Saturday, July 23, 2011

Condé Nast Is Experiencing Difficulties in digital publishing

New York Observer reporting:
While Condé Nast was far from the only media company to find its established business model upended by the web, it appeared to be more paralyzed than most by the shift, perhaps because, in some ways, the rules of online media ran counter to the entire culture of the company. Where Condé Nast had been built on the notion of exclusivity—the idea that its gatekeepers held the keys to a sort of private club, doling out access to readers one glamorous photo spread or finely-turned phrase at a time—the Internet was messy, democratic and fundamentally untamable. Marquee titles like Vanity Fair, Vogue and the New Yorker seemed obsessed with hierarchies. The web obliterated them. Mr. Newhouse’s painstakingly constructed and assiduously policed royal court had come under threat—the villagers were massing at the gates!—and the ambivalence within the company was apparent: every attempt to welcome in the hoi polloi was met with an opposing impulse to head for higher ground on the castle wall.
Former web editors are still baffled by budgets that allowed for a suite to cover the Oscar party at Morton’s but can’t seem to assign to an extra desk for an online editor. Permission was required from the tech side before any print content was posted online. Nine months could crawl by before a request for an RSS feed or comment system on a site made its way through the system. Up until a few years ago, editorial staffers were shackled to a bloated corporate content management system that “forces web editors to spend enormous amounts of time wrangling the system instead of creating content,” according to one insider.
When individual titles began make their own forays into the web, they did so gingerly, slapping up what seemed to be placeholder sites geared mostly to picking up subscriptions. Meanwhile, rivals were popping up everywhere. “The biggest shame was that Vogue wasn’t Net-a-porter,” a former Condé Nast print editor told The Observer. “That was the missed opportunity of the century.”
Poynter reporting:
As more people buy e-readers and download books through digital stores, some news organizations are finding they can capitalize on their expertise and archives of information by quickly publishing e-books related to big stories.
The Washington Post and ABC News each generated books about the killing of Osama bin Laden shortly after the news broke. And the Boston Globe released a three-part ebook collection on Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger following his arrest after 16 years on the run from 19 murder charges.
The Globe has long been producing “instabooks” in print, often commemorating achievements of local sports teams. When the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in June, the Globe had such a book out in stores after only a few days. This time, though, they also produced an ebook version for the first time.
In past years, e-readers had only simple black and white screens with low resolutions, so the Globe’s photo-heavy print books would not show well on an electronic display, the Globe’s book development editor, Janice Page, told me. But now with more advanced e-readers and tablets in the market, ebooks can take advantage of photos.
Ebooks can even include multimedia elements that regular books cannot, such as videos. The Globe’s recent Bruins ebook, for example, included video of player interviews and the celebration parade. ABC News’ book on Bin Laden includes embedded footage from inside his compound and excerpts from interviews.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fashion Titles Chart Modest Gains for September Issues

adweek reporting:
If fashion monthlies binged on ad pages in 2007, only to go on a crash diet, moderation could be the watchword of 2011. That’s the sense from the titles as they close their all-important September issues, where advertisers spend big to showcase their fall fashions, and give an indication of their appetite for spending going forward.
Big Condé Nast moneymaker Glamour had a banner issue last September—up a whopping 57.5 percent to 241 ad pages, helped by a tie-in with its brand-new iPad app. This year, without such a gimmick, pages were flat. But this September's Glamour brought in more revenue than any other previous issue of the magazine, and—given the title's importance to the company’s fortunes—that was good enough for Condé chief executive (and onetime Glamour publisher) Chuck Townsend to fête the staff with a Champagne toast. Even Si Newhouse, the aged chairman and CEO of parent Advance Publications, made an appearance.
“September was one for the record books,” declared Bill Wackermann, publishing director over Glamour. “Turns out, everyday business at Glamour has to mean breaking records.”
At the other core fashion books, though, the results were mixed.
Another closely watched title, Elle, saw its ad pages drop 6.8 percent year over year, to 350. To be fair, the magazine, which recently joined Hearst as part of the Hachette Filipacchi Media deal, marked its 25th anniversary in 2010, which inflated last year's September, and it did see gains in fashion, luxury and high-end beauty ads this year.  
Luxury-heavy books added only modest gains. Harper’s Bazaar clocked in at 308 pages, an increase of 2.2 percent.

