Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Stats: 2011 Was Good For E-Books, Not So Good For Print

paidcontent reporting: The Association of American Publishers closes out calendar year 2011 today with a round of new stats on print and digital books. Publishers’ e-book revenues were up 117.3 percent in 2011, with hardcover, paperback and mass market sales declining sharply and affected in part by Borders’ closing.
Here’s how December 2011 compared to December 2010.* Holiday sales will be more fully reflected in the January and February 2012 reports. Trade sales were down 2.9 percent compared to December 2010, while e-book sales were up 72 percent.

Note that format isn’t broken out for Religious books in the AAP stats, so it’s unclear from this data whether the growth in that category is primarily on the print or digital side.
And here’s how calendar year 2011 compares to calendar year 2010. It was a bad year for mass market paperbacks, down 35.9 percent over 2010. Publishers’ revenues from e-books jumped 117 percent for the year, with the heavier growth in the first part of the year and some slowing into December. (Take a look back at the July stats—for the first seven months of 2011, e-book revenues were up 153 percent compared to 2010.)
The November AAP data is provided by 77 U.S. publishers, with 26 of those additionally providing e-book figures (though not all of those are trade publishers). The AAP cautions that its monthly statistics should not be compared directly to BookStats, the AAP’s recently launched joint venture with the Book Industry Study Group, which will include data from nearly 2,000 publishers and will be published annually. Rather, the monthly numbers provide a general sense of broader trends in book publishing.

FT Digital Subscriptions Surpass Print In U.S. As Sign-Ups Slow

paidcontent reporting:
The Financial Times is still signing up new digital subscribers, but at the slowest rate since iPad lit up its business model in mid-2010.
It attracted 17,000 new digital subscribers in the final three months of 2011, parent Pearson (NYSE: PSO) reported on Monday (total now 267,000). That is 6.8 percent more subscribers than it had in November - the smallest quarterly growth rate it has posted since iPad’s launch.
The FT’s iPad and iPhone app came off iTunes Store in August 2011 after FT Group and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) failed to reach agreement over Apple’s wish to take 30 percent of in-app subscription payments and to keep the majority of data about subscribers.
Two thousand of the FT’s new 2011 subs were corporate licenses. In the U.S., print circulation was overtaken by these digital subscribers for the first time.
In the wake of the 2009 ad downturn, the publisher is happy to be attracting more paying readers to offset what it still sees as a “weak and volatile” advertising market. “Growth in online advertising and the luxury category was offset by weakness in corporate advertising,” it says.
Advertising is now the minority of FT revenue, with content sales 58 percent. And digital is now 47 percent of revenue.
Pearson said FT Group 2011 operating profit rose 27 percent to £76 million on six percent higher revenue of £427 million.
SEE ALSO: Pearson Sees Digital Publishing Income Beating Print In 2012

The Mounting Minuses at Google+ vs. Facebook

WSJ reporting:
It turns out Google+ is a virtual ghost town compared with the site of rival Facebook Inc., which is preparing for a massive initial public offering. New data from research firm comScore Inc. shows that Google+ users are signing up—but then not doing much there.
Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn't have data on mobile usage.
Behind the lack of engagement are Google's difficulties in differentiating Google+ from Facebook.
When Google+ launched last year, the Internet search giant positioned it as a Facebook competitor where people can share comments, articles, photos and videos with specific groups of friends and contacts.
While Google+ has some original features—including "Hangouts," which lets people start a video conference with up to 10 people—analysts and some consumers say the distinction isn't enough to lure Facebook members away and persuade them to build a network of contacts from scratch on Google+.
"Nobody wants another social network right now," said Brian Solis, an analyst at social-media advisory firm Altimeter Group. For those who already use Facebook, "Google hasn't communicated what the value of Google+ is," he said.
Google executives downplay the direct comparison to Facebook, which has 845 million monthly active users. They have repeatedly said they are making a long-term bet on the initiative, and the company has yet to build up some of the weapons that made Facebook successful, including encouraging app development.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Washington Post steps into paid content with iPad app for politics news

Poynter reporting:
The new WP Politics iPad app, which launches Monday, marks The Washington Post’s most significant attempt yet to charge readers for digital content.
The Post’s website and most everything else it does digitally is free (ad-supported). The company tried charging a nominal $1.99 a year for its main iPhone app when it debuted in 2010, but made it free about a year ago. Its main Android app is free, along with Social ReaderTrove, and niche apps for Redskins news,  D.C.-area transit and entertainment. (The only exception is a monthly fee to download Post stories to an e-reader.)
The new politics iPad app is also free to download and mostly free to use, supported by a persistent banner ad across the bottom of the screen. But users (even print subscribers) must pay $2.99 a month to access premium sections.
“We wanted to try a new business model for premium mobile content and kept the monthly fee low, leaving most of the in-depth content on the politics app free,” Beth Jacobs, the Post’s general manager of mobile, told me by email.
The Insider’s Corner, which aggregates all the Post’s political blogs, is one of the sections that requires a $2.99 monthly subscription.
The premium sections are “The Insider’s Corner,” which pulls together all of the Post’s politics coverage from blogs and beat reporters, and anything older than 48 hours in the “Campaign Files,” which group content by candidate or issue.
Free sections are top news, a candidates and issues guide, interactive maps with polls and voting results, historical election results and TV ads by state.
“The freemium model offers us an opportunity to engage a large audience of habitual users and present them with premium tools and features over time,” Jacobs said. “We believe that those who are passionate about politics will find value in our premium offerings.”

Report: How Americans are Spending their Media Time… and Money

nielsen reporting:
Americans spend more than 33 hours per week watching video across the screens, according to the latest Nielsen Cross-Platform Report. But how they’re consuming content—traditional TV and otherwise—is changing. Demonstrating that consumers are increasingly making Internet connectivity a priority, 75.3 percent pay for broadband Internet (up from 70.9% last year); 90.4 percent pay for cable, telephone company-provided TV or satellite. Homes with both paid TV and broadband increased 5.5 percent since last year.
Changes are afoot, however, as consumers seek out the entertainment option that makes the most sense for them. The number of homes subscribing to wired cable has decreased 4.1 percent in the past year at the same time that telephone company-provided and satellite TV have seen increases of 21.1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Broadcast-Only/Broadband Homes in Focus
Though less than 5 percent of TV households, homes with broadband Internet and free, broadcast TV are on the rise—growing 22.8 percent over last year. These households are also found to exhibit interesting video behaviors: they stream video twice as much as the general population and watch half as much TV.
Whether they’re cord-cutters or former broadcast-only homes that upgraded to Internet service, these homes represent a very small but growing group of U.S. consumers. Interestingly, roughly the same percentage of consumers in broadcast-only/broadband homes watch traditional TV, stream or use the Internet as in all cross-platform homes; the difference between these groups falls to time spent on these activities. Even broadcast-only/broadband homes spend the majority of their video time watching traditional TV: 122.6 minutes, compared to 11.2 for streaming on average each day.


