Yearly Archives: 2010

What Do Readers Really Think?

Learn about the results of the Verso Survey of Book-Buying Behavior

At the 2010 Digital Book World Conference, Verso presented the results of our first “Survey of Book-Buying Behavior” — creating a stir there that resonated with publishers, booksellers and readers as far away as England and Australia. Powered by the expertise of Burst Media, the Survey was conducted across the full breadth of the Reader Channel network in two waves during November and December, 2009. The Survey polled 5,640 book-buying respondents, weighted to mirror the U.S. adult population. Adhering to the highest standards of online survey data collection, the results are statistically reliable within a 1.6 percentage-point margin of error, at a 95% probability level.
Early reports from Publishers Lunch followed up on the Survey’s implications for two of the hottest topics in publishing—e-book piracy and e-book pricing—and generated immediate interest in book industry circles. The American Booksellers Association immediately saw how the Survey’s provides actionable data for their members, and invited Verso’s director of business development, Jack McKeown, to Winter Institute (Wi5) to give a keynote address on what the Survey results mean for independent booksellers.

VersoSurvey_chart11At the 2010 Digital Book World Conference, Verso presented the results of our first “Survey of Book-Buying Behavior” — creating a stir there that resonated with publishers, booksellers and readers as far away as England and Australia. Powered by the expertise of Burst Media, the Survey was conducted across the full breadth of the Reader Channel network in two waves during November and December, 2009. The Survey polled 5,640 book-buying respondents, weighted to mirror the U.S. adult population. Adhering to the highest standards of online survey data collection, the results are statistically reliable within a 1.6 percentage-point margin of error, at a 95% probability level.

Early reports from Publishers Lunch followed up on the Survey’s implications for two of the hottest topics in publishing—e-book piracy and e-book pricing—and generated immediate interest in book industry circles. The American Booksellers Association immediately saw how the Survey provides actionable data for their members, and invited Verso’s director of business development, Jack McKeown, to Winter Institute (Wi5) to give a keynote address on what the results mean for independent booksellers.

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Great Media Ideas You Should Consider

By Verso’s Media Department

Places We Love to Advertise Books:
.com — Home Page Advantage Pop-Up Menu — over 30,000,000 impressions for a very low $1 CPM. A great place to advertise well-known brands — our clients who publish a popular diet book loved it so much that they doubled the length of their campaign after first-wave results came in.
– Consistently a great place for books. It can nicely complement a television campaign and is extremely targeted. We have run many campaigns for everything from vampire books to children’s books, with great success.
— A good place to reach a broad audience for a relatively inexpensive CPM. News sites do a great job of increasing awareness about books in many bestselling genres, from business to fiction.
Phone Kiosks / Billboards — Phone kiosks continue to be an affordable way to advertise books. We can target by city and even by neighborhood, and kiosks start for as little as $250 each. We’ve recently secured some great deals on billboards in NY and LA—on Sunset Blvd in LA, and Times Square for as little as $40,000 for 4 weeks.
Media We Think You Should Consider:
Rolling Stone – For the first time in their history, Rolling Stone has dropped their print rates for us. We can now run a color ad for as little as $20,000 that will reach the magazine’s full 1.5 million readership. It may be known as a music magazine, but it has strong political and cultural reportage, and reader studies show that people who read Rolling Stone also read books. Haven’t seen the magazine in a while? Let your AE know and we’ll get you on comp.
The Week – A fabulous place for books. They dedicate about 10% of their edit to books, feature a different author’s favorite books each week, and reach an affluent, educated audience. We have great negotiated rates and can run an ad for as little as $8,000.
The Book – We think it’s very important to support publications and websites that review and promote books. If you aren’t aware of the New Republic’s new book offering, check it out at http://www.tnr.com/book
New Yorker  —  It’s always worth remembering that the New Yorker offers a full page 4/c ad for less than $45,000. The critics rate for a 1/3 page is about $11,000. And did you know that we can buy the New Yorker by region?
BBC.com – Another great place to reach a literary, affluent audience. We can behaviorally target to literary and entertainment enthusiasts. 74% of their users have purchased a book in the last 6 months.
Arthouse Movie Network – We feel that there’s a strong correlation between people who see movies (especially the kind of movies in the Arthouse network) and people who purchase books. And you don’t even need a produced spot to run in theaters. We can run :15 second flash ads – significantly cheaper to produce than standard broadcast quality ads – and you can run them in over 70 theaters on over 400 screens, for less than $25,000.

