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Recent happenings


No Cutting Corners on the iPhone X

February 5, 2018   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

Brad Ellis at Medium explaining when a circle is not a circle:

Here’s where the nerd part comes in, iPhone X rounded screen corners don’t use the classic rounding method where you move in a straight line and then arc using a single quadrant of a circle. Instead, the math is a bit more complicated. Commonly called a squircle, the slope starts sooner, but is more gentle. […] Overall, these decisions seem minor, but from a design viewpoint they’re fairly opinionated. Even when designers are willing to spend social capital to push these ideas, most organizations won’t put resources behind them.

The 3 Hard Truths Publishers Must Face in 2018

February 5, 2018   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Keith Sibson writing for Publishing Executive:

Truth #1: Facebook Is Not Your Friend. […]
Chasing platform traffic isn’t viable in the long term when it leads publishers to commit to a strategy likely to be rendered irrelevant by the next Facebook algorithm tweak. Publishers are left with large “audiences” they can’t directly reach, while being in an industry increasingly reliant on meaningful audience engagement. […]

Truth #2: Ad Revenue Won’t Be Enough to Sustain Quality Publishers. […]
The past year also saw many publishers combat declining ad revenue by monetizing their audience directly with a paywall. Still, if publishers want to drive revenue from their audience, they must build strong relationships with that audience first. […]

Truth #3: Publishers Must Choose Between Pursuing Quality and Chasing Scale. […]
Publishers can enlist themselves in the fight for fleeting attention with mass-produced content, or they can align themselves fully with a (smaller) audience, pursue subscription revenue models, and then devote themselves to creating content those audiences are passionate enough to pay for.

2018 Creative Trends

January 18, 2018   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Shutterstock is out with their creative trends for 2018. These design ideas to watch are based on search and download data to find the biggest year-over-year changes. The top three trends are Fantasy ("from mythical beasts to magical landscapes, symbols and styles"), New Minimalism ("beyond crisp, clean lines to feature bold, vibrant colors and fluid styles") and Space ("awe-inspiring galactic beauty and a darker, more dystopian feel"). Their "One to Watch" is Holographic Foil — searches for that glitzy '80s aesthetic have jumped 435% at Shutterstock. Other trends include Natural Luxury, Punchy Pastels, A Global March, Cactus, Digital Crafts, Ancient Geometrics and Cryptocurrency.

Why Good Old-Fashioned Physical Marketing Can Still Be Incredibly Creative

January 4, 2018   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Nicola Brown at

Psychological research tends to suggest that constraints make us more creative. Ironically, the more creative tools we have at our disposal, the less creative we tend to be with them.

In a recent experiment, researchers the University of Illinois and Johns Hopkins University found that those who were primed to think about a problem from a scarcity-of-resources mindset came up with more creative solutions than those in the abundance-of-resources mindset. They concluded that when people have an abundance of resources, they have no incentive to use what’s available to them in novel ways.

So the “limitations” of the print medium in a digital age may actually be a driver of creative success. From newspaper ads, direct mail, and billboards to shareable photo opportunities, some of the past year’s most memorable campaigns revealed that the most out-of-the-box creative thinking often comes from grappling with the constraints of a singular, traditional format.

Jony Ive's Perfect Magazine Is One with No Content

November 10, 2017   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive is something of a legend in Silicon Valley. He’s the man whose golden touch is credited with the iconic designs of some of Apple’s most successful products, like the iPhone, iPod, and iMac.

But while Ive is very good at designing cutting-edge technology, it seems that he cannot do the same for a magazine cover. I mean this in the literal sense: when presented the opportunity to design a “limited edition” cover for Wallpaper magazine, Ive seems to have drawn a blank.

The magazine cover is meant to coincide with an extensive interview Wallpaper — which covers architecture, design, and art — conducted with Ive on the subject of the new Apple Park building and the iPhone X. But you wouldn’t be able to tell that from the cover. With the exception of a converting Wallpaper’s ordinarily black logo to a retro Apple-inspired rainbow, there’s no way of actually knowing that this interview is inside. […]

In the case of Ive’s magazine cover — an object that is supposed to perform the very basic task of informing you what it contains to read — the only conclusion I can draw based on Ive’s design is that his ideal magazine is one with no content at all.

Yes, one "basic task" of a cover on a newsstand is to inform a prospective reader about a magazine's content. But this is a limited edition cover that is only sent to subscribers. In this case, the cover can be more (or less depending how you look at it). In other words, it can be avant garde without much risk. Subscribers are already invested in the product and will read it even if the cover doesn't draw them in. On the flip side, being completely different and "wrong" has drawn a lot of attention from the blogosphere and this free advertising will help increase sales, which is another basic task of the cover.

