Saturday, March 31, 2012

The newsonomics of 100 products a year

Nieman Journalism Lab / Ken Doctor reporting:
Newspapers and other publishers are realizing the value of selling something other than their primary product to readers — and ebooks are leading the way.
...We’re on the brink of news companies producing hundreds of products for sale each year. While digital technology hath taketh (the easy ability to make money on news distribution), digital technology also giveth back, with the ability to create hundreds and thousands of newsy products at small incremental costs. The bonus: News organizations will be able to satisfy groups of readers and advertisers (often disguised thinly as sponsors) better than ever before. Double bonus: The let-a-hundred-products-bloom revolution fits neatly with the all-out embrace of all-access circulation initiatives, which news companies in North America, Europe, and Asia now can’t seem to implement quickly enough. Can we call this the ebook revolution? Maybe, but that’s probably too narrow. Delivery of new products to new audiences can take several forms. A text-only ebook, a shinier iBooks-enabled product with video, or an app with all the glorious functionality apps offer. It’s not the form; it’s the content, content that satisfies niches rather than serves masses with one-size-fits-all newspaper or magazine products.
Call it the newsonomics of 100 products a year, or just one way to envision a much bigger future.
The 100-product-a-year model is a much-needed growth model. We can see how it fits nicely with all-access subscriptions, and together we have two interconnected Lego blocks of a new sustainable news model. We have two essential parts of a crossover model (“The newsonomics of crossover”) that I detailed here a few weeks ago. The big, hairy challenges of accelerating print ad loss and onerous legacy costs remain, but at least we’ve got a couple of building blocks we didn’t have two years ago. By we, I mean those of us who care about news and great professional content.
Is it a big moneymaker? We don’t know yet, though we can extrapolate some numbers below.

Magazines' Digital Circulation More Than Doubles -- But Remains Small

AdAge reporting:
Digital circulation soared to an estimated 3.29 million in the second half of 2011 from 1.46 million in the year-earlier period, a 125% increase, according to publishers' reports with the Audit Bureau. Despite all that growth, however, digital remains about 1% of magazines' total paid and verified circulation.
Digital circulation is an increasing focus for magazines and for the Audit Bureau, whose board of directors earlier this month endorsed an expanded publisher's statement giving ad buyers additional information about digital. But two years after the Apple iPad created the tablet market, pulling Barnes & Noble and Amazon devices in after, it appears that print will remain publishers' core business for some time to come.
The top-line figures for digital include less individually paid circulation than typically seen in print and much more sponsored circulation -- paid for by businesses for promotional purposes. Individually paid circulation was just 24% of Maxim magazine's digital total in the second half, for example, and 25% of Seventeen's digital total.
But individually paid digital circulation is growing quickly, too.
"Early on for us it was much more about sampling the product and getting the product out there," said Ben Madden, president at Alpha Media Group, which publishes Maxim.
Maxim's individually paid digital circulation averaged 41,084 in the second half but had increased to 110,000 by the end of January, according to Mr. Madden. "This is becoming a really important part of our business, which makes sense for Maxim given the age breaks we're focused on," he said.

Hearst's individually paid digital circulation averaged 289,000 copies in the second half but about 530,000 copies in the first quarter of 2012, said Mr. Loughlin, adding that Hearst is meeting its circulation promises to advertisers without relying on sponsored sales.

Will Hachette Be The First Big-6 Publisher To Drop DRM On E-Books?

paidcontent reporting:
DRM is just “a speedbump,” Hachette’s Maja Thomas said at a copyright conference this afternoon. However, opinion within Hachette is clearly divided.
DRM “doesn’t stop anyone from pirating,” Hachette SVP digital Thomas said in a publishing panel at Copyright Clearance Center’s OnCopyright 2012. “It just makes it more difficult, and anyone who wants a free copy of any of our books can go online now and get one.
“There’s a misconception that somehow the digital format of books has made piracy increase, or become logarithmically more serious. But piracy was always very easy to do, because scanning a physical copy of a book [takes] a matter of minutes. A physical book doesn’t have DRM on it.
“Coming from the audio business, where I started, we had DRM on our audiobooks when music had DRM on it, and as that changed, a lot of audio publishers started to drop the DRM on their audiobooks. We were one of the last ones to drop it, and I was asked to monitor the destruction of my business. The business was not destroyed. If anything, it became more robust.
“You could argue that taking the DRM off e-books would be in the benefit of consumers, and possibly even publishers, because then you wouldn’t have the device lock-in you have now.
“We saw that with Pottermore this week, [watermarking and] moving a file onto eight different platforms easily. [More about Harry Potter DRM here, here and here.] That’s certainly revolutionary.”
However, Thomas’s view does not align with that expressed by Hachette UK CEO Tim Hely Hutchinson in a letter to authors and agents this week. He wrote:
DRM (Digital Rights Management encryption, on which we insist) divides opinion. Our view is that the advantages greatly outweigh any perceived disadvantages.

