Stop Advertising in Photo Magazines – Head West to the Web

HDR Photo

Let's all look at a pretty picture and zen out before we go down this path of no return...

A Great and Embarrassing Experiment

I did a scientific, controlled experiment in 2011 and here are the results.

This is a sad story and embarrassing in many ways, but it turns out there is both a happy ending (thanks to Scott Kelby) and an overall moral to the story. It’s also quite exciting for all the bloggers out there.

Video of the situation

Here’s a video where I talk about my findings and add many additional thoughts.

Any Bias?

First, you might be interested in any kind of bias in this report, so let me alleviate any suspicions. I am completely independent of the mainstream photography world. This blog is not owned by any bigger media company, and I have no kind of incestuous relationship with any advertiser whatsoever. I am completely independent.

For example, when I mention Nikon, it’s because I like and use Nikon equipment. Nikon doesn’t pay me or advertise on the site. I am always suspicious when anyone mentions any brand, unless they are clear about the relationship. You should be too.

I know full well that most traditional photography magazines will hate me after this, but that’s okay. I expect that my findings in this will help to take millions in advertising dollars that are wasted on traditional magazines and funnel some of that to the online world in the future.

What is this little blog anyway

High Dynamic Range Photo

Daily photos fluctuate but the numbers increase year after year as friends and families tell one person at a time. Thanks everyone!

And let me deflect a few spears right away from the naysayers. They’ll probably begin character attacks or say this blog is insignificant. It’s not. As you can see from the chart on the left, it shows that, on average, we get over 150,000 photo views per day. Per Day. I might have a slight touch of sensitivity here, since magazines often make such a big deal out of how important they are, claiming over 100,000 subscriptions per month. As you’ll see from the results below, I don’t know how many of their readers actively open the magazines every month. And, of those that are opened, I doubt many ads are given substantive consideration by the reader. In other words, the vast majority of people just flip through the ads to get to the meat.

So, perhaps you can keep this sensitivity in mind too as you read the results below. Of course, we all know that the web and Internet content is the future and that traditional magazines are dying. But, strangely, the magazines are still able to attract the biggest advertisers with very high rates. Now, even though I am sensitive to this issue, I’d like to think I am still objective about the whole situation. I hope you’ll agree.

The Experiment

This year, in 2011, I decided to try an experiment. We have a great product we sell here called the HDR Video Tutorial and I decided to experiment on “traditional” media. We know it is a great product because it already sells like hotcakes, HDR is popular and we have less than a 0.5% return rate.

I allocated about $30,000 to buy ads in magazines.

As for the advertising specs, I did the following to keep things consistent:

  • Full Page Ad
  • First third of the magazine
  • 3 months (1 full page for each month, for 3 months in a row)

I chose these three magazines with the following total advertising spend over the three months:

  • Popular Photography - $12,000 – April, May, June
  • Shutterbug – $6,000 – April, May, June
  • Photoshop User (NAPP – Kelby Media) – $8,000 - May, June, July

How I Tested

This is the add that went into Kelby's magazine with the special code "THANKSNAPP" to track sales.

We built a custom full-page advertisement for every magazine. Each one had a special discount code on the bottom for 10% off so we could measure response. For example, the Scott Kelby’s magazine got “THANKSNAPP”, and Popular Photography magazine got “POPPHOTO”. Note that it is possible that some people bought the product without using the code. However, we did not see an increase above our normal baseline sales for those months, with the exception of people using the code. By looking at the stats, it appears that 95% of people that could have used the code did use the code. Therefore, I believe this is a fair way to measure the results.

The Results

Here are the results. Note the asterisk on the last result because it is important.

  • Popular Photography: 10 Units sold = $870
  • Shutterbug: 11 Units sold = $957
  • Kelby Media*: 206 Units sold = $17,125.75

As you can see, Popular Photography and Shutterbug were a disaster. This was actually embarrassing to me. I have a business here, and it is embarrassing for those two magazine deals to lose a combined $16,000+ on a failed advertising campaign.

Now, I know I should not take things personally in a scientific test, but I did. You know, as a small business guy, I have to choose whether or not to save money for my kids’ education or to risk it with a giant magazine with an ad campaign. Just like Walter Donovan, I chose poorly.

But, thanks to Kelby Media, I ended up almost back in the black overall.

*Why did Kelby Media do so well?

There are many reasons, but the overall reason is they seem to really care about getting results for their advertisers. Their head of advertising was in constant contact with me, making sure things were going well. They also have ad rotation on their website, which is part of the package. I’m convinced that this is the reason that they did so well. Scott Kelby and his team are smart – they know that online is the future and they’ve always been fully diversified.

Other possible problems with the ad

Now, maybe people just don’t WANT to buy the video tutorial and that is why sales were so low. Well, of course this is a possibility, but very unlikely for these two reasons:

1) Objectively, HDR is a popular technique, and there are many people that want to learn it.

2) If you compare Popular Photography and Shutterbug to Kelby Media, you’ll see that the product was indeed in-demand. If no one wanted the product, then the campaign with Kelby Media would have also failed.

Ron Martinsen’s Blog – Who???

Okay, how many of you big advertisers have ever heard of Ron Martinsen’s blog?

Ron is an example of the thousands of bloggers out there generating real traffic and real sales, but advertisers largely ignore this and instead continue to put much of their money into paper magazines.

I bet not many of you. However, would you be surprised to know he has sent us $8,920.51 in sales this year through our Affiliate Program? He doesn’t have a big blog, but look how many sales he generates!  He’s just an example, and there are hundreds of blogs out there with amazing content.

Now, I’ve never talked to Ron about this, but I bet he has trouble selling advertising on his blog. Or, if and when he does sell, I bet he gets very low rates compared to these big magazines.

So, Ron is one of our thousands of affiliates. I don’t pay him to advertise there, but he gets a percentage of every sale. It doesn’t cost the buyer any more money, and, to me, it is the most fair way to do it. In a true meritocracy, people get paid on performance, not on guestimates that appear scientific.

So, Nikon, Canon, Epson, Sony, and the rest of you – what are you doing?

Why are you big advertisers wasting money on these big magazines? Is it just “branding,” or are you actually trying to drive sales? Or, perhaps it is more a function of, “Well, that’s how we’ve always done things.”

I know that there are smart advertising people out there in these companies that are trying to put together campaigns. There is something to be said for “Brand Awareness,” but I think this is losing the value it once had when Ogilvy wrote his masterpiece. Brand awareness was more important in the days when there was a big gap of time between when the viewer sees an advertisement and then makes the purchase. For example, in the 50’s a family might see ads in their newspaper talking about Whirlpool washing machines with no call to action. That brand would get into their heads, and the next time they went to Sears, they will remember that brand and logo. It was the same way with Coke and Chrysler and Braniff. But nowadays, the time between seeing an ad and making a purchase is very very quick. In many cases on the Internet, it’s instantaneous.

Look at what Ford has done in the online marketing world. They now advertise on Leo Laporte’s forward-thinking network; they advertise on many blogs and with social media stars; they sponsor fun reality-shows on the Internet. While other big companies might have a small “play fund” for Internet experiments, Ford has jumped in head first. They get it.

Another vector is that big product/service companies have bloated advertising departments with established relationships with magazines. Magazine editors give them all kinds of statistics so they can prepare nice monthly reports for their superiors that makes it look like their true reach is significant. But it’s all built on old, predictive guesses on the nature of the behavior of the audience.

Believing the readership numbers of these magazines makes about as much sense as believing Nielsen ratings. You don’t have to live in that old world of biased “guesses” any more. Now we live in a world where we can see website stats, YouTube views, and Google+ ripples. Also, the vast majority of people with disposable income spend more time on the Internet. They are more likely to make that purchase off the Internet after seeing an ad or reading a review from some place like CameraLabs.com.

Summary

If I was consulting for one of these product companies that puts significant funds into magazine advertising, I would challenge them to try something new for six months: Try taking 50% of that money and put it into several hundred blogs, podcasts and review sites and measure the results. Cut the worst performers and find new ones.

Remember, I’m not doing this for the benefit of THIS particular blog; I’m doing this for the thousands of other bloggers out there that produce amazing content and have built up niche audiences that would be interested in your products. Advertise everywhere from Victor Cajiao’s blog to Scott Kelby’s blog to Ron Martinsen’s blog to Frederick Van’s blog to Catherine Hall’s blog to Thomas Hawk’s blog to Jim Goldstein’s blog to Olaf Bathke’s blog to Alex Koloskov’s blog to Kyle Marquardt’s blog to Scott Jarvie’s blog to Scott Bourne’s blog to Darren Rowse’s DPS blog and so on and so on… The future of marketing is not with paper magazines with biased outdated measurement techniques; the future of marketing is tied to trusted individual voices with measurable web properties that are experts and care deeply about their audiences.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts and opinions below… I look forward to it.

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  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Trey Ratcliff

    BTW – I will be slow in responding to comments today. I’m spending the day volunteering at Help-Portrait here in Austin. If you’re not familiar with Help Portrait, see http://help-portrait.com/

  • http://www.hossedia.com Justin

    Wow! Fantastic analysis. I do hope the industry listens. That would be great for all of us. See you tomorrow night!

  • http://www.terragalleria.com QT Luong

    Quite a few folks outside of the photo world have found out already that online advertising works well. Otherwise, I doubt GOOG would be at $600+.

  • http://www.brandonjcox.com Brandon

    Sadly, I work in advertising design for a newspaper conglomerate, and you’re right… That’s why I’m actively looking for a new position.

  • Pat

    I knew the magazine industry numbers could not to be trusted twenty years ago. I had not resubscribed to a popular photo magazine and after about a year it started showing up in my mailbox again. I just figured they were really stupid until I received notice they were no longer going to be published as they had been sold to another photo magazine. It was then I realized they were sending out “free” magazines to pump up circulation numbers to get more ad revenue and get a better price in the sale. This one incident made me very circumspect in relating to magazines and truthfulness. Frankly I have not purchased any photo magazine other than Photoshop User in over ten years.

    I think you have made a good argument for advertising in the photography market, but would it hold up in another area such as the fashion world? I think it might with the right strategy.

