POB Magazine Moves To New Pay-To-Play Model

Updated: October 24, 2019

POB Magazine Moves To New Pay-To-Play Model

Traditional Formats

For decades, printed trade magazines focusing on the surveying profession have been free. In exchange for filling out a simple survey (see what I did there?), any surveyor or aspiring surveyor could get a free subscription to one of these magazines. The magazines were funded by advertisers so that those of us on the ground wouldn’t have to foot the bill.

Early in my career, I learned of POB Magazine and Professional Surveyor Magazine, and I subscribed to both of them immediately. I didn’t find the advertisements to be a problem — in fact, they seemed to complement the subject matter. The written articles were informative and interesting, and I learned a lot just from reading them. But on top of that, the advertisements kept me abreast of technological innovation and tools that were available to me and my employer. I looked forward to each new issue.

At some point, The American Surveyor joined the mix. In fact, I remember that it launched as a new surveying magazine you could only receive with a paid subscription. Everything about it seemed to be the same otherwise. I don’t particularly remember it having less advertisements, but maybe it did. We’re digging pretty deep into past memories, so forgive me if they aren’t 100% accurate.

One day, The American Surveyor announced that they were converting into a free model, much like the other magazines. Did they not have enough subscribers to support the magazine? I don’t have an answer to that question. Nor do I actually know why they converted to a non-paid subscription model. But the fact of the matter is, all three of our trade magazines were now free. This went on for many, many years.

Until now.

Paid Access to Content

POB Magazine recently announced “POB Premium“, with content available only to those with a paid subscription. While I don’t have any inside insight into why they’ve chosen this direction, I do find myself wondering if it is somehow related to the fall of newspapers (printed media). For example, my local newspaper currently allows you to view five articles on their website before you need a paid subscription to read more. This appears to be the same method POB is using for their paywall.

POB seems to have structured the new system to fund premium content — presumably why they’ve deemed it “POB Premium”. But what is premium content in this case? Is it somehow better than their old content? In my mind, it implies that their previous content isn’t premium.

I’ve been watching the trade magazines evolve from the sidelines since 1986. While some have been slow to change, hanging onto old ideals, it was Professional Surveyor Magazine that saw the impending changes to our profession — and embraced them. Now known as xyHt Magazine, they seem to have restructured themselves to serve all geospatial professions while maintaining their history of serving Land Surveyors.

How Will This Affect You?

What do you think of the new POB paywall? Are you going to subscribe? Or will you be dropping your subscription? Why?

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Originally published on October 24, 2019

About the Author

Wendell T. Harness

I’ve been building online properties since the late 1980’s and transitioned to web design in 1999. I formed Harness Media in 2005 to help businesses grow through online marketing. I also talk to cats in a silly voice.

32 thoughts on “POB Magazine Moves To New Pay-To-Play Model”

  1. Wendell, you are unfortunately correct. And frankly, I’m not super-interested in surveying stories that occur in other countries, including our neighbors to the North.
    We all don’t scan everything nor do we all have Lidar drones (not yet, anyway?).
    I don’t particularly want to pay for what is substantially advertising and stories that I can poorly relate to.
    I had my 15 seconds of fame once upon a time in “P.O.B.” and I was proud to be a part but aside from a few habitual columnists (Gary, you know who you are) there just isn’t much there anymore that attracts my attention…….

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  2. I haven’t seen POB Magazine for some time. Perhaps a couple of years. Same for American Surveyor. I’m still getting XYHt, I think. I’m just not that interested in yet another sales pitch. Paradoxically, I might be willing to pay for a magazine if it give me reviews and articles that are not just extended advertisements.  

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  3. Once upon a many years ago I looked forward each month to PoB magazine arriving on my desk. Then it became a collection of advertorials and infomercials and content irrelevant to my ordinary dirt surveyor world. I agree with Dave and NomeSurveyor: it’s just not interesting anymore, and if I have to pay, PoB will have to go away.

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  4. I’ve only read a handful of copies of xyht but yeah I suspect there aren’t enough surveyors interested in paying a subscription to employ the staff necessary to put out a quality, relevant magazine.  Maybe going completely digital is the way to go.

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  5. I receive xyHt and The American Surveyor, and used to get Point of Blundering a while back. Been a LONG time since I read anything in POB, but I did like the various survey scenarios presented by others. The comics were not too bad, either.