E-Books Drive Revenue Growth Across Book Trade in January 2012

Digital Book World reporting: January 2012 was a banner month for the book trade with e-book revenue growth leading the way.
Total trade revenues were up to $503.5 million in January 2012 from $396 million in January 2011, a 27.1% increase, according to the latest figures from the Association of American Publishers. E-books led the way with $128.8 million in revenue in January 2012 versus $73.2 million in January 2011, a 76% increase.
Children’s e-book revenue grew the most in terms of percent growth, up 475.1% to $22.6 million from $3.9 million, but adult trade e-books were up the most in real dollars to $99.5 million versus $66.6 million. The adult trade e-book business is now on track to reach nearly $1.2 billion in 2012.
Growth in the religious e-book market was strong at 150.7% in January, but on a relatively small base: up to $6.7 million from $2.7 million.
In past years, a strong January for e-books was hard to match in subsequent months because of the so-called “Christmas effect,” wherein new e-readers and tablets received as gifts during the holidays were filled with books by their users in the early part of the year disproportionately compared to the later months of the year. This year, that may not be the case.
“My hunch is the Christmas lift effect is likely to be less this year than in prior years because so many devices were second or third devices, not first devices,” said publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin. “So it should be less of a challenge for subsequent months to meet the January numbers than it has been in previous years.”

The Media Map: Who's Reading What And Where

Forbes reporting:  We worked with Bitly and its data on millions of Web clicks to find the most influential media outlets in the country. This map shows which news sources are read and shared at above-average levels by state. Roll over and click on the media outlets below to see where they influence readers and which stories were big hits. Updated monthly to reflect the latest trends.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Google Partners With Pandora, AdWeek, NYDN On New Paywall ‘Substitute’

paidcontent reporting:
Google  is rolling out a new product, “Google Consumer Surveys,” that lets publishers monetize content through “microsurveys” created by companies that want to carry out inexpensive market research. Publisher partners at launch include Pandora, AdWeek, the New York Daily News, the Lima News and the Texas Tribune.
For publishers, the microsurveys are “basically a substitute for a paywall,” said product manager Paul McDonald. When a user clicks on an article that would normally be behind a paywall, he or she can answer a question instead of paying for a digital subscription.
Google already has a paid content product, Google One Pass, that lets publishers sell digital subscriptions, but Google Consumer Surveys is different because it doesn’t require customers to purchase subscriptions or log in.
Google pays publishers $0.05 for each survey response, with publishers seeing average revenues of $15 per thousand page views, McDonald said.
So far Google has around 20 publishing partners and is looking for more. When I first tested the product on the website, I couldn’t get the surveys to appear. McDonald asked me if I had my AdBlock app on. I did, and when I turned it off, the surveys popped up. “It’s a loose paywall,” McDonald admitted, and “a very small percentage of users use AdBlock.”
Google can pay publishers because advertisers and small businesses are paying to run the questions. These companies “have market research needs that are not met by existing solutions,” in part because traditional market research is so expensive, McDonald said. “This is market research that is self-serve but has the same qualities of a high-end platform.”
The customers create surveys and select the audience who will see the questions. Questions seen by a broad audience representing the general U.S. population are $0.10 per response (with a minimum total cost of $100). If companies want to drill down by demographic or select a custom audience with a screening question, the cost is $0.50 per response.

Omnichannel Shopping Puts a New Spin on Ecommerce

emarketer reporting:
US retail ecommerce sales, including digital downloads and event tickets but excluding travel, will rise 15.4% to $224.2 billion this year, eMarketer estimates. Fast-growing categories like apparel and accessories will help boost online sales figures, but underlying the trend is a deeper shift in the mindset of many consumers, which has turned them into omnichannel shoppers.
“In the past, cross-channel shopping amounted to using a retailer’s different channels one at a time for separate transactions,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “US Retail Ecommerce Forecast: Entering the Age of Omnichannel Retailing.” “But today, consumers are moving between a retailer’s channels—websites, stores, mobile devices, social media—in a fluid way.”
A February 2012 survey by price comparison service PriceGrabber, a part of Experian, found most US online consumers plan to shop this year by combining online, brick-and-mortar and mobile retail channels.

Methods US Online Shoppers Plan to Use to Shop in 2012 (% of respondents)

Also notable, a large share of respondents (42%) told PriceGrabber they will shop mostly online in 2012—three-and-one-half times more than those that said they would shop mostly in brick-and-mortar stores (12%).
“A consumer might research a product online, look at it up close in a store, solicit opinions from friends via social networks, use a mobile phone to check competitors’ prices, but ultimately buy it in-store using PayPal on their phone,” said Grau. “What will matter most is whether the experience was smooth. If the retailer disappoints the shopper during any of these channel handoffs, it will reflect poorly not only on that channel but on the brand as a whole.”

UK Social Media Users Not Thrilled About Ads

emarketer reporting:
As social networks become a part of the everyday routine of consumers in the UK, marketers need to think carefully about how their social media ads are being seen.
A February 2012 survey by YouGov, an online public opinion and consumer behavior firm in the UK, found that 18% of internet users surveyed in the country did not mind being served ads based on data culled from their social media profiles and activities.