  • http://www.kelleybard.com Kelley Bard

    I’ve spent significantly less on advertising than you, Trey, but I’ve found the exact same results. Newspapers, magazines, etc don’t generate sales, at least not in photography. Even in my town, which is pretty tech-low. It’s the web stuff that brings in clients.

  • Stacey Crocker Martin

    Great article. I was one of the people saying “the internet is great but I love to FEEL the book in my hand and the pages beneath my fingers”! But, I find myself doing exactly what you say. My magazines lay around. I may thumb through one but most likely, I’m right here online!

    PS. Big Nikon fan myself.

  • Mimi Drake

    Your findings are not surprising and are entirely consistent with the growing trend away from the tradition slick or glossy magazine not only in advertising, but also in readership. I can’t think of one magazine to which I used to subscribe which does not now have an online version – to which I now subscribe. Think of the savings in postage, printing, paper (trees) and trash disposal.

  • http://williambeem.com William Beem

    Trey,

    I know you typically don’t talk much about the business side, but I find this very interesting. That is one painful experiment! However, I’m not surprised by your results. For my part, I don’t buy magazines or subscribe – unless they are part of some other combined service, like Photoshop User magazine is part of NAPP. I’m only one data point, but I suspect that many others are similar to me in that they can get information online as a better resource to magazines. It’s faster and far more interactive.

    At one point, I experimented with ads on my blog and I hated them. Google Ads seemed to be the popular method, but they were very unattractive and I didn’t generate sufficient traffic on my blog to make them worth the ugliness. I’ve since grown 400% and things are still slowly ticking upward, but it’s still a small site and I’m not going back to ads. Instead, I’m working on developing my own products. There may also be affiliate opportunities for me, but I’m going to be quite picky about it.

    Given my view, and perhaps other bloggers, I think advertisers will need to find new ways to interact with blogs. Some are happy to post ads. Others are happy to post “reviews” of products in exchange for some form of compensation. Many, though, I don’t believe want to be involved in either of those methods. I think advertisers will have to accept that blogs are independent and don’t want to seem like they sold out. Otherwise, readers will see right through it and the site will appear to be nothing more than an Internet Marketing shill site.

    We live in interesting times.

  • http://myworldofwhoa.blogspot.com Shannon Bolin

    I hope the reaction from the magazines that did poorly in your test is one of humble redirection and not indignation. The “net” has been here for quite awhile. I firmly believe that those who embrace it, at least at this point in history, are the ones who will rise above the rest who refuse to adapt. Usually you give lessons in photography. Thank you for today’s lesson in advertising.

  • Kevin

    It is indeed a changing landscape for those who wish to communicate to the masses. Knowing your audience is still key. The product you offer and, in this case, sophistication/level of user is going to impact appeal to audience. As far as little ads in the back of a Mad magazine- c’mon now, my X Ray glasses worked great! Thanks for posting- very interesting numbers.

  • http://timetotakepictures.blogspot.com Keith Moyer

    Best article evah…

  • http://www.jmg-galleries.com/blog JIm Goldstein

    Great analysis. A very interesting read indeed. And of course thank you for the blog plug. It’s amazing how major brands shirk direct advertising on blogs. Thanks for taking the time to write this up and put it out there.

  • Jeff Peterson

    Not surprising at all, print is a dying media. This was probably compounded by the fact that people still reading print are likely less tech savvy and less likely to be interested in downloading a video tutorial. I think the only form of print media that still makes sense is textbooks, I’ve read a couple anatomy books within the past couple weeks and it’s the one time that having the ability to flip back and forth quickly that old fashioned paper provides is an advantage over digital formats. That and it providing a break from staring at a glowing screen…
    That’s not to say that advertising on the internet is perfect, either. I bought a new car about 3 weeks ago and I still see about 20 Nissan ads a day (and at least as many car insurance ads) on sites I visit which is quite annoying. It seems like half the advertising I see on the internet is for things I’ve already purchased.

  • Paul Atwood

    Pop Photo and Shutter bug probably don’t attract the same level of photographer that Kelby does. Pop Photo and Shutter bug readers are probably not going to do anything with HDR unless it is done in camera. I would bet RAW processing in general is probably pretty foreign to this group. Kelby on the other hand probably has a pretty skilled subscriber base. I would assume his base is pretty comfortable with PP/LR and willing/wanting to try new techniques.

    I have no doubt that advertising in Pop Photo and Shutterbug are a waste of money, but it might be because of the demographic that reads those particular magazines compared to Kelby’s more advanced subscriber base.

    Just my 1.5 cents.

    Paul

  • Joe

    Actually, I think it was Walter Donovan who chose poorly. Marcus Brody was with Henry at the time…

  • http://www.greggard.com Greg Gard

    Interesting read and findings, but no surprises there :) Today most people spend more time online than with magazine in hand.
    With social network, forums, blogs there is much more information available on the web than on a single page of the magazine.
    So easy, so convenient, so effective!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdtomcikphotography/ Jim Tomcik

    Thanks for posting your results from this interesting experiment! One thought about the magazine selection, and the product you’re advertising comes to mind. Are there different reasons people buy/read these three magazines? Photoshop User seems likely to have a readership that is interested in processing and could be more interested in HDR processing as a result. Could the other magazines be more oriented towards equipment? People who are buying a camera and lenses might be more attracted to them to see what’s current, and use these magazines as decision support vehicles for their purchases. (This might also be why the big mfrs continue to advertise there regularly – they reach more of their target audience – those looking for equipment.)

    I don’t subscribe to any of the three, so I don’t have first hand info – I usually go online instead!

    That said, the trends are pretty clear – online communication is changing the landscape of advertising as we speak (or write).

  • Susan

    Interesting analysis Trey – yes, even I admit print is out of date – people want information faster and to target their interests – super evaluation – kind of an expensive lesson though!

  • http://www.cameralabs.com/ Gordon Laing

    Great article Trey. Unbiased, well-researched and undisputable findings. Everyone who reads it will undoubtedly agree with you. Unfortunately they’re not the ones we need to convince. The ones who’d disagree (the traditional ad agencies) won’t comment here as they simply do not spend much time online and despite our figures, continue to hold online publications with little regard.

    I have seen both sides of the story. For over 15 years I worked for the biggest technology magazines in the UK, seven years as staff including two at the helm as Editor, followed by over 10 as a monthly columnist. During the peak times in the Nineties I witnessed significant ad revenue being generated for the company, and as online media began, it was treated with utter contempt by both traditional editorial and ad agencies.

    As time went on though, a number of sites emerged which produced excellent editorial content and started gaining respect of writers and creatives across all mediums. But the ad agencies, who continue to make the bookings for companies, remained unconvinced, or even completely ignorant of what was happening online.

    During the ‘Noughties’, many of my old paper-based editorial colleagues made the leap to online. Some didn’t stick around for long, but others have made it their core business to this day and in my view produce the best content in their genre regardless of medium. For computer hardware reviews, who’s better than Anandtech? For cheeky technology and science news, how about The Register? And in terms of digital cameras, DPReview (now owned by Amazon) have always been a force to be reckoned with. As for me, I made the switch from paper to pixels in 2006, launching Cameralabs and gradually winding down my freelance magazine work until, a couple of years ago, I went full time on my site.

    In terms of figures, Cameralabs reaches a lot of people interested in buying cameras. Over the past 30 days alone, over 800,000 unique visitors swung by, almost three-quarters of which arrived there via a search engine after entering a camera name followed by the word ‘review’. According to the marketeers, these are the most desirable people for an advertiser. If someone searches for a review it’s because they’re thinking seriously about buying it or something similar. These readers are gold to advertisers, and yet I’ve never had an ad campaign from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic or indeed any other camera company. Indeed during the entire six year lifespan of Cameralabs, I’ve only had two companies / agencies book a campaign: Apple for Aperture and Lens Rentals. The Aperture campaign was interesting as they booked space on every camera review website I can think of. It was a bold experiment several years ago, but perhaps worryingly one they have not repeated.

    The ads you see on Cameralabs – and most other non-corporate review sites – don’t come from big-brand companies, but affiliate schemes from clued-up e-tailers like Amazon and B&H, a selection of comparison shopping services such as Pricegrabber, or good old Google Adsense. Now of course many companies now use Adsense as an ad agency and through them you will see clued-up companies like Adobe advertising their products. But why doesn’t Adobe, or their agency, deal with online publishers direct? Are there too many of us? Do the popular ones change too quickly to track? Should we as online publishers actually stop complaining and start selling ourselves to agencies rather than waiting for them to come to us? Certainly every magazine has a media sales department who do just that, relentlessly pitching their publication to potential advertisers who probably wouldn’t book an ad with them otherwise.

    Of course many of the blogs and review sites are one-man operations, mine included. I certainly don’t have time to pitch potential advertisers or the money to pay a sales person to do it for me. In these situations though there are agencies who’ll do the selling for you. Sign-up with them and your figures will be aggregated with others so that the agency can sell vast readerships to potential advertisers, although the cut to the publisher may not be that great.

    It’s certainly a tricky one. I get frustrated every time I see what I know is a hugely expensive Canon or Nikon ad in a magazine which has far fewer readers than my site and many others. But equally I know those magazines employ very persuasive sales people who have nurtured personal relationships with ad-bookers and are sealing deals while most of the online publications don’t even know who to call.

    Step one is definitely for someone to deliver compelling figures for online publications over paper and for that we can all thank Trey. He’s spent considerable resources finally proving something we have long suspected. But that alone is not enough. Step two is for the online publishers, myself and Trey included, to pro-actively seek out and pitch to those who book the ads. Indeed I suggest we form our own ad agency for photography websites.

    In the meantime we’re all readers of someone’s blog or site and we should support them however we can. Buy through their affiliate links – it doesn’t cost you a cent more, but bags the publisher valuable commission. Buy their product if they sell one, such as an ebook or branded merchandise. Even make a small donation if you feel you’ve found their content really useful, after all most editorial sites are free of charge to view. Most of all, spread the word. If you see something you like online, leave a comment, ‘like’ it using social media and tell your friends. The more visitors a publisher has, the better the argument they have when pitching for advertising.