Places We Love to Advertise Books:

NYT_logo.com — Do you know about the “Home Page Advantage Pop-Up Menu”? It delivers over 30,000,000 impressions for a very low $1 CPM, and it’s a great place to advertise well-known brands. Our clients who publish a popular diet book loved it so much that they doubled the length of their campaign after first-wave results came in.

hulu_logo – Consistently a great place for books. It can nicely complement a television campaign and is extremely targeted. We have run many campaigns for everything from vampire books to children’s books, with great success.

cnn_fox_cbs_logos — These general news sites are not only a good place to reach a broad audience for a relatively inexpensive CPM, but they also do a great job of increasing awareness about books in many bestselling genres, from business to fiction.

Phone Kiosks / Billboards — Phone kiosks continue to be an affordable way to advertise books. We can target by city and even by neighborhood, and kiosks start for as little as $250 each. We’ve recently secured some great deals on billboards in NY and LA—on Sunset Blvd in LA, and Times Square for as little as $40,000 for 4 weeks.

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Design Notes: Simplicity Rules

By Verso’s Creative Team

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In the age of complexity, we respond to simplicity. This is as true for good ad design as it is for services like Google search and products like Apple’s iPhone. But two forces, one a legacy of print and the other from the bleeding edge of technology, are leading to more and more complex ads, and this is not necessarily a good thing. In a recent article in Ad Age, ad-effectiveness researcher Philip Sawyer observes that declining click-through rates in display ads may be stemming from increasingly complex ads.
Part of the problem is that technology allows creative departments to do so much more now than we ever could before. From expanding boxes to in-banner video to data-intensive flash tricks, it’s suddenly affordable—both in ad cost and memory cost—to produce exceedingly fancy digital ads. There’s a natural temptation to use all the tools at your disposal for every ad—as if a banner that uses 100k memory is somehow necessarily better than one that only uses 20k.  But complexity is often the enemy of communication.
But the other reason for the complexity is specific to book publishing’s history of print ads. Everybody in publishing knows that the right review in the right place can sell books. So it’s only natural that most print ads are driven by review copy—often trying to pack as many glowing reviews into a space as possible. This can be a highly successful tactic that takes full advantage of the print medium’s relatively large space and its audience’s long attention span. But that strategy must shift in the digital sphere, where ads run in a busy, ever-changing context, and where viewer attention-spans are wickedly brief.
In 2005, Sawyer was the lead analyst for a series of online-advertising-effectiveness studies that revealed that most advertisers made similar mistakes in creating online ads, almost all of which boil down to one bit of advice: “Keep It Simple.” Revisiting the survey, Sawyer found advertisers making the same mistakes in 2010 that they made in 2005. Here are Sawyer’s 7 deadly sins of digital ads:
1. They are too complex. 2. They take too long to get to the point. 3. They are ambiguous. 4. They are visually bland — or, worse, ugly. 5. They use Flash for the sake of Flash — not for a clear purpose. 6. They are often difficult, if not impossible, to read. 7. They are bereft of benefit statements.
This may explain why we occasionally see quick-and-dirty static .gifs perform better than labor-intensive flash masterpieces. When there is only one panel to work with, it imposes a discipline that fosters simplicity of approach and directness of message. And this is why some of our best performing ads did not feature quotes, but a simple free offer.
The best digital ads get right to the point, whether it’s an offer, a deal, or even if the point is simply “Critics Rave.”  Leave the details for the click through — no matter how great the adjectives nor (especially!) the lengths the reviewer goes to shower praise.

