Our Ceo, John Loughlin, Spoke with the Alliance for Audited Media About Great Content Experiences

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As CEO of Next Issue Media John Loughlin oversees the strategy and operations for the world’s largest all-access magazine streaming service, Texture. In this interview, he shares the importance of robust, premium publishing brands in a digital environment that’s littered with free and diluted content.

Texture is a streaming subscription service from Next Issue Media LLC that delivers premium magazine content to its paid subscribers. Now five years old, Next Issue Media was founded and funded by the industry’s largest publishing players, including Hearst, Meredith, Time Inc., Conde Nast, Rogers Media and News Corp. Since then, the company has enhanced the service and rebranded its unlimited-access digital magazine product from “Next Issue Media” to “Texture.”  The platform both preserves the traditional magazine reading experience and allows readers access to individual stories, collections from different titles and the ability to save and share articles.

AAM: How has the relaunch of your product as Texture engaged consumers?

John Loughlin: Our research has shown that consumers often use their smartphone during the morning commute, especially in the big cities with public transportation, and end the day on their tablet. Of the consumers who we interviewed, many expressed that they would often see an article but not have the time to read it, so they would then lose the article. That is something we’ve addressed with Texture. With one tap, consumers can save an article to their “collection” of stories to any device that’s registered to their Texture account, so when they get home that evening they can read it on their tablet. Plus, now we indicate the estimated amount of time it would take to read each article, a feature that has become a useful cue for our subscribers.

The big focus for 2016 is to make a great experience specifically on smartphone devices, a challenge that virtually every magazine publisher faces. Most magazine content is output into PDFs, but they are not very flexible and cannot be optimized for a three- or four-inch screen. You have to fundamentally redesign the page. So we’re working on a process that converts a PDFs into HTML to present a superior mobile experience.

AAM: What role do you think unlimited-access digital programs play in the growth of magazine audiences?

JL: Magazines are incredibly important. They carry curated, premium and fact-checked content that is finely designed and editorially and aesthetically engaging. We know that there are tens of millions of consumers who are interested in this content and have enormous value, and that is why we’re working with AAM.

I believe publishers have made a huge mistake by making so much of their branded content available for free. In their headlong pursuit of gaining consumer attention for advertising at any cost, they risk diluting their brands and exposing them to the issues of ad blockers, viewability and click fraud, which raise additional red flags.  I think it is fascinating to look at today’s landscape and see who is creating subscription services.  The companies that initially provided their content for free like Spotify are now selling subscriptions to consumers to pay for access to that content. Why are these big, free channels that are hugely successful now moving to subscription models? They know they have an engaged audience who is willing to pay for their content demonstrating a “wantedness” and engagement that makes their brand more valuable to advertisers.

Streaming magazine subscriptions really have an advantage because they provide premium content that consumers will pay for and is completely measurable.

AAM: What does media transparency mean to Next Issue Media? Do you think it’s important for measurement platforms to be third-party verified?

JL: Transparency is especially important when promising the delivery of audiences to advertisers. To support these promises, it is important to have a third party confirm that your platform is capable of what it claims and to ensure that the data it generates is accurate. But I believe the real challenge is around the normalization of measurements across services, platforms and devices. For magazines there continues to be differences in definitions between e-editions delivered in the Apple App Store versus Amazon versus what we do at Texture. All of these services are legitimate and of high quality but they all produce slightly different types of data. One challenge is to come to a common set of definitions and standards.

 

AAM: What metrics are important to Next Issue Media? What key interactions do you measure?

JL: “Time spent” is perhaps the ultimate measure of engagement. I think it is interesting that banner ads have the same value as a video interstitial. A consumer could spend three seconds on a banner ad while the consumer could spend a half a second on a video interstitial and click away from it. I am a firm believer that advertisers should focus on time spent because it is the truest way to gauge consumer engagement. By focusing on time spent, we offset the industry’s issues of viewability and click fraud because it measures what the consumer is actually doing with the ad.