    And believe me it is critical to support your favourite publishers. Many are one-man operations scraping a living and in the current climate many are struggling and several have even had to close-down. When I started writing about the internet in the mid-Nineties, one of the wonderful things was how easily one-man publishers could compete for readers with huge corporations. In recent times though, dwindling revenues have seen many small publishers fail and the bigger brands dominate the editorial and creative fields. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s some fantastic writers and artists contributing to the big sites, but I wouldn’t want them to be my only source of information and inspiration.

  • http://wraxtiorre.blogspot.com/ Todd Mikosh

    As a narrative blogger who will soon be employing your pictures in an ongoing storyline about
    Internet Journalism and the demise of paper journalism, I must only offer this one rejoinder. Even if the market succeeds in disenfranchising the permanent underclass of the unemployable, the dissidents, the miscreants, the vagrants, and even the marginally poverty-stricken who are employed and employable, there will always be a market for paper products, if only for the stacks of tattered newsrags in professional-office waiting rooms, and in-transit study by those who cannot afford WiFi or are inconvenienced by its unavailability. The big camera companies are wasting their advertising funds on paper-based advertisements in order to keep these products available for the random readers who will not (or cannot) embrace such a market with their pocketbooks. Even when the big industries abandon their habit of subsidizing the paper magazine markets, or the market collapses on itself despite the funding which feeds its survival intravenously, and the big-name photography magazines implode and cease to exist in a cacophony of corporate abandonment, a cottage industry will spontaneously fill the void for those customers who still desire to peruse its wonders and yet are inconvenienced by occasional lack of WiFi access, or simply have been disenfranchised from their internet access. I’m not saying that the print market will remain strong or will rebound from this transition, but I can only ask you a simple question: Do you think that any of the people in your photographs represent any of the quarter-million hits that your page receives daily? If not, where do you think they get their feed of photographic content?

    On the other hand, I appreciate your scientific approach to this experiment, and I admire your desire to share the results in an almost sociological forum. And I really enjoy the broad scope of your work!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/35422436@N06/ George

    Trey, I saw you ad in Photoshop User magazine and wondered why you were advertizing there, ’cause I see your ads on the blog all the time and have bought books from them. Now I know. The temple picture is terrific. Those rooms do seem to go on to infinity and beyond.

  • http://koprowski.org/misc Tomek

    Trey, I’m not familiar with the magazines you’ve advertised in, therefore one thing makes me wonder and I believe you should have addressed it for the sake of completeness of your analysis. Maybe the readers’ profiles differ significantly between the magazines? I mean NAPP readers are clearly into image processing, but aren’t the other two magazines more of the classical photography (ie. little-to-no-processing) variety? I don’t dismiss your analysis, I believe the conclusions may still be valid, I just want to point out that targeting the right audience may as important as choosing the media.

  • Hani

    Interesting read

    In my view, Kelby media did well for you because the audience is highly targeted (photoshop users) much more so than the other magazines

  • http://everything-everywhere.com Gary Arndt

    Trey, this post is great!

    I’ve been telling people the same thing for the last several years in the travel industry.

    It costs $100,000 for a full page ad in major magazines like Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure. That one ad is just one of dozens in a given issue of a magazine.

    $100,000 for less than 1% of 1 issue of 1 magazine.

    That $100,000 could easily fund my entire operation for a year. I could deliver an audience in that year larger than any of those magazines can provide in a single page flip. I can deliver a more loyal and interested audience as no one knows the names of anyone who works for those major magazines. I talk to my readers every day, answer questions, and meet with them on a regular basis all over the world.

    Right now, no one is even thinking about doing online deals like this.

    Old media is being funded by inertia, old boy network relationships and fees that ad agencies earn doing big ad buys. It has nothing to do with performance.

  • http://adventureswithben.com adventureswithben

    I feel bad that you’re still 10k in the hole. The first two publishers should be embarrassed and ashamed of themselves.

  • http://croakingtoadphotos.com Dick Carl

    Very interesting and well thought out article Trey. It has given me a new outlook on the subject. Keep up the good work

  • http://www.andytomasello.com Andy Tomasello

    Great analysis. Really enjoyed seeing this obviously well thought out and researched post. I do wonder, though, about one thing. I work in IT and most companies I’ve worked for either block ads through proxies or installing AdBlock on all machines. Quite a few blogs out there recommend installing AdBlock on browsers at home. I’ve personally not seen ads in a long time. Does your data show that the great majority doesn’t have these things blocking ads and it should work out in the end?

    Also, if more companies start advertising on the web, will things become too diluted? Are great returns happening now because there are a relatively low amount of traditional photography companies advertising on the web?

  • http://dougkaye.com Doug Kaye

    I think there’s another variable here that may not have been taken into account: What percentage of readers of print magazines are interested in HDR versus the percentage of those who visit KelbyTraining.com sites, read their magazines, etc? It wouldn’t surprise me if a demographic survey showed the online audience was *much* younger and interested in new ideas and techniques. I’d bet that a large number of the PopPhoto subscribers have been so for a long time — pre web. As an extreme example, if you placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal, you’d get an even worse return on your ad dollars. That in and of itself doesn’t tell you anything about the death of print media. It’s just a bad demographic match and ad buy. I don’t disagree with your results; I do think the future (or even the present) is with online advertising, but it has a lot to do with what it is you’re selling: a relatively new idea.

  • Gail Moshier

    I tried hitting the like button, but it didn’t work. Maybe it will after I post. I watched the video, very interesting concept. Thanks for sharing your experiment!!! Have a wonderful weekend. :-)

  • Joshua Fisher

    I agree with you on this Trey. My only worry is, that blogger start sounding like NASCAR interviews. Instead of them talking about themselves or the content they are trying to get out, they start sounding like an ad all the time. NASCAR Drivers get ask how was the race and the first thing that comes out of there mouth is every sponsor on their race suit. Instead of hearing about the race. I fear this could happen with these bloggers as well.

  • http://www.focusatinfinity.com/ Richard

    Wow.. quite the piece of research work here and very interesting. I was surprised to see the HDR Tutorial ad in Pop Photography a few months ago. We don’t normally subscribe to magazines but there was a drive at school and we had to pick a few, so I opted for photography. I do enjoy flipping through photo mags and I don’t necessarily skip over the ads. I like to look at nice photos of cool cameras. Gets my imagination going. When I’m actually in the market to buy something though, I’d always go online, especially for reviews. The amount of info out there is staggering and I can’t imagine making any kind of purchase without consulting the oracles of the interwebs. This is a fascinating subject. Great job on presenting your findings!

  • CM

    I am one you are targeting with your ads.

    I am what I would call an ‘advanced amateur’. I don’t do photography for a living, nor do I write about it. I buy my photo equipment when I have the money and, well, permission (I am married…I see you nodding your head). For the record, I am in my mid-40s. I have several thousand in camera gear, and shoot 3-5000 images a year, and enjoy digital editing. I began photography in my teens, shooting and developing film in my high school darkroom.

    I used to subscribe to PopPhoto…back in 1980s. In my frequent travels for my job, I would occasionally pick up a copy of Shutterbug, or Digital Photo Pro, or Outdoor Photographer, to read on the plane. That was 3 years ago.

    I stopped reading magazines because the info in them was far too thin, and frankly, dated. In each magazine I purchased, product introductions were months old from my perspective, and reviews were so shallow and thin as to be useless. Reviews have become like stereo/audiophile reviews did: nothing is bad, some things are just ever so slightly better.

    I am ‘old school’ enough to likely be who the magazines say are reading their publications. I am likely a target of those ads placed in those magazines. Heck I grew up with magazines, not the Internet. (though I still feel hip). I don’t read photo magazines. I don’t buy them any longer. I read Stuck in Customs, I read dpreview. I read Strobist. I read Bob Atkins and the-digital-picture.com.

    Yes I do read magazines, but no longer do I read anything with product reviews or even technique: online video is far better. I do read analysis and long form in magazines, so I to subscribe to The Economist, Smithsonian, Outside, Runners World (see now I do sound old).

    So, Canon, Nikon, Adobe, etc: this is your audience speaking: If you want me…I’ll be over here. Look forward to you joining us.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/106586390584377828999 Patrick

    Affiliate programs seem to be very powerful.
    Gaming sites are doing this similarly: You drive traffic to your site via google adwords or other targeted “traffic dealers”, or via advertising etc, and get less money out of it then you have put in for that traffic. But then, you get maybe 30, 50 or even 100% more visitors / sales or whatever revenue goals you have, on top of that – just from your affiliates with whom you have a reciprocal relationship.

    Nowadays you need to get links and affiliate traffic from trusted and popular partners, because the internet is just so vast and, unless you’re in a small niche market, you cannot compete with advertising alone. You need to be part of a network that generates something of a sharing culture that benefits everyone in this way.
    The customer / consumer is not even effected by this, other than that they may be redirected to affiliates every now and then, which of course must not get annoying for them. But other than that, they are the beneficiaries of a network of trusted product / service providers who are, as a whole, easy to find and get you what you want.

    It’s a win-win-win… you, your affiliates and your customer profit from it.

    Traditional media needs to drastically lower their advertising fees, as you have shown, since they are just not competitive anymore.

  • http://www.GreenGlobalTravel.com Bret @ Green Global Travel

    I came into blogging last year after 18 years in print media, and I definitely agree with your assessment of the situation. I’ve been trying to convince one of the magazines I work for to enter the online world since the mid-’90s, but the publisher has never recognized the potential revenue streams the Internet has to offer him, and as a result he’s watched profits dwindle to a trickle. Unfortunately, as a writer/editor, I still make a LOT more from print assignments than I do from my own website, but hopefully that will change as advertising trends change. Luckily, I’m able to straddle both fields…

  • Michael Rpdx

    Fantastic article.

    For the summary section, consider adding something on the lines of:

    Create an affiliate program. The cost is near zero, the incremental cost of adding new “advertisers” is actually zero. Your most eloquent advocates, your fans, will drive business to you.