In the age of complexity, we respond to simplicity. This is as true for good ad design as it is for services like Google search and products like Apple’s iPhone. But two forces, one a legacy of print and the other from the bleeding edge of technology, are leading to more and more complex ads, and this is not necessarily a good thing. In a recent article in Ad Age, ad-effectiveness researcher Philip Sawyer observes that declining click-through rates in display ads may be stemming from increasingly complex ads.

Part of the problem is that technology allows creative departments to do so much more now than we ever could before. From expanding boxes to in-banner video to data-intensive Flash tricks, it’s suddenly affordable—both in ad cost and memory cost—to produce exceedingly fancy digital ads. There’s a natural temptation to use all the tools at your disposal for every ad—as if a banner that uses 100k memory is somehow necessarily better than one that only uses 20k. But complexity is often the enemy of communication.

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As Seen on TV: A New Approach to Advertising on Television

In spite of all the energy marketers are dedicating to harnessing the power and promise of new media, America remains a nation firmly entrenched in front of its television set.  There remains no better way to reach a large, mass audience than by advertising on this time-honored medium.  But while the incredible reach of TV advertising is alluring, the cost is often prohibitive to book publishers.  Cable channels can provide a cheaper, more targeted alternative to network buys, but even this requires a significant investment that is not always possible for publishers with large lists and limited marketing budgets.
In our ongoing search for new and more effective ways to advertise books, Verso is working with a new media partner that specializes in promotional television sponsorships. Extremely cost efficient and providing tremendous reach and frequency for a relatively small out of pocket, these “sponsorships” are essentially remnant ad space offered on a specific cable provider on a per market basis.  For example, a recent Verso campaign purchased both Verizon Fios and RCN in NYC and a different campaign purchased Comcast in San Francisco and Cox in Washington DC.  Unlike true remnant inventory the spots provided will always air between 6am to midnight.  Furthermore, our most recent campaign (targeting adults 50+) saw our spots running on highly rated and commercial programming such as Anderson Cooper 360, Larry King Live, Glenn Beck, The Dog Whisperer, Man vs. Wild, Desperate Housewives (Lifetime) and Grey’s Anatomy (Lifetime).
The chart below highlights the exceptional efficiency of these promotional buys:
Our campaigns have paid high dividends with strong returns on investment.  A December ‘09 campaign saw a $21k spend across five major markets yield $238k-worth of inventory and almost 14 million impressions.  A smaller campaign in January ’10 saw a $7k spend in a single market yield $170k worth of inventory and almost 7.8 million impressions.
The nature of the promotional model does not permit for precise demographic or program specific targeting.  However, by relinquishing this bit of control from a TV campaign we are able to dramatically expand the reach and frequency of our message.  Whether as a vehicle for expanding an existing TV campaign’s audience or as a means of getting a book with a small budget in front of an otherwise impossible number of eyeballs, promotional TV offers a unique solution for publishers.

By Dan Sharkey

In spite of all the energy marketers are dedicating to harnessing the power and promise of new media, America remains a nation firmly entrenched in front of its television set. There remains no better way to reach a large, mass audience than by advertising on this time-honored medium. But while the incredible reach of TV advertising is alluring, the cost is often prohibitive to book publishers. Cable channels can provide a cheaper, more targeted alternative to network buys, but even this requires a significant investment that is not always possible for publishers with large lists and limited marketing budgets.

In our ongoing search for new and more effective ways to advertise books, Verso is working with a new media partner that specializes in promotional television sponsorships. Extremely cost efficient and providing tremendous reach and frequency for a relatively small out of pocket, these “sponsorships” are essentially remnant ad space offered on a specific cable provider on a per market basis. For example, for one recent campaign, we purchased both Verizon Fios and RCN in NYC; for another campaign, we purchased Comcast in San Francisco and Cox in Washington DC. Unlike true remnant inventory the spots provided will always air in the strongest dayparts, between 6AM and midnight. Furthermore, our most recent campaign (targeting adults 50+) saw our spots running on highly rated and commercial programming such as Anderson Cooper 360, Larry King Live, Glenn Beck, The Dog Whisperer, Man vs. Wild, Desperate Housewives (Lifetime) and Grey’s Anatomy (Lifetime).

