a reader thinks they’re still adweak

An anonymous commenter going by the descriptive name “anonymous” has a good comment on my post about an improving Adweek…it is so good, despite disagreeing with me, that I just had to post about it, not to attack it but to clarify my own position.

I will do this line-by-line.

Meta message: I do not believe that Adweek has overtaken AdAge, has made AdAge irrelevant, is super-duper awesomer in every way than AdAge. I do believe, however, that Adweek has gone from being a total disaster to being a magazine that I feel like I have to read. And it has been a long time since I felt like that.

Now on to the comment:

Trying to land a gig at Adweek?

No, but even I can be bought. Cheaply.

Your perceptions don’t gibe with reality. Adweek writers engage in the blog experience? Yes, but usually to defend the franchise when their publication is rightly criticized.

True that perhaps most times they comment it is to defend themselves, but I have found that, especially compared with AdAge, they are more often commenting and much more polite and constructive when they do.

The Adweek guys ask how they could get better, the AdAge guys call you names and suggest that you are a hack…which may be true in my case, but is still bad form to actually say.

Ad Age not only engages the blog experience, they’ve also enhanced it, with their own blogs as well as things like the Ad Age Power 150.

There is a good argument to the AdAge blogs being a better engagement with the blog experience, but I have two issues with the way they manage the blogs. First, their blogs are all written by big names who write so rarely and irregularly that it’s really nothing more than a digital guest column (even guys like Armano are doing nothing more than running their content on AdAge.com). Second, the registration process for commenting on a post is even worse than Agency Spy’s and is therefore unusable.

I do think that the idea is salvagable and I do think that AdAge has clearly been exploring the best way to be successful online and therefore, because my point was not that they are terrible but that Adweek is relevant again, I will give them points and appreciation for experimenting.

As for the Power 150, I have a serious issue with it based on their unwillingness to actually e-mail me back about how to get on the list…it’s to the point now that, should they want to include me, I am going to get all Groucho Marx about being in a club that would have me and tell them to fuck off.

Adweek is moving its content beyond a digitized print version? When’s that gonna happen? Ad Age allows visitors to comment on virtually every story. Adweek barely accepts emails.

It is such a process to comment on AdAge that I would almost rather they just don’t let you. But again, you have a point that AdAge is farther ahead on this…I was more talking about something like the IQ newsletter which is a great aggregator of top content and is something that a journalist should do: separate the wheat from the chaff and aggregate information.

And much of the Adweek content is nothing more than press releases and Nielsen PowerPoint presentations.

I totally agree with you. It’s their biggest downfall and it drives me up the wall.

Yes, Ad Age still has a lot of old school columnists, although they cater to the old school dinosaurs still in the business. Adweek has just as many contributors teetering on the edge of irrelevance. The next insight to be found from, say, Mark Wnek will be the first.

True. I guess I just dislike the AdAge columnists more…it’s a matter of taste though.

It’s pretty clear that Ad Age has a much better grasp on where the industry is heading. They did, after all, publish an entire issue devoted to digital earlier this year. Sure, Morrissey’s a smart guy; but he hasn’t shown significantly more savvy than Matthew Creamer.

To go to my meta message, I wasn’t saying that Adweek had made AdAge irrelevant, I don’t believe that it has by any stretch, but rather that it is now relevant itself.

AdAge is still top of the heap in my estimation.

Yes, there are Adweek writers on Twitter; but do you really even connect those efforts with Adweek? I thought it was just those guys doing things on their personal time.

It may just be me, but I think that their Twitter feeds are pretty interesting, especially during big industry events like Cannes where you get the news from that milieu but from someone outside an agency and with a different perspective.

…Your dismissal of Ad Age, as well as your vision of Adweek’s resurrection, is pretty peculiar. Are you sure you haven’t accidentally been reading back issues of Adweek from the early 90s?

Back to my meta message, I was not trying to dismiss AdAge. It is still the leading trade. It’s just not the only trade that I feel I have to read anymore.

Adweek in the early 90s was on a roll.