The other thing that we look at is frequency of engagement, meaning the number of times the person comes to the app and uses it, as well as how many magazines a consumer reads over the course of a particular period of time.

 

AAM: Can you explain the recent decision to implement a new “Multi-Title Digital Program” category in AAM magazine reporting?

JL: The new category helps legitimize data from streaming content services such as Texture and makes it readily available in publishers’ AAM statements. We do not determine what gets reported — that is between buyers and sellers — but this category shows that AAM is acknowledging this new experience and form of reading magazines has value and speaks to the future of the industry.

I’m delighted that there has been a constructive, open and ongoing dialogue about these new magazine reading experiences and that Texture has been leading the way in helping contribute to AAM reporting. There is increasing comfort with Texture, which is good because our service is growing substantially and will become, I believe, a much larger part of the industry landscape. We are excited to be working with AAM because we do think that we are going to be a very attractive outlet for advertisers due to the nature of Texture’s audience and interactive experience.

What You Don’t Know About Matt Damon

"Damon For Dummies," GQ, August 2016
“Damon For Dummies,” GQ, August 2016

GQ asks those who know Matt Damon best to dish about the 45-year-old star. The hidden thread? His Beantown bluntness: 1) Experts Rank His Boston Accent No. 1: “Matt’s Good Will Hunting accent is the greatest Boston accent that’s ever been captured in a movie by an actual actor,” declares sports writer Bill Simmons. 2) He’s Not Great at Small Talk: When he encountered Prince backstage after a private concert, the only thing he could think to ask him was about living in Minnesota. According to Julia Stiles, who witnessed the encounter, Prince replied, “I live inside my own heart, Matt Damon.” 3) When He Met John Krasinski: The Office star remembers: “The first thing he ever said to me was, `Hey, man. I was just totally tonguing your girl [Emily Blunt].’ And he saw my face and he just cratered. He said, ‘Oh, my God. I am so sorry. I am so sorry.'” Blunt and Krasinski now host wine nights with Matt and his wife, Luciana Barroso. “He can walk into the hair-and-makeup trailer looking like someone who slept directly on his face for seven hours,” says Johansson, “and emerge a bona fide movie star. He has a great makeup artist.”

TIME’s Tribute to ‘The Greatest,’ Muhammad Ali

"The Greatest 1942-2016," TIME, June 20, 2016.
“The Greatest 1942-2016,” TIME, June 20, 2016.

The latest issue of Time magazine honors the late, the great, better known as The Greatest, Muhammad Ali. To read the full feature, tap from your phone or tablet, or check it out in today’s New & Noteworthy feed. Not a member yet? Start your free trial here.

Former basketball star, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes about the first time he met Muhammad Ali, and how he idolized the boxer from the time he was 13 until that day on Hollywood Boulevard. “He was a fighter, whether in or out of the ring. In the ring, he was as much businessman as athlete. Out of the ring, he was a champion of justice – and a terrible businessman,” says Jabbar.

"The Greatest 1942-2016," TIME, June 20, 2016.
“The Greatest 1942-2016,” TIME, June 20, 2016.

Sports journalist, Robert Lipsyte, takes a deeper dive into the life of the legend. He begins by describing his first encounter with Ali, “I like to think the ’60s began on February 18, 1964, the day The Beatles and I met Cassius Clay,” in a beautiful tribute to the star’s fight, which extended far beyond the ring and defined him as a champion, hero, and legend.

 

Happy Birthday, Joan Rivers!

"Remembering a Legend," Us Weekly, September 22, 2014.
“Remembering a Legend,” Us Weekly, September 22, 2014.

On what would have been her 83rd birthday, we honor the Fashion Police host and Queen of Comedy, Joan Rivers. Shortly following her death on September 4, 2014, Rivers’ daughter Melissa told Us Weekly, “My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh. I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon.” May we laugh a little extra for her today.

