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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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    Friday Five for October 7 - 'a glorious time for print', Blendle's success and more

    The number of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts shared on the web every day can be overwhelming, but keeping up with industry trends helps us stay ahead of the curve. Here are 5 topics that caught our attention this week:

    Serial captured the imagination of not just its listeners, but also of publishers looking to podcasts as a new revenue stream. However, the LA Times used the format in a print series and found that it worked surprisingly well in attracting new subscribers

    A new Magnetic study finds that online magazine media is 41% more effective at delivering brand KPIs than other online environments

    "Forbes magazine is at the highest print readership in its 99-year history" according to its editor Randall Lane, who concludes that "if you’re focused on the product, this …



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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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    The Evolution of Electronic Information Delivery

    The media used to deliver electronic content in the publishing industry is continually expanding.  Publishers have adapted to many changes in books and magazines, and are now dealing with changes in web access, on-demand access to content, and the distribution of audio.

    Speaking of audio…

    This article in the Wall Street Journal highlights the growth of audio books, claiming it is the fastest-growing format in the publishing industry.  Sales in the U.S. and Canada jumped 21% in 2015 from 2014, according to the Audio Publisher’s Association.  Revenues from hardcover books and paperbacks may be declining, and even the use of e-books is showing signs of declining sales, but revenues from digital downloads are increasing. 

    Changing technology and changing behaviors

    Reading a story aloud …



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    Friday Five for September 23 - News from industry events and conferences

    It is conference and trade show season! Let's take a look at the key takeaways from a few recent industry gatherings as well as events that our AdvantageCS team will be attending in the next few weeks:

    The Media Briefing reviews the lessons learned at Digital Media Strategies USA 2016. A common denominator? Understanding the audience is the first priority for digital publishers

    At Digiday Publishing Summit, publishers shared their biggest challenges, from improving monetization models to diversification

    5 takeaways from the 2016 Online News Association conference include strategies for integrating with tech platforms and social media tools

    The AdvantageCS Sales team will be hitting the road this fall. Meet up with Dan and Mona at STM Frankfurt, The FOLIO: Show and ASAE …



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    AUG 2017 Set for February 1 - 3 in San Antonio

       

    It's time to start planning your trip to the 2017 Advantage User Group conference! Located at the Holiday Inn San Antonio River Walk (217 N St. Mary’s Street, San Antonio, TX 78205), the conference will take place February 1 - 3. Complete details and registration information will be on the client portal of the AdvantageCS website soon. Or contact your account manager or any member of the AUG Steering Committee for more information.

    Hope to see you there! 

     



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    Travels to Trade Shows

     

    The AdvantageCS sales team is hitting the road this fall to take part in some important trade shows. These industry events are a great way to network with a lot of people in a short time. The team loves catching up with old friends as well as meeting new ones. And learning new things along the way.   

    October 18: STM Frankfurt, held the day before the Frankfurt Book Fair, always has a lot to offer in the Scientific, Technical, Medical arena.  Dan Heffernan and Mona Hidayet will be in attendance.

    November 1 and 2: The FOLIO: Show will bring Dan and Mona to New York. Dan will be participating in this panel discussion on Wednesday afternoon, which is sure to be informative.  If you plan to attend, stop in and hear what the panel has to say. You can set up a meeting by contacting Dan  …



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    Friday Five for September 16 - Taking down siloes, newsstand sales for the first 2 quarters, the September issue, and more

    The number of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts shared on the web every day can be overwhelming, but keeping up with industry trends helps us stay ahead of the curve. Here are 5 topics that captured our attention this week:

    The publishing industry is revising its org charts---Hearst and Time, Inc. are going so far as to eliminate the role of "publisher"

    This type of reorganization aims at taking down siloes so that content can be shared across brands and platforms

    "For many publishers, their newsstand business is doing just fine, and it is still an important part of their overall business strategy and bottom line profits,” finds Magnet Data in their recent report on newsstand sales in the first half of 2016

    The September issue is the fashion publishing equivalent to the …



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    Friday Five for September 9 - The revenge of legacy publishers, the changing role of publishers, and more

    The number of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts shared on the web every day can be overwhelming, but keeping up with industry trends helps us stay ahead of the curve. Here are 5 topics that captured our attention this week:

    "The share of American adults who read books in any format has remained largely unchanged over the last four years," find the Pew Research Center in a recent study.

    College newspapers are cutting print schedules to focus on digital first. Is there a lesson to be learned for traditional publishers?

    FIPP interviewed five publishers on how they define their changing role. A common denominator? The focus on change management as brands, audiences and platforms evolve.

    Are "legacy publishers" getting their revenge? That may be true for The New York Times and …



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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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    Friday Five for September 2 - Multi-platform consumers, Facebook Live and more

    The number of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts shared on the web every day can be overwhelming, but keeping up with industry trends helps us stay ahead of the curve. Here are 5 topics that captured our attention this week:

    The American Magazine Reader Study & Handbook finds that the number of  multi-platform consumers is growing.

    Researchers at the University of Missouri have developed an algorithm that optimizes subscription and advertising plans for subscribed models. Can publishers maximize profits without losing readers based on a simple survey?

    Folio surveyed 68 news media CEO's and the results might surprise you, with strong expectations of growth both in the print and digital sector.

