MediAvataar's News Desk
Those who know only a little about some of the world’s more weird and wonderful magazines, will be aware that Grow Magazine is the most ‘quintessential cannabis horticulture magazine’ in the world, available in all 50 US states, and Canada.
This does beg the question: why did Facebook decide to give its first official magazine the same name? More pertinently, why did the social media platform, which insists it’s not a publisher, decide to put out a magazine at all?
The launch issue of Grow, “a quarterly magazine for business leaders” - by Facebook - quietly made its appearance in business class lounges at Heathrow and a few more exclusive spots in and around London in early June. Simply labelled as ‘Issue one’ the large format magazine runs a white on black cover image of Swedish retail “guru” Oscar Olsson, who is - according to the magazine’s cover line - “H&M’s millennial whisperer”.
Nicola Mendelsohn, CBE, Europe, Middle East and Africa vice president of Facebook, writes in her forward note that Grow “started life at a small event in the English countryside about a half year ago”. The event she refers to was an off-site gathering organised by Facebook in an idyllic Soho Farmhouse in rural Oxfordshire, a private members club set in 100 acres of rolling countryside. The two day offsite, which combined conferences and presentations with activities and fine dining, was the second annual event of its sort. During this particular one they decided to launch a print magazine.
The first magazine, explains Mendelsohn, explores niche brands - “one of the most interesting business stories of the past couple of years”
Financing the magazine, the print-run, distribution policy, target audience and future editorial themes seem to be a tightly guarded secret. When approached to shed more light, editor-in-chief Kate Maxwell, former group editorial director at Soho House & Co, said Facebook’s “comms team… need to approve this (information).” They did not.
Grow exists in a digital format as well, described as “a thought leadership platform that shines a light on people, companies and trends challenging the status quo”, although the digital destination is pretty hard to find. Consider the url you need to reach it: facebook.com/business/m/grow. If we attempt to find it via Google, chances are you’re more likely to find information on how to grow your own cannabis. There is no mention of the print magazine on the digital platform.
Facebook is not the first huge digital platform to dabble into print. Home rental platform Airbnb launched Pineapple Magazine as far back as November 2014. At the time publisher Christopher Lukezic declared that “print is still the best medium for telling stories in words and photographs.” This magazine was also named after a weird and wonderful existing one. Wait for it - Pineapple Magazine: the “leading cannaculture lifestyle resource exploring issues of hemp, health, and happiness”.
At the time the rationale for Airbnb’s print product was “to inspire existing customers to travel and explore more, while also bulking-up the Airbnb brand. ”Published in-house and also free of advertising, it was self funded. Only one issue appeared, reportedly because the budget was slashed to focus on other marketing initiatives. However, industry insiders said sloppy editorial focus was a huge contributing factor.
Airbnb executives - very soon after the publication of the 128-page glossy Pineapple - started talks with Hearst to launch Airbnbmag. The massively more modest new 28-page magazine took 18 months to launch (in November 2016) but is still in existence. You can even subscribe to four annual issues at $15.
While some of the editorial content in Grow is interesting, like how “the world's largest spirits producer learned to think small”, some features seem to be insignificant, like Paris’ start-up scene, which is - apparently - in “a battle with London for the European tech crown”. Or an article with child-like illustrations about the “Recipe for the perfect disruptor” referencing vague ingredients such as ‘vigour’, ‘pasion’, ‘clarity’ and ‘grit’, that might wing it front-of-book in an EasyJet inflight magazine. Even the cover story lacks form and focus, although the photography is excellent (and looks rather costly).
Will Facebook’s launch issue also go up in (cannabis) smoke, or survive? There are some who are particularly excited about it. On observing the “supersize” magazine on “massive display bookshelves” at Heathrow Airport, Juan Señor, president of Innovation Media Consulting and visiting fellow at the Reuters Institute, Oxford University, exclaimed via his social media plaforms: “When the world’s biggest digital social media platform wants to associate its brand with credibility, it launches a print magazine… but wait… isn’t print dead? Didn’t Facebook kill it off?”
Certainly not. As for Facebook’s foray into print publishing, questions remain. How was it funded and who signed off on it? Crucially, what does Mark Zuckerberg think of it? Considering, he’s the one who maintains Facebook is not a publisher.
Executives think platforms should do more to combat fake news, are increasingly sceptical of social media and blame brands for adverts placed alongside inappropriate content – but they increasingly see news brands as a source of trusted content, according to a survey published today by Reuters Plus.
The third annual Tomorrow’s News survey, based on a new survey of 1,587 global executives, reveals that 87% of respondents think Google and Facebook should do more to control fake news, while 81% believe that Google and Facebook should be held accountable for content.
The survey – commissioned by the branded content studio of the world's largest international multimedia news provider – also finds that three out of four executives claim to have seen brands advertising alongside unsavoury or objectionable stories or videos, and 77% agree that advertising next to inappropriate content can damage the perception of a brand. Furthermore, brands are held responsible for where adverts are placed: 62% agree that “brands have full control over where their advertising appears”.
The research – conducted by Synergy Research and Consulting – reveals that executives are growing increasingly sceptical of social media as a source of news: they are less trusting of news shared on social media (24% trust the source of news stories shared compared to 28% last year), share less (38% actively share news vs. 49% in 2017) and are concerned about fake news (85% say fake news has made them doubt news stories shared on social media).
Executives are also keen to burst their “filter bubbles”: 76% say personalisation narrows their views and 88% want to see a balance of content they like and dislike.
While the findings of the survey may present challenges for platforms and advertisers, there are encouraging results for news publishers. 80% of the executives surveyed agreed that “a news brand is a mark of quality on a story” and an increasing number believe that their news consumption will continue to grow (66%, up from 50% in 2016).