Limited edition cover by Apple’s chief design officer, Jony Ive (left) and more traditional newstand cover by Leonie Bos (right).

Tuned In: The Brain's Response to Ad Sequencing

November 3, 2017   /   By Michael Cohen   /   , ,  

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making conducted a neuromarketing study to understand the human response to the sequencing of digital and physical advertisements. (PDF download link.)

For example, if a consumer first receives an ad in the mail and later sees the same ad via email, did the order in which she viewed the ads influence the ads’ effectiveness? Would a reversed, digital-physical media sequence have resonated more powerfully with her? How about if she had seen two advertising mailpieces instead?

The results of the lab portion indicated that the physical-physical sequence was particularly effective at eliciting ad recognition, brand recall, and ad likability. […]

The field study campaigns, although not statistically conclusive, showed a higher consumer response to a physical-digital ad sequence compared to a digital-digital sequence… Other findings from the lab study have practical implications for marketers and the Postal Service: faces spurred higher recall rates than scenes or words, and the physical-physical sequence was best for brand-building messages.

Proof That Magazine Media Still Deliver the Best Results for Advertisers

November 1, 2017   /   By Michael Cohen   /   , ,  

Sadie Hale of FIPP reports on Linda Thomas Brooks' (CEO at MPA, USA) FIPP World Congress keynote:

Based on her experience, and research conducted and collated by MPA, Linda made the strong case that no medium is more trustworthy (and trusted) than magazines when it comes to selling ads. “Our research proves that magazine brands help tell stories and sell products for advertisers,” Linda began. […]

The data shows that rather than abandoning print, people are just adding other methods of consumption — Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms, for example. “The lesson is, consumers are holding onto their print editions,” Linda said. […]

She used an impressive case study to demonstrate how magazine media delivers for advertisers. Out of a total of 80 measured campaigns, all 80 delivered positive ROI for the advertiser.

Print vs. Digital: How We Really Consume Our Magazines – 2017 edition

October 1, 2017   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

A survey by the Freeport Press found:

When it comes to our magazines, we read more, read longer and subscribe more often to print than digital. […]

25.8% of respondents had NOT read a print magazine this past month. Nearly 44% have read 1 or 2. 30% have read 3 or more print magazines.

59% of respondents had NOT read a digital magazine this past month. 27% have read 1 or 2. Only 14% have read 3 or more digital magazines.

45% do NOT subscribe to print magazines. 32% of respondents subscribe to 1-2 print magazines. 23% subscribe to 3 or more.

76% do NOT subscribe to any digital magazines. 17.2% subscribe to 1-2 digital magazines. Only 7% subscribe to 3 or more.

There are several other interesting conclusions in the survey too. Most striking to me, is that despite all the marketing to entice publishers to provide their news through social media platforms, there's no long term relationship created that way:

75% of our survey takers do not follow magazine content on social media. 7% follow 1 magazine, 12% follow 2-3 magazines, 4% follow 4-5 magazines on social media. Only 1% follow 6-10 and about 1.2% follow more than 10 magazines on social media.

Will Facebook Ever Stop Bullsh*tting?

September 15, 2017   /   By Michael Cohen   /    

From the The Ad Contrarian:

For years anyone with a brain has known that Facebook "metrics" are a joke. They make shit up, imbeciles at agencies believe it, dimwit clients fund it, and - bingo - more ad money. Most famously, not long ago they inflated video viewing time on their site by as much as 80%. […]

According to Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research Group, one of the industry's most respected media analysts, Facebook is at it again.

Facebook's Ads Manager says that the website is capable of reaching 41 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 24. The problem is there are only 31 million Americans of that age. But hey, what's 10 million people here or there?

You have to admire Facebook for their ability to reach 10 million imaginary 18-24 year olds. But as well as they do against imaginary 18-24 year olds, where they really excel is against non-existent 25-34 year olds. They reach 60 million of them. Unfortunately, there are only 45 million alive.

Catalogs Are Experiencing a Renaissance

August 17, 2017   /   By Michael Cohen   /   ,  

David Pilcher discussing the new Land's End catalog for the FreeportPress:

Print has this incredible ability to convey important information about your brand – far beyond the mere act of putting ink on paper. Done right, a reader should get a gut reaction, an emotional affinity, for what your brand is all about.  As a great example, let’s look at the new WorkWear Outfitters catalog from Land’s End.

Catalogs are experiencing a renaissance; they are smarter and better looking than ever and are being used in ways far beyond the typical sales tool. They are increasingly being used to tell the brand story in a very real and tangible way. Land’s End apparently understands this.

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