American Families See Tablets as Playmate, Teacher and Babysitter

Nielsen reporting:
The rise of gadgets is ushering in a new generation of kids who are growing up digital. According to a Nielsen survey of adults with children under 12 in tablet-owning households, in Q4 2011 seven out of every 10 children in tablet-owning households used a tablet computer – a nine percent increase compared to Q3 2011.
Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said children play downloaded games on their tablets and 57 percent said children used tablets to access educational apps. The portable gadget also keeps kids quiet while families are on-the-go: 55 percent and 41 percent of parents report that their children used tablets for entertainment while traveling or in restaurants, respectively. This can also include watching TV shows and movies, which 43 percent of children often do. Communicating with friends and family is a less popular function on tablets– only 15 percent of kids engage in this activity.


mediaonline reporting: Nielsen has scored an important endorsement in its quest to make its new Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings (NOCR), the same kind of marketplace currency for the online advertising marketplace that its TV ratings are for television’s, signing Unilever to an agreement to use them for all its Internet advertising buys in the U.S.
The deal is significant, because while the Nielsen’s so-called NOCR ratings have been beta tested by a number of major marketers since before they were unveiled last Spring, Unilever is their first paying customer, taking it from a research and development phase to a commercially deployed, syndicated service.
“In our business, we look for the best marketing return on investment – and the best tools to gauge that,” Unilever Director of Media Investment and Partnerships Jennifer Gardner stated in the joint press released issues this morning.
“[NOCR] is an exciting resource that brings a more rigorous standard to our online campaigns and consistency in measurement strategy across our portfolio of brands,” she added, noting that Unilever wanted to be a first-mover in getting the industry to move behind the new Nielsen product: “We are excited to be at the forefront of the industry, taking full advantage of this new standard to help us more exactly understand and interact with our audiences online.”
NOCR may stand for campaign ratings, but Nielsen has been waging an aggressive campaign to establish them as the online industry’s ad currency even before they officially launched in August 2011. The NOCR ratings represent the first time Nielsen has worked so closely with its various stakeholders upfront, and before their launch to sell a product through. Among other things, it brought industry ratings watchdog the Media Rating Council in at the earliest stages of development to ensure that it received accreditation, which it did in record time, even as other Nielsen and comScore online audience measurement products have been mired in long auditing and accreditation processes.

Los Angeles Times To Add Paywall

paidcontent reporting:
It’s been a big week in newspapers starting to charge for content. First it was Gannett; now the Los Angeles Times will launch a metered paywall on Monday, March 5.
The paper announced the changes today. Website visitors will be able to read 15 stories per month for free before the paywall kicks in. They will be charged an introductory rate of 99 cents for the first four weeks; thereafter, the paper will charge $1.99 per week for a website-plus-Sunday-print-edition package and $3.99 per month for website access only. The LA Times says the digital subscription also includes “retail discounts, deals and giveaways.”
Kathy Thomson, president and COO of the LA Times Media Group, says the company “priced the digital subscription with the Sunday newspaper at a lower rate because they are complementary products.”
Access to the paper’s website through mobile phones and tablets remains free for now, but that will change in the future.
In a cost-cutting move, a new weekly lifestyle section launching March 10, “Saturday,” will combine the health, food and home sections, and “those sections will phase out as stand-alone portions of the paper by March 3 but will remain available online.”
According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the LAT has an average daily circulation of 572,998 (down 200,000 from two years ago, says the LAT) and the website has 34.8 million unique monthly visitors.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Washington Post Tests Personalized News Program

Techcrunch reporting: If you’re tired of seeing the same news as everyone else, The Washington Post is now experimenting with personalized headlines.
That experiment is called Personal Post, and it’s available at, where you’ll see a river of content that you can customize. If you’re already a member at, you can log in and the site will offer headlines tailored to match your previous activity. If not, you can choose from of The Post’s “starter streams,” like National Pulse, Washington Life, and Sports Nut.
“Out of the tens of millions of readers that come to the Post every month we know that each one wants to consume a particular type of news,” says Katharine Zaleski, Executive Director of Digital News, in the Personal Post press release
For a first-time user, Personal Post can seem like just another collection of articles, albeit one that focuses on a specific collection of topics. Over time, however, readers can give The Post more information about their interests, which in turn will lead to a more customized feed. If there’s an article you don’t like, you can hit a button to remove it from your stream, or to see “less of this,” or to remove the entire topic from your interests. As you’re browsing the site, articles also have a “more” button, which allows readers to say that they want to see more of a certain type of article.
Personal Post uses technology from Trove, The Post’s personalized news aggregator launched last year.
Last fall, The Post launched the Social Reader, an app for reading and sharing stories on Facebook, and it now has 15 million subscribers.

News providers must serve the new ‘digital omnivore’

Poynter reporting: A new report analyzing the state of mobile devices and media for 2012 finds that consumers are rapidly adopting both smartphones and tablets, while also still using PCs. The result, comScore says, is that media companies must face “the rise of the ‘digital omnivore’ – consumers who now go about their days engaging seamlessly through multiple online touchpoints.” Consider these newspaper website consumption patterns for a typical weekday and weekend:

News consumers turn to different devices at different days and times. Tablets peak on mornings, evenings and weekends, PCs at midday, and smartphones see steady, brief usage throughout the days.
Other notable news-related findings from the report include:

Introducing Generation C: Americans 18-34 Are the Most Connected

Nielsenwire reporting: Born sometime between the launch of the VCR and the commercialization of the Internet, Americans 18-34 are redefining media consumption with their unique embrace of all things digital. According to Nielsen and NM Incite’s U.S. Digital Consumer Report, this group—dubbed “Generation C” by Nielsen—is taking their personal connection—with each other and content—to new levels, new devices and new experiences like no other age group.
The latest Census reports that Americans 18-34 make up 23 percent of the U.S. population, yet they represent an outsized portion of consumers watching online video (27%), visiting social networking/blog sites (27%), owning tablets (33%) and using a smartphone (39%). Their ownership and use of connected devices makes them incredibly unique consumers, representing both a challenge and opportunity for marketers and content providers alike. Generation C is engaging in new ways and there are more touch points for marketers to reach them.
see graph:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Graphic designers are ruining the web

Guardian reporting: 
What happens when you click on a weblink? Here's one answer: a request goes from your computer to a server identified by the URL of the desired link. The server then locates the webpage in its files and sends it back to your browser, which then displays it on your screen. Simple.
Well, the process was indeed like that once – a very long time ago. In the beginning, webpages were simple pages of text marked up with some tags that would enable a browser to display them correctly. But that meant that the browser, not the designer, controlled how a page would look to the user, and there's nothing that infuriates designers more than having someone (or something) determine the appearance of their work. So they embarked on a long, vigorous and ultimately successful campaign to exert the same kind of detailed control over the appearance of webpages as they did on their print counterparts – right down to the last pixel.
This had several consequences. Webpages began to look more attractive and, in some cases, became more user-friendly. They had pictures, video components, animations and colourful type in attractive fonts, and were easier on the eye than the staid, unimaginative pages of the early web. They began to resemble, in fact, pages in print magazines. And in order to make this possible, webpages ceased to be static text-objects fetched from a file store; instead, the server assembled each page on the fly, collecting its various graphic and other components from their various locations, and dispatching the whole caboodle in a stream to your browser, which then assembled them for your delectation.
All of which was nice and dandy. But there was a downside: webpages began to put on weight. Over the last decade, the size of web pages (measured in kilobytes) has more than septupled. From 2003 to 2011, the average web page grew from 93.7kB to over 679kB.
You can see this for yourself by switching on the "view status" bar in your browser; this will tell you how many discrete items go into making up a page. I've just looked at a few representative samples. The BBC News front page had 115 items; the online version of the Daily Mail had a whopping 344 and had 116. had 71 while YouTube and Wikipedia, in contrast, came in much slimmer at 26 and 15 respectively.

