Masthead News Archives
April 2007

April 26, 2007
Marketers under-spend on magazines: new study

Author and keynote speaker Rex Briggs
TORONTO—Author and marketing guru Rex Briggs had some good news for the packed audience of 483 magazine ad reps at the annual Ad Club of Toronto Magazine Day luncheon yesterday. Good news for print, but maybe not such good news for online advertising.

Briggs, CEO of Market Evolution, presented results from his company’s Return on Marketing Objectives studies for consumer goods companies. Among the findings: magazines are the most consistent performer of all media measured. Furthermore, in the rush to increase online spending, marketers run the risk of under-leveraging the strength of magazine advertising.

For example, in measuring the effect of advertising on purchase intent, magazine advertising scored more than twice as high as either television or online, when compared to a control group of consumers not exposed to the advertising.

Joan Brehl, managing director of Time Canada, was honoured with this year's Ad Club Award of Merit

His research showed that online advertising is becoming less effective overall. That’s due to marketers blindly following leaders who have studied and benefited from online advertising strategies, without fully understanding the medium themselves.

However, Briggs said the chief conclusion is that the most effective marketing strategies employ what he dubbed “surround-sound marketing.” Using magazines, TV and online effectively together is analogous to getting the full effect of an audio track only by listening to all the layers coming from different speakers. “There’s no doubt that magazines play a critical role in that surround-sound marketing,” he said. (The results are reminiscent of the “multiplier-effect” studies of the late 1980s that showed magazine advertising plus TV advertising is more effective than just TV ads alone.)

Briggs recently co-authored What Sticks: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds, and he’s been on the circuit promoting his book.

Mary Coughlin of Reader’s Digest won this year’s People Choice Awards for best ad sales rep, voted on by media buyers

The Magazine Day luncheon is also the Ad Club’s chance to present its annual Award of Merit to a leader in the ranks of magazine ad sales pros. This year’s honour went to Joan Brehl, the well-known managing director of Time Canada, who has also worked at Rogers, been a board member of PMB, and serves on the board of the National Advertising Benevolent Society.

The club also announced the winner of its annual People’s Choice Awards, the Canadian Idol of the ad world. Media buyers and planners vote for their favourite ad sales reps, and vice-versa. This year’s People’s Choice Award for top magazine ad rep went to Mary Coughlin of Reader’s Digest. Her counterpart winner from the other side of the buying desk was Meaghan Stafford of Initiative Canada.

April 25, 2007
Captive shuts Edmonton Life

Publisher Raymond Merhej says he invested $1 million into the launch of
Edmonton Life.
EDMONTON—A magazine war in Alberta is over. After a drastic frequency reduction from monthly to quarterly, Captive Media owner Raymond Merhej confirms that he has folded Edmonton Life.

“I wanted to put out the best magazine I could,” says Merhej, noting that soft ad support resulted in an operating-loss gap exceeding the 30% he had anticipated after year one. He estimates that he invested $1 million into the launch and built a discriminating distribution network but, alas, it wasn’t enough. Monthly costs were $100,000, he says, and the staff consisted of an editor, assistant editor, a researcher, five sales reps and three graphics staff. “Frankly, I don’t know what advertisers want.”

A total of eight issues were produced with the last being the Spring 2007 number.

With the demise of Edmonton Life, archrival Avenue (the Edmonton edition of RedPoint Media’s Calgary city mag, produced jointly with Odvod Publishing) is likely modifying its market approach. Avenue launched in Edmonton last summer, shortly after Edmonton Life’s May 2006 debut. Competition in Edmonton’s city mag category will not slacken, Merhej predicts. Calgary-based luxury lifestyle glossy Opulence is more active and he predicts that one of the two city alt weekly tabs (either See or Vue Weekly) will convert to glossy format.

Captive Media will continue to publish its two television listings titles, Satellite Orbit and Satellite Direct. Both titles are edited by Gene Kosowan, who also edited Edmonton Life. Kosowan will continue as editor on a contract basis.

April 16, 2007
Canada Council pumps $500k+ into arts mags
OTTAWA—Canada Council for the Arts announced details today of it Supplementary Operating Funds Initiative, a one-time-only program flowing out of the federal government’s May 2006 budget providing for $50 million in additional funding to the Canada Council for the 2006–07 and 2007–08 fiscal years.