The chart below highlights the exceptional efficiency of these promotional buys:

CableTV_chart

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Foursquare and Beyond

Location-based marketing comes into its own
By Tom Thompson

Foursquare_logoOne of the most promising new ways to let people know about books is location-based marketing. Of course location-based marketing has been around as long as there’ve been street teams, billboards and bar coasters, but the field is opening up in exciting new directions thanks to recent innovations.

We share in the excitement for services like Foursquare that we heard from the slew of publishing industry pros who attended the recent SXSWi  conference. We think there’s a lot to explore there, from building plot-based treasure hunts on Gowalla to unlocking book-related badges on Foursquare.

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Did Anyone Notice?

We all agree that in order for an ad to be effective, it must first be seen or read. Verso and HarperCollins had a unique opportunity to learn, through the magic of actual consumer research, just what kind of impact a specific print ad had on readers.
On December 9, 2009 HarperCollins ran a full page four color ad for Michael Crichton’s novel Pirate Latitudes in The Wall Street Journal. As luck would have it, the ad was running in an issue that had been designated a “Starch”  issue. Simply put, this meant that our ad would be part of a consumer survey conducted by Starch Research in which Journal readers who agreed to cooperate would be asked about their reactions to each of the ads in the designated issue. It is not often that we are able to participate in this kind of study and so we anxiously looked forward to what might be revealed to us. As it turned out we had to wait a couple of months for the completion of interviews and compilation of the information, but we were delighted with the results.
Out of the 51 ads in that day’s paper, the one for Pirate Latitudes ranked #19 in the category of “remembered the ad on their own and commented on it.” This put us 10% above index (110). Not bad. But as the interviews focused more intently on the content of the ad, Pirate Latitudes pulled ahead of the pack. In the area of “Read Some” (people interviewed who read any part of the ad’s copy) we indexed 121, the fourth highest rank among all the advertisers. And in “Read Most” (people interviewed who read half or more of the written material in the ad) we indexed 121 for a ranking of number 2!
But what made the study even more interesting were the reader comments. When asked “Which ad was your favorite and why?” the Harper ad received accolades! Herewith a sampling:
“It’s a great ad and a great author. The color stands out…the bold print is easy to read.”
“It’s big and colorful. The book must be a good read!”
The lesson seems to be that the best way to get the notice of consumers in print is with compelling graphics and  engaging copy, and that in a world full of products vying for our attention this is how we might have an impact on the decisions of potential purchasers. Book publishers, after all, excel at giving readers a deeply satisfying immersive experience. Their print ads should aim for the deepest level of reader engagement as well.

By Michael Kazan

#f8981d" title="PirateLatitudes" src="http://www.versoadvertising.com/inverso/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/PirateLatitudes.jpg" alt="PirateLatitudes" width="285" height="518" srcset="http://www.versoadvertising.com/inverso/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/PirateLatitudes.jpg 285w, http://www.versoadvertising.com/inverso/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/PirateLatitudes-165x300.jpg 165w" sizes="(max-width: 285px) 100vw, 285px" />We all agree that in order for an ad to be effective, it must first be seen or read. Verso and HarperCollins had a unique opportunity to learn, through the magic of actual consumer research, just what kind of impact a specific print ad had on readers.

On December 9, 2009 HarperCollins ran a full page four color ad for Michael Crichton’s novel Pirate Latitudes in The Wall Street Journal. As luck would have it, the ad was running in an issue that had been designated a “Starch” issue. Simply put, this meant that our ad would be part of a consumer survey conducted by Starch Research in which Journal readers who agreed to cooperate would be asked about their reactions to each of the ads in the designated issue. It is not often that we are able to participate in this kind of study and so we anxiously looked forward to what might be revealed to us. As it turned out, we had to wait a couple of months for the completion of interviews and compilation of the information, but we were delighted with the results.

