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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Nov. 22, 2019 2 weeks ago

Entrepreneur plots moves to monetize 135-year-old trade magazine

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New Editor & Publisher owner Mike Blinder aims to go where the publishing industry will be — before it gets there.

Tampa area media entrepreneur Mike Blinder has spent at least 20 years helping the biggest brands in publishing make the print-to-digital transformation in selling ads. But his latest career move, to buy a 135-year-old trade magazine that’s covered the publishing industry since Chester Arthur was president of the U.S. in 1884, is a step back in time.

Based in Lutz, Blinder says he bought the publication, Editor & Publisher — he declines to disclose the price — partially out of media business nostalgia. In the purchase Blinder also has a message for anyone trying to wrangle profits from a legacy product in a disruptive era: find one revenue stream and hyper-focus on it. Then outsource everything else you can, Blinder adds, without curtailing quality.

For niche publishing, Blinder says that one core revenue stream lies in the email database of readers. The print version of E&P, as it's known in the industry, isn’t a moneymaker, Blinder tells Coffee Talk, and likely never will be.  But the email database of decision makers holds value. He says when he acquired the magazine, the database had 18,000 names, and he’s since added 18,000 more through marketing and outreach. His goal is to get to 50,000 names then use the database to build a business off programmatic advertising, which uses software to target specific markets for clients. “My goal is to monetize the list,” Blinder tells Coffee Talk. “Right now I’m capturing it. I’m learning. I’m not monetizing it. Yet.”    

Prone to quoting titans of business and sports, Blinder cites hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s famous line that he “skates to where the puck is going to be.” In publishing, Blinder says the puck is the email database. And if that list has a high click-through rate, like E&P does, all the better. “That’s why I’m so big on my database,” he says. “That’s where this industry is going.”

Blinder, 62, formed a new company, The Curated Experiences Group, to purchase E&P from the previous owner, the Duncan McIntosh Co. Inc. The deal was announced in September. Blinder’s other business, which he’s run since 1999 after working in radio and TV, among other media stops, is The Blinder Group. Clients have included Gannett, Hearst and the New York Times Co.

Blinder will focus on the business side of E&P while letting his editorial staff of two handle that side — for the most part. He’s also of the mindset E&P needs to do more for readers, have more exclusive and breaking news stories. That will help build buzz, he projects, and his database. “Your content can be the best in the world,” he says, “but if you don’t have any readers it’s a billboard in the basement.”

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