QA about new BaDoink magazine venture
EAN — Todd Glider, CEO, CM Productions
CM Productions is one of the leading online companies, meaning you are heavily involved with innovative technology and marketing. Now you have also decided to become a publisher in the traditional sense of the word – albeit in a digital environment. What was your motivation to take this step?
Since 2002, we’ve been designing, building, and pushing innovation in and out of the adult sector. As a company founded by tech visionaries, that’s our core R&D focus; that’s our competitive advantage in this market. And that’s largely the reason BaDoink, under the CM Productions umbrella, boasts one of the most robust platforms, and quickly ascended to one of the top brands in the business over just a few years.
By 2013, we had achieved a critical mass: user engagement and revenue streams were soaring. The BaDoink brand was everywhere. I used to challenge people not find us.
After successive years of hockey stick growth, we saw an opportunity to build off our existing success—to develop new, non-pornographic products in the online space that appealed to the same 18-and-over demographic. Enter: the new BaDoink, a responsively designed online magazine and destination focused on the convergence of technology, lifestyle and sex.
In an era where true, journalistic integrity is being sacrificed on the altar of clickthrough metrics, manifesting as click-bait strategies, there’s a need for strong content; and we surmise we’re just the organization to service that need.
Our mission is to provide quality, entertaining and informative articles covering lifestyle, technology and sex. Playboy ruled this world in the 20th Century, but it’s 2014. Time for a new bunny.
The BaDoink magazine has been called the “21st Century Playboy“. Is this comparison an honour, or does it place unnecessary pressure on your shoulders?
An honor. To the utmost. Playboy has long heralded some of the world’s greatest writers, among them Ivor Irwin, who writes for us now. But really, for the longest time, getting published in Playboy, it meant you’d more than arrived as a writer; it meant you’d made it. That said, the only pressure is to deliver the best quality product possible. We are picking up where not only Playboy left off but the “state-of-the-state” of journalism today as well. Our editor-in-chief, John Lane’s credo sums it up well: What was once hidden under the bed is now at home on the coffee table. We are serving up savvy, chic and sophisticated news; we’re not a “one-click wonder.”
The first issue of Playboy Magazine was published in 1953, and back then, it was not only a sensation, but it also sent a shock wave through society. Today, things are very different, of course – also for Playboy. How can you transfer the original concept of a men’s magazine into our time?
It is a different time and that’s why we saw the opportunity to do something more, and profoundly different, just like Playboy did in the early 50’s. Today, adult-oriented content is part of the pop culture discussion. It was always a form of entertainment, but the taboos associated with it as an acceptable entertainment form have diminshed.
The medium’s a huge part of the equation. Print, not long ago, generated the topical information; today it’s the internet, and it’s a much different experience. Design. Speed. Interactivity. Immediacy. As always, if you don’t have great stories, your shelf life is limited. But that’s only part of it. Lacking an experience that is highly usable, immediately engaging to the online reader, it’s just as deadly. You’re quickly a historical footnote, no matter how good the articles.
It’s analogous to how music consumption is different now, compared to a dozen years ago. At the turn of the millenium, you still went to the record store. You thumbed through stacks. You bought your album. At home, you listened for start to finish. Not that you liked all the songs, but you were loyal to that album. You were loyal because the album was expensive, and the only new new music you owned. And it would be the only new music you owned until you returned to the record store and picked up something else.
Print went the same way experience. You bought a magazine or newspaper and were likely to read it cover-to-cover. Not that a magazine was as expensive as a record album, but unless there was a newsstand located on your block, it was all you had on hand. So you were loyal to it. Now you don’t have to be. Everything is on hand, and nearly everything is free.
When people see the name BaDoink we want it to resonate with the sophisticated adult of our millennial. We’re more than halfway there.
Why will you succeed where many traditional men’s magazines have failed?
One of the biggest issues for companies like Playboy, and even Penthouse, was that it took them so long to jump on the Internet bandwagon, to surrender to it, to embrace it for what it was: a gamchanger of the highest order.
And I don’t think you could call it shortsighted on their part. The bigger the change, the harder it is for a big organization to react. Hindsight is 20/20. Plus, nobody really knew for sure back in the 1990s how far this thing was going to go. It just appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and proceeded to change the world.
