Missed Advertiser Opportunity: Fortune Mag’s “Kindle” Strategy

The May 9th issue of Fortune Magazine contains a terrific 22 page article by Adam Lashinsky called “Inside Apple.” As has been much reported, Fortune withheld the article from its website. To read Lashinsky’s article, you have to subscribe (magazine subscribers get free iPad access), haul yourself to a newsstand or pay 99 cents at Amazon.com’s Kindle store to buy it as a short eBook. Amazingly, the Lashinsky article hit #9 in the Kindle store, outselling full-length books.

At 22 pages — seven of which are illustrations or content light — 99 cents is tad steep, but is sure beats the full cover price of $4.99.

Personally, I was so interested in this strategy that I paid the $19.99 annual subscription fee and now can happily read Fortune on my iPad in full and, apparently, ad free.

This is a bright, sunny day for Time, Inc., publisher of Fortune, and its peers as the success of the Kindle strategy suggests that premium content can command premium prices even in digital environments.

But there are players missing from this game.

Did no B2B advertiser think to subsidize this 99 cent fee? I can imagine that non-Apple competitors and big B2B spenders like Prudential, Staples, FedEx and Monster could have benefited by adopting a Hulu-like-strategy with Amazon and Fortune: “you can pay 99 cents and get this article ad-free, or you can pay 49 cents and get a version sponsored by…”

Surely Verizon, Apple’s new partner in iPhone love and a huge B2B spender, could have used the energy surrounding this article and the general fascination with Apple to accelerate interest in their version of the iPhone. Verizon might have sent an email to its subscribers saying, “read this best-selling article, on us!”

FedEx might have worked with Amazon for a separate, sponsored edition of the article with a limit of the first 1,000 or 10,000 people to come.

Did nobody think of this? Would Amazon decline to create sponsored editions? Would Time, Inc. decline because it wants to retrain its readership and potential readership into the practice of paying good money for good content?

I’m fascinated both by what’s in the Fortune strategy and what’s missing.

Two terrific ad:tech SF opportunities!

ad:tech San Francisco starts Monday afternoon, and I’m thrilled to announce that we have two great opportunities for conference attendees to be a bigger part of our sessions.

Get Presentation Tips from the Best in the Business: Sign up today!

Even experienced speakers can learn something new, and if you’re nervous standing in front of your colleagues or strangers then you need strategies to help you knock the presentation out of the park without having your knees knock together. At this year’s ad:tech San Francisco we’re proud to present two of the world’s foremost authorities on presentations – Nancy Duarte and Guy Kawasaki – as they help YOU make the most out of your presentation.

Want to have them go over your deck and give you pointers in their Wednesday morning session? Just fill out our form, upload your deck and you’ll be in the running for a real-time lesson on powerful, engaging presentations!  Sign up today!

Be there Wednesday, April 13, at 10:30am for “Great Presentations: Learn How to Engage Your Audience.”


  • Nancy Duarte, CEO, Duarte Design
  • Guy Kawasaki, Co-Founder, Alltop, and Founding Partner, Garage Technology Ventures

Free Consultation! Is Your Site Talking to the Right People?

Your business website is one-size fits all…. and that’s a bad thing! Different sorts of internet users approach sites differently: the colors that work for a stay-at-home mom aren’t the same as those that work for a 30 year old male sports fan. If you don’t know how your target customer uses the web, then this is a must-attend session. Join Joseph Carrabis — acclaimed neuroscientist, researcher, founder of the NextStage companies and author of the book “Reading Virtual Minds” – in a fast-paced session where we tour your URLs and figure out where they’re working and where they’re failing to connect with customers.

To get actionable, real-time advice on your company site, simply fill out our form: we’ll select several sites to review live in session.

Be there Tuesday, April 12, at 10:30am for “Reading Customers’ Minds: Neuromarketing without the Wires.”  Sign up today!


  • Joseph Carrabis, NeuroMarketer-in-Residence, Critical Mass

Interesting Tidbits for March 16th

Things worth reading for March 4th through March 16th:

The State of the News Media 2011 – Here’s the direct study from Pew that Reuters summarized in the next link.

Online readership and ad revenue overtake newspapers | Reuters – Reuters Summary: “For the first time, online readership and advertising revenue has surpassed that of print newspapers.

“Online advertising revenue in the United States is projected to overtake print newspaper ad revenue in 2010, according to the latest report, the State of the News Media, from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.”

LivingSocial in Talks to Raise $500 Million – WSJ.com – “LivingSocial Inc., a website offering daily coupons, is in active talks with investors to raise around $500 million to help fuel its expansion and keep up with rival Groupon Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

“The move comes just three months after LivingSocial said it had raised $175 million from Amazon.com Inc. It isn’t clear what valuation LivingSocial is seeking or which investors are involved in the talks, but one person familiar with the matter said the company would like to raise $100 million from handful of marquee investors.”

Groupon Nightmare: Small Business Posie – Truly interesting article about the perils of using Groupon without proper planning.

All the Aggregation That’s Fit to Aggregate – NYTimes.com – The NYT’s Bill Keller on today’s journalism, including this ZING on HuffPo: ‘Last month, when AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million, it was portrayed as a sign that AOL is moving into the business of creating stuff — what we used to call writing or reporting or journalism but we now call “content.” Buying an aggregator and calling it a content play is a little like a company’s announcing plans to improve its cash position by hiring a counterfeiter.’

When Shakespeare Goes Disastrously Wrong – Funny Videos | Cracked.com – Very cute and worth a look.

What today’s brand marketers can learn from William Shakespeare — iMediaConnection Blog – Check out Gretchen Hyman’s kind coverage of my iMedia Brand Summit talk on Monday!

Facebook Users to Get Warner Bros. Movies – WSJ.com – The biggest part of this story is here: “Warner Bros.’ move also indicates that, at least for now, Facebook prefers to simply allow other companies to use its popular platform to set up their own virtual screening rooms, with Facebook taking a cut of sales.”

How To Do Propagation Planning – Really interesting deck.

If you like this, please follow me on Twitter as @bradberens for more!


The Shakespeare Brand: Yesterday’s iMedia Talk now UP on YouTube

UPDATE: More of the talk now embedded below.

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of speaking at the iMedia Brand Summit– an event that I’ve been intimately associated with for years but at which I’ve rarely presented while wearing my research hat.  This talk is the seed of my next book length project, and I was delighted to see that most of it is already on YouTube this morning:


Here’s the handbook description:

On February 11, 2011 Disney released a new kids movie called “Gnomeo & Juliet” based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Why? What made Disney think that an animated love story about lawn gnomes would somehow be better – or, at least, more marketable — with a connection to a play first performed in London in 1595? The answer is simple: Shakespeare created one of history’s most powerful brands. Allusions to and adaptations of his plays permeate our culture, and not just in movies and TV. In Corpus Christi in 1845, while serving in the infantry, bored and waiting for the Mexican War to start, future President Ulysses S. Grant killed time playing the role of Desdemona– the female lead in “Othello.” Imagine George W. Bush or Barack Obama doing that! We don’t typically think of Shakespeare as a successful brand story, but we should because the way Shakespeare created, bonded with and nurtured his customer base has actionable lessons for marketers today. Don’t get distracted by the tights, skulls, swords and iambic pentameter: what really distinguished Shakespeare was his longitudinal and economic relationship with his customers. In today’s insight address, iMedia’s own Chief Content Officer (and a bona fide Shakespearean) will unpack this economic relationship and explore how deploying the Shakespeare Strategy can empower marketing in today’s digital media landscape.

I’ll post when Part II comes live or repost the whole thing to YouTube once I get the files.

Please let me know what you think!