Of the $50 million, $33 million is earmarked for arts organization, with the remainder going to individuals and art-access initiatives. The magazine industry received 1.6% of that $33 million. The largest magazine-related beneficiaries in this particular funding initiative are the Canadian Art Foundation and Magazines Canada. The following magazine groups received a total of $534,400:

Arc: Canada's National Poetry Magazine OTTAWA ON 10,000
BlackFlash SASKATOON SK 10,000
Border Crossings WINNIPEG MB 25,000
Brick Magazine TORONTO ON 10,600
Broken Pencil TORONTO ON 18,000
C The Visual Arts Foundation TORONTO ON 10,000
Canadian Art Foundation (Canadian Art) TORONTO ON 165,000
Descant Magazine TORONTO ON 10,000
Exile the Literary Quarterly HOLSTEIN ON 10,000
Fuse Magazine TORONTO ON 10,000
Grain Magazine SASKATOON SK 10,000
Magazines Canada TORONTO ON 86,000
Maisonneuve MONTRÉAL QC 10,000
Penguin Eggs EDMONTON AB 10,000
Point of View Magazine TORONTO ON 10,000
Prairie Fire Press Inc. WINNIPEG MB 10,000
Prefix Photo TORONTO ON 10,700
Prism International VANCOUVER BC 10,000
Queen's Quarterly KINGSTON ON 10,000
Quill and Quire TORONTO ON 10,000
RicePaper VANCOUVER BC 10,000
The Devil's Artisan (DA) ERIN ON 8,000
The Fiddlehead FREDERICTON NB 10,000
The Geist Foundation VANCOUVER BC 30,000
The New Quarterly WATERLOO ON 10,000
This Magazine TORONTO ON 11,100

Total: $534,400

April 12, 2007
Primedia acquires Canadian magazines
TORONTO—Just five years after getting into the magazine publishing business, a couple of young dot-com entrepreneurs recently unloaded a trio of thick, glossy automotive titles to U.S. specialty publisher Primedia.

Modified Mag, launched in July 2002, and claims a monthly readership of 1.5 million. Sister titles are Modified Luxury & Exotics, and Modified Mustangs

Toronto-based VerticalScope, which develops and acquires Web domains, was established by entrepreneurs Rob Laidlaw and Jesse Rasch in 1999. Both loved automobiles and motorsports and felt the market was underserved, Rasch has written in his blog. In 2002, when most publishers busied themselves trying plant flags online, Laidlaw and Rasch utilized VerticalScope’s online infrastructure and communities of interest to take a stab at the ink-on-paper model with the launch of Modified Mag, a monthly glossy aimed squarely at young American men and their souped-up cars. This was followed by two other launches, Modified Luxury & Exotics (8x/yr), and Modified Mustangs (12x/yr). Combined with complementary websites and 17 branded, auto-related online forums, the Modified Automotive Group (MAG) boasts audience reach levels in the millions.

In 1997, at the age of 16, Rob Laidlaw created, a resource centre for web domain owners, managers and creators. Originally based in Saskatchewan (with his parents, we presume), he moved to Toronto to establish VerticalScope with partner Jesse Rasch. Shown here on the December 2001 cover of now-defunct trade mag Sales Promotion

Primedia, whose broad portfolio of enthusiast titles include car mags, competed directly against MAG through its Sport Compact Car (est. 1989), Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords (1987), and other auto-related properties, including Motor Trend. After five years of tangling with MAG, Primedia opted in February to simply acquire its Toronto rival.

“Primedia bought MAG because of the strong growth potential it could realize by cross-selling with existing brands, and expanding our portfolio of brands, particularly in the areas of sales, production, distribution and direct mail,” a company spokesperson told MastheadOnline.

In 2000, Jesse Rasch was 24 and had just sold a 51% stake in his Web hosting company, InQuent Technologies, to U.S. giant SBC for US$150 million. Shown here in an August 2000 interview with ROB TV's Michael Vaughan shortly after the sale

What’s curious about this deal is that Primedia itself is in the midst of a huge asset auction. The Primedia Enthusiast Group, of which MAG is now a part, once boasted roughly 70 magazines and 90 websites. Three months ago, in December, it announced the sale of its hunting, fishing and outdoor titles for US$170 million to InterMedia Partners LP, a private equity firm. News reports suggest that Primedia is parting out its various properties to maximize profits and reduce debt.