UK Internet Users Who Do Not Mind Being Served Ads Based on Their Social Media Activities, Feb 2012 (% of respondents)

However, the percentage that didn’t mind social media ads was dwarfed by those that did, at 47%. Thirty percent had no opinion about social media ads based on their social media activities.
“It appears that whilst social media can be a key tool in the brand marketer’s armoury,” said Dan Brilot, media consulting director at YouGov, in a statement, “it has not quite reached the effectiveness necessary to be considered as a truly mass media marketing tool.”
Still, marketers seem to be overlooking effectiveness and focusing instead on the potential for exposure: eMarketer forecasts 25.9 million social network users in the UK by the end of this year, or 41% of the total population. According to a June 2011 survey of US and UK senior marketers by InSites Consulting, only 9% indicated that they did not use any social media marketing to promote their organization.

Advertisers: Tailor Mobile Approaches For Smartphones, Tablets

online media daily reporting:
As smartphones and tablets have spread quickly in the last two years, some clear differences have emerged in usage. People turn to tablets mainly at home, while smartphones are used on the go, as well as at home. Tablets lend themselves to “lean-back” media consumption, while smartphones are geared to utility.
The differences in how the devices are used, and who’s using them, impact how advertisers should approach them, according to a new Forrester report. It lays out separate marketing tactics for tablets and smartphones across a range of areas, including apps, display advertising, games and search.
The main message is not to lump them together as mobile platforms, but tailor mobile initiatives according to the relative strengths of each device. That means marketers should not count on building one app for both screens. The report points out that Citi’s Private Banking app, for example, is geared to the tablet, since it offers deep market analysis better suited to reading at leisure on a bigger screen.
Robitussin’s Relief Finder app, by contrast, is designed for smartphones because people use it to find relevant products while browsing store shelves. The same goes for mobile Web sites. Marketers should not try to send smartphone traffic to a site not optimized for mobile, or tablet traffic to a site geared to mobile phones.
“For example, a tablet user viewing a site designed for smartphones can’t click to call and probably doesn’t need driving directions, but is interacting with a larger display that can therefore feature more content and controls,” noted the report authored by Forrester analyst Elizabeth Shaw. Without matching the experience to the device, marketing opportunities are missed.
When it comes to search, mobile is expected to contribute 25% paid search this year, according to a Marin Software estimate. But Forrester advises a separate search strategy for smartphones and tablets. Because the form has smaller screens and are used more on-the-go, search ads should be kept simple, with features likes site links, local offers and click-to-call. Ads on tablets are better suited to features like click-to-download because of their larger screens and lean-back use at home.

ePaper editions: valuable news products, or just unnecessary?

sfnblog reporting:
The Boston Globe announced yesterday that it was following in the footsteps of other newspapers and launching an ePaper edition for online and print subscribers, according to The ePaper version, which mirrors the format of the print paper, can be read on a laptop or downloaded as an app for smartphones and tablets, the article said.
The “replica edition” contains additional digital features such as page-turning, navigation scrolling and bookmarking, the article said. The new version also features a “text-to-speech” option, which can read selected articles or the entire newspaper aloud.
According to the description from the iTunes app store, users can choose a setting in which Apple Newsstand automatically downloads the paper daily, just like a print version would be delivered each day. The description also states that users can click on articles to access embedded links or share those articles on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Subscribers can obtain the ePaper from or download the app from the iTunes store, while non-subscribers can purchase single issues for $0.99 or in-app subscriptions for $14.99 per month, the article said.
Globe publisher Christopher M. Mayer said in the article that the ePaper version is meant to complement the Globe’s other formats and make the paper available in areas where Internet access is not readily available, such as during flights.
“Part of the strategy is to introduce additional digital products that allow our readers to connect with our journalism in a variety of ways,” Mayer said. “We’re constantly looking at ways to increase the value of a Boston Globe subscription.”
NewspaperDirect, which uses its PressReader app to create ePaper versions of newspapers and magazines, produces the Boston Globe ePaper, in addition to versions by The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune, the article said. PressReader produces more than 2,000 ePapers, according to the website.

LG’s Flexible E-Paper Display Is Coming to Europe in April

mashable reporting: LG has announced it has started mass production of its electronic paper display (EPD) product, with a planned launch in Europe next month.
LG’s EPD is a 6-inch, 1024×768 e-ink plastic screen. It’s 0.7mm thick, it weighs 14g, and LG claims it’s resistant to scratches and drops from a 1.5 meter height.
Of course, its biggest claim to fame is its flexibility: LG claims the screen allows bending at a range of 40 degrees from its center.
“With the world’s first plastic EPD, LG Display has once again proven its reputation for leadership and innovation with a product we believe will help greatly popularize the E-Book market,” said Sang Duck Yeo, Head of Operations for LG Display’s Mobile/OLED division.