    Freeport Press published 7 insights into media consumption in 2016 (make sure to …



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    Friday Five for August 26 - focus on user experience, "best mistakes", putting the consumer first, and more

    The number of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts shared on the web every day can be overwhelming, but keeping up with industry trends helps us stay ahead of the curve. Here are 5 topics that captured our attention this week:

    Both business and editorial benefit from continuous efforts to improve the user experience at publishers like Slate and The Atlantic.

    Magazine publishers share their best mistakes with Folio and describe the lessons they learned from them.

    In a surprising throwback to the early days of the internet, email newsletters are making a comeback and are proving to be successful publishing strategy with teens and millennial women.

    Speaking of teens, Refinery29 interviewed 15 industry experts on the state of teen magazines in 2016.

    "Print-first" or "digital-first" …



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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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    Friday Five for August 19 - PwC Global Media Outlook, atomized content and more

    The number of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts shared on the web every day can be overwhelming, but keeping up with industry trends helps us stay ahead of the curve. Here are 5 topics that captured our attention this week:

    ABC releases its latest figures for the UK and Ireland, but is there a story the numbers don't tell?

    'Diversification' is a buzzword in magazine publishing these days. Jen Wong, Time Inc.'s new Digital Chief, explains the right and wrong ways to integrate eCommerce with editorial content

    With diversification comes atomization---creating bite-sized content that can be shared on a number of different platforms. FIPP investigates the reasons behind this trend and finds that atomization allows publishers to engage their audience with targeted content that is …



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    3 Ways to Increase Your SQL Smarts

    All of the data that you are used to seeing in Advantage is stored in a Microsoft SQL Server database.  If you are involved in creating or modifying Advantage reports, then familiarity with Transact-SQL (or T-SQL for short) can help you.  T-SQL is the language you use to query a SQL database and is used by most common reporting tools (Excel, Crystal, SSRS, etc.).  The better you know T-SQL, the quicker and better you can respond to reporting requests from your customers.

    I've found these three things to be most helpful in expanding my T-SQL knowledge and expertise. 

    working on my MCSA certification

    reading SQL blogs regularly, such as these: http://www.cathrinewilhelmsen.net/  , https://spaghettidba.com/  

    Attending a user group meeting

    For Advantage users involved with …



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    Friday Five for July 15 – a round-up of publishing industry news

    The number of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts shared on the web every day can be overwhelming, but keeping up with industry trends helps us stay ahead of the curve. Here are 5 pieces that captured our attention this week:

    Cable Neuhaus discusses The Good and the Bad in the Art of Magazines, from special issues to tweaking logotypes.

    Media is a numbers game, and Dan Calladine at The Media Briefing talks us through 8 metrics that show where media consumers spend their time.

    The Washington Post has been successful at turning site visitors into digital subscribers. Digiday describes the multi-faceted approach, from technical improvements to data mining, that underlies this development.

    On the Prisync blog, Irene Gutierrez shares her tips for optimizing the conversion funnel …



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    Save Time---And More---With Single Sign-On

    Although Single Sign-On (SSO) is not a new concept, it has become trendy in recent years and has been implemented by a growing number of organizations. 

    So, what is Single Sign-On?

    A Single Sign-On solution allows users to log into multiple different applications using the same username and password. This could be a “social login,” such as “Log in with Facebook” or “Log in with Google,” options you’ve no doubt seen on the web before---or a login that is unique to the applications in your organization. Rather than the traditional model in which each application requires its own login, Single Sign-On manages the authentication across several applications:

           

    For Example

    Let’s take a look at an example. As a publisher, you sell subscriptions and other digital content on your …



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    Digital Revenue Growth: Here's What You Need

    Are you a publisher wondering why your digital revenue isn't where you’d like it to be? One likely suspect is the system used for orders, marketing, customer service and data analysis. Perhaps you're saddled with legacy software that doesn’t speak the digital language and imposes strict limits on how you can market. Or maybe you outsource to a service provider whose system looks good on the surface but underneath is running your business on outdated, in-house-developed software with a plethora of piecemeal programs patch-worked together.

    Or maybe you’ve separated your print and digital businesses between different providers---perhaps an in-house system for the “old” print business and an outsourced solution for the exciting, but fledgling digital business. Neither of these scenarios is …



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    Jump on the Membership Bandwagon

    In response to declining print sales over the last few years, publishers have experimented with new business models. A trend has emerged, and indications are that it’s here to stay: memberships add value and strengthen the relationship between publishers and their customers.

    Proven Benefits of Memberships 

    In 2014, DigiDay reported that membership models are successful revenue drivers that increase customer loyalty. By offering membership perks such as access to exclusive content and events, publishers engage their customers and dramatically improve subscription renewal rates. These perks also open previously untapped revenue streams 

    A year later, journalism professor Jake Batsell explained to media association FIPP  that membership offerings are beneficial to both non-profit and …



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    Closing Out A Software Bug

    Waging war against software bugs can take a toll. This Advantage engineer depicts the aftermath of one such battle.

     

    … I hobbled into my office. One leg dragging slightly like a long breath on a bitter cold winter day; every moment hurts just a little more than the last. I had been in brawls before, it’s part of the job, but this time was different. This time one of us didn’t walk away.

    I continued to push my body into the room. I was only a few feet from my desk now. “Perhaps I’ll make it,” I allowed myself to think.

    Nope.

    The floor came up to greet me like an old friend who had had too much to drink. Too fast, too firm, and unwelcome. I lay there for a few minutes to let the floor think it had won. Once I felt it was sufficiently distracted, I dragged my chair over. Climbing the …



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