The newsonomics of hyperlocal’s next round: Patch, Digital First, and more

NiemanJournalismLab reporting:
It’s easy to get cynical about hyperlocal news on the web. People have been working to figure out a scalable model to support it for years. But news-model fatigue shouldn’t be mistaken for permanent failure — it’s just that no one has yet found success.
Community journalism pioneer Steve Buttry, now heading up community engagement at Digital First Media, says he is buoyed by disruptive-change theorist Clayton Christensen’s notion that 90 percent of successful startups start out with the wrong strategy and often take three or four attempts to get it right. That makes some kind of web sense. For those of us trained in the arts of journalism, though, it’s probably a tough lesson: We’re trained to get it right the first time.
With that in mind, let’s look into the next round of hyperlocal, the emerging newsonomics around Patch’s aim to become profitable, just as Digital First Media (DFM) dials up its own hyperlocal strategies. Though many newspaper companies are testing hyperlocal strategies, individually or through their chains, Patch and DFM stand out for the scale of their intent. We’ll stick with the term “hyperlocal,” even though it’s a squishy one, because it still best describing the kinds of close-to-where-we-live school news, local sports, police reports, and government coverage we find useful. It may a community of 20,000 or 80,000, but for many of us, it’s less than a whole city.
Let’s start with Patch. Each quarter, as AOL announces its financial results, CEO Tim Armstrong sticks his head in the boxing ring, and lets it get punched around a bit. He took over a newly independent Time Warner spinoff and has been madly transitioning it beyond its sinecure of the old-timey Internet access business.
I won’t debate here his hits and misses, his romancing of Arianna (or was it the other way around?), or the half-life of AOL, given its trajectory and the fact it has lost more than $800 million since its 2009 spinoff.
For the news business, two facts stand out. First, Patch is doing journalism, employing more than 1,000 journalists. Second, it is testing a model that needs testing, however Patch’s history is eventually written.
That model may be getting a rocket boost of revenue, if January’s trends hold up. In an interview last week, Patch President Warren Webster says that January booked ad revenue alone equaled half of all of 2011 ad revenue. If that trend were to continue, we’d be looking quite differently at Patch’s chances of making it into the black before AOL’s investor patience runs out. Just last week, Starboard, an “activist fund,” increased its AOL stake to 5.1 percent, pushing for strategic changes, and Patch is in the middle of its sights.
[Update, 2:52 p.m.: Some added context to the Patch ad revenue increase: The January ad revenue noted above should be noted as bookings for the year as a whole, committed by January. Further, Patch says that, as of today, it now has commitments for more than 75 percent of the total revenue that it recognized in 2011. Those are ads that it has sold and that will run some time in 2012.

Are aggregation and curation journalism? Wrong question

gigaom reporting:
The battle between traditional media and the blogosphere over aggregation (or “curation,” if you prefer) continues to rage. In the latest skirmish, Forbes blogger Kashmir Hill got thrown under the bus by many for a recent blog post in which she summarized a New York Times piece about data-mining practices and privacy. According to her critics, Hill “stole” the story from the NYT, along with a lot of web traffic that rightfully belonged to the newspaper. Some argue that this doesn’t deserve to be called “journalism” — but in many ways the eternal debate over what qualifies as journalism is a red herring. The reality is that aggregation and curation are part of the new media ecosystem, and they can add a lot of value whether we like them or not.
As more and more competitors for traditional media outlets emerge — whether they are corporations like The Huffington Post or teenagers in war-torn countries trying to do journalism on the fly, like the 14-year-old profiled in a recent New York Times story — there seems to be a growing obsession with defining what journalism is, and who deserves (or doesn’t deserve) to be called a journalist. Is the man who live-blogged the Osama bin Laden assassination a journalist? Is National Public Radio’s Andy Carvin, who has been using Twitter as a one-man newswire during the Arab Spring, a journalist?
Some mainstream journalists would answer no to both of those questions, but by doing so they miss the larger point, which is that in both cases, information is provided that increases our knowledge about an important topic. Isn’t that a pretty good definition of journalism, not whether someone made a phone call or has a specific degree, or whether they travelled to a war zone or not? In some cases, as journalist Rob Pegoraro noted, smart curation may actually serve that goal better than so-called “original reporting.”

The question that matters is whether it serves the reader 

People don’t care about scoops, they care about trust

gigaom reporting:
We have written a number of times about how social media and the “democratization of distribution” has compressed the news cycle to the point where the half-life of a scoop is measured in minutes rather than hours or days. And judging by a survey of media attitudes that Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has just released, the number of people who care about who reported something first is rapidly diminishing — if it was ever that big to begin with. Instead, what matters most to readers and listeners and viewers is the trustworthiness of the source, whether it’s a TV program or a newspaper. Trust, as Newmark likes to say, is “the new black.”
The survey, which was done by a polling firm in January, came out of Newmark’s new venture Craigconnects, which he has said is an effort to help nonprofit entities of all kinds connect with supporters. But the Craigslist founder also has an often-stated passion for the issue of trust and the media — he has called a trustworthy press the “immune system of democracy” — and the survey was designed to look at consumer perceptions of both social media and mainstream media sources such as television, radio, Internet news sites and newspapers, and it was focused specifically on news coverage of the upcoming U.S. election.
When it comes to “perceived credibility,” traditional news outlets can take some comfort from the fact that the survey showed newspapers, cable news and network news sources have the highest levels of credibility, much higher than blogs and social media sources. But the bad news is that only about 22 percent of those surveyed said they found traditional sources to be credible (blogs and social media were seen as credible by just 6 percent). And in a surprising ray of hope for newspapers, those between the ages of 18 and 35 were the most likely to see newspapers as credible, at 33 percent.


The survey also asked what the most valuable quality was for a news source when it came to reporting on election news, and gave respondents a choice between “first to report a story” as well as “free of charge,” “in-depth analysis” and “trustworthy.” Close to 50 percent of those who responded (the survey posed the questions to 1,000 people nationwide) chose trustworthiness as the most important quality, and almost a quarter said that in-depth analysis was the most important. Just 6 percent of those who were asked said it was important that a news outlet be the first to report something.