‘The Daily’ Launches A New Version; Hopes For Assist From Spotify

 paidcontent reporting:
Another News Corp tabloid is making news today and this time it has nothing to do with Parliament or police. The Daily is out with a new edition that erases some of the biggest complaints about the iPad tab, sending users to the cover instead of a carousel, returning to where you left off instead of forcing a start at the front again, offering a table of contents that shows all the stories in each section—and, the update notice that just hit my inbox promises, more stability for the “fastest, best version yet.”
So far, the first three are right and the last one, well, after six months, I’d hate to think anyone would send out something buggier or slower. It took about about 12 seconds to see the cover and about 25 seconds to access content; that feels a little slow in iPad time but it’s much faster than the first version and the ability to go straight to cover or to the last page each saves time.

Hearst, Bonnier Agree to MediaVest Demand for Tablet Data

adweek reporting:
Today brought two steps forward for transparency when it comes to readership of tablet media.
With the tablet market still in its infancy, media buyers have been reluctant to put ad dollars toward an unproven platform that has produced scant consumer data.
One prominent buyer, MediaVest’s Robin Steinberg, two months ago put out a call to major publishers to provide readership detail about their tablet readers or risk forgoing advertising dollars on those devices. Now, two big ones—Hearst Magazines, publisher of titles like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, and Bonnier Corp., which puts out enthusiast magazines like Popular Science and Ski—agreed to supply MediaVest with data on audience, demographic, and engagement for their tablet editions. In exchange, MediaVest will recommend that its clients, which include such heavyweights as Kraft and Walmart, pay for ads delivered on those digital editions.
Separately, Condé Nast announced today that, come fall, it will release audience metrics of tablet magazine editions to clients that will indicate their single copy and subscription sales, number of readers that viewed the editions and their ads, and time spent with them, among other data.
“Frankly, without metrics, it’s been a barrier to grow,” Condé Nast CMO Lou Cona said. "It’s difficult to make this a meaningful medium without metrics.”
The company plans to share research showing that consumer behavior on tablets differs more than expected from behavior on the Web (where usage is fragmented and short-term) and is more similar to usage of print magazines.
Scott McDonald, Condé's senior vice president of market research, said he believes the data will actually make tablet media more attractive than print. That's because unlike traditional print media metrics, there will be more detail on how people use tablet media, and behavior will be measured rather than self-reported, he said.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Three Ways Could Change Book Publishing

paidcontent reporting:
After a suspenseful buildup, J. K. Rowling has announced that will be an e-bookstore, exclusively selling Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks. Pottermore could shake up digital publishing as much as the Harry Potter books first shook up print publishing over a decade ago. Here’s how.
Amazon will be cut out as the middleman and could be forced to open up the Kindle to new book-publishing formats. does not officially launch until October, and right now many details are still unclear. But we know that the site will be the only place to buy Harry Potter e-books and that they will be compatible with a range of devices. Rowling stressed that selling the books directly “means we can guarantee people everywhere are getting the same experience and at the same time,” and Pottermore CEO Rod Henwood told The Bookseller, “We want to make sure anyone who buys it can read it on any device. We are talking to the Kindles, the Apples, the Googles, Barnes & Noble to make sure they are compatible. We set the pricing, we maintain the policy of making them available to as many readers as possible.”
...Interesting experiments with pricing. Since Rowling is selling the e-books directly, she can do what she wants with pricing. Her UK publisher, Bloomsbury, and her U.S. publisher, Scholastic, are getting a cut, but these books are being published under the Pottermore Publishing imprint, not by Bloomsbury or Scholastic. So look out for bundling, limited-time sales, special editions, maybe even individual chapters for sale.
...Most importantly, this could be a major tipping point for e-books. The first book Harry Potter book was published in 1997—over a decade ago. Kids who were too young for the books when they were first published—who were, say, four or five in 2007 when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the series, was released—are just the right age for the e-book editions in 2011.

