Category Archives: Marketing

The Comics Are All Right: The Power in Data

comic-unit-sales-not-300The point of the “Comics Are All Right” articles are to do a couple of things, but most importantly give a more analytical data driven approach to the comic market. The first article discussed the reality of the comic market and what the few numbers we know tell us. The second attempted to define what exactly the comic market is.

While both paint a more positive look at the comic market, that doesn’t mean there aren’t places for improvement.

This third article begins to dive into that and more importantly how data can be leveraged to expand the buyers, the fans, the buzz.

If you work for a publisher I want you to ask these questions:

  • The average age, gender, income, education, ethnicity of my readers are?
  • My readers live in ____?
  • My readers also like to purchase ____?
  • My readers also read ____?

Now ask those questions for each title you sell.

I’m sure a lot of you answered, “I don’t know.”  There’s nothing to be embarrassed about that, partially due to the fact the comic industry just straight up lacks a feedback loop to get information back. Publishers sell to distributors. Distributors sell to stores. Stores sell to individuals. Very little information goes back up the chain. The loop is broken.

Now, imagine a different scenario.

Publishers sell to distributors. Distributors sell to stores. Stores sell to individuals and get the information they can at the point of sale and that information is then returned back to the distributor and publisher. Imagine what that opens up.

Better targeting of marketing. Knowing who is purchasing and thus being able to better find look-alike individuals. Knowing what stores are underperforming so that help can be provided. Knowing what areas could benefit from a tour of individuals. Knowing sell-through, how long things are on shelves, the list goes on and on.

Information is Power

2016-09-20_1507I work in politics. Based on certain information (age, gender, income, education, etc.) I can figure out if you’re likely to vote, vote for my candidate, support my cause, donate money.  We have targeting and micro-targeting down to a science and here’s a bit of how we do it.

If you don’t believe the above statement, stop reading now, because you will fundamentally disagree with my point and my pitch. In Democratic politics we have some major databases, a national voter database and data warehouses.  That national voter database is a first stop for many campaigns. It has the voting history of voters in America.  I can look you up and tell you when you’ve voted, what primaries, and with a little bit of information and looking at your history I can predict how likely you’re going to vote. Imagine taking that voter information but combining it with purchasing data, demographic data, whatever you’re willing or unknowingly giving.

Through those two databases, and a little legwork, data models can be created to figure out who supports candidates and causes and the likelihood of individuals to vote or give money or take action. Through that information, I can then target accordingly with the right ask and right message. If I know men who are part of the NRA, drive pick-up trucks, and read Maxim are unlikely to vote for my candidate, I won’t spend money to court them. Also, if a group is more than likely to vote for my candidate I’d seek those individuals out and more importantly individuals who are like them and target my outreach to them.

The first question the comic industry needs to stop and ask is not who do I want to target, but who is currently reading? The above is a simplified version of what occurs, but I can predict elections down to percentage points.  Imagine the power of the above for marketing comics?

The Data

2016-09-20_1506As I stated above, the needed feedback loop to really get the information needed is lacking in the direct market. But, information can be gleaned from elsewhere. Facebook, website traffic, Twitter demographics, can all be leveraged to find individuals who will likely support your comics. They’ve shown interest by seeking you out already.

Digital comics have the greatest potential to spark this data revolution. With each digital purchases data is directly gained such as the frequency of purchases, what is purchased, and potentially even how much is read. Email addresses unlock a treasure trove of data as it can be used to append commercial data. At a 30% to 40% match rate you can know the gender and age of purchasers for instance. You can know if they’re parents, own a home, their estimated income, and more. One particular data vendor I’ve worked with offers over 250 data points that you can begin to append for just change a record.

That data becomes powerful when used for marketing. If you know individuals regularly purchase certain comics you can make that comic front and center in your marketing emails. You can tailor images to the individual, for instance showing women’s or men’s sizes based on the gender data you’ve appended. And, if you notice one particular segment is more likely to buy a book, you can then find more people like them and market that specific book to them.

While this might seem like a herculean task only available to the biggest of publishers, this is something the individual creator can do if they want.

And there are absolutely differences between publishers. Marvel fans enjoy Call of Duty, Xbox, and Playstation far more than DC Comic fans. None of that ranks high for Image fans. Marvel fans enjoy the UFC, NBA, WWE, and NFL compared to DC’s NBA, WWE, and UEFA Champions League. Image fans just enjoy the NBA apparently. Should Marvel advertise to the UEFA? Should DC advertise to the UFC? According to this, that’s not the best strategy. Image might find success by teaming up with the NBA from what I see. For very little investment you can test these things to see what works for you.