News Corp’s Times Hikes Digital Fee To Milk iPad Riches

paidcontent reporting:
With Rupert Murdoch in London to launch the Sunday Sun whilst grasping News International’s crisis for a second time, News Corp is doubling its digital subscription fees for The Times and Sunday Times, to take more money from wealthy iPad owners.
From March 1, The Times and Sunday Times’ Digital Pack (for web, mobile and tablet) will hike from £2 a week (billed as £8.88 per month) to £4 per week. The web-only fee of £2 per week will remain unchanged.
A Times spokesperson tells paidContent: “We’re not ‘doubling’ our price. We’re introducing a new pack that includes all digital products. Previously, we were offering iPad access as complementary offer.” The difference may effectively be semantic.
Existing digital subscribers, of whom there are 119,255 for the Times, will stay on the previous rate until 2013. After that time, if the current subscriber count held steady, we could speculate that the rate increase would double the publisher’s theoretical maximum monthly digital income to £1.9 million, before stripping out commission to distributors like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), a few corporate licenses etc. Doubtless, The Times would also like to add new subscribers by that time.
Some would be forgiven for thinking higher fees may make new customer acquisition more difficult. But the average salary of the (Times’) iPad reader is £109,000 and over 15 percent of the its daily iPad audience earns over £200,000 a year, the publisher told paidContent last month. That’s ample room to bump the price. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gannett Building Paywalls Around All Its Papers Except USA Today

Forbes reporting:
The vogue for digital paywalls sweeping the news business has made it all the way to the top: Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, is planning to switch over all of its 80 community newspapers to a paid model by the end of the year, it announced during an investor day held in Manhattan Wednesday.
“We will begin to restrict some access to non-subscribers,” said Bob Dickey, president of community publishing. The model is similar to the metered system adopted by The New York Times a year ago, in which online readers are able to view a limited number of pages for free each month. That quota will be between five and 15 articles, depending on the paper, said Dickey. Six Gannett papers already have a digital pay regimen in place.
There is one Gannett title, however, that will remain free, at least for the foreseeable future: USA Today. Gannett CEO explained that decision as a matter of priorities, noting that USA Today is in the midst of overhauling its website to create a user experience more similar to that of an iPad app.
But any attempt to charge for its articles would likely encounter certain obvious issues. While its main national rivals, the Times and The Wall Street Journal, rely on their depth and quality to persuade readers to pay up, USA Today trades on its ubiquity. More than half of its 1.7 million circulation comes from copies distributed to readers free (or quasi-free) through hotels, airports and other hubs.
But even with USA Today not taking part, Gannett projects its new paid content initiative will contribute to a 25% increase in annual subscription revenues companywide. That in turn will swell earnings by $100 million per year.

UK Brands Find Success with Loyalty Programs

emarketer reporting:

Nine of 10 internet users surveyed prefer points-based loyalty programs

According to an October 2011 survey from consumer behavior consultant Promise and survey provider Lightspeed Research, internet users in the UK love their loyalty programs. In fact, every internet user the firms surveyed was a member of at least one, while 50% belonged to three or more.
Promise hypothesized that loyalty memberships that offer frequent and tangible rewards, like points that translate directly into cash, are the most attractive to users. These points-based programs were clearly the most popular among UK internet users, followed by credit card and mobile phone-based loyalty schemes.

Loyalty Program Membership Among UK Internet Users, by Type, Oct 2011 (% of respondents)

Mobile phone-based loyalty schemes were particularly popular among the 18-to-34-year-old group, with 43% subscribed.

Condé Nast Aims To Unify Tablet And Mobile Magazine Production

paidcontent reporting:
Wired and GQ magazine publisher Condé Nast is amongst those now seeking a cost-effective cross-platform tablet production workflow for the blossoming number of new devices, after earlier implementing an iPad-specific strategy.
The publisher pioneered tablet magazines when it built out an early iPad design on Adobe Digital Publishing Suite in 2010. But now Nook, Kindle Fire and multiple Android tablets and mobiles of various shapes, which would compel additional production investment, are requiring a re-think.
“Bringing it all together in to a cohesive workflow has been a real challenge for us. It’s been tough - there’s a lot more work,” Condé‘s content innovation VP Scott Dadich said during a briefing in which the publisher courted London advertising buyers on Wednesday.
Frankly, the technology really hasn’t caught up to that notion of a high-fidelity design that is adaptive. The adaptive web is teaching us a lot about what that’s going to look like. We’re working toward liquid layout with our friends at Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE). It has springs and cushions in it so it can fit on different screens with the same kind of experience.”
Several media operators have been here before. Having built out its iPlayer video service for a dozen unique platforms by 2010, the BBC, fed up with the investment required for each new device, re-coded the service as a one-size-fits-all HTML product, carryable by any web-enabled gadgets.
An upcoming upgrade to Adobe InDesign, the software many publishers to use to lay up pages for print and for tablets through Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, helps magazine designers make pages that adjust for different device sizes by leveraging “liquid layout rules” through HTML5. They no longer have to redesign for each separate platform.
“Every one of our Adobe magazines has to have new staff to help us design that,” Condé‘s UK digital director Jamie Jouning told paidContent. “As the number of tablets grows, we’ll have to increase our investment. Our aim is to publish once and distribute everywhere.”
It’s not just about tablets; mobile, too, could get the same flexible repurposing treatment.

Interview: Vogue Publisher Plans To Digitize Archives For Tablet Long Tail

paidcontent reporting
In music, celestial jukeboxes like Spotify replace vinyl and CDs with unlimited back-catalogue access. Could magazine publishers grant their subscribers the same digital privilege?
“Very much so. It’s on our agenda,” Condé Nast UK digital director Jamie Jouning tells paidContent.

“We are thinking about it for various of our brands. It’s a big process. We’d want to do it so it’s searchable, so it’s more than taking flat PDFs, probably HTML so you can go in to those issues and pick something out.
“If we’re going to do it, we’ll do it properly, and we’ll do it on a brand-by-brand basis. Within the next five years or so, I’d imagine most of our magazines will have an archive of back copies.”
My collection of Wired magazines runs back to 1995. The earliest editions are a precious record of the birth of the digital age. The collection is outgrowing space in my home office, but I dare not throw them. Back-catalogue access via iPad could atomise those heavy stacks in to an electronic collection the width of just one print edition.
Do current subscribers like me have the right to expect such access? That question could soon be answered. Although creating new iPad editions has proved initially costly for publishers, digitising pre-iPad back-catalogues could be more straightforward. Of course, any long tail publishing would likely be done on an individual publisher and title basis, not in the industry-wide way Spotify lists songs from all music publishers.
Another publisher, Hearst, appears interested in making available older magazines…
“A meaningful portion (of single-copy iPad sales) is for issues that are no longer available for sale,” Hearst president David Carey recently told paidContent. “We have a lot of evergreen content—how can we have that have a longer life than it has now?”
Today, 28 percent of Condé Nast UK consumers own an iPad, international president Nicholas Coleridge told a briefing audience on Wednesday. Three of the publisher’s 13 titles are now available in custom iPad editions.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The newsonomics of ads that go bump in the night