News International 'deliberately' blocked investigation

guardian reporting:
Rupert Murdoch's News International company has been found by a parliamentary committee to have "deliberately" tried to block a Scotland Yard criminal investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World.
The report from MPs on the all-party home affairs committee will be released on Wednesday morning. Its publication has been moved forward in time for a statement on the scandal by the prime minister, David Cameron.
The report's central finding comes a day after Rupert and James Murdoch testified before the culture, media and sport committee. The home affairs committee report marks an official damning judgment on News International's actions.
It finds the company "deliberately" tried to "thwart" the 2005-2006 Metropolitan police investigation into phone hacking carried out by the News of the World.
The investigation came at a time when Andy Coulson was editor. Coulson went on to be chosen by Cameron to be his director of communications, before resigning.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amazon offers Textbook Rental System with Savings up to 80%

Amazon ushered in a new textbook rental system today offering students huge savings by renting books. Students can now rent textbooks between 30 and 360 days and save up to 80%.
Currently Amazon is offering around 20,000 textbooks available for rent by some of the industries leading content providers. Signed up to this new program are John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis.
In order to save the most amount of money students will be able to configure their own loan periods. This is great because of the varying semester system with many different schools. You only pay for the  textbook for the duration of time you are going to rent it. These books an be read on your Kindle, iPad,  Mac, iPhone and many other devices.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dumbing down of British journalism

Sunday Times reporting:
RANDOM THOUGHTS | By Neville de Silva
The fiasco over the reported widespread phone-hacking of public and private figures by the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World truly epitomizes what critics have been saying about the steady decline in the ethical and professional standards of Britishjournalism.
Those who have kept a weather-eye on the British media over the years-and that has included several media and academic institutions in Britain too- warned a long time back about the perceptible deterioration in journalistic standards from the days when British journalism was among the best in the world and boasted professionals any media organization would have been proud to have working for them. Several individual editors and journalists come to mind, several of them from the prestigious “Guardian”- previously the Manchester Guardian- of which I was Colombo correspondent some 40 years or so ago.
But over the years professional standards continued to drop-and there are several reasons for this including the pressure from TV and more recently its 24-hour news cycle-which worried professional bodies and media training organizations. The recent shenanigans by the News of the World which led to its closure of this 168-year old tabloid is but one, albeit perhaps the most far reaching in its consequences, in a long line of media misdemeanours that has troubled British journalism and brought it into disrepute in the UK and elsewhere.

Friday, July 15, 2011

How connected devices will disrupt the TV ad market

gigaom reporting:
Linear TV makes up the bulk of video ad dollars today, with about $160 billion worldwide being spent on broadcast advertising, compared to just $5.4 billion in IP-delivered video. But a rapidly growing number of connected devices will soon disrupt what we think of as TV advertising, by combining TV-sized reach with all the interactivity, targeting and analytics advertisers have come to expect from web video ads.
The online video ad market has grown substantially over the last few years, but so far it has yet to really make a dent in TV advertising. While the TV ad market is growing more slowly than online on a percentage basis, it continues to add billions of dollars every year, compared to just the hundreds of millions that are sneaking into online video. For those that thought online video would soon begin to steal budget away from TV, that hasn’t happened — yet.
But things start to get interesting when TVs get connected and more of the video we watch is streamed rather than delivered over traditional TV broadcast. As seen in the graph below, the real opportunity for advertising growth is in targeting that increasingly influential medium. The graph, which is based on data from Booz & Co. projections for the video ad market, was first shown to me by Videoplaza CEO Sorosh Tavakoli as evidence of where the “TV ad market” is actually going.

Advertising for video on PCs and web browsers, video delivered to mobile devices and video delivered to tablets will all grow significantly in the coming years, but will pale in comparison to the growth of advertising for streaming video on connected TVs. And as monetization of streaming video to connected devices grows, the share of ad dollars going to traditional TV services will shrink.

How Social Media 'Friends' Translate Into Real-Life Friendships

mediashift reporting:

A Pew Internet and American Life Project report recently found that Facebook users have more close relationships and receive more support than others. They're also more likely to revive dormant relationships and use social networking to keep up with close social ties.
When online friends become real-life friends
One example of online translating into real-life interaction in a big way happened on Social Media Day, sponsored by Mashable on June 30. On that day, thousands of people attended more than 1,400 in-person meet-ups to celebrate the power of online connections. In Atlanta, attendance swelled well above the expected 413 RSVPs. The event included a contest in which the finalists in a drawing for an iPad learned on the spur of the moment they had to compete in an unexpected dance-off:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guardian aims to double digital audience with multimedia development

