Clearing the air and getting a view of the future

Brian Fuller today provides a bit more clarity in the decision process for the layoffs at Techinsights that included Rich Wallace, Loring Wirbel and most of the event staff.  Brian, talking with Techinsights CEO Paul Miller, said the reason behind the move is not because the company isn't profitable, which is is, but because 2009 looks really awful.  Most of the time layoffs follow really bad quarters.  Now we're laying off people because the future doesn't look all that great.  Talk about a pessimistic world view.

But there is good news out there.  Last week Hearst Business announced an increase in their distribution - a big increase of 35,000 - in 2008.  So I looked at the ABC Publisher’s Statement and thought I saw something hinky.  Earlier this year Hearst offered a bunch of people digital subscriptions (pdf, not print) and according to the audit, 35,000 people were chosen for such market coverage copies, including me.  But none of those subscribers were considered as the traditional “qualified” terminology.

“Qualified” means the subscriber filled out the survey that shows how important they are to the industry as relates to their buying power.  Magazines that give away subscriptions use that information to base their decision of who gets the subscription, but more importantly to prove to advertisers how many important buyers get the pub and, therefore, justify the advertising rates.

So since the 35,000 new subscribers weren't “qualified”, why were they important?  So I contacted Barry Green, VP of Circulation.  Barry says I was absolutely correct.  In the old paradigm, these weren't important numbers.  But they are - under a new paradigm and conceptually different definitions.

"As we headed into 2008," Barry wrote back, "we realized that there is almost a finite number of design engineers that can reasonably and economically be incorporated into qualified circulation totals in print or digital/electronic format.  However, knowing that we have tens of thousands of users of our EE websites' informational resources and they have furnished their demographic qualifications to be allowed to acces such valuable data, we decided to offer special targeted digital copies to those users who specify electronic products that are manufactured by our advertisers who are looking to reach them with their messages.  We demographically selected qualified members of the EP/HEG audience database in order to cover the market for the sponsor, but since they are specially selected each issue by specified, varying demographics, we could not include them in the month by month figures as being “qualified” because of the revolving nature of these records and strict audit rules.


"For 2008, we have been distributing over 158,000 copies of EP in the combination of EP printed issues and digital copies.  We can definitely state that we certainly "know who is reading the publication" and can actually furnish the demographics of all of our recipients but felt it would be overkill to have an extra crosscount on the back of the statement.”

To put all that in simple terms, the 35,000 new readers were qualified directly by the advertisers.  The readers are the very people the advertisers wanted to reach.

This is the very thing we established New Tech Press for.  Mass media is, by definition, communication with masses of people.  But in the high tech world, there are very small audiences for each company.  Maybe 5000, maybe 500.  And those companies know exactly who it is they want to reach.  So it really doesn't matter how large an audience a magazine gets to as long as it reaches the right audience.

I'm glad Hearst has figured this out.  It gives me hope for the future.