Don’t get me wrong. I used to love Adweek, and would be happy to see them rise like the proverbial phoenix. Plus, they do have a small group of people who remain top-flight professionals. But honest to God, they actually reflect the advertising industry in that their organization has assumed a BDA stance. That is, a conglomerate has bought them out and brought corporate thinking and mandates to the enterprise.

I never said that they were perfect, just that they were rising. I still think that they are rising but there is still somewhere to go.

Unless they really are turning into a BDA…then they’re screwed.

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3 responses to “a reader thinks they’re still adweak

  1. Ha! I didn’t intend to provide you with fodder for an entirely new post. But here are some questions, clarifications and rebuttals:

    Who (or is it whom—I’m never sure) from Ad Age is responding impolitely on blogs? Besides Garfield (who, incidentally, is a grumpy old man)?

    Regarding Ad Age blogs, you’re right about some of the contributors. Although it depends which blog you visit. Ad Age has always been somewhat elitist with contributors, whether in the magazine or online. Adweek could take advantage by finding different, less-known contributors; however, they appear to have the same “people with big titles only” mentality.

    Regarding the comments, you’re also right. But even guys like Ken Wheaton tried to change things. Anonymous comments are tough to leave there. My point was only that they give you the option, which demonstrates they at least understand digital means interacting with and engaging visitors versus just being a place where information is displayed.

    The Power 150 may be another elitist group. It’s never been totally clear how one joins the club. You may be prohibited by your anonymous nature. Or maybe you don’t get the traffic to qualify. For example, Tangerine Toad has not cracked the 150, although he’s close and on the bigger list. I wonder if your traffic exceeds Toad’s. Maybe you should ask others who are on it how they succeeded.

    A lot of Adweek “columnists” are definitely there to hype their own services. They are not writing columns, but personal press releases, IMHO. I can’t think of a single Adweek columnist (from the newer crop) that deserves must-read status.

    Ad Age may not be on Twitter, but their reports from events like Cannes are just as insightful—and oftentimes more insightful—than Adweek’s. Morrissey and Nudd appear to be the only people trying to do more at Adweek.

    Adweek continues to have a single challenge to address: creating content that will be both interesting and differentiating from Ad Age. There is progress being made, but I wonder if the baby steps are really enough. Adweek is a challenger brand, but they haven’t been acting like one for years. When they were hot, it was because they acted like a challenger brand. Again, my overall sense is Adweek is trapped like a BDA, with a few rebels (maybe as few as three people) trying to covertly sneak in new ideas here and there. It’s gonna be tough to succeed unless the entire organization defines and embraces a vision.

  2. Anonymous: I really don’t see the gaps you do.
    Certain reporters from both places – and Morrissey, Nudd & Jonah Bloom jump out for me– get it and engage the digital world.
    Both are handicapped by larger organizations that make things like commenting difficult.

    The Power 150 list is not a mystery.

    It’s run by a standup guy named Todd Andrlik, who is not an Ad Age employee, but rather a blogger from the midwest who set up the list and got Ad Age to sponsor it. (No idea if money was exchanged.)

    He explains his methodology in great detail on the site

    The list includes PR, Marketing and Advertising blogs, many of which reach niche targets. Take Copyblogger, which is at #1 or #2, it’s an eye-opener of sorts in that it’s aimed at an audience that’s 180º from the One Show crowd. But yet it is clearly very popular and its content is well received by its audience.

    Point being, it’s not a ranking of the top 150 ad industry blogs.

  3. Perhaps one reason why Adweek has more perception problems than Ad Age has to do with the two publications’ evolutionary arcs. That is, Ad Age once was the stodgy leader that has progressed into a more relevant enterprise (more relevant versus its own past, not versus Adweek). In contrast, Adweek once was the edgy, forward-thinking challenger that stumbled into becoming something worse. Adweek is seeking to not only move forward, but regain the relevance and respect it enjoyed in the past—Adweek has the harder “repositioning” task to accomplish. If Adweek really hopes to turn things around, they can’t simply become parity with Ad Age. Adweek must dramatically surpass Ad Age on some levels. Even Toad/Alan seemed to indicate Adweek and Ad Age are close in certain areas. Unfortunately, Adweek’s perceptual success demands being far more than close.

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