I gathered the above data differences for free in five minutes.

The Pitch

2016-09-20_1510The Democratic and Republican parties have something of what I’m about to describe. There’s numerous parts to this and I’ve laid it out to some folks who don’t seem to see the big picture.

1) National Database – Someone needs to do it.  A database that goes from the publishing level down to the store and blog level. Data can be appended and a good idea of who is purchasing can be truly known. Data can be walled off, but general data/demographics would be made so that everyone can gain.

People like telling you about themselves. Through questionnaires or even appending the data through purchases you’ll know you is buying what. All it takes is an email address to start believe it or not. When following up asking for an email address with a survey, online I got high 70’s to low 80’s conversion to filling out the form, with pretty personal questions.

2) Universal platform – Imagine a national platform. A national database of comics. A website in a box. All tied into the above database. The proposed would tie in weekly releases, sales, stock management, ordering, bloggers, website capabilities, and most importantly ways to capture data. Blogs would have community tools, stores would have stock management and websites, and all of that data would trickle up eventually to the publishers. Better targeting, printing and shipping would occur since the data is real time and real customers.

Those two items can be implemented tomorrow. But the above is just the tease.  I’m not about to lay it all out there for you, I need some secrets. The bells and whistles are held close to my chest, but hopefully you get the idea.

Imagine knowing who buys your comic and where those people really live. You can better advertise, send artists and writers to events, schedule promotions. As publishers and creators you’d be able to grow your business and sales intelligently. Stores would be able to use the information and tools to better keep in touch with customers, find new ones and easily promote themselves.

A win – win situation for all.

When I described the above to a few folks I’ve been told “It’s been tried before” or “it’s too complicated.”  The response to that is bullshit. It may have been tried, but when was it attempted? Who were involved? What technology was used? If you can get entire parties to subscribe to versions of the above, an industry can do it if they have the will. It’s just who wants to opt-in and gain and who wants to sit on the sidelines and fade to obscurity.

What is needed

It all comes down to vision and leadership.  Instead of bitching about sinking sales and what genders may or may not be reading, we as a whole should figure out who is reading and how to reach more people like them. We should be focusing on the right questions to ask? We should stop rehashing the same convesations we’ve been having for decades. It’s about a vision forward. Now, who wants to take up the cause and lead?

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook – European Edition

Each month I run demographic data of comic “fans” based on data mined from Facebook. The monthly report is focused on the United States and runs the first of every month. Due to popular demand, today launches a European edition that will run on the 15th of every month!

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series, because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest.

Also, with this being online/technology, due to laws and restrictions, those under the age of 13 are likely underrepresented. Europe also has some other data restrictions that will be discussed below.

Facebook Population: Over 55,000,000 in Europe

That’s 18 million more individuals than compared to what I reported for the United States in the beginning of the month. What’s interesting is that using the same terms as those used in the US report there are 54 million individuals. Adding in European publishers an additional 1 million individuals are added.

Worldwide, the estimate is 279,069,449 which is an increase of about 15 million compared to last month.

Gender and Age

In the United States at the beginning of the month women were reported as 37.84% of comic fandom while men accounted for 62.16%. In Europe, women account for 45.45% while men account for 54.55%.

facebook-comics-europe-gender-9-15-16

This month in the United States at no point do women become a majority of fans. In Europe men and women age 38 to 46 are about in even numbers. Eventually men become the majority again at age 65 and up.

facebook-comics-europe-gender-age-9-15-16

Part of the chance above is reflected below. Men increased in population age 46 and up while women dropped across the board at every age.

facebook-comics-europe-gender-age-raw-9-15-16

Relationship Status

Compared to the United States, the relationship status of individuals is actually pretty different. “Single,” “In Relationship,” “Divorced,” and “Married” are all much lower when it comes to percentage. Those “Engaged” is a little higher, but what’s much higher is the individuals marked “Unspecified,” and those as “Civil Union,” “Domestic Partnership,” and “Open Relationship.”

facebook-comics-europe-relationship-status-9-15-16

Education

Compared to the United States those with Doctorate or Master’s Degrees are lower, but College Grads, in College are higher. I don’t know how Europe generally compares to the US as far as education, but differences are probably reflected here.

facebook-comics-europe-education-9-15-16

Gender Interest

And here’s where data privacy differs. In some European nations this information can’t be reported which means either removing those countries or just not reporting on this. I chose the latter for now.