nma reporting:
Steve Folwell, former Guardian Media Group strategy chief, was drafted into the newly-created role of business director, multimedia and brand extensions in May, to explore product development and commercial opportunities around multimedia propositions, with expediency. He’s leading a 30-strong multimedia team, while pulling together commercial and product development resources across the business.
“Multimedia means different things to different people,” said Folwell. “In our case it means we want to be on any platform, at any given time, telling our audiences stories in the best possible way for that platform. But it also means interaction between data, video and audio, enlarging our existing audience and enhancing our storytelling through news, investigation, music and arts.”
Guardian News & Media has identified an audience of 7m with which its content and brand would resonate across a variety of products and platforms, but with whom Guardian News & Media is not currently connecting.
This target would more than double its current 3m daily web audience. The target is a result of work undertaken last year to identify opportunities around brand extensions, multi-media and product development, both on- and offsite, Folwell said.
Within, there is still 90% of the audience that are not viewing video, while offsite, Guardian News & Media is exploring content syndication across Youtube, video networks, social media platforms, webTV and tablets. It’s a partner for UK webTV venture Youview, and is exploring GoogleTV for its US audience, according to Folwell.

The New York Times Completes Research on 'Psychology of Sharing'

NEW YORK, Jul 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The New York Times Customer Insight and Advertising Groups have completed a study on "The Psychology of Sharing," which examines the motivations for why people share online.
While there has been much discussion of social media and how people share, "The Psychology of Sharing" is the first of its kind to examine why people share. The study provides insights to help marketers align their content-sharing strategies with the reasons people share online.
The Psychology of Sharing study is a comprehensive multiphase research study, which was conducted by The New York Times in collaboration with Latitude Research. The findings are based on two qualitative research phases and a quantitative online survey of more than 2,500 medium-to-heavy online content sharers. Key takeaways of the research are:
-- Sharing as Information Management -- With more content, more sources and more people to share with, many users find sharing is a useful way of managing information. 85% of respondents said that reading other people's responses helps them understand and process information and events. 73% said they process information more deeply, thoroughly and thoughtfully when they share it.
-- Motivations for Sharing -- The study identifies five primary motivations for sharing. Each of the five motivations has a common theme: sharing is motivated by the relationships users have with one another. Therefore, marketers should be focused on providing content that enhances consumers' relationships with one another.
-- Personas -- The study identifies six sharing personas. Each persona is defined by emotional motivations, desired presentation of self, role of sharing in their life, and the value of being first to share.
-- Getting Content Shared -- Based on the common motivations and personas, the study offers guidelines and best practices for marketers to get their content shared.

Amazon to Battle Apple iPad With Tablet

WSJ reporting:

Amazon plans to release a tablet computer by October, people familiar with the matter said, intensifying its rivalry with Apple's iPad. 
Amazon will launch a tablet by October, intensifying the rivalry with Apple and its iPad. WSJ reporter Stu Woo gives Lauren Rudser the details we know so far. Image courtesy of Getty Images.
While Amazon has long offered digital content on its website, it has lacked much of the hardware to go with it. Now the Seattle company hopes customers will use its tablet to buy and rent that content, said people familiar with its thinking.
An Amazon spokesman didn't respond to requests for comment.
Amazon's looming entry into the tablet market, which Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has hinted at in his appearances this year, is the latest example of how technology companies, once focused on a particular segment of the industry, are increasingly jostling one another on multiple fronts.
That trend is evident in the enterprise-technology arena, where onetime partners such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Oracle Corp. became enemies in markets including server computers, and it is now becoming evident in consumer technology.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why subsidizing tablets for newspaper subscribers, in Philly & elsewhere, makes sense

Poynter reporting:

Philadelphia Media Network’s plan to subsidize tablet computers for thousands of subscribers makes a lot of sense, and they deserve credit for leading the industry in a new approach. But the impact it will have for the owner of the Inquirer and the Daily News is still an open question.
Philadelphia Media CEO Greg Osberg announced Monday the plan to subsidize the cost of Android-powered tablet computers for people willing to also buy one- or two-year newspaper subscriptions at a discount. The tablet would come pre-loaded with apps to read replicas of the print paper, as well as an additional Inquirer app and a shortcut to
Why this is a good tactic. People want tablets. They’re fun, useful and just plain desirable. They already have reached 8 to 12 percent of U.S. adults and that number will keep growing in coming years.
Philadelphia Media is sure to earn some basic good will and loyalty from the people who receive new gadgets to play with. It’s the age-adjusted equivalent of luring college students to do anything for free pizza. For adults, you just have to step it up a little.
Of course, giving away free stuff always creates interest. But the real question for a news organization is: Does the giveaway create enough value to offset the substantial costs? Fortunately, newspapers have some history in this area to guide them.
Even in print, the cost of acquiring and serving subscribers is a loss-leader to enable greater advertising revenue. Earlier Poynter posts calculated the average print newspaper subscriber produces direct revenue of $400 over two years, while it costs the publisher $450 to acquire the subscriber then produce and deliver the paper over that time.
Advertising traditionally makes up the difference, and then some. So Philadelphia Media will have to earn enough mobile ad revenue from these subscribers to cover whatever costs their subscription payments don’t. (Since this is a relatively small pilot project, however, it may be less important to make money than to prove the concept could work on a larger scale. Osberg told Poynter’s Rick Edmonds he expects profitability by 2012.)
Giving subscribers subsidized tablets also is a good marketing tactic...

