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Media-Buying Exec Underscores Importance of Digital vs. Print

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NEW YORK ( -- Renetta McCann, CEO of Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, warned some of the world's most senior print publishing industry executives yesterday that their future depends on adapting content for delivery via the screen.
The most talked about speech of the opening day of the FIPP conference was that by Renetta McCann, CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group.

Electronic delivery
Speaking at the International Federation of Periodical and Press (FIPP) World Magazine Congress at Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria, Ms. McCann offered a vision of tomorrow for magazines, calling on the industry to create content for delivery by a variety of the electronic devices; to be able to digitally deliver titles that can be adapted and reconfigured by consumers; and to be able to predict, based on previously read stories, interest in upcoming specials and promote them through text-messaging or e-mail.

"Pay particular attention to the explosion of wireless devices and DVRs, the growth of on-demand and the saturation of broadband. Screens, screens, screens. ... We believe that consumers will engage with content primarily through these screens."

Speech generated buzz
The speech was the most talked about event of the day, as attendees expressed surprise at how far behind the magazine industry appeared to be compared to the music or TV industries, which already have been modifying content for delivery over fiber optics or wireless. For instance, U.S. cable systems operator Cablevision offers a service called "Mag Rack," which essentially provides content about special niches using digitally delivered video-on-demand.

While Ms. McCann acknowledged her message about the screen-based future might not be palatable to delegates at the FIPP, she had some positive news about how magazines can thrive in the new world order.

"I believe the success of magazines can and will be achieved. But it will pivot on three deliverables: engagement; connectivity, which moves you toward addressability; and accountability." Ms. McCann said her firm's own survey showed the extent to which consumers were already engaged with magazines. In one study, 36 women and teens flipped through magazines and were told to pull out what was most valuable to them. One third of the pages were advertisements. Ms. McCann said she wants the magazine industry to delve even deeper to provide information about recall, brand association and readership.

Not blurring editorial lines
The aim at Starcom MediaVest Group is to marry advertising clients with magazine projects that speak in the voice of the magazine delivering it, she said. "Let me be clear here. We are not interested in making ads that blur the lines of editorial. Instead we seek a voice and tone that will resonate and be consistent to the reader." The aim, Ms. McCann said, is to make content more personal and individual. "That means, in the long term, you're going to have to figure out how to give magazines more of a screen-based entry point for consumers."

Ms. McCann urged consumers to consider such things as "mobisodes" -- video clips delivered to mobile phones -- and the September Fashion Week issue of Vogue that drove readers to the Web site for discounts.

"Can your food editors present one-minute recipes or cooking tips?" she asked. "Can your health experts create one-minute relaxation or exercise programs?"

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