And come back next month for a new look at the data and the first comparison of just Europe!

Powerless: Wonder Woman’s Role

The fight for justice is no laughing matter! At least, it won’t be until Powerless debuts next season on NBC. In this all new #DCTV clip, they talk to the cast of the hilarious new comedy set within the DC Universe. So how difficult is it cleaning up after super heroes? Why do super-villains make such good politicians? And what’s the deal with Elongated Man, anyhow?

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad + The Flash

Rebirth has changed the lives and world of your favorite DC heroes forever… and we’re only getting started! In this all new episode of DC All Access, they talk to DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio about what lies ahead in Rebirth. Does the announcement of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad spell doom for Task Force X? Plus, we look at some of what’s new in the world of DC, including Supergirl #1, The Flintstones #3 and the debut of Everafter, the brand new Vertigo series set in the world of Fables. And as if that’s not enough, they give you a chance to win two signed posters and a bumper sticker from MAD!

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 Trailer

A new era begins for the Black Panther! MacArthur Genius and National Book Award-winning writer T-Nehisi Coates and artist Brian Stelfreeze take the helm, confronting T’Challa with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda that will make leading the African nation tougher than ever before. When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt–but can its monarch, one in a long line of Black Panthers, survive the necessary change? Heavy lies the head that wears the cowl!

Don’t miss Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1, available in print & digital wherever books are sold!

Valiant Joins Local Comic Shop Day 2016 with Harbinger Renegades and Bloodshot U.S.A.

Valiant Entertainment is supporting Local Comic Shop Day 2016 on November 19th, 2016 by offering special editions of Bloodshot U.S.A. #1 (of 4) and Harbinger Renegades #1 to participating retailers! The movie spotlights two major releases from “The Future of Valiant” initiative – an all-new wave of ongoing series and prestige projects from the largest independent superhero universe in comics.

Limited to just 1,000 copies, the Bloodshot U.S.A. #1 LCSD VARIANT will feature an all-new, never-before-seen cover by renowned artist Antonio Fuso, created especially for Local Comic Shop Day 2016! From the Bronx to Broadway, an unstoppable, nanite-enhanced pathogen is about to turn New York City’s populace against itself…and Bloodshot is the only soldier tough enough to lead a one-man invasion of the city that never sleeps! Join the firefight here as superstar creators Jeff Lemire and Doug Braithwaite unleash a perfect entry point into Valiant’s award-winning publishing line with the self-contained action event of the fall!

Then, acclaimed creators Rafer Roberts and Darick Robertson activate the most-demanded, most dangerous superteam in comics in the Harbinger Renegades #1 LCSD VARIANT – featuring an explosive new cover by action-packed artist Stephen Segovia! They’re in your towns. In your schools. And inside your mind…Now, with a revolutionary upheaval in motion all across America, Kris Hathaway, John “Torque” Torkelson, Faith “Zephyr” Herbert, and Peter Stanchek are about to discover their calling. Together, the HARBINGER RENEGADES are moving from town to town, building their ranks, and subverting authority one mind at a time…and setting out to prove once and for all that behind their power, there has always been a purpose.

Local Comic Shop Day shines a spotlight on locally owned independent comic book specialty stores and their role in shaping the pop culture market. This year, Local Comic Shop Day will be Saturday, November 19th, the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

On Local Comic Shop Day, participating retailers will have exclusive, and in some cases, limited items debuting from supporting publishers. The goal of Local Comic Shop Day is to jump start the holiday buying season for storefront comics specialty retailers by giving comics fans more of what they most desire.

BSUSA_001_VARIANT-LCSD_FUSO HR_001_VARIANT-LCSD_SEGOVIA

Luke Cage, Street Level Hero Music

Netflix has released part one of the Marvel’s Luke Cage Street Level Hero social video series explores the music that moves the show. These digital videos look to blend fiction with history by taking audiences behind the curtain on the themes that give the show it’s street-level authenticity and cultural relevance. Executive producer Cheo Hodari Coker , Mike Colter, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge of A Tribe Called Quest, A$AP Ferg and Method Man lend their commentary on how each episode is shaped by its score and musical influence.

In this Marvel live action series, a street-fighting ex-con battles crime on the streets of New York as the Super Hero, Luke Cage.

DC Reveals Details for Batman Day!