ProPublica’s Guide to the Phone Hacking Scandal

ProPublica reporting:
Though News of the World shut its doors on Sunday, the UK's hacking scandal is deepening. Allegations of illegal activity have spread beyond News of the World to other Murdoch papers, and far beyond hacking into people's voice mails. With all the new details emerging, it's getting hard to keep track. Here's a brief rundown of the latest revelations. (See our first reader's guide for an explanation of the early days of the phone hacking scandal. [1])
The News of the World drew fresh outrage last week as news broke that the family members of dead soldiers [2], murdered children [3], and 7/7 terrorist attack victims [4] may have had their phones hacked by the paper. There have also been allegations that the paper hacked the email account [5] of a soldier who died in Iraq.
Scotland Yard has been combing through 11,000 pages of documents seized from the home of Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who hacked phones for News of the World. The papers include around 4,000 names of potential phone hacking victims. Investigators are working through the list and contacting the victims -- as of yesterday, they'd only gotten in touch with 170 of them [6]. Meanwhile, a News International senior executive is suspected of deleting "massive quantities" of phone hacking-related emails [7].

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Google eBooks to Offer Story HD, Its Own e-Reading Device

PublishersWeekly reporting:
Google eBooks is partnering with Korean electronics manufacturer iriver to release the Story HD, an e-book reading device integrated with the Google eBooks platform. The Story HD is an e-ink device with wi-fi connectivity and beginning July 17 it will be priced at $140 and sold exclusively through Target stores.
Google eBooks is the last of the major e-reading software platforms to offer a reading device integrated with its e-reading software. The new device will allow Google eBooks’s consumer to buy and download e-books from the Google eBooks store directly to their Story HD devices. The new device and Google eBooks’s partnerships with iriver and Target were announced on the Google Blog.
...That said, the Google eBooks/Story HD has some interesting features. It has a 6 inch screen and is said to have 63% more pixels than other e-readers, offering sharper, more legible text and images. The device is said to have a more powerful processor (faster page-turns) and iriver claims the battery will last more than a month (6 weeks) on a single charge. The device also has an expandable SD card and a physical keyboard. Presumably, consumers will also be able to use the device to buy e-books from indie physical bookstores who have signed on as part of Google eBooks's partnership with the American Booksellers Association.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Condé Nast’s Scott Dadich on reinventing mags for the iPad and why partnering with Apple matters

NiemanLab reporting:
As the man tasked with giving new life to magazines on new platforms for Condé Nast, Scott Dadich says there are some things, old-school things, that don’t change whether you’re dealing with print or tablets.
“The cover. As magazine makers, we see the cover as the one and only ad we have for your purchase and your time,” said Dadich, Condé’s vice president of digital magazine development. “It’s an inducement to pick it up and give us your time.”
The magazine cover may be ascendant once again thanks in part to the debut of Apple’s Newsstand for iPad and iPhone. Combined with Apple’s subscription policy, the Newsstand could potentially be the bridge to the wider adoption of magazines on the iPad that publishers have been hoping for.
“To have a dedicated container on a tablet device, the iPad, where covers are the primary means of purchase and browsing is something we’ve been looking for for a long time,” Dadich told me.
But the future still remains imperfect for publishers, some reluctant to give Apple its 30-percent cut, others wanting to get their hands on precious customer data without interference from Apple. Condé Nast is already onboard with Apple, though, with more than 30 apps and almost 10 magazine editions on the iPad and digital subscriptions available for the big titles. Dadich is a true believer in tablets: He lead the team responsible for Wired’s first iPad app. Still, he hedges that idealism with heavy doses of pragmatism. In an interview that covered everything from publishers’ relationship with Apple to developing a new design guide for the tablet, Dadich outlined a future that will find magazines thriving again.
“It’s not that far-fetched to imagine 20 to 25 percent of magazines’ readership existing in a digital platform three to four years from now,” he said.