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  6. The content is too progressive for me.Lidar. Scanning. All aimed at a different kind of business.Not so relevant any more.N

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  7. Print is dead; we all know that, and if we don’t, we should.How do I view the content, I used too?…RPLS.COM; Linkedin: Facebook; Instragram. These are the venues that currently bring us the articles we want to read. What’s next,that’s the true question.Am I ready to pay for this? Probably not, not yet. I see websites giving it away; and paying the viral poster, money, just because it’s viral…What does that tell you?

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  8. I’m getting regular emails from redit. Usually the 1st item enclosed is survey related. But, it’s another “venue” of sorts, I guess. Any body else getting redit emails in their inbox?N

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  9. I probably agree with most comments.  We don’t do scanning, we don’t do drones.  And, there is more content relative to our business right her on beerleg.  I have Clients who count windshields for their business.  I would like to think that those companies who spend the big bucks in print advertising would rethink where they should put their money.and for Radu and others who go back to the old pob board, the information herein and between users is more important than…than infomercials.

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  10. I don’t read much of POB anymore because the content isn’t there.  It used to be in the 1980’s.  I used to read through every issue, but no more; there’s simply nothing to read.  This is as about as good as it gets.

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  11. Unfortunately, for the last 5 years or so, the have all been garbage. The “articles” are just ads for scanners and drones. A paywall will be the death of them. they aren’t producing anything worth paying for. It is really a shame  because POB and Professional Surveyor were once great magazines.

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  12. I had my 15 seconds of fame in American Surveyor once but I have not read any of the 3 magazines for years for all the reasons described by all the others.

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  13. When I first discovered the rich mathematics embedded in surveying (roughly 20 years ago), coming across a copy of POB was like finding gold. I tried to subscribe, but got a little card in the mail that said that I didn’t qualify. Professional Surveyor and American Surveyor, however, accepted me and I got two little gold nuggets in the mail every month. Later on, after I had published something, POB told me that I was OK after all and invited me to subscribe. I suspect that I was not really OK and that POB just needed more readers, but I took them up on the offer.Newspapers and magazines aren’t exactly the same thing, but Warren Buffett’s comments on the newspaper industry may have some relevance to magazines as well. Note his comments on the importance of advertising here:  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-23/warren-buffett-sees-most-newspapers-as-toast-after-ad-decline   I subscribe to one of the two Buffett-owned papers in my area and when I didn’t re-up, I got a call. The result was a negotiated price for a one-year subscription. Honestly, there are days that I leave it in the driveway and others when I bring it up and put it directly in the trash.Speaking of reach ala xyHt, the latest issue of Forbes has the 400 richest Americans and something else. The advertiser on the back cover is esri. Of course, Jack Dangermond is tied with four others at number 154 on Forbes’ list, so it’s probably appropriate for an esri ad to appear also. It’s really a pretty good one.As to POB’s pay to play ploy, I’m taking it personally. Obviously, they’ve realized the mistake they made in accepting me as a subscriber and have concocted a way to fix that. It’s worked, but they need to apologize for the collateral damage they’ve created.

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  14. OH NO! Wherever will I be able to peruse the latest and greatest, super-cheesy Javad Ashjaee advertisement! The horror, the horror…… 😉  

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  15. The AOLS has transitioned to digital and it is freely available to all:https://www.aols.org/news/ops-magazinesI have found it to be just about as good (if not better) than the big 3.  Though, it has an Ontario focus which is far more relevant to me personally.  Is there a thread here that lists all the free provincial/state licensing body magazines?  I would imagine those would be of the most use to people as they would have first hand applications to statutes, etc.

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  16. I still get POB and American Surveyor and xyHt. I do read all articles written by the staff writers as they are usually very informative. Kind of like getting a good conference speaker in written form. Will I pay for a subscription, probably not.I am old and cannot speak to what might appeal to the younger Surveyors. They are the ones that will must decide what is valuable to move themselves forward.

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  17. I receive all three of them. We do Scanning, drones, mobile lidar, topo, boundary work – the whole 9-yards. I enjoy XyHT and AS the most. POB 99% of the time goes straight to the recycle bin. I like all of Gavin’s article in XyHT and Jerry Penry’s articles in AS. Also like the new “Unsung Heros” Articles in AS.The most important things to take notice here are that lack of all three magazines running articles of what “Surveyors” really want to read about. I think the paradox in our profession is sometimes humorous though. Our conferences and periodicals all preach that we need all this fancy high tech mojo  – but at the end of the day most just want to do boundary and topographic surveys with a robot and a reliable GPS receiver – at most. I myself love nothing more than an old lockdown Topcon (where you book every shot), a young ignorant rodman (that can carry all the gear), an I-Man that knows what to do and a 250 acre boundary with a creek topo thrown in for good measure – oh and a big bag of bird seed.

