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Ken Magill

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Input Needed On A Possible Change

By Ken Magill
Dear Readers:
I need your input on a change I am contemplating.
As some of you are aware, this newsletter’s business model was upended in 2014 when advertisers who would ordinarily be interested in paying to reach the Magill Report’s elite readership shifted their budgets to online behaviorally targeted ads.
I knew my business model was toast when one of my advertisers popped up in my Facebook feed and a prospect appeared alongside one of those “10-Celebrities-Who-Had-Too-Much-Plastic-Surgery” articles.
This doesn’t mean space advertising in the Magill Report is worthless, but it is worth quite a bit less than it was in 2010 when I launched.
I can’t compete with online advertising trading desks and will not try. After consulting with some colleagues, I decided to turn my business model into a content-first model—a strategy that plays up my strengths and minimizes my weaknesses. If someone successfully automates content, however; I will slip into the bottle once and for all.
Rather than selling advertising with content as the value-add, I am selling content with advertising and promotion of the content to my elite readership as the value-add. I can get the content in front of desirable eyeballs other freelancers cannot.
I’ve already struck a deal with Net Atlantic for a couple white papers and some blog posts.
Currently, no one in the advertising slots in the Magill Report is paying for them. All the contracts ran out in 2014. Frankly, it’s kind of liberating. I no longer have to worry about driving enough page views for each of them. 
So here is what I’m thinking: Since I am no longer beholden to advertisers for page views, rather than tease articles in the newsletter and link all of the teases to posts on, I can—on a limited basis—tease in the newsletter and link to the article posted on the content sponsor’s website.
I would do this only in the fourth slot and would clearly label it was paid content. And I would never write anything I did not personally believe to be true. What do you think? Is this a really bad idea? Or do you think I can make it work without wrecking what little brand I have?
Also, the first and second ad positions in the Magill Report are still up for sale for extremely reasonable rates—a fraction of what I used to charge for them. If anyone is interested in occupying one of those spaces, call me at 845-928-3744 or email me at

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Gretchen Scheiman
Date: 2015-01-15 13:30:04
Subject: Go for it!

Ken, maybe you're not taking it far enough. Do you remember how Daily Candy managed the balance between sponsored/non-sponsored? How about looking at how Upworthy is doing it today? Clearly labeled content (or even content series) and the occasional sponsored one-off seem to be acceptable so long as you provide value the rest of the time. Go for it.
Posted by: Stephanie Miller (@stephanieSAM)
Date: 2015-01-13 23:27:18
Subject: Change is good!

If you are asking me as a reader, would I still read your stuff if you turned this newsletter into a blog and just ranted when you feel like it, emailed me when stuff goes live, and sent me sponsored things when you could get paid for it... sure. I'll stlll respect you in the morning. I do think that lots of thought leaders have changed their business models due to social and programmatic advertising, and so I think you have an opportunity to do that as well. You are right - your strength is in your unbiased view of the email industry. Protect that asset. I recommend you convene a short term Advisory Board of readers who are also smart content marketers and brainstorm how you can make this work without losing the power of the current newsletter. I think this is a short term project - buy some peeps a round of drinks, identify 2-3 cool ideas, test them in Q1, and then go forward with what works. I'm glad you are asking! Good luck, Ken.
Posted by: frank prainito
Date: 2015-01-13 18:30:59
Subject: business

I own, we r an Australian company keen to expand in the USA. I think u have value in your business which is untapped. Pls email at to discuss this further. KR, Frank