NiemanJournalismLab reporting:
We live in two worlds.
In the afternoon, on our desktops or laptops, we read news like the new Pew study showing yet another way that newspapers are going to hell. This one was hardly news to anyone in the industry, but it put the issue plainly, if dryly:
A new study of advertising in news by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism finds that, currently, even the top news websites in the country have had little success getting advertisers from traditional platforms to move online. The digital advertising they do get appears to be standard ads that are available across many websites. And with only a handful of exceptions, the ads on news sites tend not to be targeted based on the interests of users, the strategy that many experts consider key to the future of digital revenue.
Pew’s report underscores the fact that many of us have written about: Digital advertising, once the little sister, is surpassing print (newspaper and magazines) in the U.S. and Europe, and will pass whatever we mean when we say “TV” by 2016 or so. So news companies’ failure to get a larger piece of the fastest-growing ad segment — perhaps the fastest-growing ever — is a big problem. And the problem is growing: Three years ago, the top five digital companies took 63 percent of U.S. digital ad revenue; this year, they’ll take 72 percent, eMarketer estimates. Those companies: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, and AOL. That 9 percent differential is worth about $3.5 billion a year. Yes, it’s getting worse, by so many standards, as we’ll continue to see over the next month as final 2011 financials come in and more jobs go away.
If you’re in the publishing business, are your people building toolkits, experimenting, and getting faster at time-to-market?
In the evening, though, on our oh-so-lean-back tablets, we can open up our au courant news apps and face a quite different reality.
Open up The Wall Street Journal tablet app this week, and you’ll find a garden’s delight of interactive ads. These ads grab the potential of the tablet and run with it — joyously. They move beyond what we’ve known as “advertising” and sprint into a new field of commercial conversation. These truly interactive ads are increasingly targeted to users, but more importantly they attract top-end advertisers, at good rates, into news products.
An early adopter of the iPad — the Journal’s launch date of April 3, 2010, slips easily off the tongue of Daniel Bernard, chief product officer of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network — the WSJ has a half-dozen or so cousins in early experimentation. Add The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, the Financial Times, Reuters, AP, and a few others to that short list of news companies with two years of development experience under their belts.
It’s the Journal, though, that seems to be making the most headway with this next generation of ads. In fact, perusing the Journal tablet edition reminds me of the wonder many felt viewing that Wonderfactory-created SI demo a month before Steve Jobs launched the iPad.

Washington Post utilizes unconventional storytelling to depict the ‘media divide’

Innovative Interactivity reporting:
I recently came across Washington Post’s “The Media Divide: Inside America’s segregated news diet” by Evelio Contreras, Marc Fisher, Kat Downs and Jon Cohen. I love the irony of a news organization covering the nontraditional approach to news consumption in the 21st century and I think that this package does an excellent job at doing so.
Personally, I loved how they linked to the news sources featured in the video in real time. I also appreciated how the page scrolled down to the next section when the video finished (a small but much appreciate gesture!). My only wish is that they had included four people – two Republicans and two Democrats. I would have loved to compare/contrast a tea party republican to a liberal democrat!
As a sign of the changing time, I just finished reading “All the News That’s Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information Into News” by James Hamilton where he discusses a 2000 Pew study stating that political news ranked at, or near, the bottom of Internet usage for every age demographic of both women and men. That is obviously not the case in 2012!
I asked Interactive Projects Editor Kat Downs to give II readers some insight into how the project came about. In total, she said it took less than a week to turn around the package with roughly three days spent in the field and two days spent in post production:
“Marc Fisher had the idea while back to track people through the day and watch what media they consume – what sources they use and how they access them. The idea came to fruition around the South Carolina primary. He found three people (one tea party republican, one conservative republican, and a moderate democrat) that agreed to have their media consumption tracked for the day. Evelio was assigned to do the video story.
Marc came to me with the story idea and we talked about how we could surface all the things the three people consumed in an interesting and meaningful way. He showed me some of Pew’s poll data that was informing the story and we decided to do a kind of calendar/poll that would track the media they viewed or read in that day. Marc was planning to keep a minute-by-minute log of all the TV, radio, newspaper, web and social news they looked at that pertained to politics at all. Then I talked to Evelio about how the video could fit into a bigger presentation. We decided to structure the video so the media we showed on screen flowed from morning to night. That helped create a relationship between the calendar and the video. We also wanted to offer our users direct links to the content that the characters were consuming onscreen. Evelio planned to shoot as much b-roll and active footage of them actually doing the watching/listening/reading as possible so we could make that idea work. Then Marc and Evelio went off to SC to work on the story.

Online Ad Spend Has Overtaken Print In Russia

paidcontent reporting:
Online ad spend in Russia grew 56 percent through 2011, surpassing print media to become the country’s second-largest advertising medium.
The UK reached that mark in 2010. Emarketer forecasts the U.S. will reach it in 2012.
In Russia, online ad spend is now just marginally bigger than in print, yet still three times less than TV, according to Russian Association of Communication Agencies (AKAR) figures. The RuNet’s 56 percent growth is the kind of growth rate seen in western markets four years ago, when internet adoption exploded before the downturn.
Emerging markets are now catching up, as broadband adoption soars amongst new middle classes, despite the ongoing economic turmoil around them. The internet accounts for 16 percent of ad spend in Russia.
The largest gains came from contextual ads, which attracted 63 percent more spending. Print saw the slowest gains, just seven percent, though the entire Russian advertising market grew by 21 percent through 2011.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Tools They Are a Changin’: The Ins and Outs of TOC NYC

By Edward Nawotka

NEW YORK: New York City Fashion Week competed with O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing conference for attention, space and buzz. The theme of this year’s TOC NYC was “Change/Forward/Fast” — a snappy tagline, to be sure — but one that raised the question of whether things really are changing in publishing all that fast? The answer is: perhaps not, or not as fast as in previous years. What does change is what’s buzzy. Or in the words of fashion model Heidi Klum, host of Project Runway: “In fashion, one day you’re in, the next day…you’re out.” So, in that spirit, we offer a sampling of what was in and what was out at this year’s TOC.

In: Little Data, Big Data

If one thing was clear from this year’s TOC it’s that the publishing business is finally getting serious about data and analytics. This can mean looking at the granularity of day-to-day marketing strategies — such as when to send out a tweet to get maximum re-tweets on your social network (there’s an app for that), making quantitative assessments of the number of books a “library power patron” will buy based on their reading habits (one bought for every two borrowed), or the likelihood of a German to feel bad about downloading a pirated e-book from BitTorrent (not so much)...