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Verso Reader Survey at the ABA’s Winter Institute

We were honored that the American Bookseller Association asked our own Jack McKeown (alias @bookateur) to present the keynote at this year’s  Winter Institute — and excited at the chance to expand on the “Indie Mindshare vs. Marketshare” meme that is developing out of the first Verso Survey of Book-Buying Behavior. After the great conversations that started at Digital Book World, we knew independent bookstores would have a lot to say about our results. And did they ever! The twitter activity was off the charts and is still rolling a week later (thanks to @jchristie for creating the archive). See below for a small sampling of Winter Institute press and tweets that mention Verso’s Survey.

Some of the Press

Bookselling This Week wrote, “For 90 minutes on Thursday morning at the Winter Institute, booksellers zeroed in on the provocative aspects of consumer demographics and book-buying preferences offered by Jack McKeown…”

The day after the keynote, Shelf Awareness called it a “well-received breakfast keynote [that] many booksellers said gave them both hope and ideas for concrete action.”

Publishers Weekly reported that “Jack McKeown’s keynote on Verso Advertising’s survey of consumer book-buying habits was a relief . . . [highlighting] potential opportunities for independents to be in the digital space.”

In their wrap-up of the Winter Institute, Shelf Awareness wrote, “After the first day of sessions on technological trends, many booksellers felt overwhelmed and feared an e-future that would bypass bookstores. But the next morning, the mood changed, beginning with a presentation by Jack McKeown…”

The news was even picked up in Australia. From the PNP Booksellers Blog: “Even though [the Verso Survey] was about US readers there is a tonne of relevant information for the Australian market…..”

Some of the hundreds of Tweets

Verso’s stats about indie mindshare are definitely heartening #dbw  [full results here: http://bit.ly/bR5WEQ ] –@vsandbrook, 2/11/10

Thoughts from #WI5: from the Verso survey: How can indies convert mindshare into marketshare? — @corpuslibris, 2/9/10

RT @permanentpaper Reader stats A+ RT @DBerthiaume: Complete #WI5 presentation Verso survey results http://www.versoadvertising.com/survey  –@WNBA_NATIONAL 2/8/10

Hey indies! RT @DBerthiaume Complete #WI5 slide presentation of Verso survey results now up at http://www.versoadvertising.com/survey/ — @vertigobooks 2/8/10

Beyond thrilled to be hearing ebook convo based on DATA, not just feelings and anecdotes. Many thanks to @bookateur. #Wi5 /via @bookavore  @oblongirl 2/5/10

RT @BooksellersNZ: #Wi5 check out www.versoadvertsing.com/survey for insightful research of importance to booksellers — @KatMeyer 2/5/10

Feel much more encouraged & excited on #wi5 day two! :) — @AvidBookshop 2/4/10 (tweeted after Verso Survey Presentation)

Over 45% of males 18-34 download pirated copies. Bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? #wi5 — @yrstrulyREL 2/4/10

Hooray, data bears out that a large chunk of people are interested in bundling. Hope pubs saw this at DBW. #Wi5 — @bookavore, 2/4/10

RT @AvidBookshop: Thinking the same!RT @bookavore: Search engine marketing needs to be priority for indies. Good thing I went to a panel on it yesterday. #Wi5 –@JogglingBoard, 2/4/10

RT @bookavore: “Think about older market as cash cow to pay for experimentation with younger market.” #Wi5 –@NVbibliophile, 2/4/10

Interestingly, much of @bookateur’s #wi5 keynote applies to niche publishing, too. “Community, convenience and price.” –@glecharles, 2/4/10

Cannot tell last time I’ve seen “hissy fit” in PowerPoint. <3 @bookateur. Good job doing #s in early AM. #wi5 –@SarahRettger, 2/4/10