Contact: Speech Excerpt

  • by June 22, 2005
By Renetta McCann

What's a magazine to do to stay connected to consumers in a digital world? The success of magazines turns on engagement, connectivity (which moves you toward addressability), and accountability, (measurement).

Engagement you've nailed. My colleagues at Starcom recently conducted an engagement study, and in the qualitative stage they sat in consumers' living rooms and watched them interact with magazines - both the content and the advertising. Consumers love magazines. From a content perspective, you give the people what they want. Keep that up, and help us deliver more tools that can track and measure engagement.

The second factor in your long-term success is connectivity. You have to constantly monitor and identify the key motivators that bring people into your magazine. Then you have to fine-tune that content and help marketers target customers with tailored advertising that has the most meaning for each of them. That's how you can deliver the highest levels of response.

We need customized, media-first solutions that give us new ways to address our clients' marketing objectives. Help us create new and individual ways to drive content to a more personal and individual level. Then make it more addressable, which means you're going to have to figure out how to give magazines more of a screen-based entry point for consumers.

Technology, screens, and visual media have made consumers form and distribution source agnostic. People want connections and experience. They want to manipulate content; control it. You will not be immune to this phenomenon.

I'm not asking you to swear off paper, but you have to embrace the ip or digital platform. Many of you are doing this to some degree, but you have to deliver more robust, interactive, screen-like behavior. The solution is probably a cocktail of ingredients. For instance, consider the mobisode - the one-minute video segment that can be downloaded and played on mobile phones. Shape your content into this format.

Think about video on demand. Can you make your content liquid and let your biggest fans drink it up? How about a broadband podcast of some of your content? Can you manipulate the IP environment in a way that lets readers tailor their own issues of the magazine? Customized "just for me"?

Airplanes are going to be wired for the Web, and I would love a digital issue of your magazine to read on the plane. I'll also accept tailored promotions in the context of this opt-in relationship, and I'll pay for the access.

If I paid you a subscription, would you let me create my own virtual archive of favorite articles? Mass storage costs almost nothing, so can you give me access to a server that can store my personal favorites? Do this, and you not only please me, you can get digital knowledge about my behavior. You will know how often I'm interacting with your content, and how long I stay engaged.

You could even send me a message on an upcoming article based on topics I've consumed before. And then what will you have? Content, connectivity, engagement...all on a digital platform that makes it addressable.

If you are not already thinking about these things, I suggest you get a digital guru on your payroll as soon as possible. Because digital delivers more than connectivity. It is profoundly measurable, and this is the third factor you have to address to succeed in the new world.

Figure out how to measure engagement. Don't tell us how many eyeballs were exposed to a page. Don't tell us how many sets of hands might have touched it. We need to know if the connection moved the meter on engagement and behavior. These metrics don't currently exist, but you're going to have to create them. Our clients will demand them, and we will invest where we can get them.

I am a huge fan of magazines, but I am also a media practitioner who has seen a fundamental shift in the way my discipline operates. My fear is not that magazines won't exist. They will, because people are tactile creatures.

I'm also very confident you will break the code on the monitors, telephones, iPods, plasmas, elevators, taxi cabs, sticks in the sky and all those other proliferating screens. But please don't let these accomplishments lure you into a false sense of security. We are your advocates, but more than that we are stewards of our clients' brands. As they press us for greater addressability and more accountability, we will need you to put your smart, strategic, creative brains on overdrive to deliver it.

Renetta McCann is CEO-Americas, Starcom MediaVest Group and chair of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' Media Policy Committee. (

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