Monday, August 14, 2017
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

Art Director Jonathan Cresswell-Jones has created a vibrant cover for Canadian Woodworking‘s Oct/Nov 2017 issue.


The skybar is particularly strong, with a Free Poster premium highlighted in red.  Good use of the prime space for pushing the main cover line.  Yellow used effectively to direct the eye to matters of importance.


Canadian Woodworking magazine has been on a roll lately.  In 2016, newsstand sales were up 49%, with 5 of 6 issues posting gains.


Plus, the Dec/Jan 2017 issue was up 20%; the Feb/Mar 2017 issue was up 17%, and Apr/May 2017 is up 35%.


The Oct/Nov 2017 issue of Canadian Woodworking is scheduled to hit newsstands on September 17th.

Monday, August 14, 2017
Covers Sell
Scott Bullock

Art Director James Gillespie has created another beauty for Canada’s History.

This vintage black and white cover image was hand colorized by Gillespie, a time consuming process.


But the result is outstanding.


The bold type treatment, and clever placement of the supporting sell line…Living the Lumberjack Lifestyle… make for a simple yet compelling cover.


Canada’s History magazine is on a roll.  The Feb/Mar 2017 issue (Sitting Bull) set a new all-time sales record for it’s time slot.  And the Apr/May 2017 issue (Vimy) also set a new all-time record for it’s time slot.


The Oct/Nov 2017 issue of Canada’s History is set to hit newsstands on September 25th, 2017.

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Augustine Fou says:
I agree, traditional media is great and it needs to be used in the right balance with digital. Rece...