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    The Evolution of Content and Marketing Channels

    I joined a Facebook group from my childhood town some months ago. One day, a post appeared showing photographs of the wrecking ball tearing down the junior high school I had attended. One of the comments said “So sad.” A reply to this comment said “Progress is good.” What I later found out is that a replacement facility is being planned which will incorporate modern-day building codes and a more post-baby-boom scale appropriate to the demographics of the area.

    Part of me experienced nostalgia at that moment. I was reminded of wonderful times in junior high, some good friends I made there, and some great teachers I had. But the other part of me welcomed progress. Building codes have evolved. So has education. So has technology, obviously. So has business, marketing, and content …



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    "A Software Update Is Available"

    “Update Is Available.”  “Updates were installed.”  As I move through my day and interact with various pieces of technology, it’s a constant refrain.  When I look down at my phone, I see that a new update is available.  If I dig down into the details, sometimes I see that it’s a seemingly small incremental jump.  Should I update now or wait for a more consequential update to come along?  If it’s a more significant update, do I press forward with getting the latest and best that my device has to offer, or do I opt to just stick with the stable features that I currently know and love?  Even my television now tugs at me to apply updates.  Quite a change from the “dumb” TV that I knew growing up!

    While the merits can be debated, it’s undebatable that the software industry has moved towards …



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    Five Tips to Improve Your Subscription Payment Success Rate

    With the rise of the "subscription economy,” auto-charging customers regularly in exchange for goods and services has become a popular business model. Of course, this is old news for publishers, who have been making use of renewals and recurring payments longer than most other industries. However, auto-charges come with their own challenges---recurring credit card payments have much higher decline rates than stand-alone payments, for example. Here are five tips to improve your subscription payment success rate: 

    1. Optimizing retries

    The most common reason for failed credit card payments is that the credit line on the account has been exceeded. For this 'insufficient funds' scenario, as well as in the case of technical errors, you will likely want to retry the payment before taking …



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    Alma Talent Live on Advantage

    Congratulations to Alma Talent (the new business unit created when Alma Media acquired Talentum), who went live on Advantage in May of 2016 after an 18-month project. The project team invested many months of hard work and overcame substantial challenges, including a merger of the business in the middle of the project. The implementation of Advantage at Alma Talent replaces the existing circulation, fulfillment, inventory management, reporting, accounting, invoicing and payment systems, along with a revamp of many related, integrated systems and platforms. Many of these legacy systems had been in place for almost 20 years. Advantage is a true evolution for the Alma Talent magazine and books business.

    Santtu Elsinen, Senior Vice President & Chief Digital Officer at Alma Media, has this …



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    Peeking Behind the Curtain of Advantage QA

    At any given time, we at AdvantageCS are working on at least one, usually more, large development projects, be it in collaboration with clients or as AdvantageCS-funded research and development. Recent examples include our eCommerce platform Cider, a Single Sign-On solution and Members Advantage, our membership project. From a QA standpoint, the challenge is to ensure that hundreds or even thousands of hours of development work get tested and that the resulting product is robust and easy to use.

    The role of testing in Agile methodologies

    Our software development projects are organized in an agile framework called Scrum. Unlike "waterfall" projects, agile projects don't have successive analysis, design, development, testing and rollout phases. These activities are executed …



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    How Many Groups Are You a Member Of?

    With apologies for the ending preposition, let’s think about this question for a moment. I’m personally a member of:

    Amazon Prime

    Delta SkyMiles (and about 7 other airline frequent flyer programs)

    My church

    Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

    The Society for Scholarly Publishing

    Hilton HHonors (and about 5 other hotel loyalty clubs)

    Costco

    My local public library

    Consumer Reports

    National Car Rental’s Emerald Club

    Best Buy Reward Zone (and many other stores)

    My homeowners association

    Conservatively, I’m a member of roughly 30 organizations/clubs—not to mention my “membership” in my family, my community, the management team of my company and the human race! If you take the time to list your memberships, it’s likely you’ll find a similar amount.

    Why do we join so many …



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    Conferences and Events: A Growing and Stable Revenue Stream

    Traditionally, conferences and events were the domain of B2B publishing, where revenue from events has been surpassing print and ad revenue for some time now. However, consumer publishers are discovering that events are an important diversification strategy in their market as well.

    Getting creative with events

    From pop culture festivals organized by the likes of New York Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, to kid expos and bridal shows set up by local news publishers, events allow publishers to get creative. In the UK, Time Inc. is branching out into cycling events to complement its titles Cycle Sport and Cycling Active while in the US, The Atlantic presents the Aspen Ideas Festival. Near our AdvantageCS headquarters, the Detroit Free Press even sponsors the Detroit Marathon. As …



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    New Features Available in the Third Quarter

    These Advantage features are either available now or will be soon. Contact your Advantage account manager for more information.

    Advantage Single Sign-On Solution: Advantage now offers a cloud-based SaaS solution for Single Sign-On. SSO is the concept used to describe a centralized access control system managing multiple, related applications requiring authentication. For example, you might have eCommerce sites, self-service portals, content sites on multiple platforms and mobile applications such as iPhone apps. Using SSO, your customers can consolidate access to these via a single set of login credentials.

    Multi-language support for inventory items: You can now define multi-language variants for these fields on the inventory item record: 1) Title; 2) Full Title. When these …



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    How to Ensure Your Cutover Is Successful

    Change Creates Cutovers

    One constant in any software environment is change.  New tools, new techniques, and new applications are appearing almost daily.  Implementing something new inevitably means there will be a cutover.  Cutover efforts involve stopping production operations on a current system and installing something different.  For some initiatives, this is a small effort and can be accomplished during normal business hours.  For other larger, enterprise-wide initiatives, this means evenings and weekends.  Some projects plan for three-day weekends to limit the downtime on production operations during “normal” business hours.

    High Stakes, Short Timeframe

    These large projects usually have months of effort that have preceded the cutover.  Often, the success of the project is …



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    Multiplying Revenue

       

    We have just finished up a season of conferences, summits, and trade shows in the industries we serve – publishing and membership associations.  One of the things that sticks out the most for me at these meetings are the stories of how organizations are increasing their revenue.  There appears to be no end to the tactics people have employed to multiply revenue by creatively looking for opportunities for repackaging their content, extending their brands, and thinking outside the box about new value propositions.  One publisher we know sells design furniture on a website which extends the brand of their design magazine.  Now that’s creative thinking.  I don’t know many publishers who sell furniture.

    Publishers, especially those in the B2B space, have been experts at diversifying …



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