Monday, July 4, 2011

New ebook library subscription launched in the Netherlands

The Digital Reader reporting:
The Dutch  ebook provider Yindo recently announced that they had  expanded their services to include a new subscription plan. For a flat monthly fee, users can borrow up to a limited number of ebooks at a time. The new library is launching small, with about 150 titles published by Van Duuren Media. Yindo also announced that the selection will expand each month with new titles.
This marks a slight change from their existing service, where users could rent each ebook for up to a month. Yindo also will sell you the ebook, too.

5 Ways the Advertising Industry Is Preparing for a Digital Future

Mashable reporting:

Chris Schreiber is director of marketing at social video advertising company Sharethrough. A leading expert on social content strategy, Chris recently presented a two-hour workshop on viral video at the Cannes Lions festival, entitled “Making Videos Go Viral: Creative, Social, and Technological Techniques.”
Last week, the world’s top brands and agencies descended on the Cannes Lions festival to discuss creativity in modern advertising and to anoint the campaigns that most effectively captured our imaginations. While the conference was renamed this year to the “International Festival of Creativity” (previously the “International Advertising Festival”), it featured an unprecedented amount of participation from blockbuster technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
Over the course of the week, the significant relationship between the powerful new forces in technology and the creative output from the advertising industry became quite clear. As the web increasingly empowers us to choose and share the media we care about, brands genuinely commit to creating content and experiences that thrive in our on-demand culture.
Here are five key themes from the conference that point to major changes in the world of advertising.

Don't mistake news activity for the health of the news business

Mondaynotes reporting:
Digital media zealots are confused: they mistake news activity for the health of the news business. Unfortunately, the two are not correlated. What they promote as a new kind of journalism carries almost no economic value. As great as they are from a user standpoint, live blogging / tweeting, crowdsourcing and hosting “experts” blogs bring very little money – if any, to the news organization that operates them. Advertising-wise and on a per page basis, these services yield only a fraction of what a premium content fetches. On some markets, a blog page will carry a CPM (Cost per Thousand page views) of one, while premium content will get 10 or 15 (euros or dollars). In net terms, the value can even be negative, as many such contents consume manpower in order to manage, moderate, curate or edit them.
More realistically, these contents also carry some indirect but worthy value: in a powerful way, they connect the brand to the user. Therefore, I still believe news organization should do more, no less of such coverage. But we should not blind ourselves: the economic value isn’t there. It lies in the genuine and unique added value of original journalism deployed by organizations of varying size and scope, ranging from traditional media painfully switching to the new world, to pure online players — all abiding by proven standards.
...The business model will play an important role in solving this problem. Online organizations will soon realize there is little money to be made in “process-journalism”. But, as they find it is a formidable vector to drive traffic and to promote in-depth reporting, they will see it deserves careful strategizing....