Read more tributes to the red carpet star in our collection, featured on today’s Highlights screen. Not yet a member? Start your free trial for unlimited access to all the world’s best magazines.

ICYMI: Muhammad Ali’s Legacy, Andy Samberg’s Latest Skit, and Adult Playtime

Catch up on what you missed this weekend in the news and on the big screen. To read the full features, tap the links from your phone or tablet. Not a member yet?Start your free trial here.

 

"Ali The Legacy," Sports Illustrated, October 5, 2015.
“Ali The Legacy,” Sports Illustrated, October 5, 2015.

This past weekend, we said goodbye to “The World’s Greatest.” Take a look back at Sports Illustrated’s tribute to Muhammad Ali and the decision to name their legacy award the “Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award,” in honor of his greatness.

"Your Office Is Killing You," Newsweek, June 10, 2016.
“Your Office Is Killing You,” Newsweek, June 10, 2016.

Things we learned this weekend: Your office, school, or home could be killing you. Statistics say pollution is more deadly than HIV, traffic accidents, and diabetes combined, and recent studies have found new, inconspicuous, ways that it is infiltrating your work and living spaces.

"Too Swag to Fail," Billboard, June 4, 2016.
“Too Swag to Fail,” Billboard, June 4, 2016.

The Lonely Island’s latest movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, which takes an uncensored look and crack at our era of celebrity culture, opened Friday, making it Hollywood’s first top 40 mockumentary. “Kanye West and Macklemore and R. Kelly all have really funny lines, and you never know where the self-awareness ends and begins,” says co-director Akiva Schaffer.

"State of Play," Chatelaine, July 2016.
“State of Play,” Chatelaine, July 2016.

It started with adult coloring books and board game cafes… now, the concept of “adult playtime,” is growing. Across North America, adult-only summer camps, indoor fitness playgrounds,  and even adult preschools are the new fad, giving parents the chance to play without the kids.

What Should You Read Today?

“Watch the Birdie”… more like watch the Bernie. Today, our editors are reading up on political races, racing shorts, parenting, and one magical cup of Joe. To read the full stories, tap the links from your phone or tablet. Not a member yet? Start your free trial here.

"Colombia in a Cup," National Geographic Traveler, June/July 2016
“Colombia in a Cup,” National Geographic Traveler, June/July 2016
  1. In search of that perfect cup of coffee? It may take more than a walk to your nearest Starbucks. Try a trip to the small Colombian town of Minca for an exquisite brew.

    "Bernie's Evolution," Time, June 6, 2016
    “Bernie’s Evolution,” Time, June 6, 2016
  2. In How Far Will Bernie Go?, Time reports the Vermont senator and former Secretary of State stopped exchanging post-primary congratulatory phone calls in April and predicts how their ugly divide could play out on the streets of Philadelphia during the Democratic convention. 

    "Quitting Time?" Today's Parent, June 2016
    “Quitting Time?” Today’s Parent, June 2016
  3. The ongoing battle for every parent: working vs. staying at home. Here’s what you need to know before you throw in the towel and take a career time-out.

    "Watch the Birdie," Outside, June 2016
    “Watch the Birdie,” Outside, June 2016
  4. “To understand the indignation that made Sally Bergesen resort to Photoshopping to take on an empire, you have to believe that you can fight for justice through the medium of running shorts.

This Week’s Top 10: Donald Trump’s Personality, Kate Hudson’s Bod, and Kendall Jenner’s Weakness

Decode your daily vitamins, sex robots, Donald Trump’s personality…and an “affordable Tesla.”  Plus, more stories our readers loved this week! To read the full stories, tap the links from your phone or tablet. Not a member yet? Start your free trial here.

"How Zac Got Jacked," Men's Fitness, June 2016
“How Zac Got Jacked,” Men’s Fitness, June 2016
  1. Your wishes have been granted. Elon Musk created an “affordable” Tesla.
  2. Meet Viggo Martensen, the actor who still uses a flip phone.
  3. Need a new gig? Here are the 50 Best Places to Work for Right Now.
  4. “No days off.” That’s Kate Hudson’s motto, and should be yours if you want abs like hers.