  • http://anglotopia.net jonathanwthomas

    Hi Trey –

    Thanks for this. I had a similar experience recently. I run a website dedicated to British Travel and culture and was convinced to place an ad in a major industry magazine – I was sold all the numbers and given a good deal. It was a nice chunk of change – at least for the size of my business (which is my full time job). I did something similar by setting up a specific landing page for the ad. When the issue went out – I got just a trickle of hits to the page and no noticeable increase in traffic. I’d felt like I’d made a terrible mistake and it was very difficult to send off the check to pay for it. It’s not the end of the world – but I won’t be wasting any more money on print advertising.

    As a corollary to what you said about affiliate marketing – it’s never worked for us – it doesn’t work for every site but I do agree it can work. Our audience is too globally fragmented to do affiliate (hard to market products only available in one country to someone in another where half your traffic comes from). So a backup for us is Adsense and directly selling ads to advertisers – two things that can be directly measured for success for both sides.

  • http://www.lusternyc.com LusterNYC

    Interesting, well thought out article and very timely for me, as a new company exploring our advertising options. Equally as interesting to me is that I came across this on twitter – seems like a great mix of this new advertising world.
    Definitely time to start exploring blogs for advertising projects – thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.askthebuilder.com Tim Carter

    Did my first comment not make it? Shucks, it was long….. Should have copied and pasted it.

  • Michael Rpdx

    And, um, doesn’t Ron Martinsen deserve a link?

  • http://thehdrimage.com Peter Tellone

    I agree Trey and really think of this from an advertisers position if they did it as a Affiliate Program. You only have the cost of administration of the affiliate program and You basically have FREE advertising. or really advertising that you only pay for if it produces a result (A Sale) Could an advertiser ask for anything more?

  • http://www.askthebuilder.com Tim Carter

    Trey,

    I agree with all your points and have a blog post about this.

    It’s at the timcarter website, the dot com one. Just look for Publishing Paradigm Shift.

    You’ll discover a White Paper in the blog post of mine that really adds to your points.

    What’s more, I’m having the same issue with advertisers in my vertical of home building and remodeling. They are stuck on print.

    I created a conceptual full-page *website* ad that makes full page magazine ads look like they’ve not eaten their Wheaties.

    I tried to put in a URL to it, but your comment software prohibits URLs. If you want to see it, tell me how to put in a URL.

    Imagine the possibilities. We can do so much more online, plus we can actually show that we are selling their products with the direct buy links.

    Trey, we should start an association of like-minded website owners.

    Tim Carter
    Founder – AsktheBuilder.com

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  • Dom Reilly

    Hi Trey,

    It’s also possible that the ad in the Kelby magizine got a greater respone because Scott’s audience is a better fit for your product. Anyone who buys his magazine is already interested in digital photography and post-production. Because of this, they would be more likely to experiment with other techniques and software. People who read those other magazines might not be into post-production.

    In this case, you were able to get almost instant feedback on which ad was profitable. You can now allocate your budget selectively and discontinue the unprofitable ads. This example shows that print advertising is inferior because it’s effectiveness cannot be measured.

  • http://www.digital-photography-school.com Darren Rowse

    I too am amazed at how many… no most of the main camera manufacturers are not tapping into the photography blog space as advertisers.

    While we get pitched on almost a daily basis by brands big and small (usually through PR agencies) asking us to ‘link to this competition’ or ‘please promote our new….’ or ‘can we send you a review unit of…’ – whenever we attempt to contact the same manufacturers asking if they’d be interested in advertising with us we get:

    – we don’t have budget
    – it doesn’t fit with our goals
    – we don’t advertise on the web

    Excuse me? You don’t have budget? Yet you’re paying PR companies to pitch bloggers for free promotion?

    It doesn’t fit with your goals? Seriously? I can think of 10 or so blogs off the top of my head who are each influencing millions of people on which gear to buy.

    You don’t advertise on the web? Wow – yet you’re pouring hundreds of thousands at a time into advertising on dying forms of media?

    Interestingly one large company who did advertise with us (a large computer company) was amazed by the conversions. We ran a competition combined with advertising across different areas of our site and they said conversions wer 5-6 times higher than non web campaigns.

    I spoke with one fairly major photography magazine editor recently who shared his circulation numbers. When I told him how many visitors we had at Digital Photography School a month he almost spat his Pinot Gris all over me.

    His first comment was – ‘you must be making a fortune in advertising sales’.

    When I told him I couldn’t get any of the major camera manufacturers to even agree on who in which department should talk with me he was amazed. He on the other hand is being courted and woo’d by every camera manufacturer you could think of. Expensive dinners, trips overseas, free gear and… hundreds of thousands of dollars in ad revenue.

    Yet he openly admitted that the effectiveness of that advertising was dubious. Most of their advertisers didn’t really know if their campaigns converted and circulation numbers were on the decrease because people were finding their information online.

    Anyway – I’m kind of glad. While we wouldn’t say no to ad revenue at this point the lack of interest by the big players… or even most of the medium ones…. has forced us to find other ways to monetize – selling our own products largely. That was the best thing we ever did and we’ll soon be in a position where even if the advertisers did come knocking we won’t be needing or accepting them.

    Thanks for sharing Trey – its something I’ve been mulling over for a while now.

  • http://johnhootonphotography.wordpress.com John Hooton

    I am not surprised by your findings. Many years ago in a different industry, I used magazines and high profile in house corporate publications for advertising and it seemed the more I spent, the less my return. Eventually I went to selling my product on line in 1997. By 2004 I had made enough to fund my semi retirement in 2004. I sold the business and got back to my real love – photography!

  • http://www.konvolinkaphotography.com Mike Konvolinka

    You don’t actually need to subscribe to any of these photo magazines. The articles in the magazines end up on their websites eventually, for free. Great analysis Trey!!

  • http://www.visitmywork.com bill jones

    Further evidence that print media like newspapers and magazines is dying is the San Diego Union, the main newspaper in town. It was just purchased. Not for the newspaper but for the real estate. It won’t be long before San Diego has no local print newspaper. If anyone wants to read it, they will read it online. Good riddance.

  • http://adamsviewsimaging.blogspot.com/ John E Adams

    Your best post to date for me Trey, thanks so much!

  • Frank Pajonk

    Trey, a couple of problems here. First, you think you know what science is but you don’t. That’s one of the general problems I have with you. Just live with it. You are not a scientist.

    Second, you fall into the same trap as does Scott Kelby or David Hobby. You’re just guys with a camera. You only have a virtual product that some people like and some others don’t. Advertising for real products (Nikon etc.) follows different rules.
    The response to your add campaign: ~200, Kelby or not, tells you a lot.

  • Joe Shelby

    I think one reason the big name camera makers (and software makers) publish in the main magazines is simply to keep the magazines alive at all. As much as blogs are the best tools for helping the hobbyist move forward and learn, the magazine, sitting on the shelf, looking spectacular while carrying the headlines that effectively say “Yes, you can do this!” is what is really selling the cameras themselves. The magazine on the shelf *creates* the hobbyist, without which many of us would be taking crappy shots on an iphone and thinking we were creating “art”. So yeah, even if a particular add in a particular magazine doesn’t “sell” a camera in and of itself (the reviews might, but the ad won’t), the ad keeps the magazine alive, and that keeps the hobby alive (by creating NEW hobbyists) in ways that the blogs don’t.

    Blogs like yours help build the talents and experience of the hobbyists (and aspiring professionals) but it doesn’t create them, and so it doesn’t sell cameras in the same way. If the camera makers were only fighting for the people who are hobbyists now but didn’t look to future growth, it would collapse much as many other industries and institutions already have (such as, say, the disappearing audience for classical music).

  • Tony Seeley

    hi Trey, very interesting blog post.

    I thought I’d leave a comment here as I agree with your point here, however I’m probably not a great case study! I actually purchased your video tutorial (very very good by the way) but I found it on your blog so I guess that doesn’t really count.

    I’m also a NAPP member and regularly read Photoshop User. I never saw your advertisement, but went back and checked, and yes it was there. I wish I did notice it as I would have saved myself $10 :-) but the interesting thing here is after thinking about your comments I have to agree. I NEVER read advertisements in magazines. I ALWAYS skip them. Maybe this is because magazines have been around for ever and we are used to jumping over advertisements.

    But here’s the funny thing. I also read Ron’s blog (I’m from Seattle too) and I have used his site quite a few times as a stepping stone to camera related purchases (he has great discount codes and I’ve brought a few things through him).

    So in summary your absolutely right. (I should say here that I’m not in Marketing or in the photography business – it’s just a hobby to me).

  • http://vinnyohare.com Vinny O’Hare

    I think the main reason you had more luck with Kelby is readers are more interested in post processing. I also saw your ad in one of the magazines and was wondering why you needed to advertise when you have a lot of readers to your site.

    Besides being a photographer I am also an affiliate manager and I can tell you why you don’t see the big names advertising online. They don’t have to! They let B&H, Adorama, etc do it. Odds are you will see a Nikon or Sony in their ads. Is it waste of money for the brands to be in the magazines? No their ad dollars are probably tax write-offs so they don’t care.

  • Mark Hoblit

    I enjoyed the article quite a bit but I noticed an aspect of big advertising that was missing. A lot of the larger product advertisers are manufacturers that rely on a lot of different distribution methods. Those companies: Sony, Epson, Canon, Nikon, etc, don’t want to alienate those distributors by taking their customers but they also can’t rely on those distributors to advertise their products.

    This is why they try to get ads to be memorable. It’s easier and less intrusive to get a well designed full page ad in a magazine than deal with a terrible popup rotation on an affiliate site. Additionally, while people can simply turn the page of a magazine and ignore the adverts, web popups and banners can be blocked entirely.

    Your suggested method of advertising would be of limited use for them (the manufacturers that only dabble in direct-to-consumer sales) but could certainly be used by distributors to great effect. Instead of singling out Nikon, Canon, Epson, and Sony, perhaps you should single out Amazon, Ebay, B&H, Newegg, etc. Many already have sponsored link programs in effect though.