Out: Social Reading

Social reading already seems to be a thing of the past — or perhaps it still remains a thing of the future. While this time last year “social reading” was on everyone’s lips, in 2012 it seems to be have been met with something of a shrug. You don’t hear the giants talking up the social experience of their platforms as a USP — Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google. It’s the challengers, such as Kobo and Copia who hope to leverage their superior social reading tools to their advantage...

In: CDO or Content Discovery Optimization

Yes, y’all, it’s all about CDO now — as in Content Discovery Optimization — or so says Jesse McDougall of Catalyst Webworks. The notion of SEO is antiquated, especially now that Google has tweaked the algorithms it uses to crawl web sites. The latest strategy is to learn to work social media sites — where much of the traffic is originating — to the best of your advantage...

Out: Hate as a Business Strategy

In: Diversity 


Bob Garfield Is Wrong About Hyperlocal — Here’s Why

Street Fight reporting:
I respectfully disagree with Bob Garfield. I’ll come out and say it. I admire his work and enjoy his program. But on the question of hyperlocal media, I believe Bob is wrong. In an interview with Borrell Associates, Garfield said that hyperlocal news ventures are doomed and that no one outlet can attain the critical mass necessary to deliver the local news professionally and profitably in the future. I beg to differ and will reiterate some of the themes I have covered in the past but are worth repeating.
First, let’s cover where Bob is right. Applying the traditional advertising-driven model and corporate structures to hyperlocal will not work. Most hyperlocal efforts by big corporations such as AOL and Gannett have either not been profitable or not been profitable enough to merit continuation. Some Patch sites, according to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, are now profitable and it’s possible that Patch could scale to run profitably.

Those economics can be made to work, however, given the right amount of elbow grease, advertising smarts and, most importantly, a commitment and connection to the community. I’ve written a number of times about West Seattle Blog, a mom-and-pop hyperlocal blog that pulls in over 1 million page views per month and is solidly profitable. At West Seattle, a day of postings could include a dozen items, each piece unique and expressly local. Often, these posts are timely. A dozen news posts a day is about four times more than what I have seen in my local Patch blogs. It takes commitment to get that many posts up per day. It’s a grind. But it’s doable and it drives traffic, if the posts are substantive and valuable.
West Seattle uses a rotating cadre of display ads purchased by community-minded local merchants. This is fairly crude in terms of advertising. But it works. So I wonder what the economics would be like when more sophisticated forms of advertising work their way down to the hyperlocal level? By this I mean ads that could more easily target user behavior or deliver content from the advertisers to site visitors. Rather than just a rotating list of ads, sports sections could only carry ads for sporting goods stores, school supplies, electronics and restaurants. With Twitter and other real-time microblogging tools, merchants can integrate hourly deals into the local blog spots in order to, say, take advantage of bad weather (BOGO hot cocoa at the local coffee shop, anyone?).
It’s so early in the new news game that I’d venture online news will enjoy more significant changes in the next decade than it has in the last — and that’s saying something, considering that the last decade saw the rise of the broadband Internet and smartphone saturation. Ironically, the very same week that Garfield nailed the coffin shut on hyperlocal, we read about how NPR used localized Facebook targeting to jack traffic on some of its articles. Smart! Very smart!
So, the point being, the models are still forming but I have no doubt that we will see a vibrant ecosystem of profitable hyperlocal publications. They will not be as profitable as the old quasi-monopolistic news system when a single daily drove the news cycle for an entire town. They will need to be driven by passion and commitment because the necessary dose of community participation can smell naked profiteering like a skunk trapped in an In-n-Out Burger bathroom.
They will need tech chops to keep their cost structures low, to take advantage of developing tools that empower detailed data-driven reporting, and to deliver the types of content-driven, audience-driven ads that will be required to best serve both advertisers and readers. In an era when the community commons has been replaced by Facebook, the news that feeds healthy communities must change and will change. Last time I checked, Facebook was doing pretty well. Give it time and hyperlocal will do well, too.

The Challenges of Cross-Channel Data Integration

emarketer reporting:

Marketers fail to deliver real-time customer-targeted brand experiences

Increased consumer demand for more personalized and relevant brand experiences has made customer segmentation and targeting an imperative for companies.
According to a November 2011 survey from Acxiom and DIGIDAY, though the majority of US advertisers and agencies were able to identify and segment their customer base, few were capable of doing so in a way that delivers a personalized experience in real time and across multiple channels.
More than half (58%) of advertisers and 39% of agencies said they were able to track and segment their best customers. However, agencies were more than twice as likely (12%) to be able to incorporate both online and offline data into the segmentation process, compared to just 5% of advertisers capable of this more advanced approach.

By segmenting customers, brands can create the more personalized, relevant experience that consumers now demand—especially from retailers. April 2011 data from the e-tailing group and MyBuys showed 50% of US cross-channel shoppers expect to be offered promotions or merchandise that reflect their past online shopping behavior and purchases. More importantly, 46% of shoppers reportedly would buy more from retailers that personalized the shopping experience across channels.

Personalization Factors that Are Important to Create an Ideal Cross-Channel Experience According to US Cross-Channel Shoppers, April 2011 (% of respondents) 

Two Become One: How Magazines Will Ape Their Apps

paidcontent reporting:
In a reversal of today’s content publishing model, print magazines pretty soon could start looking a lot like their app equivalents.
“The next redesign of our titles will see them redesigned with our tablet versions in mind,” magazine publisher Future’s tablet editor-in-chief Mike Goldsmith told an industry forum this month.
As publishers extend their print titles to iPad, they can choose either to repurpose the paper originals, which can seem lazy and ill-suited to the touch screen, or to custom-produce interactive apps with a native interface in mind, which is expensive.
If he did that for Future’s 60+ titles, he would “bankrupt the company”, Future’s Goldsmith said. So, today, only three Future titles have the shiny iPad treatment.
But re-imagining today’s disparate print and tablet production workflows in lock-step from the start, making tablet requirements less of an extension, could cut costs. And that could make it feasible for publishers to out their entire portfolio as full iPad editions, as well as in their core printed form.
Already, one Future title, Tap!, is sized to match iPad dimensions. That was a no-brainer (after all, Tap! is all about apps). But many other magazines, too, are now published in a secondary, miniature form factor that increasingly references the tablet’s own.
And upcoming revisions at Future will borrow further stylistic conventions, as a recent iPad-inspired refresh to Future’s flagship gadget magazine T3 suggests.

