I can live with (and occasionally appreciate) the online ads, and have no heartburn about registering as a reader if it will help you folks court and secure advertisers in order to keep the e-zine "free".
Don't don't don't have a subscription online mag, no one will visit it. What would help more is to use advertisers maney and build a larger advertiser database. I tried looking up electric gloves and socks on your sight and had to look elsewhere to fing a link. Help all of their potential customers and your advertisers by a better product search and find engine.
Our click-through rates are almost an order of magnitude higher than industry standard, all the OEMs seems pleased with the stellar results. That's not the problem, the problem is that ad in other mediums are almost completely un-auditable. Print industry "starch" tests show that you're lucky if 1/3rd of the print circulation base sees an ad (let alone does anything about it). Considering that print mags start at about 75 CPM ($75 per 1000 circulation), and only an average of a third of the circulation sees an ad, that's an effective CPM of $225. MO is $25 CPM per 1000 ads displayed, and we can target people to see ad X number of times, track their results or call-to-actions, and give advertisers exact results on how many times a story was read.
To combat this, print magazines release what I feel to be knowingly rediculous and downright silly "pass-through" numbers. So, if MO logs over a million reader sessions (which equalls close to 600,000 different people), a print mag with a circulation much smaller than ours says that each one of their magazines are read by seven different people, so their claimed circulation is 7x what their audits say. None of which includes people like me that get about 10 magazines (many are, strangely, sent to me for free) and read none of them, let alone seven times. And the industry buys into this. Nor do we release that our last reader survey showed that our readership printed out/e-mailed MO stories to an average of three people, or a "pass-through" of 3x. You can't truly measure this, and it shouldn't be used, reported or even considered, but it is.
While I agree that putting, for instance, Tide ads on the cover of Yahoo! (or any ads on a portal in our experience) gives poor results -- they're lucky to get 0.1% click-through -- MO averages about 2.4% click-through for run-of-content ads, and we're seeing some of them in the 20+% range. Clearly, running niche ads in niche markets that're further subdivided/targeted down to the individuals' likes are highly effective. Thus, the underlying problem in this situation are three-fold: First, running branding ads in general-interest mediums aren't really effective in an individual sale scenario -- that's why they're designed to build brand identity, certainly an important task -- but you can't really measure this in print, TV and radio, while you can online. Second, we're up against the established medium who are telling peole that the new medium doesn't work (which, with our results over the past seven years, we feel we've proven do, and again, the OEs don't debate this with us), and third -- this is the real killer for MO -- where do you think old moto-journalists go when they're done writing? Ad agencies and PR. In many cases, they float back and forth betwee PR/magazines. At over half of the large companies we currently target, we're dealing with ex-print peole that're seemingly stuck in their "glory years" of paper publishing, and are extremely resistent to change.
I think we didn't make our point with this thread: More advertising is almost impossible, as the marketing arms of the manufacturers don't return our calls and when they do, what we hear from the OEMs in terms of budget levels differs greatly from what their ad agencies tell us. We're not sure where the incongruity stems from, as we can't get straight answers from anyone.
Thanks for the tips! Some responses/reasons why we do things our way:
Changing looks (ala news.mo) doesn't help readership. News.MO is a small fraction of the traffic of www.mo. Thus, the opinions here are different from the majority of MO readers (getting their opinions is much harder), probably much more progressive and more 'Net-savvy. The majority of MO readers read us for the multi-bike shootout and First-Ride features, want to download and watch some videos, 85% of them don't post/read here, and get upset when we change things from their familiar MO (which hasn't changed looks since 1995. Pathetic, eh?).
That said, a major redesign of www.mo is underway with cutting-edge features and customization. Part of the problem is that serving 1000+ concurrent (news.mo is roughly 14% of our traffic, and sees a peak of about 250 active readers, so we can expect close to 3000 total between www.mo and news.mo, that's a lot!), dynamically-generated/custom look pages requires big iron, and fast, parrellized databases with dynamic load direction. We can't afford to drop six figures on vendor-supplied computers. Hackfu
and I just finished installing three big servers and two load-directors, with one more server to be completed. (Installing RAID arrays, replicating SQL databases, writing routing rules and SQL-based web pages isn't what I envisioned when I started MO in early '94! Can you say "yawn?")