Batman Day 2016Every year, DC Entertainment invites fans to celebrate the most revered Super Hero of all time on Batman Day. This year on Saturday, September 17th, generations of fans will celebrate the Caped Crusader’s remarkable legacy at festivities held at thousands of comic book retailers, bookstores, schools and libraries around the world, some of which will include free comic book giveaways and signings by some of the biggest names in comics

To commemorate Batman Day this year, fans will receive a copy of Batman #1 from this year’s DC REBIRTH written by Tom King and illustrated by David Finch, Matt Banning and Jordie Bellaire.

Major retailers including Pottery Barn Kids, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, as well as hundreds of schools and public libraries will host fan events with fun-filled activities at locations nationwide, and Six Flags parks across the U.S. will distribute free copies of Batman #1. Batman fans will also be able to download for free a family friendly Batman Day activity kit including activity sheets, trivia and games.

Digital readers can get in on the Batman Day fun through two, massive digital comics sales. From Sept. 13-19 the “Road to Batman Day” sale will offer 15 eBooks and 100 digital periodical issues featuring iconic Batman titles like Batman: Hush and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. eBooks will be on sale for $5.99 and periodicals will have a 75 percent discount. Then on Batman Day (9/17), Batman Vol. 7: Endgame and Batman Adventures Vol. 1 will be on sale for $3.99 each.

This year’s Batman Day celebration is hosted by DC Entertainment, along with Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products licensees including Capstone Young Readers, Bendon, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, DK Licensing, HarperCollins and Storytoys, all creating unique opportunities for retail and digital promotions across various media to honor the Dark Knight.

Now in its third year, the annual fan-favorite event was first introduced timed to its world-renowned character’s 75th anniversary.

The day will also feature signings and meet-and-greets with top Batman talent include an all-star lineup at Midtown Comics Downtown in New York City with Frank Miller, Tom King, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Additional signings include Snyder and John Romita, Jr. (Long Island, NY), DCE Publisher Jim Lee (Pasadena, CA), Hope Larson (Pasadena, CA), Paul Dini (Los Angeles), Julie and Shawna Benson (Los Angeles), James Tynion IV (Downtown Los Angeles, Danny Miki (Chino Hills, CA), Tim Seeley (Chicago, IL) and David Finch (Windsor, Ontario), with more to be announced.

Batman Day takes place Saturday, September 17.

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook

Each month I run demographic data of comic “fans” based on data mined from Facebook.

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series, because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest.

Also, with this being online/technology, due to laws and restrictions, those under the age of 13 are likely underrepresented.

Facebook Population: Over 37,000,000 in the United States

That’s a decrease of 6 million people compared to last month. Worldwide, the estimate is 279,069,449 which is an increase of about 15 million compared to last month.

The Spanish-speaking population last month was 20.93%, and this month the population has increased up to 22.97% which was due to the overall population decreasing.

Gender and Age

Last month men accounted for 55.81% and women were 44.19%. Women saw a decrease from last month. While men decreased by 1 million, women decreased by 5 million. Women now account for 37.84% while men are 62.16%.

facebook comics 9.1.16

We’ll next look at how the percentage of women and men break down through age. What’s interesting is that women generally become the majority in the 40ish age span. This month, women never become a majority. That’ll be explained below.

facebook comics gender age 9.1.16

Part of the chance above is reflected below. Men increased in population age 46 and up while women dropped across the board at every age.

facebook comics gender age raw 9.1.16

Relationship Status

Everything has decreased when it comes to this and with men being a larger part of the population, their percentages increased.

facebook comics relationship 9.1.16

Education

There’s been some shifts from the previous month and a lot is due to men being a larger part of the population.

facebook comics education 9.1.16

Gender Interest

Women interested in women saw a big increase over the month, but percentages for other folks interested in the same gender decreased.

comics facebook gender interest 8.1.16

Ethnicity

African Americans held steady since last month, while Asian Americans and Hispanics both saw dips.

facebook comics ethnicity 9.1.16

Generation

Every grouping dropped this month. Baby Boomers are down 1 million, Generation X is down 1.1 million, and Millennials are down 3 million.

facebook comics generation 9.1.16

And come back next month for a new look at the data!

Cong. John Lewis on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to Promote March, Plus Crowdsurfing

On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Congressman John Lewis traced his journey of fighting for civil rights from the 1960s in Selma through to his new graphic novel series March. He was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to promote his best-selling graphic novel trilogy and was talked into crowd surfing!

Check out the video above!

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