    "Kate Hudson's Winning Workout," Shape, June 2016
    “Kate Hudson’s Winning Workout,” Shape, June 2016
  5. Dr. Oz decodes your daily vitamins.
  6. This Zac Efron has come a long way from Vanessa Hudgens’ crush and the Wildcats’ star player.
  7. The sex robots are coming, the sex robots are coming!

    "The Sex Robots Are Coming," Men's Health, June 2016
    “The Sex Robots Are Coming,” Men’s Health, June 2016
  8. Shoutout to Karl Lagerfeld for making Kendall Jenner’s childhood look seemingly normal.
  9. “So Mr. Trump… how does that make you feel?”
  10. Take notes: The 10 Habits of Highly Organized People.

Happy Reading!

The Indy 500 Takes Its 100th Lap

"Legends of the Indy," Road & Track, May 2016
“Legends of the Indy,” Road & Track, May 2016

What began on a Tuesday morning in 1911 with 40 cars and bets on which drivers (not if) would be killed, has since, 100 years later, become known as the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Read up on more than a century of racing history with highlights from the greatest men and moments in races past, or place your bets with ESPN The Magazine’s prediction of four ways the centennial race can make history from beginning to end. It’s time for drivers to fire up their engines, and The Indy to take its 100th lap.

For more on the men, the machines, and the five craziest engines of the Indy 500, click here. Not a member yet? Start your free trial for unlimited access to all the world’s best magazines.

5 Juicy Burgers You’ll Flip Over

"Build a Better Burger," Weight Watchers, May/June 2016
“Build a Better Burger,” Weight Watchers, May/June 2016

Plain. Vegetarian. BLT. Piled high with caramelized onions. Smothered in spicy mayo. There are endless ways to fix a burger, and we’ve found five that will give new meaning to the term mouthwatering. It’s National Hamburger Day, so look no further for an excuse to whip up one of these simple and delicious burgers.  They can be made in an instant, and will be devoured faster than you can ask “do you want fries with that?”

  • Here’s one we bet you’ve never tried. A Tandoori-Grilled Cauliflower Burger topped with Cucumber Raita Spread.
  •  The Madlove Burger, piled high with candied jalapeños, won the Best of the Bash award at the country’s most intense burger competition in Miami beach.
  • Do you like mushrooms on your burger? How about in your burger? Cooking Light’s Mushroom-Beef Burger packs double the protein and half the fat.
  • Is it possible to make a meaty burger… without the meat? There’s only one way to find out. Packed with quinoa, black beans, cashews, and more, Men’s Fitness claims this the “meatiest veggie burger you’ll ever eat.”
  • Food & Wine challenges you to ‘build a better burger.’ Start with a brisket, short rib, ground beef base, and finish it off with pickled beets, pineapple, and a fried egg.

Find more unbeatable burger combos here, plus, The Story of the Hamburger. Not yet a member? Start your free trial for unlimited access to all the world’s best magazines.

A Tribute to Memorial Day

"A Fallen Soldier's Final Salute," Reader's Digest, June 2016
“A Fallen Soldier’s Final Salute,” Reader’s Digest, June 2016

With each passing summer, does Memorial Day weekend mean something different to you and your family? In my past life as an entertainment junkie, catching Olivia Munn in X-Men: Apocalypse and making my list of the best summer tunes would have been all good. After buying my own patch of green, I added no-fail container combos, crisp and bright summer trinkets, and a hammock read to my three-day routine. And as my child has grown from toddler to tween, I’ve embraced this summer bucket list and living in the cone zone. But no matter how we celebrate, we always attend our town’s Memorial Day parade and “stand in reverent stillness,” just as Cheryl MacDonald does in this lovely tribute to a fallen hero. I know you’ll also find time to honor those who’ve given so much to this country. May it be a weekend to remember.