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  18. I have to tiptoe around the specifics of the post, but would like to note that there are trade publications and professional association publications.I think that the state and provincial association/society publications and newsletters do the best job of providing direct and locally relevant surveying content. This is by nature, understandable, and I enjoy –  immensely – reading them (and have been on an NSPS judging panel for their state publication awards). The articles in state pubs by local/regional surveyors are the most relevant on many levels. And thank heavens there are still folks who will take the time to craft such good content. And there are trade publications. But there is no direct apple-apple comparison. They exist for a different reason and serve different purposes. Folks might love them, folks might hate them, folks might like some parts and ignore the rest. Some folks like to see whats new and keep up on what new tools there are and how folks have been applying them. Some folks like to hear about what surveyors might be doing on the other side of the world, and others don’t want to hear about what a surveyor might be doing across town. Some folks like print,  some like digital, some like long content, some like short, some like none. No one will be completely pleased, but there are good people involved who try as much as is practical to balance the industry aspects while seeking to serve the professionals. And no one is getting rich doing so ;)Any source is optional, and (nearly all) is free. There are new and evolving sources, and channels, and if there is interest certain sources and formats can continue or even expand, and when there is not, different channels and models get tried. 

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  19. I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I read a paper survey magazine.   And I was one who paid for American Surveyor.  I thought they did a fine job.   But it says something that I had no idea they had switched to “free” system.  

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  20. I refuse to pay for a trade magazine.Today most of the content is a paid for advertisement for products that I probably will never use.What once was full of supportive information to educate all levels of train for our industry has forgotten many of their original directive. To put hard to find information into the hands of the people that need it.I have thumbed thru the content and I do not see the side by side match ups of available equipment and truthful evaluation of the machinery on the market and anyone that is standing up to recommend what to use for the application anymore.Today’s topics are not relevant to my boundary surveying and any relevant news that does comes directly from my BOR.The many websites of trade products and Google answers most of what my curiosity wants.I have noticed that doctor offices are becoming empty of magazines and have turned to health related brochures.The publishing world is being taken over by people that post to blogs and the many Web related news sources and Google, Go Duck Go, etc will provide an ample supply of any information.Being a member of RPLS TODAY and attending the various gatherings for CEUshave kept me more informed than any other source could have given.0.02

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  21. I also doubt I would pay for a surveyor magazine. Its not just the surveying profession that has free trade magazines but others also.

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  22. Posted by: @stlsurveyor Our conferences and periodicals all preach that we need all this fancy high tech mojo

    Well the conferences are financially supported by sponsorship’s from companies selling high tech mojo and the trade magazines are funded by advertisers selling high tech mojo…..so High Tech Mojo, Inc. is just getting what they pay for.  

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  23. I would only entertain paying for premium content if I would in return obtain control over what BNP media does with my contact information.  Allowing myself to be marketed to in turn for content is nothing new, but BNP definitely took it to a NEW LEVEL; I’d go so far as to say they’ve went beyond good taste in the amount of spam I’m subjected to because of their marketing practices.No thanks

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    • @plumb-bill

      Unfortunately, this is exactly why I let my subscription lapse years ago. And yet I still get random marketing emails that are obviously from POB lists. When I started this website in 2010, I swore to myself and everyone that joined that I would never sell their information or even give it away, for that matter. I still haven’t, still won’t, and never will.

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  24. I refuse to fill out the subscription renewal request form, but, still get the POB magazine in the mail. Jeff Lucas is still writing scathing, vicious attacks on surveying. I wouldn’t pay for that.  

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  25. May they rest in peace. I think POB was the first magazine I got. They made me mad when they bought RPLS forum and converted it to something that wasn’t friendly. I was getting the magazine, but a lot of the articles nowadays seem to be some manufactures sales pitch.

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  26. If POB was informative and relative, like it was 15 years ago, I would pay $1 a month to read it online. But since it it NOT relative OR informative, I would not pay anything to read it, in any format. 

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