The Vietnam story was cool, but the amount of re-writing, editing and arranging for quality photography and scanning/laying out a features a day from readers would require two more staffers here. It is incredibly time consuming, and I, as Editor-in-Chief, don't even have time to edit our own staff-generated features or those from our regular, quality stringers (who're pretty self-sufficient).
We're working hard on more product reviews. This is sorely needed. We've known we sucked in this area for a long time.
We already have a huge classifieds section.
We dumped the TechBBS in 1996 because of the massive volumes of questions. We couldn't keep up with it, nor could the people we contracted to do it. This would be a full-time job here.
Similarly, finding e-mail addresses for MO is purposely hard, I, for one, already get a couple thousand a day, it's impossible to keep up with. The idea here was that people could interact with one and other for support, but that doesn't seem acceptable, so I've added a link to our e-mail form in the "Main Menu" to your left. The problem is, we can't respond to most of them, which stinks.
I also added a direct link for registered users to change their password.
i'd be willing to pay a subscription fee for a quality product. i pay for the magazines. why should i expect to receive what you provide for free?
however, i agree with some of your readers who ask for greater breadth and depth of content, especially if we are asked to pay. so far, i've had no complaints about the value of the product you provide. i might feel otherwise if there were a fee inlolved.
sure, it would be great if you could generate enough advertising revenue to cover all your expenses and provide you with a living as well. however, it's naive for anyone to suggest that you "go out and get more ad money." believe it or not fellow readers, advertisers have limited budgets. they also tend to be a bit timid when it comes to spending money outside the conventional audience delivery vehicles.
giving up a page or two in the major print magazines in order to pay for a presence online can be hard to justify for advertisers. the more they run in the print mags, the more they receive in page-cost discounts as well merchandising.
in the real world, where people are not just managing ad budgets, but their own careers, borrowing money from the conventional to afford the unconventional can be a hard sell to the people to whom the ad managers report. especially when they believe, justifiably, that the people who are reading online sites are also reading the magazines.
i'm not defending the behavior, just telling it like it is.
so, if i had to make a choice between saying goodbye to m.o. or paying a few bucks to keep it alive, and improving, then i'm up for paying.
I like more advertising, I subscribe to a Canadian MC magazine(print} and I think I read most of the ads and often purchase the products. I would like acceleation times and passing times and distances as well as the subjective stuff. Read your review on zen and the art of motorcycl maintenance and bought the book and am enjoying it greatly.
Ads; I say develope a side program of becoming the webs best online motorcycle parts dealer ever, with web based micro-fishes (you know what they are, I just can't spell) And the ability to sell OEM and aftermarket parts at great prices even after the cost of shipping is added.
I really get kinda ticked off the way most shipping is done with UPS and Fed Ex compared to what actual costs might have been sending stuff USPS
There's one fundamental part of this equation that has yet to be mentioned (or maybe I missed it). When you subscribe to, or buy, a printed magazine, you have something to hold and keep. When you subscribe to an online magazine the product is not really yours, is it?
I still have old Motorcyclist, Cycle World, and Cycle magazines laying about, but how long would I be able to keep my copy of MO?
When you think about it in this framework, what you're really talking about here is a rental or leasing opportunity.
Unless you plan on keeping a user database full of every page, or "volume/issue", purchased then I don't see the buyer's value in this model.
Two excellent comments, indeed. And one not lost on MO, or me -- back when MO was just me in 1994, MO had the first use of onboard MPEG video at an "e-zine," possibly the first anywhere. Coded them by hand, frame-by-frame with the Berkeley MPEG encoder. Did the same, line-by-line, with the VRMLs I did for a manufacturer back then, and plopping bikes around 16X3 times for QuicktimeVRs wasn't much fun without an automatic dias...
But I digress. Today, we've served terabytes of video data, and it's extremely costly. I'm not sure if many netizens realize the cost of multiple, redundant, load-balanced connections and the server farm behind it, but it's significant. Hence, yes, there hasn't been an increase in frequency of multimedia aspects @MO since we first launched videos some six years ago. We severely limit the amount of users at our FTP site (60 max) because we'd be at max bandwidth 24x7, and slow as heck for the HTML story reading that is our bread and butter.
So, the question remains: How do we capitolize on this large and (despite the flames we see here from a very vocal subset of whiners) highly loyal readership we maintain? MO remains the largest motorcycling site on the 'Net, and according to MM, the "stickiest" of all automotive sites. A good accomplishment, except that it's about midnight and I'm still working. A short day, actually, and that reaches to the heart of the problem.
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