The New Faces of Digital Readers

Mondaynote reporting
First of all, note the evolving language: the term Online Readers is now passé as it morphed into Digital Readers. The shift reflects two trends: a broader range of device types and, in news consumption, the spectacular rise of mobility. Today, we’ll focus on a recent set of surveys that quantify these trends. And we’ll take a look at their impact on business models and strategies.
The first survey was released last week in Paris by Havas Media, a major European advertising player with a 25% market share in France. Last May, the polling company CSA surveyed a panel of 600 people reading 20 major French publications: national dailies and weeklies. Because the French rate of ownership for digital devices is comparable to what happens in other markets, the survey’s findings can be safely extrapolated outside of France.
Here are the key findings:
Respondents declare spending 37 minutes a day on digital publications as opposed to 22 minutes a day on print press. This number is astonishingly high. It shows the switch to digital has occurred – at least for readers of large national medias. It also confirms the segmentation of digital audiences. More broadly, when Nielsen finds that, on all mature markets, internet users spend no more than 30 minutes a month on digital newspapers, it also proves how important it is to go after the most loyal customers as opposed to collecting eyeballs – and flybys – for the sake of raw audience numbers that carry less and less economic meaning…)
How media consumption is distributed: according to the Havas Media survey, 51% of the respondents prefer web sites, 31% go for electronic editions, and 17% use applications. In these numbers, the web’s dominance reflects (a) the high volume of contents that are still free as many publications keep playing both sides of the fence, meaning both ad-supported and paid-for models, and (b) the importance of real time news.
In contrast, the lower score of digital editions stems from the fact most still use a basic PDF format. This doesn’t deliver the best reader experience, nor does it fit the needs of mobility: download speed and reading comfort on a smartphone screen. (I’ll come back to the future of digital editions in a next Monday Note by talking about the kiosk we launched last week in France).
#1: Real Time information, mentioned by 48% of the respondents.
#2: Free access. Not really surprising, it will be difficult to get people to pay for news. But there is hope: 29% say they’d be willing  to buy a digital edition. Interestingly enough (and sweet to Havas’ ears): 72% of respondents would be ready to trade a digital subscription in exchange for advertising, and 54% would trade the ability to get free downloads of digital contents in exchange for more advertising.
#3: Availability. A notion that encompasses accessibility and ease of use.
#4: Selectiveness is seen as print’s privilege and a key factor of for liking it.
As for the tablets, 56% of their use involves reading the branded press; that’s behind internet usage (77%), email (66%), or watching videos (62%). Respondents are not apps freaks: they have downloaded only 7 free apps and a bit less that 4 paid-for apps in their devices. These surprisingly low figures appear to be specific to the French market...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Guardian closes international print editions to focus on digital

nma reporting:
The publisher will stop printing editions at five sites: Cyprus, Frankfurt, Madrid, Malta and New York. The focus will now be on serving overseas audiences via the Guardian website and mobile platforms. The distribution of Guardian Weekly will also be increased.
Adam Freeman, commercial executive director, said in a statement: “Our international print editions have been a valued part of what we do for a number of years, but as a result of the structural changes affecting all printed newspapers, we have been steadily reducing the number of copies we publish outside the UK since 2010 due to reasons of demand and cost.”
The decision is one of the first manifestations of Guardian News & Media’s digital-first strategy announced last Friday ( 17 June 2011).
The publisher said it will put digital platforms and development ahead of print to help it cut costs and halt losses in response to sustained upheaval across the media sector, which has seen a rise in digital audiences but declines in print circulation, print readership and, as a result, print ad revenues.
...While UK nationals and Mail Online are on a determined expansion drive in the US, conversely overseas news titles in the UK are beginning to see double-figure growth, starting to compete with homegrown publications, according to figures from UKOM/Nielsen.
UKOM/Nielsen rankings released last week, showing the top 40 news sites by unique UK visitors for May 2011, found that The Huffington Post, India Times and The Washington Post all experienced double-digit growth from May 2010 ( 27 June 2011).
The Huffington Post grew its audience by 26% to 459,000 unique visitors, while India Times was up 124% to 358,000. The Washington Post jumped 41% to 253,000 unique visitors.

ProPublica’s newest news app uses education data to get more social

Niemanlabs reporting:
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released a data set — the most comprehensive to date — documenting student access to advanced classes and special programs in public high schools. Shorthanded as the Civil Rights survey, the information tracks the availability of offerings, like Advanced Placement courses, gifted-and-talented programs, and higher-level math and science classes, that studies suggest are important factors for educational attainment — and for success later in life.
ProPublica reporters used the Ed data to produce a story package, “The Opportunity Gap,” that analyzes the OCR info and other federal education data; their analysis found among other things that, overall and unsurprisingly, high-poverty schools are less likely than their wealthier counterparts to have students enrolled in those beneficial programs. The achievement gap, the data suggest, isn’t just about students’ educational attainment; it’s also about the educational opportunities provided to those students in the first place. And it’s individual states that are making the policy decisions that affect the quality of those opportunities. ProPublica’s analysis, says senior editor Eric Umansky, is aimed at answering one key question: “Are states giving their kids a fair shake?”
The fact that the OCR data set is relatively comprehensive — reporting on districts with more than 3,000 students, it covers 85,000 schools, and around 75 percent of all public high schoolers in the U.S. — means that the OCR data set is also enormous. And while ProPublica’s text-based takes on the info have done precisely the thing you’d want them to do — find surprises, find trends, make it meaningful, make it human — the outfit’s reporters wanted to go beyond the database-to-narrative formula with the OCR trove. Their solution: a news app that encourages, even more than your typical app, public participation. And that looks to Facebook for social integration.