Magazine Publishers Running Ahead Of Auditors With UK Digital Editions

paidcontent reporting:
Magazine publishers who publish digital editions have found those editions hit 1.7 percent of circulation in the UK - but auditing criteria mean some of the best examples are not yet counted.
Digital editions reported through ABC (UK) clocked 96,589 from 72 titles during the July-to-December period, four times more titles than reported in the previous year.
Sales were led by Men’s Health, T3 and GQ.
The ABC began auditing UK “digital editions” in August 2011 but, to satisfy the definition, content can only vary from print counterparts by five percent.
  • So Future Publishing (LSE: FUTR) took it upon itself to commission its own, “industry-first” independent audit of its flagship T3 magazine, which has a unique UI for the iPad. When this edition is included, it doubles the ABC-stated figure 7,327 T3 standard digital editions (through newsstands like Zinio) to 14,223.
  • Likewise, Dennis’ Evo magazine also falls outside the threshold, so it said independently it has seen 300,000 Newsstand downloads, from which it has found 6,000 iPad subscribers.
  • Publishers think including their best products is important because they want to demonstrate reach to advertisers.
    ABC, which had already updated its digital reporting restrictions three times in 2011, will from June 2012 let publishers like Future use a new digital-only certificate to report circulations for iPad editions which contain little or no resemblance to print counterparts.
    The July-to-December digital edition circulations issued this week also do not include the full iTunes Newsstand uplift. Since Apple’s service was only online for three of the six months, its effect is averaged out amongst the ABC‘s six months.
  • Future itself reports 150,000 Newsstand sales across its portfolio, including digital editions and apps - over 40 percent of which are subscriptions.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Old Dogs New Tricks and Crappy Newspaper Executives

Digital First reporting:
Speech by John Paton: 
It’s an embarrassing display played out time and time again at conferences where our industry heads look like aging ingénues at Stratford declaring they can still play Juliette. And nobody has the heart to break it to them.
Or worse still, mediocre journalists, wrapping themselves in the flag of long-form journalism, to deride the value of social media as a reporting tool. A tool they don’t understand or care to understand.
And then having to watch them use that ignorance to dismiss the phenomenon of participatory journalism.
When I hear these hacks cry out that their work can’t be reduced to 140 characters I always think – if only – and pine for the useful hours I could get back in my life if spared their thumbsuckers.
And while these false, zero-sum arguments play themselves out, Rome burns.
And in the United States of America, where I work, the fire is burning faster and fiercer than ever before.
Since 2005, the U.S. newspaper industry has lost more than 60% of its advertising revenue and so many jobs no one can accurately count them.
And while this is not yet the story in Canada, I would say the only difference between here and where I work in New York City – is time.
It’s not like the Internet isn’t coming to your town.
In 2012, in the US, it is expected there will be more advertising on the web than in newspapers and by most estimates more Americans now access their news via the web than print.
The customers have spoken.
But are we listening?
I would argue not nearly hard enough...
If you haven’t read Shirky’s essay Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable and you are in the newspaper business then brother let me tell you – you are not paying enough attention.
His message is simple:
“If the old model is broken, what will work in its place? The answer is nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the Internet just broke.”
And his message is clear:
You don’t tinker or tweak a broken model. You start again anew. And I would add build upon our foundations.
To do this you have to let go of those things we once held true. Like:
- We are the gatekeepers of information.
- That we are the agenda setters and that we decide what news is and what is not.
- And that we keep the Outside world outside and only let in the chosen few – people like us.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

News International reports 119,255 digital subs for The Times

mediaweek reporting:
News International has provided an update on its two UK newspaper websites behind paywalls, to report 119,255 digital subscribers for The Times and 113,818 for the Sunday Times.
The Sunday Times: NI reports 113,818 digital subs
In further revelations, the publisher reported an average of 59,882 copies of The Times were downloaded daily on the iPad, a 35% increase since September 2011.
The average number of The Sunday Times iPad edition downloads in January was 63,959, representing an 80% increase since September.

The figures continue the steady sales growth tracked by News International, with digital subscribers this time last year (February 2011) for The Times and Sunday Times standing at 79,000 and 75,133 respectively.

The paying digital subscribers are in addition to the reported print circulation figures for January of 405,113 for The Times and 967,975 for The Sunday Times.

According to unverified figures provided by the publisher, there is now a total paid audience of 524,368 for The Times, and 1,081,793 for the Sunday Times.
Digital subscriptions
The TimesThe Sunday Times
Both newspaper brands have apps available for download on all platforms and devices including Android, Amazon Kindle and iOS5.

Tablet Magazine Experience Falls Short
emarketer reporting:

Room for growth in formatting, advertising and commerce capabilities, users say

As magazine newsstand sales continue to plummet, publishers and markets are coming around to digital magazine formats. Consumers, too, are gravitating to these digital versions, with a large percentage of tablet users preferring digital magazines to their print counterparts. According to media measurement and insights firm GfK MRI, 67% of tablet users say they would rather read an electronic version of a magazine than a paper version.
However, the preference may be more based on convenience than aesthetic. Roughly 65% of tablet magazine readers told GfK MRI they find the print magazine experience more satisfying.

Attitudes of US Tablet Owners Toward Digital Magazines, Oct 2011 (% of respondents)

Digital magazines on devices such as tablets have a few shortcomings. Tablet magazine readers express dissatisfaction with factors related to formatting, advertising and commerce. The GfK MRI survey found that 72% would prefer all digital magazines be formatted the same way. In terms of digital magazine advertisements, 70% would like to be able to buy items by clicking on the ads, and 70% would like electronic ads that are personalized to their interests.
A study by The Association of Magazine Media (MPA) also shows that when it comes to digital magazine advertisements, consumers have mixed feelings. They are somewhat split on whether they like ads within digital magazines; moreover, 71% of respondents said they found electronic ads to be somewhat annoying.

More UK readers adopting eBooks but spending less

ebookmagazine reporting:
That revelation is just one finding from the latest Books & Consumers survey, an ongoing study of the habits of British book buyers by category experts at BML, a Bowker business.
According to the survey, the 48 weeks ending 27th November 2011 UK saw purchases of physical books decline by 4% while value was down 6% compared to the same period in 2010.

Image: Bowker Market Research

When eBook purchases are included, the total consumer book market grew 0/4% in but fell 3% in value. The survey also shows the adult fiction market grew from 2.8% of purchases in the four weeks ending 26th December 2010 to 12.5% in the four weeks to 27th November 2011.
But lower prices for eBook editions meant accounted for only 7.1% of adult fiction spending in the latest period.

News Corp Sees Digital Payments Soften But Not Reverse UK Sales Decline

paidcontent reporting:
More than a year and a half after News Corp.‘s flagship UK “quality” papers introduced new paid digital outlets, their effect is becoming clear - they are softening ongoing print circulation declines, but not overturning them.
Latest figures issued by News International show The Times and Sunday Times websites, apps and digital editions gathered a total 6,147 new customers in January…
But, despite the customer additions, total cross-format paid sales for each title are lower than a year ago…

News International combines print and new digital paid copies to show that total paid sales are holding up. When combined, Times sales look healthier than they would be if observers considered only print circulation, which is falling despite a seasonal fillip at The Sunday Times.
Typically, iPad has played a big part in generating the Times’ digital custom. The daily title saw an average 59,882 copies downloaded daily in January, while the Sunday stablemate clocked 63,959.