Neither Laidlaw nor Rasch could be reached for comment.

Canada Post offers new level of demo targeting
OTTAWA—Circulators using unaddressed admail to blanket areas with subscription offers will now be able to better target potential readers with a new service from Canada Post.

GeoPost Plus provides demographic data for mailing areas as large as a province and as small as a single postal route. Until recently, locales could be broken down by their income and age ranges and the like. Now, the service includes information on spending habits.

Using information from Statistics Canada’s Survey of Household Spending and a third-party service called PSYTE Canada Advantage (from New York-based MapInfo), Canada Post can show spending habits on 380 individually tracked products in a given postal code. For example, should a publication want to target truck-buyers or organic food shoppers with a subscription drive, they’ll now be able to see which postal codes have high concentrations of those consumers.

GeoPost Plus information is free to Canada Post customers using its Unaddressed Admail service.

April 10, 2007
SFU on magazines in July
VANCOUVER—Representatives from Western Living, Alberta Venture, KNOW, Geist and Canadian Immigrant constitute most of the magazine-related faculty that will be on hand this coming July at Simon Fraser University’s Summer Publishing Workshops program.

For more info, visit Here’s a list of the courses available:

Magazine Advertising: A one-day session by Alberta Venture founder Ruth Kelly will provide insight for publishers and reps into how to grow your ad sales. Examined will be: the role of reader research, circ model optimization, value-added approaches, marketing tools, the role of creativity, ancillary activities and the Web. July 27. Cost: $225.    

Circulation Strategies for Magazines: Alberta Venture’s Ruth Kelly shares tips in this new session on building reader profiles, various circulation options, qualified versus unqualified, newsstand issues, renewal strategies, Web-based circ strategies, auditing and how to use your circ to grow your advertising. July 28. Cost: $225.

Marketing Magazines Online: Internet consultant Monique Trottier (Work Industries) will discuss generating and monitoring Web traffic, online messaging tools and opportunities, budgeting issues and more in this new-this-year session. July 27. Cost: $225.

What You Need to Know Before Launching a Magazine: A day-long clinic taking prospective publishers through an essential check list, including market assessment, content, design, budgeting, printing options and government funding. Nick Noorani, founder of Canadian Immigrant Magazine (now owned by TorStar), leads the session. July 23. Cost: $225.

Elements of Editing for Magazines: A two-day workshop led by former Western Living editor Jim Sutherland covering substantive, structural, copy and line editing as well as break-out opportunities (sidebars, charts, and other text-based packaging tips). Course runs July 23-24. Cost $450.

Writing Non-fiction for Children’s Magazines: Adrienne Mason, managing editor of Victoria-based KNOW: The Science for Curious Kids, will hold this new, one-day session on how to develop, research and market captivating stories about science, history, travel, politics, sports and biographies targeting children readers. July 23. Cost: $225.

Publishing Strategies for Small Magazines: Geist editor and founder Stephen Osborne heads up this new course on subsidy-based publishing and the current funding landscape as well as best practices in the areas of editorial, circulation and the Web. July 25. Cost: $225.

Freelance Writing for Magazines: Freelancer Tim Carlson charts a course “from pitch to paycheque” in this two-day session that promises each student will walk away with a pitch-ready idea and the wherewithal to research, develop, hone and market that idea. July 25-26. Cost: $450.

Magazine Packaging With a Punch: Freelance editor and writer Jim Sutherland’s one-day intensive on packaging dos and don’ts. July 26. Cost: $225. 

Magazine Design: Western Living art director Doris Cheung leads a one-day seminar targeting those who want to bolster their graphic design skills. Attention will be paid to typography, grid, structure, colour palettes, photos and illos.

April 4, 2007
Shenkman sells Brunico Communications

Jim Shenkman founded Brunico in 1986 with the launch of Playback magazine. He will become more involved with The International Centre, of which he is a director
TORONTO—One of Canada’s few—if not sole—B2B operations that focuses on the international market has been sold to a group of private investors.