The app focuses on measuring equal access on a broad scale: It tracks not only the educational opportunities provided by each school, but also breakdowns of students’ race, disability status, gender, and English proficiency. It also highlights the percentage of teachers with two years’ experience or less — who, as a group, tend to effect smaller achievement gains than their more experienced counterparts — and the percentage of students who receive free or reduced-price school lunch, an indicator of poverty. (More on the developers’ methodology here.)

24symbols starts, cloud based reading for free

goodereader reporting:
At BookExpo and the IDPF Digital Book Conference in May, we reported that 24symbols, a Spanish digital book subscription site, would be changing the way some people read ebooks. Using a Netflix-like subscription platform in which no books were actually downloaded to a computer or device, 24symbols would instead rely on Cloud-based content storage that allowed subscribers to access ebooks on any web browser-enabled device. Our video interview with Justo Hidalgo was posted here.
24symbols launched their service on June 30th, with levels of membership ranging from the basic, free-with-advertising model, up to a paid subscription that removed all ads from the display.
Now, however, 24symbols has seen the potential in their service and is developing an iPad app to be released within a week, as well as an iPhone and Android smartphone app down the road. By yesterday’s launch, the site had prepared some 1000+ titles in the catalog, admittedly mostly from smaller presses, but it’s a great starting point considering that the basic membership level is free. Another aspect to their membership that has been added is the ability to utilize off-line reading, though this is a premium feature only available to the paying subscribers.
According to an article by Laura Hazard Owen published on, “Publishers receive 70 percent of a book’s revenue, and 24symbols keeps 30 percent. Revenue is based on the number of page views—i.e., the number of times an actual page of a book is read compared to the overall number of pages read across all titles. Publishers can include their books in both the free ad-supported area of the site and in the paid area or can limit them to either one of those…24symbols leaves publishers responsible for paying their authors royalties based on income from the site, and recommends that that royalty be 30 percent.”

New news aggregator -

Poynter reporting: The news aggregator launched Thursday morning as a subscription iPad app, with support from more than 20 major media outlets.
Built by Betaworks, the app aggregates and filters news from a wide variety of sources, but will pay a licensing fee to official media partners in return for use of their content. Articles from those partners has been reformatted for the “best reading experience” on the iPad according to an FAQ on the company’s website.
Consumer access to the app costs $0.99 a week, or $34.99 a year. Partners will receive a “fixed fee” for each unique page view; the company has not publicly stated what that fee will be.
A few quick calculations point to the difficulty of turning fractions of a penny into significant profits. Assuming a user buys an annual subscription to the app, she would be paying $2.91 a month for access. To get an idea for the app’s break-even point on profit, I figured’s royalty payments to publishers at half a penny ($0.005) per unique page view.
If a very active user looks at 14 pages per day, at a half-penny rate would be paying out $2.01 a month in license fees to publishers. That is out of $2.03 each subscriber is worth after Apple takes its 30 percent.
Those are very rough calculations, and the licensing fee could be much lower (or be tiered to adjust for volume). But, that only points to the tension between fixed subscription revenues and flexible page view consumption.
At that same $0.005, each publisher would need 1 million views to earn just $5,000 monthly. So, lowering the royalty to make the app more profitable reduces the revenues each partner can expect to earn from the arrangement.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Year Behind The ‘Wall’, The Times Has 101,036 Digital Subscribers

paidcontent reporting:

One year after it introduced digital charges, News Corp.‘s Times Newspapers in the UK says it has 101,036 digital subscribers across the web, tablets and e-readers.
Since the £2 weekly subscription subscription is billed as £8.66 per month, this would seem to give the publisher £874,971 in monthly paid digital revenue.
In fact, it could be more than that, since subscriptions originated on iPad cost more, £9.99. A small proportion of the subscribers are actually Groupon users who recently took out a discounted three-month subscription, which knocks down the total revenue slightly for the time being.
The publisher is especially keen on tablets. “The Times is downloaded onto an average of 35,000 iPads every day, an increase of 40% in the 4 months since February,” its announcement says. “The average for The Sunday Times is 31,000, an increase of 41%.”
One year on, some industry chatter points to an acknowledgment that, on the web, The Times put too much behind the wall and might have been better off with a piecemeal paid strategy.
The total digital subscriptions number is up from 50,000 in November 2010 and 79,000 this March.