Monthly Archives: April 2009

Have You Earned Your Media Today?

“All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.”
–Robert Hass, “Meditation at Lagunas”

For marketing departments, all the new thinking is about “earned media,” which means social networks like Facebook and Twitter. For publishers this resembles all the old thinking about “earned media,” meaning book reviews. The old saw is ads don’t sell books, reviews do. Of course, ads and reviews in fact support each other—they’re not mutually exclusive—but that idea never gained much traction in traditional publishing circles. (Even though the most commercially successful books tend to be those with bigger ad budgets and no review coverage; but I digress…)

However you stand on ads versus reviews, the old saw doesn’t cut it anymore because major book review pages are declining precipitously. Publishers Lunch reports that review coverage from 1st quarter 2008 to 1st quarter 2009 fell 14%. Further, 2009 review coverage is down 18% compared to 2005, and 24% compared to 2004. At the same time that books are losing exposure in major print media, ad budgets are naturally getting slashed. In this environment, online advertising makes a lot of sense. You can target customers in new ways, and even build new audiences by targeting vertically by interest. Ad networks like the Verso Reader Channels make this easy to do for a small investment.

Social media is a crucial piece of any online marketing plan. It is beyond its “inflection point;” sites like Facebook are now part of the fabric of our daily interactions. Facebook already has 55 million active users in the U.S. alone, and more every day. Most importantly to book publishers, the fastest growing FB demographic is age 30+. In just the last two months, the largest demographic over all has become 35+, taking over from 18-34. So it’s very important that authors and titles have presence on some kind of social media –especially Facebook and/or Twitter. Similarly important for selling books, the highest indexing group on Twitter is now the 45-54 demographic—that’s the demo we need to sell $35 hardcovers.

So we agree with the talk at last week’s Ad Age conference about the importance of social media. But we disagree about the terms.  Continue reading

Context Matters — New Research on Display Ad Effectiveness

Paid Content reports that a new UK study shows how “specialist sites are more effective than general-interest sites for ad delivery.” 

73% of specialist site users say they pay attention to ads on those sites. But the news is much different for “large” websites, where just 12 percent of visitors often look at ads. 

While the report does not speculate on the reason for this difference, the meaning is clear. Display ads still work… if you run them in the right places. As specialist sites rise in importance for every interest from politics to crafting, military history to romance and more, the idea of “mass marketing” becomes less important than reaching the right aggregation of niche sites. As Jeff Jarvis argues in his book, What Would Google Do?, “The mass market is dead—long live the mass of niches.”

From the Wacky World of Broadcast

Verso’s broadcast buying partners, ever on the prowl for great opportunities and bargains, have provided us with a good overview of the current state of radio and TV: 

First and foremost: if you think you can’t afford it, you might very well be wrong! Some of the highest rated shows are willing to come way down from their sky-high prices. This is not to say that you’re going to get on the Superbowl for $10,000, but the bargains are out there and if there’s a program that you think might be perfect for your next big book, it never hurts to ask. Radio and TV alike. 

Secondly: timing is important. We have recently taken advantage of huge discounts that were offered to us for national spots on the Today Show and Evening News. Remember: it’s all about supply and demand. 

Just in case you were wondering: reality shows and awards shows still top the ratings in Network Programming (we’re looking at the week of 2/2/09). On cable, TNT’s The Closer is rated #1, but USA continues to dominate the Top 10 with Wrestling, Burn Notice and NCIS.

Finding the ideal reader for each book: The advantages of GEO-TARGETING on the Internet

Sometimes we dismiss the Web, with its hundreds of millions of users stretching across cyberspace, when we want a more localized, regional campaign. But technology allows us countless ways to target the user, including geographically.

Through our partnership with Burst Media, we can serve an ad to people living in a particular city, state, or part of the country. We can change the message, change the market, and change the timing according to the specific goals of the campaign.  And we can do this for our usual low cpm, reaching potential book-buyers much more cost-efficiently than with multiple print ads in regional newspapers. 

As with all of the Verso Reader Channel campaigns, you will receive full site-level reporting on a variety of measures and complete transparency.  CPM’s vary per market, but small campaigns could be effective for as little as $3500. Let us know if you’d like to see a schedule!

The Beautiful Struggle

written by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

Many in the publishing crowd recently enjoyed Ta-Nehisi Coates’ reading from his memoir, The Beautiful Struggle at PAMA’s cocktail party hosted by The Atlantic. Our very own Dan Sharkey was inspired to read the book!

When your desk is overflowing with books of every variety it takes a truly special case to stand out, but Ta-Nehisi Coates’ memoir did just that. From the opening page I was in awe of this young author.

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This novel is powerful on so many levels. A driving lyricism draws you in from the start as the poetic prose dances with beat box rhythms. An unguarded honesty gives the narrative weight as it lays bare the universal struggles of a child on the cusp of adulthood. And in both aspects it soars. And for both aspects this book could be written about any time and any place and still resonate. But it doesn’t take place just anywhere.

Our author didn’t find his way in some faceless city or tucked away suburb. Instead he grew up in Baltimore, on the West Side—in the dark heart of the American dream. He grew up at a time when crack rock was sweeping through the community like a plague—leaving bodies in the streets and kids on the corner. He grew up in place that poverty and violence seemed determined to erase from history. And so this story is all the more affecting for surviving in the face of such odds.

But just as the Coates family fits no easy mold so too does this novel defy convention at every turn. No ghetto cliché or gangbanging morality tale could contain the rare power of Coates’ voice. There are no easy answers and no expected turns. Instead readers are treated to a masterfully written portrait of a family struggling as best they can against a world gone mad.