Preparing to attend this year's American Magazine Conference, which starts this Sunday in Boca, I analyzed the agenda. Despite a ridiculous theme -- the MagaBrand? Really? -- it's a pretty good lineup, recognizing publishers' awareness of how much their world has changed. In past meetings, it has somehow felt like TV or online execs were brought in so publishers could scrutinize the enemy up close or ponder tacking on a "new media" wing to their print castles.
I'm not sure quite when, but somewhere along the line the phrase "media neutrality" became synonymous with "digital bias." Nothing wrong with digital bias, really. The sustaining concept behind "When Trains Fly" is the exploration and development of new business models to replace those disrupted by digital technology. But an overly aggressive bias towards all things digital could pose more of a threat to traditional media businesses than necessary.
There's never been a better time to be an also-ran. That's the thought that occurred as I read this story about the CW network's new "cwickies" ad format. It describes various innovations at the CW -- innovations of the kind broadcast's Big Four have resisted. What the piece also implies, but doesn't say directly, is that CW can do things its much-larger rivals can't because it has less to lose; it draws fewer viewers, and has fewer advertisers. But less to lose also means more to gain.
For many many years, Bob Coen of (what is now) Universal McCann was essentially the ad industry's forecasting guru, never mind that his predictions often had to be revisited and revised. Then others got into the fortune-telling game, and now there are at least three industry soothsayers vying for attention. And they're getting it, from the business and from the media, Ad Age included.