96% prefer factual and impartial news content. Executive are also more likely to turn to online news brands over social media for “opinions from respected anchors, reporters or journalists” (80% v. 17%) and to “obtain in depth analysis and opinion of a news story” (88% v. 12%).
Munira Ibrahim, Reuters SVP for Sales and Content Solutions, said; “Advertising agencies and tech companies alike are having to pay more attention to good governance and integrity. Executives are looking for factual and impartial content in a trusted environment and the findings of this research highlight the enduring importance of trusted brands in an era of fake news.”
Key findings also include:
77% agree that misplaced ads can damage the perception of a brand
62% think brands have full control over where their advertising appears
Two thirds of global executives are more likely to notice an advertiser if it appears on a trusted news site
87% think Google and Facebook should do more to control fake news, while 81% believe that Google and Facebook should be held accountable for content
Huge number of pictures posted under the #DRESSEDTOGIG
ATKT.in, a college content entertainment platform partnered with AJIO, the trending fashion e-commerce brand. As part of this association, ATKT.in helped AJIO with their Instagram contest by providing talent who not only spread the word but also help seed the pictures images from different gigs including their inhouse event called the Talent Tent Open Mic.
AJIO and ATKT created the coolest collection of snaps in party history on the Instagram hashtag #DRESSEDTOGIG that brought almost 18000 pictures shot and posted with the #dressedtogig hashtag. Young, fashionable giggers from 12 cities posed and pouted to vie for the grand prize, all-expenses-paid trip to Belgium for a leading EDM festival.
Speaking on the occasion, Saurabh Kanwar, Co-founder of ATKT.in said, “Going to gigs, like music and stand-up performances, spoken word shows has become a regular part of young peoples’ lives. We are happy to partner with a leading fashion ecommerce brand like AJIO for such an initiative. This campaign was able to soar due to the influence of our talented student network.”
Triton Communications one of India’s leading advertising agencies announced that their campaign - ‘An ocean of good’ created for Aquaguard, won a Silver at WARC 2018 in the ‘Effective Use of Brand Purpose’ category.
Triton communications is only one of the two other Indian agencies which won in this category. Adding to the tally of global and Indian awards, this campaign has 3 Golds so far.
The Campaign insight: Water-borne diseases strike millions of Indians every year. Aquaguard decided to make a difference by urging homes with purifiers to pledge and share 5 litres of safe water every day with the less privileged people they interacted with on a daily basis to those who did not have access to safe water including the domestic help and the security guard, among others.
For every pledge taken, Aquaguard contributed Rs.10/- to set up community water plants in areas of urban slums and rural pockets that lacked safe drinking water.
With these contributions, many water plants and purification systems have already been set up, providing thousands of families with access to clean and safe water every day.
Mr. Vikram Surendran, President at Eureka Forbes Limited said, “We are extremely thrilled to be receiving the Silver at WARC 2018 for our Aquaguard ‘An ocean of good’ campaign. This campaign has helped spur our endeavour of making healthy drinking water accessible to every Indian. Through this, we have succeeded in involving people to support our cause by creating a snowball effect, thus being a catalyst to the movement. We are thankful and proud of the phenomenal work put in by our agency partners to make this campaign a huge success.”
Mr. Virendra Saini, Executive Director and Head, Triton Communications, said, “It is an honour to be entrusted with a Silver at WARC 2018. This is a powerful idea which has worked with juries across the world. The simplicity of the idea, to solve a complex problem seems to have connected with them. At Triton Communications, we believe in creating hard-hitting campaigns that not only impact the businesses of our clients but also the lives of lay-people. Our teams are working hard to create more campaigns like this one.”
Mr. Ali Merchant, Founder Director of Triton Communications, said, “WARC is a very prestigious win for Triton. Aquaguard is India’s foremost water purifier company and we are privileged to be a part of this journey with them. We look forward to building the brand into a stronger, more resilient force to reckon with in the industry.”
The International News Media Association (INMA) will host a four-day South Asia Media Festival August 7-10 in New Delhi to celebrate best practices in the print and digital ecosystems of the region.
Building on INMA’s world-class study tour initiatives worldwide, the association will launch its first-ever study tour for South Asian members August 7-8. Study tour highlights include:
-.Two days of exploration of New Delhi media market with an eye for disruption, innovation and growth opportunities.
-.Travel to the new media offices of Bhaskar, Times Internet, Jagran, and the newsrooms of Inshorts, Quint, and India Today.
-.Witness in-depth presentations and exciting discussions at these stops on a plethora of topics relevant to the digital media ecosystem in South Asia.
-.Key topics include: data-driven journalism, smart initiatives to boost female internet users, artificial intelligence and machine learning backed in-house intelligence tools to drive user acquisition and retention of users, CMS and social media, aggregation models, video, mobile and new media models.
Meanwhile, the 12th Annual INMA South Asia News Media Conference will be held august 9-10 under the theme of “Print Is The New Medium,” which celebrates the strength of the print media. Key highlights include:
-.Hear top publishers share their evolution as they withstood technology assaults, changing consumer consumption, and the challenge to bell the millennials.
-.Delve into the minds of top editors who will narrate their real-time experiments with truth and their strategies to a never before world of anytime, anywhere.
-.Hear what advertisers want media companies to know.
-.Monetisation that works for both the readers and advertisers
-.How publishers leverage analytics to claim their place in the sun.
-.Powerful panel discussions to grow print brands
The festival will bring together South Asia’s top publishers and specifically executives charged with growing advertising, circulation, brand and revenue from news media companies in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan. It has excellent opportunities to network and share the “INMA conversation” among this exclusive fraternity of the world’s most innovative newspaper executives.