  • http://www.bsop.ca Paul Burwell

    I enjoyed the article and the analysis. Although I haven’t had a simmilar budget, I’ve experienced similar success (or lack there of) when it comes to advertising in the “dead tree” zines.

    If I have one critique of your analysis it would be that the advertising in a magazine generally is not one that is suited to a specific “call to action” but rather appeals to the large companies like Canon, Nikon et al because it is a place to establish their brands and make emotional connections with the client. If you look at their ads, they are rarely making a call to action like you were in your ads. Rather, they are selling a life/work style.

    The web really shines when it comes to call to action type ads and its immediacy makes it incredibly better suited to that type of advertising than does a traditional magazine.

    Could it be that you weren’t really comparing Apples to Apples? Although I can’t dispute your results, I just wonder if it is a fair comparison.

    (Full disclosure, I’m a contributing editor and regular columnist with a traditional “dead tree” photography magazine)

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  • Richard Dalby

    Maybe someone has already addressed this in other comments but, it would seem likely that Photoshop User has a very different readership than PopPhoto or Shutterbug. I would think that PU/NAPP is read by people who are more serious about and involved with using software to get a certain result. PopPhoto and Shutterbug are likely more general interest photography. Would an ad for a new point and shoot camera have had the same result?

    There are very few articles in PU on cameras and photography in general. Exclusively its about software. PopPhoto has very little in the way of software instruction. Its a different audience don’t you think?

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  • http://jackumano.wordpress.com Jack Umano

    One other factor that should be considered is that the typical person who would buy your HDR tutorial wouldn’t be a subscriber to Popular Photography. That typical buyer is a relative newcomer to fine art photography and thus, not a subscriber to any photography magazines. This newcomer does online searches to discover new photography techniques and learn about the amazing HDR shots he’s seen. Later as he becomes and expert, he my subscribe to photography magazines. I know, because this describes me. I bought your HDR tutorial, studied along with it, and learned a ton!

  • http://www.stevekalman.com Steve K

    As a very frequent flyer, I follow BoardingArea, a blog consolidator. From what I understand, BoardingArea sells ads that appear on the blog poster’s sub-page and the revenue is split.

    This gives solo bloggers the reach into corporate ad revenue land that they wouldn’t otherwise have the time, talent and clout to get.

    It seems to me that a similar consolidator for photo bloggers would have the same chance to be as successful. Might be a good business model for a former ad-agency person to follow up on.

    (Not me, I’m counting the months [not years] til retirement).

  • http://www.wanderlustwonder.com/ Jan Ross

    I have been a full-time, freelance travel writer for about 2 1/2 years now and I find that companies are much more willing to work with me when they find out that I write a travel column for a magazine. Even though I have thousands of readers in a variety of online venues and even though more travelers every day are using the Internet to get information about travel, many of the companies still want their information in print media. I think it’s changing – I find some people who are very social-media savvy – but it’s happening very slowly!

  • http://None Dave Hoy

    Just heard your blog about advertising. Very thought provoking and I agree this is the wave of the present as well as the future. Whenever I look for anything my first action is to do a google search. Since I “discovered” your Blog I have branched out to others based on your content.e.g. D-Town et.al. some of which I learned about from following your hangouts. I recently got the tutorial and joined the clubhouse, another great source of inspiration and education. I’ll close with the caveat… I only found out about HDR and your blog from the article in Popular Photography, not from the AD.

  • http://oni-studio-photography.com Victoria – Whidbey Island Boudoir Photographer

    Very awesome article, great information, and i’d like to thank you for saving me money by not advertising in traditional print!

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Trey Ratcliff

    Thanks everyone. Very interesting comments.

    It seems that MANY people are in this industry that are commenting and they agree that advertising in magazines is pretty ineffective and a bad choice for your money. It’s generally better to go online and find blogs/podcasts/websites where you can measure the results of your ad campaign.

    Some people say above, “Well, of course Kelby Media did better because those people like and use more software.” Well, I don’t totally buy that. Don’t readers of Popular Photography magazine have computers? Don’t they put their photos on their computers and use things like Lightroom? Does NOBODY (or a small percentage) that reads Popular Photography magazine use Photoshop? I doubt it. And, to take that argument to the extreme, then no software companies should ever advertise in those kinds of magazines. However, I do generally agree with your premise that Kelby Media subscribers have a higher tendency to post-process than the readers of those other magazines.

  • http://www.alannajohnsonphoto.com Alanna Johnson

    This blog was so interesting. I have to say when I saw your list of publications, I only read one of the three. Photoshopuser. It’s a fabulous magazine and the minute I get it I read it cover to cover and I save it forever because no matter what I can go back to it. But you are so right about Kelby. I have become totally bought in to the Kelby lifestyle. I am a NAPP member, I get the podcasts, I go to Photoshop World and I religiously read Scott Kelby’s blog. I think many of the NAPP members are like me as well. So you have a quality clientele reading the magazine and we are working professionals trying to improve our craft. Had it not been for Scott Kelby I would not have been driven to Stuck in Customs as well. So the advertisers need to research quality to get the quantity…
    Great article!

  • Marco

    very interesting results but not surprising. What I find even more interesting is that not one of the publishers has even commented, nor i doubt will, ever comment on your results. I have recently found out my wife is expecting our first child and just picked up a canon t2i and was looking for materials to get me started. Did I venture into the bookstore and start looking at magazines or books? No way, I went online and started looking for blogs! Not once did I come across or look into magazines that may have had what I was looking for.

  • Toni

    I think this is very good research. My undergraduate degree is in marketing and advertising has changed significantly with the internet. Publishers attempt to keep subscription levels up to attract advertisers by littering my mailbox with free or lost cost offers for magazines. I don’t accept many because they just pile up unread. When I am ready to purchase a product, I go to the internet to research and compare prices, get input from friends on social media and try to buy locally if available and competively priced. I’m most likely to be influenced to purchase a product by a friend that uses and likes it or a blogger that a I follow recommending the product.

  • Rebecca B

    You are leaving out something pretty important in your evaluation. Scott Kelby’s readers are more likely to buy your tutorial than the typical popular photography reader. I could have told you that beforehand. His readers are specifically seeking photoshop tutorials. From what I remember, popular photography is more about what’s new in gear with a little technique thrown in. Those aren’t the people who are itching to get their hands on the newest intense photoshop technique. I bet ads for a new tripod would do better on popular photography than in Kelby’s mag. Advertising is all about selecting your target market carefully, and you failed to do that with two magazines. Just because someone is into photography doesn’t mean they are into photoshop. But people who are into photoshop buy anything Kelby publishes, and those are your target customers.

    But the rest of your discovery is probably true. Highly targeted online marketing can be way more cost effective than print, even well targeted print.

  • Lyn Scott

    Been reading your blog for a long time and appreciate the eye opening article. I do love magazines, but it is more about the feel and being able to lay back in bed and enjoy what parts I want to read or not read. I do pay attention to advertising if it’s a new product, but in the end, if it is something I think I might want, I go scour the internet for the cheapest price. I seldom find the cheapest price in the magazine. I appreciate all of the blogs links for me to explore – thanks so much. I am an intermediate photographer and every day is a new learning experience. Your HDR lessons have given me some really neat photos. Happy Holidays, Trey

  • http://chuck-bowser.artistwebsites.com/ Chuck Bowser

    Very well thought out analysis with great results. My undergraduate degree is also in Marketing like Toni’s and this is certainly the way to go for small businesses.

  • Brett Morrison

    I saw your ad in Pop Photo and remember wondering what in the world you were doing with a print ad. My only thought was that maybe you were trying to reach a new demographic that does not spend a great deal of time online. By the way, I bought the course based on a sale code you sent via your email newsletter.

    I think media buyers for large companies are probably limited on time more than money. Additionally, they are often not measured against direct sales and it is not thier own money that they are wasting. It is much easier for them to buy a handful of ads in large magazines than to work with 20 different bloggers.

  • http://rorymadstudios.blogspot.com Michael White

    I think part of the reason why Photoshop User Magazine out performed the other two is because their magazine is designed solely around training. Yes, they do some other things in their magazine but 80% of the content is training, whether that be in Photoshop or Lightroom. The other two magazines have some reviews, they interview photographers about how they find their subjects and how they go about photographing but there’s little expectation of good training when you read them. Neither of the other two seem to embrace HDR as a form of art of a tool in your photography toolbag like NAPP does either.

    Thank you for sharing your findings though, it’s definately eye opening to say the least. I have a blog as well but I have a hard time finding enough content to blog daily or weekly , so my blog collects dust for a month at a time before I find something interesting enough to blog about :)

  • http://weymouth-web.co.uk Adam Holmes

    Thanks Trey, this is really inspiring stuff. I’ve done similar research to this before and I think it’s time that traditional media should stop exploiting it’s customers.

  • http://alliancedigitalmarketing.com Rick Bierut

    Your findings are not unlike other industries or areas of interest.More attention is being shifted to online content, and more of that will be mobile.It is a trend which cannot be overlooked. It is here to stay. And I do enjoy your site and the content you are providing.Best regards

  • http://www.fotoshootparty.nl Mark van Horik

    Hi Trey,

    I just recently found you on Facebook, subscribed to your posts, got to know your blog and just read this article. And all I can say is: You are absolutely right. I myself am an online markteer and I holy believe in the power of internet. Provide the content that people want and they will come to you. Amongst all kinds of businesses (I am also founder of a cloud computing business called Cloud4Bizz – and there I also only use online resources to promote the business – with that in mind you will iunderstand that I love Smugmug;)) I am also a passionate photographer and I started a concept called FotoshootParty (Dutch for PhotoshootParty). I only promote via the internet and don’t use ads. I get all my business via organic search. But as people were saying that I also should use flyers I did that. What a waste was that, I have absolutely no proof that I generated any business via flyers. Traditional media have had their time, it is absolutely eminent that businesses should shift their focus to online.

    PS Keep up the good work. I really enjoy seeing your work.