Brunico Communications Inc. founder Jim Shenkman, a lawyer by training, confirmed this morning that Russell Goldstein, 35, and a handful of partners have acquired the company and its stable of five trade magazines (Playback, Strategy, Boards , KidScreen, RealScreen ), three annual conferences (Boards Summit, KidScreen Summit, RealScreen Summit) as well as the daily Media in Canada electronic newsletter. With the exception of Playback, Strategy and Media in Canada, Brunico’s products are geared toward the international market and focus on the entertainment and marketing sectors. KidScreen, for example, derives 45% of its revenue from Europe, Shenkman says, adding that events constitute approximately 45% of Brunico’s total revenues.

Russell Goldstein and a small group of investors have acquired the assets of Brunico. Estimated purchase price: $10 million

Commenting on the sale price, Shenkman would only reveal that it was “fair.”* He noted that he had been in talks with Goldstein since last fall. The deal closed yesterday. Shenkman, formerly president and executive publisher, will remain a full-time employee (chairman) for the next year for transition purposes, after which he’ll focus his energy solely on his family’s major stake in The International Centre—the Mississauga, Ont.-based exhibition complex near Pearson International Airport of which Shenkman is a director (his father founded it in 1970). Asked why he sold Brunico, Shenkman said that he agreed to take a more active role in The International Centre last fall. Plus, he said, “I’m still young enough to do some new stuff.”

Goldstein, who is now president and CEO of Brunico Communications Ltd., says his “small” and “stable” group of partners has invested together as a group before. “These are people I know and have relationships with, so I think that’s a strength of our group… In terms of the television and entertainment business, I think [Brunico] is fascinating. It’s well positioned for long-term growth. The brands are very well established and have a lot of equity with their customer base. In terms of business media itself, it excites me because…one of my skills is being able to leverage and extend a well-established brand across different channels, and I think the opportunity to do that with Brunico’s brands is real and present.”

Goldstein is an original employee of Toronto-based customer relationship management company Digital Cement, which works with prominent brands (for example, Kraft Foods) to build consumer relationships across multiple channels (print, Web, telemarketing).

*We estimate Brunico’s annual revenues conservatively at $10 million. Assuming an EBITDA margin of 20% and a sale multiple of five, the sale price is estimated at $10 million.

April 3, 2007
New crew for Shameless

Megan Griffith-Greene will remain a researcher/contributing editor with Chatelaine
TORONTO—The search for a fresh-legged prime mover is over. Three months after exhausted Shameless founders Melinda Mattos and Nicole Cohen announced they were ready to pass the baton forward, a successor has been found.

Megan Griffith-Greene was today appointed publisher and editor-in-chief. She’ll remain a researcher/contributing editor at Chatelaine. Griffith-Greene has been in talks with Mattos and Cohen for the past few months.

Launched in 2004, Shameless is published three times a year with a print run of 3,000. It is “North America’s independent voice for smart, strong, sassy young women,” reads the current media kit. The magazine targets women “who are often ignored by mainstream media: freethinkers, queer youth, young women of colour, punk rockers, feminists, intellectuals, artists and activists. We tackle teen life with wit and wisdom.”

Raised in Toronto, Griffith-Greene was a youth rights/social justice advocate in high school before obtaining degree in cultural studies and fine arts from York University. She also holds a degree in journalism from Ryerson, where she was editor of the Ryerson Review of Journalism (Spring 2004). She is also a founding editor and designer of The New Pollution, a web-based magazine and podcast on indie music.

Shameless was launched by Melinda Mattos and Nicole Cohen in 2004. (Summer 2006 issue shown)

Also joining the editorial team as section editors are Kate Rae (features), Jennifer Goldberg (arts and culture) and Pike Krpan (reviews). Stacey May Fowles comes aboard in a business development capacity. Griffith-Greene says that with the arrival of additional editorial support, “I think we can afford to be a little more ambitious.” Shameless relies entirely on volunteers. Griffith-Greene says she intends to incorporate the magazine as a non-profit organization.

As for Mattos and Cohen, they’ll move into advisory roles, contributing to long-range planning, fundraising and assisting with special projects. The idea of Shameless was originally conceived while the two were in journalism school at Ryerson. The Spring 2007 issue will be their last.

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Jaded says:
Wow, Torstar really seems to be on a mission to bankrupt one magazine after another....
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Full of terrific information, Thanks!...