Kliger: We Can Make It Faster, Cheaper To Place Print Ads

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NEW YORK ( -- Jack Kliger is wasting no time settling into his new role as chairman of Magazine Publishers of America. His ambitions for the magazine industry include getting publishers to stop bashing each other and sell the strengths of magazines, and now he wants cooperation among publishers to go even further. He’d like to establish a one-order-one-bill system for consumer magazines that will eliminate the reams of paper that currently move back and forth between media agencies and magazine sales staffs.

Jack Kliger

“It is much more cumbersome and costly for advertisers to do business with magazines than to advertise in other media,” said Mr. Kliger -- who is also president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. -- in a recent breakfast address hosted by the MPA. “It is much more efficient and profitable for advertising agencies to deploy budgets in electronic media than in magazines. Technology gives us an opportunity to create systems that make it faster and cheaper to place advertising in magazines.”

“Many publishing executives’ eyes glaze over when we talk about this subject,” Mr. Kliger added. “That is a major mistake.”

Magazine publishers have spent innumerable moments sweating over the new digital world, which among other things has drawn ad revenue to the Web and away from printed fare. Shouldn’t magazines find anything productive in technology's march?

Sure, they have used digitized printing processes to eliminate old “bleed” costs for ads that reach page borders -- while still charging advertisers extra for it. But maybe there’s an application that would actually engender good will from advertisers: eliminating the reams of paperwork it takes to place, track and pay for a magazine ad buy.

As things stand -- and have stood for decades -- physical paperwork is required to reserve space, send creative work, confirm that it arrived, prove that it ran and pay the bill.

“It creates an extra clerical staff to manage,” said Steve Greenberger, senior VP-strategic marketing officer, DJG Marketing. Simplifying the process, as the cable and newspaper industries have done, is “overdue” for magazines.

The Newspaper National Network, after all, was established for just that purpose -- in 1994. The Newspaper Association of America and participating newspapers wanted to answer declining national advertising with a one-stop shop for marketers.

No gold mine
Eleven years later, said Jason E. Klein, president-CEO, “We’re bringing a simplified and discounted price structure forward to compete with other industries.” It isn’t a gold mine; revenues top just $200 million. But it includes papers owned by Knight Ridder, Gannett, Tribune Co., Cox Newspapers and The New York Times Co. The only big company not involved is Dow Jones.

Whether cutthroat magazine competitors would unite in a similar way is unlikely, Mr. Klein said. “To ever get Golf [from Time Inc.’s Time4 Media] and Golf Digest [from the Golf Digest Cos. division of Conde Nast Publications] to be represented by a single effort unless there’s single ownership would be very difficult,” he said.

In an interview after his speech, Mr. Kliger said the system he envisions would take hold after advertisers selected their media buys. “I’m not talking about selling as a united network,” he said. “This all takes place once the sales decisions have been made and then it’s all the process of ordering, placing and paying for the advertising. We should be able to do it in a much more efficient and profitable manner for parties involved.”

The nonprofit IDEAlliance -- an association of media, information, printing, production and other interested companies -- has wrestled with the right way to streamline the process, but is making progress, Mr. Kliger said. “I’m very interested in pushing this further up the agenda at the industry level.”

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