    Kind regards

    Mark
    The Netherlands

  • http://www.fotoshootparty.nl Mark van Horik

    Forgot to mention…thanks for the SmugMug coupon, it saved me 20%;)

  • http://studio126.net Andy Hardin

    Trey,

    I agree with your assessment overall but I wanted to point out one thing. When I see an ad in a magazine for a product I’m interested in I’ll go on the internet and research it, read reviews, etc, and if I ultimately end up buying it I will get it where I can get the best deal. I think the magazine ads generate some interest that they ultimately don’t get credit for. But, like you, I agree that it’s a dying media and I never buy anything based solely from a magazine ad.

    Andy

  • Rona Heenk

    Ive long suspected this to be the case, based solely on my own behavior. I have never thumbed through a photography magazine looking for products to buy, and if I want to read reviews, those are the last places I would ever look. I’m suspicious of any words that are said by anyone being paid to say them. At most a magazine ad will pique my interest, but then I research it for myself to determine if it’s hype or truly a good product.

  • http://Toddlangille.com Todd Langille

    Shhh!
    Don’t tell anyone!  Soon the big advertisers will start to devote more of their mainstream ‘reach’ budgets to the type of targeting that you tested here..

    I spent 17 years in the radio and television advertising sales business. Yes reach sells!  That I found out when I switched from the targeted radio business with their different music formats to network televions sales. Tv reaches more en mass and works better. It also, as everyone knows costs much more. But imagine if you will if you had advertised your tutorial on TV. Lots of people will have heard about you (the popular magazine ads you ran) but many won’t have known how your product would help them!  Your photoshop user ad was targeted better to people who ‘use’ this type of product and the mag worked your ads by adding value to your purchase on their site. More targeted promotion with the reach of the mag. 

    I have bought your tutorial and found it on the SIC site. So I am living where this stuff is more relevant. So yes shh!  These blogs are ‘targeted’ and reach people who ‘use’ or have the ability to use your product. No surprise to me that you got the response you got. No surprise that you get an even better response from your own site. 

    Perhaps what you could do is spend budget to promote the site in those mags (brand awareness) then turn blog viewers into buyers of specific product from there. Unfortunately now you are spending money on brand awareness which promotes Ogilvy’s saying ( I think it was him who said) “I know 50% of my advertising works…I just don’t know which 50%!   Good work, and you are right they won’t like you in the mag business. 

  • http://www.wallartdecorstore.com Kyle Franklin Neuberger

    Thank you for this great article, Trey. As a full-time online marketing strategist (that’s my other passion besides photography), your results certainly do not surprise me. The web continues to gain momentum as more traditional media forms fade.

    There’s one important aspect to this study that I believe may have swayed the results a bit. That is, the product that is being sold. A video product would entice an audience that is closest to the video medium…and that means of course the online audience. Targeting an audience that is reading magazines is more distant from the video medium, and thus, would seemingly lower response rates.

    In this regard, my advice would be to sell the video to your online audience and sell your book to your magazine audience. Running your ad placements in the medium (online) which follows the medium of the product your selling (online video) will have the greatest odds of success.

    It would be interesting to see this same test, but instead use your HDR book (great job by the way.) I’m willing to guess that the results may be a bit closer. I’m not saying the traditional forms would WIN, but they would be more profitable for you with your printed ads since you’re selling a printed product.

    Just my two cents;-) Keep up the incredible work Trey.

  • http://www.upforafeed.com Joseph

    Interesting findings from your experiment. I wonder how long these magazines can continue to charge such high rates from adds when they are not delivering results. I wonder if a Photoshop User reader is more likely to be into HDR (and stuff more than your basic photoshop edits ie using plugins etc.) that a Popular Photography or Suttterbug reading which might have an effect the results too.

  • http://paulbellinger.smugmug.com Paul Bellinger

    Hey Trey, I’ve got an issue with your “scientific controlled experiment.” In my view it’s not an experiment and your conclusions were not derived scientifically. That said, I don’t disagree with your sentiment or even your conclusions, but it should be recognized that they are based on anecdotal evidence, not scientific evidence. To be brief, in a “controlled experiment,” the analyst can test their hypothesis while controlling for all other possible explanations. This is easy to do in a science lab. Imagine two petri dishes are identical in every way except the scientist put a drop of iodine in one and not the other. In this case, the scientist can be reasonably confident that any differences between the two petri dishes can be attributed to the iodine. In your case you have three petri dishes (magazines), but we cannot be reasonably confident that the only difference between the three is that one is more open to web-based advertising. There may be many other differences that you are not accounting for (not controlling for in science parlance). Some other commenters have mentioned a few of these, for instance, that the magazines attract different demographics that predispose them to certain buying habits. So are your results driven by web vs. print or different demographics? Well the evidence you present cannot discern between these two hypotheses, so neither hypothesis can be rejected. If you could account for the different demographics, then we could rule out that explanation and be more confident in your argument. The more explanations you can account for, the more confident we can be in the results. Now I totally understand that controlling for alternative explanations is a hard thing to do when you’re not in a science lab. As a political scientist, I face these difficulties with every research project I pursue (as politics does not occur in a science lab). But after dealing with these issues for a long time I know it can be done. If you ever want to consult with me about creating a better research design please do contact me. The more data you have collected the better, and I would be happy to confidentially analyze it for you.

    To sum, your argument may be accurate and your evidence is consistent with your argument, but your evidence is also consistent with other arguments that cannot be ruled out. It may just be that the poor performing magazines simply had a bad three months, or your coupon codes for those two magazines were awkward, or it may just be that the readership of Kelby media is more into post processing, or your ads were different in each magazine and readers had a different reaction to them, or any other differences between your three groups. In the end the difference in your sales may have nothing to do with web vs. print. But if you really want to know, you need to control for some of the most convincing alternative explanations.

    By the way, I love your blog and your photography. Just to be clear, I don’t necessarily disagree with your conclusions, I just don’t have much confidence in them given the evidence you’ve presented here.

  • http://lightandnature.wordpress.com Karanmohan Kauchhur

    Wow ! this actually is very interesting.
    I think people generally buy a few magazines a year.. and mostly end up looking at the images and ignore the adv. They look for the photographer names and start following them on Twitter and FB and now G+ . Thats a lot of money getting wasted. I’d say take 10% of that budget and give it in Charity or every month donate a camera to a child and let his/her imagination grow.
    Thanks for sharing, it seems like an expensive experiment but makes a lot of sense.

  • http://natureimaging.com Johnny

    Interesting read and listen……kinda like real estate, location, location, location. In this instance it is all about marketing, marketing, marketing and knowing your target market and where they reside. Pop Photography and Shutterbug are in my opinion novice magazines, and thus a lot of folks think HDR is cool UNTIL they find out what it really takes to be sufficient at producing those nice images. Then they are probably like me looking at one of those magazines at the newsstand,open, thumb through it, put it back. Like others, I get PS User but I also subscribe to Outdoor Photographer, yep those two know their target markets.

  • http://whitebulldog.mx Graham

    Hi Trey

    You really need to dig that one step further and ask the affiliate websites where their traffic comes from that CONVERT your HDR tutorial – are they long time subscribers, or brand new subscribers?????

    Why?

    Just google “stuck in customs hdr tutorial discount” and half way down the page you will see why your biggest affiliates are converting the best – their organic SEO for certain keywords is definitely influencing their sales rather than solely their subscriber base.

    Regards

  • http://susancarrollseger.blogspot.com Susan Carroll-Seger

    Lots of comments here Trey. I am glad you are talking about this and I personally agree with you on all points. My feeling is that internet access should be free for all and that in turn would educate and inform more individuals. Will this happen, not likely but one can hope. So as an internet user, social media addict and blogger/photographer, I find most of my info on blogs via referral through FB,Twitter etc.
    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and insights. Susan in St Augustine,Fl.

  • Matthew Range

    Interesting article, but I need to ask what made you choose the magazines you did? In my mind you advertised to the wrong market.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/gimmeocean/ Omar Sanders

    Trey, quite an interesting blog. Print is definitely a media that is, unfortunately, dying a slow death. There is that tangible something that appeals to me about holding a book or a magazine or a catalog in my hands. I spend many, many hours in front of a computer and I truly appreciate the immediacy and efficiency of researching, purchasing and then tracking purchases. With that said, I have to agree with the points that Paul Bellinger (#82) raises above. The straight line assumptions you make don’t look very straight to me.

  • http://www.1stimage.com Bob Messina

    I live in a “small” business friendly city north of Los Angeles. In this community there are many magazines which have cropped up over the past couple of decades. The community has a radio station and newspaper. Most of the magazines are basically advertising tabloids, with articles written by advertisers. I have on occasion advertised in some of the more established publications including the newspaper. Because of being close to the L.A. area I question how many listen to the local radio station whose owner is very active in the community. They do cover Dodger games locally which I am sure attracts listeners and advertisers.

    Going back to the magazines, I have gotten little to no phone calls as a results of those ads, not business, phone calls. I no longer advertise in them. Quite surprising we get business (photography) calls as a results of the local AT&T phone book yellow pages. The ad was thrown in with my on line advertising.

    Last Saturday night I did a party for an apparel company in Beverly Hills. I asked the contact how he found me and he told me “Google”, that our photography business was the second listing on Google for the search he did. We do get phone and e-mails as a result of on line advertising.

    Regarding e-mails, we get many inquiries which turn out to be hoaxes and frauds. I no longer will deal with these inquiries without personal contact, by phone or meeting face to face. The event we did Saturday night I almost refused to show up since I had not gotten the contract and deposit. All communication was e-mail. The client did make phone contact with me and I agreed to do the party. I was paid at the party, which turned out to be a wonderful photographic experience for me and the attendees whom I photographed.

  • http://www.bryanfarrell.co.uk Bryan

    we live in a constant changing world and as photographers an increasingly comparative world, we now need to understand not only our craft but marketing and how we get out name out there and yes the old ways ate no longer as relevant and even todays reality will one day be no longer relevant. As a wedding photographer i still have some of the more traditional outlets available to me but the digital age offers me many more ways to promote myself but it is difficult to stand out in the sea that exists online.

    thank you for this post and it’s interesting and ‘current’ content, it’s a changing world and we have to change with it, i look forward to seeing where we go next.

