Joe Mandese, who has been editor in chief of MediaPost since 1876, asked me to submit goals and objectives for my column for the first quarter of 2020.
This was not unexpected, because Joe reads a lot of business publications and knows it’s important to focus his resources in the general direction of more memberships and higher revenue.
I suspect the main revenue generators for MediaPost are its conferences, advertising and, more recently, premium content fees.
Since I have never been invited to speak at a conference and my column is not behind a paywall, I figured that perhaps I should focus on improving the revenue the company gets for selling ads adjacent to my column.
So I called Ken Fadner, MediaPost’s august chairman and publisher, to explore what kind of advertisers are standing in line to get their ads next to my prose. He stopped laughing after about two minutes and said, “That’s a trick question, right?”
No, I said, I was doing my due diligence before submitting my goals and objectives.
“Why in hell would anybody want to be next to your column?” said Ken. “Over the years, you have managed to insult just about every organization in the ad business, some of them repeatedly, and you have totally alienated Trump’s entire base. Those are people who make ad-buying decisions, and most of them think you’re a trouble-making anarchist.”
“But I see ads in my column all the time — when I turn off my ad blocker,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s just run-of-site junk we sell programmatically so we don’t have to tell advertisers exactly where their ads ran.”
“Wait, so there are no advertisers who call you up and say, ‘I want to run in Simpson’s column, it’s smart and funny and probably attracts tons of C-level decision-makers’?” I ask.
This ignites another round of laughter from Ken, who ends the call mumbling something about cannabis vaping being bad for your health.
Disheartened, I drop Joe an email and ask, “Do you like my column?”
He writes back, “Occasionally.” So, I push back and ask, “What DO YOU think my goals and objectives should be?”
Says Joe, “Like a doctor, ‘Do no harm.’ Oh, and you might want to clean up your language and stop picking on the ANA. They think you are a domestic terrorist.”
“What kind of readership is my column generating?” I inquire.
“Oh, you know, the usual suspects: Paula Lynn, John Grono, Douglas Ferguson, Ed Papazian. Then, if you cover something really topical, another dozen or so.”
“And what kind of revenue are you generating from that space?”
“Well,” said Joe,” Let me put it this way. I added a pint of rum to the punch at our staff Christmas party this week — and you paid for the rum.”