Looking to Europe for news-industry innovation, Part 3: The Swiss “mikrozeitung” small community news model

NiemanJournalismLabs reporting:

Today we look at a small community news model. That’s hugely important. Much of the news world focuses on the twists and turns of national/global news players and of largely devastated metros. But smaller community papers deliver much of the news to readers in the U.S. and across the world.
Gossweiler Media, for that reason, offers an intriguing model, built on straightforward arithmetic. It’s a family story, as newspapers were a family story for centuries. Rolled up and corporatized in the 20th century by chains, we’re now seeing the early sprouts of individuals and families once again expressing ownership interest. If that movement continues to pick up steam, examples such as this small Swiss news operation are instructive.
Urs Gossweiler, CEO of Gossweiler Media AG, is the grandson of a newspaper founder. Running the company out of Brienz, a large hamlet in Switzerland, Gossweiler’s newspaper/news site Jungfrau Zeitung has become well known in European newspaper circles.
Their hallmark: focusing on news creation and community service first, divorcing the news business from the means of distribution. Their model: low costs, high margins — a model that Gossweiler is now franchising. I spoke with him at last fall’s WAN-IFRA World Newspaper Congress in Vienna. He spoke on an “Opportunities” panel there, one of his many speaking engagement spreading the gospel of news-without-paper throughout Europe...
 — Most importantly, it sells advertising in a totally integrated way. When advertisers buy ads, they’re forced into a combination of print, online and, newly, mobile inventory. That inventory is allocated by formula. “It used to be they’d say ‘we’re buying print, and we’ll take online.’ Now they say, we’re buying online, and we’ll take print,” says Gossweiler. While its print circulation (now around 8,800) is in decline, its overall reach has grown, now including 57,000 monthly unique visitors.
To that end, the company sold its presses way back in 1994 and began outsourcing that work. “A lot of publishers are not publishers,” he told me. “They are printers.”
Given the new economics of the business, Gossweiler says he earns more than a 30 percent profit — a number that’s led him to begin franchising the business to other communities. Where smaller newspapers were bought up by the Gannetts of the world in the late 20th century, Gossweiler is trying to spread his model through a different model. The company launched its first licensee last year, in a neighboring town, and the company is now actively pitching other potential publishers in Austria and Germany.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tablet Sales Will Blow Past PC Sales To Nearly 500 Million Units A Year By 2015

BusinessInsider reporting: Tablet sales will hit nearly 500 million units a year by 2015, according to a new report by BI Intelligence.
Tablet sales in 2015 will exceed the number of PCs currently sold per year (~360 million) and make tablets a $100+ billion market.
The forecast, which includes e-readers, predicts that tablet sales will grow at better than a 50% compound annual growth rate over the next few years.
The growth will be driven by falling prices combined with tablet penetration in the enterprise and education markets, as well as emerging markets.
Here are some highlights from the report, whose lead author is BI Intelligence analyst Alex Cocotas:
  • We really are in a post-PC era. Smartphone unit sales passed PC sales last year. Tablet sales will follow in a few years. As Steve Jobs said, PCs will become like "trucks" and tablets like "cars": PCs will still be around, and they'll still be a big market, but they won't become the most common way people do their computing anymore. 
  • Tablets are a disruptive technology relative to PCs: Not as good at some things (spreadsheets and the like), but much better at other things (browsing the web, apps), cheaper, and improving all of the time. 
Here's what will be the biggest drivers of the growth in tablets:
  • Lower prices. The Kindle Fire has been a smashing success, showing the pent-up demand for a good, sub-$500 tablet. We think Google will use its Motorola acquisition to come out with a cheap, subsidized tablet a la Amazon. And we think Apple will lower prices, most likely by selling older models at a lower price point like it did with the iPhone. And we think e-readers (in light blue in the chart below) will remain a big market as their price drops near to zero and they work as loss-leaders for digital publishing.
  • The enterprise. Though tablets won't work for a lot of business applications, it's undeniable that they're making headway in the enterprise. We see this accelerating. 
  • Education. iBooks was just the start. This is a sector that is crying out for disruption and for a useful, lightweight computing device. 
  • Emerging markets. A billion more people are coming online, and most of them are going to do it through mobile. A lot of them will also do it through tablets, which are cheaper and more convenient. 
  • Tablets Unit Sales Forecast

ooking to Europe for news-industry innovation, Part 2: Schibsted’s stunning classifieds and services business

NiemanJournalismLab reporting:
In the second part of our series on European models of news industry innovation, Ken Doctor looks at a Norwegian media company that’s expanded far beyond national borders — and found revenue success with online classifieds.
What can the U.S. learn from European news innovation?
Yesterday, we focused on Finland’s Sanoma and its worldwide leadership in digital circulation revenue. Today we look at Schibsted, now the eighth largest news company in the world by revenues, just behind The New York Times Co. It now operates in 28 countries; 36 percent of its revenues come from digital offerings, a percentage more than three times that of the average newspaper company. Schibsted has set a new standard, in both news transformation and in the revival and updating of the classifieds business — and now it’s blazing a trail in online services, an area at which every publisher should be taking a long look.
Schibsted’s success comes from above-average execution, meeting market realities, and making early decisions to depart from print legacies and handcuffs. It is also a story of flexibility, tweaking both product and organization as the landscape and competition changes. It continues to transform, having recently reorganized its Norway and Sweden operations yet again in 2011, ringing out more efficiencies.
Back in 1999, Schibsted split its digital divisions from its newspapers, believing that the web was its own animal. The company decided that “the Internet was made for classifieds and classifieds were made for Internet,” says Sverre Munck, executive vice president for strategy and international editorial. Munck joined the company in 1994 and has served as CFO as well.
Other companies — CareerBuilder and Classified Ventures in the U.S. and Fish4 in the U.K. — sensed similar opportunities. Schibsted, though, unshackled top business managers to go after the business, without joint responsibility for the print classified business. Now its online classifieds are a European cousin to the U.S.’s Craigslist, the quasi-commercial venture that drained billions of dollars from U.S. dailies, having disrupted incumbents with a free-plus model. Even in distant Italy, Schibsted controls over 60 percent of digital classifieds.
It’s online classifieds revenue that has enabled Schibsted, once an old-fashioned Norwegian newspaper publisher, to generate 36 percent of the company’s total revenues from digital sources. That’s more than three times the average of the newspaper industry worldwide. While Schibsted’s core newspaper business is only a tad above-average — now deriving 11 percent of newspaper revenues from digital — it’s that major online classified push that is paving the way to a sustainable future. Online classifieds are rolled out in 28 countries, reaching much of Europe and spreading to Asia as well.
Quite instructive to the rest of the newspaper world is the breakdown of Schibsted’s overall revenue, from its 2010 annual report:

It draws 21 percent of all revenue from online classifieds. Its reliance on print advertising — or as the company refers to it, “offline” advertising — is far less than most publishers, at 28 percent. It faces perhaps more challenge in the digital transition in retaining circulation revenue, which now accounts for 32 percent of overall revenue — 20 percent from single copy and 12 percent from subscription. As most news companies reliant on single-copy sales will tell you, figuring out a strong digital pay program for those customers is far more difficult than for subscribers. For Schibsted, some flavor of an all-access model could work.