  • Ben

    I subscribe to one magazine (Wired) that I originally got for free. I only resubscribed because they kept sending me offers that were cheaper and cheaper. Now that I recently got an iPad through work, I am expieriementing on reading it on that. I was dismayed to see the same advertising, heck it was worse becuase it was interactive, or a video or something obnoxious.

    I can’t really recall any ads from their magazine, but faithfully reading your blog for about the same time as having that subscription I can recall several affiliates that you use and publish coupons for. Ironically, I’ve probably spent less time overall reading posts and articles on your site than in the magazine. What does that tell you about print advertisting? Methinks it’s dead.

  • http://ericfoleyphotography.com Eric

    Love the blog Trey. My thoughts are perhaps the Kelby Media was the more direct market for your product thus resulting in the landslide effect. I have been reluctant to advertise in mags for that very reason. As a “MICRO” business (a business that doesn’t have 30k to adv) I can’t afford to make mistakes. There are tons of less expensive ways to adv on these blogs that will give you features along with your listings too! More bang for the buck is the bottom line right?

  • http://www.lisa-stewart.com Lisa

    Trey, love your work, love your blog. My interest was piqued when I read this headline because I’ve been having the same issues. Now I’m struggling to find like-minded blogs for my work.

    Meanwhile, when I have urge to research, I bring out the laptop, not run to the bookstore, to quell my needs. It’s unfortunate that print is getting a beating, but it needs to conform to the needs of the new consumer. Blogs and reviews online are the way to bring one’s product recognition and I hope the big guys finally realize that.

  • http://www.rodmelotte.com Grinder

    You mirrored what a Social Media seminar said to me last week – Social Media is THE advertising of the future. Only 57% of readers trust a normal advertisement, while 90% trust their friends. This is why Best Buy now does massive advertising and selling on Facebook.

    You are bang on correct.

  • Paul Furniss

    I was really interested when I saw your blog on this topic as i am starting a new business and hope to sell images and my services as a printer and framer, i am old school and find it hard to get into social media and the benefits thereof, but am also willing to give it a go, I duly watched the vidio and found it fascinating, but then a few thoughts crept in (mentioned by a few others too)and that in the demographics of the magazines you chose, the first two may have served you well had you been selling equipment or even manual tutorials or holidays, advertising in a photoshop based mag would be the obvious choice and was so proved, good idea for an experiment but unfair on two of the mags you chose, try again selling, say a new fandangle camera strap in the same three mags and I’ll bet you a FREE copy of your tutorial the stats would be reversed.

    I agree with you that this may be the way to go, just not a fair experiment, oh, and I still love to read my camera mags in bed on a Sunday morning and hope they will be around for a long time to come, but I buy online!

  • Katz

    I think your analysis is somewhat on, but also may be a little skewed due to your investment. Sometimes someone with nothing to lose has a better objective view, so here’s my two cents.
    I think the Kelby media did better because your audience was more likely to be interested in HDR. Also, they are more apt to try the HDR techniques compared to a common Popular Photography reader. Let’s face it, HDR requires A LOT more time and processing than your regular reader would probably be interested in. Kelby’s audience is already familiar with Photoshop and more complicated techniques, so it appeals to this crowd more. I think the numbers that you got are not surprising at all. There are very few people in general that want to take the extra time to produce an HDR photo. If they can get close to the pic they want, that will suffice. In other words, your market is small to start.

    In reality, there are VERY few people that I know that take the camera off auto, even if they have an SLR. I’m different. I’m a techie and work in IT. I don’t think your average reader of Popular photography or Shutterbug are all that techie and sophisticated. The just want some quick tips to take them out of the typical snapshot mode. Whether the advertisement is physical paper or digital, it’s really the same thing. One comes on an IPAD (or other tablet) and the other is physical. Remember also, people don’t subscribe to magazines for the ad’s, it’s for the articles. Most flip past the ad’s.

    Let me just say I REALLY appreciate your site and your work. It’s very inspirational to me, but that’s because I’m a “photo nut” and willing to go to the extra effort for the best photo. The flip side though is that HDR is a lot more time consuming and more complicated as stated earlier and will appeal to a smaller group of people. That said, most of the camera users will wait until there is an auto setting for HDR that does all the processing internally and comes out like your images. There are some now, but the results are not that great, at least comparing it to your work. HDR will then become the “norm”, much like HDTV or other high definition examples.

    You seem like a very intelligent person, so I’m sure you know most of the above. But just in case, I thought I’d throw my two cents in the ring since your asking.

  • http://www.catherinehall.net/blog Catherine Hall

    Insightful read – I truly appreciate the investment and courage this experiment required. Well done.

    It is interesting how those that do not ride the wave of change can’t truly capitalize on the power of social evolution.  I would argue that this has been going on a lot longer than the dawn of the internet.  Are television commercials effective now that we can fast forward through them? This is what I have always done to ads in magazines; I fast forward through “interrupt marketing”.  And even if i did stop, what would it be for?  To write the info on a post-it that would inevitably get lost in the abyss and only be found when I don’t know what it means anymore?

    I have resisted print advertising since the beginning as the ROI seemed unmeasurable (which you have disproven here).  There are so many ways to invest, so many more innovative ways…ways that capitalize on the digital era and take advantage of what this information age has to offer.

    I truly enjoyed this article, ironically not because of what I learned, but because it forced me to think and create a conscious opinion about something that has always made sense to me intuitively.

  • http://www.scottygraham.blogspot.com Scotty Graham

    Hey Trey…while I agree with you that the web is WAY better for advertising than magazines, I can understand why Nikon, Canon, EPSON and Sony don’t pay for advertising on blogger’s websites….why should they? They are getting great advertisements for FREE from the thousands of bloggers and reviewers on the web. I am sure you single handily made Photomatix a household name, and Photomatix never paid you a dime (right?). You opened your essay by emphatically saying you are independent. Nikon doesn’t pay you a dime, nor Smugmug, or any other product you endorse on your site. Because of that, people trust what you say and respect your opinion. So if the tides turned, and Nikon offered you or other bloggers 100,000 dollars a month to advertise on your site, would you accept? If you do accept, than you would no longer be credible in what you say about Nikon…people would just say, “Trey only says that about Nikon because he is paid by Nikon to say nice things”. Nikon, Canon, and others know this…they would lose credibility if they pay bloggers to endorse their products. Yes, it would be nice to get money from these big companies, but in the end, I think it would eventually hurt the blogger…they would no longer be independent or trusted.

  • http://photoluminary.com/ Rachael Towne

    Thanks Trey,

    My site is nowhere near the level of yours, and I haven’t yet developed any products, but I am a new affiliate of yours (and also for many other companies).

    About 9 months ago I tried my hand at purchasing Google ads via Adwords. Big mistake! Lots of clicks but very few sales on my affiliate products. At this point, about a year after starting my site, I am making about $500 per month on affiliate sales. This is nothing compared to your income I know, but I see it as a good start! All of my traffic is free traffic mostly from Google, but some from Twitter and other social media.

    You are an inspiration to me! I hope to be able to generate some sales of your products.

  • http://ranger9.net Ranger 9

    VERY interesting analysis! I’m sure print-media professionals would raise a few counterpoints, possibly including:

    1) The medium that works best depends on the product. HDR is a hot topic among online-oriented photographers, but possibly not so much among traditionalist photographers who constitute the primary readership of print media. (Personally, I know what HDR is but have no interest whatsoever in doing it.) This means it’s not surprising that an HDR product would do poorly in print ads and well in online advertising, but other types of products might show an opposite mix.

    2) The medium that works best also depends on the selling channel. If the purchaser is most likely to buy the product online, it makes sense to advertise it online; that gives the shortest path between the message and the action of buying. However, for consumers who prefer to buy in brick-and-mortar stores, and products that tend to be sold there, the online medium has fewer advantages.

    I’m not advocating those positions myself, though; in fact, I’d categorize them as whistling past the graveyard. I suspect print still has value for building an institutional brand presence for camera companies — but for spot-selling specific items, such as you did in your test… well, you want your “store” to be where the customers are, and if the customers are online, the conclusion is obvious.

    One thing you can’t neglect, though, is the role of ego. The marketing people who make ad-buying decisions like results… but they also like impressing their friends and colleagues, and a splashy ad spread in a glossy publication just plain makes them look like bigger wheels than a campaign (even a very effective campaign) scattered among a thousand blogs.

    So while I wish your results would suddenly cause MY sorry little photography blog to become profitable, I’m not holding my breath…

  • Lisa

    While your experiment is revealing I disagree that it is unbiased and a 100% truth. Sure digital media is the future but many people still live in the present and even the past and not everyone is interested in HDR photography. As usual your fan base is a little to “Yeah Trey”. I appreciate what you share but it is unsettling to me that you are becoming the King of internet photography.

  • http://www.ephotozine.com Peter Bargh

    Very interesting. As the publisher of an internet based product, ePHOTOzine.com that’s now ten years old, and someone who’s been in the magazine publishing industry for 20+ years I know the struggles that the internet publishers have had in the early days. Trying to convince media buyers to move to web advertising was no mean feat.

    But I also know how misleading the web can be to the less savey advertiser. We’ve had small scale publishers/bloggers claiming hundreds of thousands of “hits”, convincing advertisers that these “hits” were people. The industry is wiser now but these guys have just switched hit to unique and still mislead.

    To over come this we subscribe to ABC (an independent auditor) to validate our claims. Very few (if any) of our competition do this.

    I find your research interesting and possibly unfair – I have one question – if you’d been a nobody with a new product would Scott Kelby have paid any more interest than the other two? Perhaps he got his team to give you special treatment. That said it’s still not favourable for printed media.

  • Andrew

    I echo everything Lisa (above me) said except for the “king of internet photography” part. I for one never heard of you until I saw this “bomb” article mentioned in a retweet on someone’s twitter feed.

    I agree that digital is the way to go and paper is dying, that’s logical. I just feel that using an HDR ad as your entire basis for this is short sighted. HDR is a fad. People who do it attract others who do it so it makes it seem more popular than it is to that niche group. Also, with the Kelby group just putting out a book on HDR and specifically targeting those interested, it further skews your results. As for me, I have dozens of real life photog friends and only one I know of is sort of into HDR. Most scoff at it actually. My few online contacts who do some HDR are new to photography and are looking for a “wow effect” without putting in the time and effort behind the camera. If the ad was for something more mainstream (the crowd those two magazines target) I bet the results would differ.

