Book Business Outlook For 2012: Hard Work Ahead

This week hundreds of us in and around the book industry will converge on Digital Book World 2012 (#DBW12). It's a conference that has risen in significance because this industry has rapidly come to understand that it is uniquely susceptible to digitization -- and poised to benefit from it -- in a way that other media are not.

This awareness has translated into relative optimism among publishers. As I'll share with the DBW12 audience on Tuesday morning, we recently conducted a survey with Digital Book World of publishing executives whose companies together earn 74% of all US trade publishing revenues. As we closed out 2011, 82% of publishing executives we surveyed were optimistic about the digital transition. That's a large number, even if it's smaller than the 89% it was a year ago. But when we take into account all the measures of optimism we threw at them -- about the industry in general, about the fortunes of readers, and the importance of their own roles -- most of them decreased somewhat and some decreased significantly. 

Most tellingly, only 28% of these executives thought their own company would be stronger in the future because of digital compared to 51% who agreed with this sentiment the prior year. This suggests that publishers have started to do the hard work of making the digital transition and they're finding that it is, indeed, hard work. It's worth putting ourselves in the shoes of these publishing industry product strategists for a moment to consider just why they aren't positive that their companies are going to come out better off. I see three reasons:

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CMOs Who Kick Bad Habits For Adaptive Habits Are Stronger Performers

What does it take for CMOs to transition the organization from the well-known to the unknown? At Forrester, we call it adaptive marketing. In previous research, we identified the five habits of adaptive marketers. But many CMOs ask whether the destination is worth the journey.

Another way of putting it: What’s the implication of doing things the way they’ve always been done?

That’s the question Forrester sought to understand when we fielded a study in collaboration with The CMO Club to understand how well CMOs have developed capabilities that enable them to nimbly adjust to changing consumer behavior and market conditions.

You can read more about the findings of the study in the CMO Strategy section of Advertising Age.

Here’s the top line:

  • The vast majority of marketers are still struggling to adapt. Seventy-eight percent of marketing leaders are having difficulty with transforming their organization to embrace the habits of adaptive marketers.
  • Marketers who embrace adaptive habits report higher performance. (See chart below.)
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Have You Taken A Stand On gTLDs?

The window to apply for a dot-brand or dot-category generic top-level domain (gTLD) opens on Thursday, January 12th. Have you driven your company to a decision on what to do? 

Many of the 50-plus marketing leaders I've talked with about this program in the past six months still haven't figured out what they would do with a domain registry but are concerned about another applicant getting their string. This is a very real concern, and I have addressed this and several of the other most frequent questions I've been getting on this topic in my recent report, "It's Decision Time For gTLDs."

So if you don't have your gTLD application ready to submit, what should you do now? First off, don't get so stuck in the hype about the risk of cybersquatters or of someone else getting your dot-brand. Stick to the advice we gave back in June to evaluate this opportunity strategically, looking at what new business initiatives or models you could deploy with the ability to own and operate a registry.

It is not for everyone. In fact, of the 50 companies I've talked with, fewer than 15 have a strategic initiative in mind for gTLDs. It seems like a no-brainer for a pure web-based business, but what about the brick and mortars? Is the Internet core to how you do business? How you attract, sell to, and service customers? How do you distribute your products and services? What about your supply chain? If these questions are relevant, then you need to be taking a closer look.

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2012 Super Bowl Heralds Change In Video And TV Marketing Strategy

NBC recently announced that it would be streaming its coverage of the 2012 NFL Super Bowl online. NBC has streamed big events before (2010 Olympics, Sunday Night Football), but the big difference here is that it is selling video ads that will run exclusively on the online stream independently of the TV broadcast. This is a huge step for NBC as an ad seller since it is recognizing its untapped online audience and attempting to monetize it. Although the Super Bowl streams (restricted to the US only) are expected to greatly pale in comparison to linear TV viewership, Forrester expects the streaming audience of the Super Bowl to grow dramatically in years to come.

2011 has seen some major change in advertising. Although TV is still king, there’s no denying that online video, across a wide variety of devices, is experiencing strong growth. TV advertisers must now contend with smartphones, computers, and tablets as alternative sources of premium video content for engaging viewers with targeted ads. 

As media fragmentation increases, marketers will need to rethink their strategies and start to look at online video and TV as two sides of the same coin. In our latest report, “Why Marketers Must Integrate TV And Video Strategies” (subscription required), we make the case that marketers will merge their online video and TV advertising teams to more efficiently reach their audience across whatever screen they happen to be watching. Next month, our VP Practice Leader, David Cooperstein, will be speaking at the ANA TV & Everything Video Forum in New York about how marketers’ attitudes and strategies are shifting in the face of this new media convergence.

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