The difference with us, and why we truly get it, is that CM Productions is first and foremost a technology company, an Internet company. I personally know a little something about print publications, but that’s because I’m old. The web is the platform we know. That’s how we’ve always gotten our message out; that’s where our products live.
Our focus was always on the delivery of content. As we expanded into different entertainment sectors, adult being one of them, we achieved our greatest success through optimizing the user experience. The content itself was secondary. Ensuring that every surfer was greeted by a user interface and experience that was easy-to-use and suited to their unique device, that was where we put our resources. Now, with the magazine, we’ve upped the ante: Usability. Critical mass. High-quality content.
What can you tell us about the content of your BaDoink magazine? Which topics do you cover? And how explicit is the content?
First, all the explicit content is and will stay behind the pay wall. We want BaDoink to be for everyone. We have video game reviews as well as articles on sex; the stories sell themselves.
Our editorial focus is on lifestyle, technology and sex. We’re always going to have something for everyone, be that politics, health, fun and entertainment, whatever; when you open BaDoink, you’ll be opening a window onto ALL aspects of today’s world.
Traditionally, the articles in men’s magazines have been a popular excuse to buy these magazines. Today, hardly anyone takes offence in eroticism, sex, and pornography any more. So why not just go for the pictures? Why do you still set great store by editorial content?
We’ve always gone for the pictures; still do. We want the brand to be perceived more multidimensionally. This is the tack we’re taking to achieve that multidimensionality.
In one of your press releases, you call yourselves “21st Century Newsmakers.“ What exactly do you mean by that?
It’s about balancing substance and accessilbity. That’s crucial. On the one hand, you’ve got to get the reader captured ASAP. Options are limitless. Competition is fierce. Time is fleeting. The headline. The hook. The accompany image. All paramount.
On the other hand, once you’ve captured their attention, once you’ve initiated engagement, you want them to stick around a while; and when they do leave, you want them to leave with something that is thoughtful and memorable. The articles in BaDoink resonate, become part of that reader’s water cooler conversation, whether that water cooler’s in an office, a construction site, a casting couch or on capitol hill.
We dig deep to reveal, if not The Truth, a truth. We are that good book that you never want to end.
Playboy Magazine has always taken pride in their editorial content that is much more than a page-filler in between the nudie pictures. Who is writing your articles? And what do you do to ensure that the readers only get quality content?
As I mentioned, Ivor Irwin who was one of Playboy’s top writers, is working with us today. We also have a deep bench of 20+ freelance writers across the globe who are contributing stories daily. And all of this happens under the strong tutelage of our professional editor-in-chief, John Lane, who sits at the master of controls ensuring the writers are focused on topical issues that appeal to our audience.
Who is the target audience for your digital magazine? Who are your readers?
We definitely cater to the tech-savvy adult, male and female. We pursue stories that appeal to everybody. From humor to sexuality to the latest tech gadget. Food and spirits, music, lifestyle.
What does this target audience expect from a magazine such as yours, and what do they want in terms of content?
We define ourselves by what we eat, what we wear, where we work, what we buy, and now what we share. We want our articles to be something our readers are eager and proud to share with colleagues and friends, family and enemies.
If BaDoink were a person, she’d be smart, sophisticated, surprising, a little myterious. She’d be full of convictions, insight and wit.
Can you already tell if your readers are actually more interested in the articles, or if they are primarily attracted by the explicit content?
The pay wall—or VIP area—separates one from the other, so it’s too early to say. In the coming months, thanks to the new UX we’re about to unveil, articles will be read behind the pay wall as well. That’s one part of the litmus test. We’ll keep you posted!
You digital magazine is free, the reader doesn’t have to pay for it. So how do you make money off BaDoink? Advertising?
Right now, it’s primarily off the VIP content. But as the magazine is gaining traction now, we’re looking forward to working with brands that appeal to the 18-and-over demographic—distilleries, cigar brands and the like.
What are your expectations concerning your magazine? Will it help to further amalgamate mainstream and pornography?
There are online periodicals that arrived recently, like The Onion, not so recently, like The New York Times. Both are part of the larger ‘conversation.’ “I read it in The Onion,” that means something. “I read it in the Times,” that means something, too.
“I read it in BaDoink?” Sounds more than reasonable to me.