    I subscribe to Shutterbug and also follow blogs like Kelby’s, purchase his Light It magazine on iPad and embrace the new technologies. I just bought Onone’s new Portrait software for example but guess how I heard of it? Shutterbug Magazine! Onone has no idea how I discovered it though. There’s no accurate tracking for paper based advertising like there is from a single website. Which further skews your results in this finding.

    I agree that web advertising is the future but your writing off the entire paper-published photography world in one fell swoop based on an HDR ad of your own making shows a real lack of insight and can in no way be considered un-biased. Your targeted audience just wasn’t there or purchased it without citing the magazine they heard of it from. Sounds to me like you’re having a hard time accepting that HDR isn’t as big and popular with most photographers as you thought it was.

    I’m calling shenanigans and this article to be nothing more than a way to drive more traffic to your own site. So in that I give you kudos, you got me here for the first time. After looking at what you mostly post (overcooked hdr) I definitely won’t be back.

    Nice advertising ploy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AaronPatterson.Photographer Aaron

    I think this article has major issues………………I tend to agree that this article is an example of how marketing dollars can easily be lost, especially since you PAID roughly $132 per unit sold. When I came to the company I work for, they were paying around $400 per person for customer acquisition (on newspaper advertising) and that is crazy! You lost money because you are applying yourself incorrectly.

    What you need to realize is you are also dealing with the issue of brand recognition. If your goal is for an instant return (which small companies tend to do because of lack of experience or finances) then you will be sorely disappointed. You should also never do billboards, radio, television commercials or any other form of print. The goal of a run in a magazine isn’t to get people to run to your website and buy your product (although, with a good call to action, you can get that reaction) because most people wont and most marketing professionals know this. The goal of those large, one page ads is to get their product as visible as possible and if they can, get an emotional reaction out of you. If you see that BEAUTIFUL new lens in a really great looking ad, you will subconsciously remember that reaction at the point of sale. Essentially the game is a game of “contact” points. The more places you see the name or logo of a company, the more you will be willing to buy that product. Sales are not direct but they happen. When you see that really funny ad on TV or that really cool ad in a magazine, that will influence you when you are ready to make that purchase. You are expecting people to just buy your product when they see your ad in the magazine and it almost never works like that. When they WANT a product, they may buy yours down the road because they saw your ad.

    In that case, the magazines and every other print, television or radio ad makes sense and work.

    If you are looking to build referrals or INSTANT sales then obviously those magazines are not the place to go but if you are needing to build a nationally recognizable brand then those places are almost required. It is kinda sad to see such a huge reaction and lynching mob develop from such a simple marketing mistake.

    The company I work for is now seeing customer acquisition of around $20 with a huge increase in new customers because of understanding the direct VS branding. That is my 2 cents (I wont go into ad copy and design for increased conversion, this comment is too long already)

    I hope your advertising and sales pick up Trey, you have great resources!

  • http://www.sabotimages.com Ed Devereaux

    Trey, You have found out what my regular job found out, print advertising is only as good as the supporting online presence. Too many print companies have found this out too late. When the web was young the web was secondary to the print products and too many did not realize this in time. Kelby Media did recognize it in time. This is not to say it is the same for all web advertising. I still believe certain target markets have an increased benefit in the print product, fashion and style for one. ROI is something that every advertiser needs to take in consideration before buying any advertising and the negotiating the price can improve your ROI. A print price sheet is rarely set in stone.

  • Michael D.

    Trey: I’m a big fan, and got the HDR course from you about 6 months ago. I have experience with designing ads and procuring space for them in trade magazines. I just wanted to add a few notes. (a)Other than the points that most have agreed on, (though I don’t agree 100%) the two posts above, by ‘Aaron’ and ‘Ed Devereaux’ have the most insight into the subject. (b)Print advertising is not a short term venture, but a long-term relationship with the readers. (c)Smaller ads can be just as (or more) effective than full-page ads. (d)Contrary to what the ad agencies and managers tell you, the established rules CAN be bent (and broken) with good results. (e)If you are interested in perusing this further, I know of someone in your area (no relation) that is very knowledgeable on this subject.
    – Michael D.

  • http://rnvanya.wordpress.com/ Rob V.

    Timely and important report. I will share this info with our Marketing office. We have been gradually spending more on web advertising, and this data graphically illustrates a truth that many in the business can no longer ignore — that Internet advertising (if properly executed) can be as effective, and perhaps even more effective than the more “traditional” type of advertising (i.e. newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV). Speaking of TV, that’s one advertising method that I believe is way over-rated, and way over-priced.

  • http://DigitalPhotographyDepartment.com Tyson

    What a great way to illustrate your point. I believe that we are at a junction in media. Where new media has become very powerful and has filled holes that old media cannot even fill. Like you said all of print publishing is trending down. Yet all the big advertisers are still doing business as usual. I would predict that as more and more information like this comes to the surface advertisers will take note. People who are actually paying any attention to the photography world know that blogs like you mentioned above are the future of photography information. What I love about the internet is the guarantee, the metrics, the A/B testing that can be done to prove advertising is affective. It is so easy to measure your campaign success you would think big advertisers would love that. I think we will see a shift of thinking within the next few years. People will start to notice the success of online publications and move their money online. Great post Trey!

  • http://economicsurvivor.net Russ

    Don’t care where I see it, any camera ad with some hunky guy photographing a tasty blonde chick draped over a classy car and I’ll get my wallet out. Time I replaced my Spotmatic anyway …

  • http://www.flavormadesimple.com Dan Canepa

    Trey,
    Very interesting study in reference to blogs and a very powerful source of information. I am just starting out with an on-line business that will focus on Gourmet foods and am researching different food blogs now for content and am contacting those who may be interested in trying my product which is a unique spice blend for flavor made simple.
    Thanks for your video, very supportive of my approach in terms of exposure and I agree with your thoughts on blogs vs. paper advertising!

  • Ben

    Interesting article. One thing I wonder though, which wasn’t addressed, was the impact of the nature of the product being advertised. For your product, a downloadable video tutorial, it makes natural sense that the best place to advertise would be online since the call to action – making an online transaction for virtual goods – can most directly be taken if you’re a) an internet user and b) already online. People reading print magazines are probably self selected to be people who prefer offline methods of instruction, and even if they are frequent computer users, are probably sitting back and relaxing away from their screens at the time the see the ad. Compare that to advertising in Kelby Media, an audience that is likely already self selected to prefer the type of online video tutorial courses that you’re advertising. It makes sense that the results would be different, although maybe not necessarily as dramatically different as you found. It would be interesting to compare the results for other types of products that are not so techy/online as HDR – something like a lensbaby or a Holga or instamax film that people would be more likely to buy in the real world after playing with it at a local shop.

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  • Colecturia

    With all due respect

    I don’t think it is your job to tell advertisers how to allocate and their advertising budgets, a “Klout” score doesn’t give you that kind of leverage. In a similar vein to what Andrew wrote previously, I never heard your name nor your blog before, and the people you mentioned at the end of your post? two of them are well known, but not the rest. If you’re well known in Google plus or Twitter then kudos to you, but that’s only a fraction of the overall market these brands cater to.One must be careful when we start believing our own press, as we may start developing an insular view of how things really work. There’s no doubt that paper advertising is quickly diminishing, but don’t jump into conclusions such as the one’s you’re trying to imply here. The blogging world is quite comparable to the old west; Everyone jumping into the bandwagon and heading out for promised riches, while some succeeded, the vast amount did not. There’s tons of Social Media hype out there, and many so called “gurus” and “experts”; remember the Y2K era when the media went crazy making calls and predictions about the new so-called “new economy”? 
    Remember what happened next?

    Camera companies like the ones you mentioned are still around because they are smart at building equipment and promoting it; you may not agree with their business models and that’s fine, at the end of the day HDR is a trend, and to me, It’s not good barometer to measure great craftsmanship in photography, it may be somewhere in the future -but not now.

    Best Regards

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  • Bryanff

    the future is online although i still love print and printed material. the big boys feel that they have to keep their name in the public domain and in mainstream advertising because to pull out sends a message that they are in trouble (or so they believe). coke pay ridiculous amounts of cash to have their product seen in films, to be drank and handled by the ‘right’ people and i believe there is still a value to that but do i think if they stopped doing that tomorrow nobody would be drinking coke this time next year? no, and i think it would take a long time for that to have an effect but i do think over time it would.

    your specific experiment, i think the likes go Kelby & Co are seen more as educators and “trustworthy” more than the traditional publications and there is a perception that the big publications are established and out to make money selling what ever they can, that’s not to say that scott doesn’t have an eye on the ROI.

    either way a very interesting piece and it has sparked some good reaction and strong opinion, and as they say all publicity is good publicity : )

  • mu43rumors

    you should have printed your Coupon BIGGER like Canon and Nikon actually do it, not so small at the BOTTOM. You got a lot to learn Roockie.

  • J-D Bamford

    Regarding the video quality – is there some sort of focus breathing going on? In the background I could see your bookshelves subtly shifting in size, proportion, and barrel distortion…

  • http://twitter.com/ultrahalifax Ultra Videography

    I agree with the magazine advertising. I get a lot of calls and some of them don’t take no for an answer =) It’s nothing against magazines, it’s just money can be spent better (or not at all) on marketing through pinterest, blogging, and many other ways. Sometimes I hear “55,000 viewers per week in our magazine” That’s actually about 15,000 as they get their figures assuming the passing of the magazine to others. If I spent money elsewhere besides a magazine/newspaper, I am sure I’d fill my season up easily. Magazines may be good for slower branding, but I’d only do it if it was close to free. The internet is very targeted for advertising which I like, and people can feature you on their site if they love your work as opposed to a magazine saying “Oh hey we want to feature you for $1200.00″. I can’t forget to mention word of mouth. Holy crap does that ever work well =)

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