Saturday, December 15, 2012

New York Times set to launch mini-books for tablets

TabTimes reporting:
Call them "e-singles" "mini-books" or shorter read digital books designed for the tablets and e-book readers.
The New York Times is experimenting with selling the new digital books with content that can read in a few hours or less.
”Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek,” the first mini-book, will go on sale Monday, according to a report by the Associated Press. It will be an 18,000-word piece about skiers caught in an avalanche, written by Times reporter John Branch.
Leveraging the flexibility of digital storage, "Snow Fall," is actually an expanded version of an upcoming piece planned for Monday's newspaper.
AP says Snow Fall will sell for $2.99 in's Kindle store, Apple's iBooks, and on Barnes & Noble's Nook.
Gerald Marzorati, the Times' editor for editorial development, told the AP that his company is betting the new format will make long-form journalism easy to read and reach people who don't visit the Times' website or read the newspaper.

Guardian kills its Facebook social reader, regains control over its content

gigaom reporting:
After a year-long experiment that saw its Facebook “social reading” app gain more than six million monthly users — and then lose more than half of those after the network changed the way those apps work — the Guardian has decided to take back control of its content.
A little over a year ago, a big topic of discussion in the newspaper business — apart from the ongoing cataclysmic decline in print advertising revenue, of course — was how to leverage Facebook as a platform for content, and specifically the rise of what were called “social reading” apps, which were like mini-newspapers housed within a Facebook page. The Washington Post and The Guardian were among those who launched these applications, and for a time they drove a substantial amount of traffic, until Facebook changed the way they worked. Now the Guardian has said it is effectively shutting down its app and will be pushing readers from the social network to its website instead, so that it can retain more control over what happens to its content.
The Guardian‘s app now has a large banner ad that says “The Guardian app is changing” and links to a blog post on the newspaper’s website by product manager Anthony Sullivan. In that post, Sullivan notes that the paper launched the social-reading app in November of last year as an experiment in how to use social platforms like Facebook to increase the readership of the Guardian’s content and allow people to share it more easily. Those goals have been achieved, he said, with millions of people — more than six million a month, at the peak usage of the app — engaging with the paper’s stories, many of them outside the Guardian‘s typical demographic:
Although Sullivan’s post doesn’t go into specifics about why the paper decided to make this shift, there have been a couple of major changes in the way that Facebook handles social-reading apps over the past year, and they almost certainly played a role in changing the Guardian‘s mind about the benefits of allowing the giant social network to have so much control over its content. The biggest change was to alter how frequently links to stories from the Guardian and other social-reading apps showed up in the Facebook stream of real-time updates from users, which are all based on what the network calls “frictionless sharing” from apps....

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Financial Times now giving away free Nexus 7 tablets

TabTimes reporting:
Just weeks after British newspaper The Times started offering subsidized Nexus 7 tablets and The Financial Times has gone one better by offering Google’s tablet for free to print or digital subscribers in the U.S.
The offer, first detailed in the print newspaper today, will be offered to readers signing up for a one-year digital or print subscription and will run until December 17. The deal only applies to Google's 8GB Nexus 7 tablet, which usually retails for $199.
A digital-only subscription to the FT starts at $447 per year, while annual access to both the print and digital editions comes in at $597.
Such news marks the second time a prominent newspaper has offered the Nexus 7 at a discounted rate, following a similar offer from The Times of the UK earlier this month.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Data Points: Tablet Advertising As publishers' apps proliferate, the use of bells and whistles declines

adweek reporting: Publishers seem to have no end to their appetite for apps. This year through October, 9,125 publication-related apps were released for the iPad, twice the number released in the year-ago period, according to McPheters & Co.’s iMonitor app-tracking service. Hearst led publishers with the most number of apps (89), followed by Time Warner, Condé Nast, Future Media and Bonnier Corp. But as publishers expand to more and more platforms, they’re pulling back on the number of costly and time-consuming enhancements, as are advertisers. That’s unfortunate, since not only readers are more likely to read enhanced ads, they mean more money in publishers' coffers.
See the graphics at

Social Media Report 2012: Social Media Comes of Age

nielsenwire reporting:
Social media and social networking are no longer in their infancy. Social media continues to grow rapidly, offering global consumers new and meaningful ways to engage with the people, events and brands that matter to them.  According to Nielsen and NM Incite’s latest Social Media Report, consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of sites—roughly 20 percent of their total time online via personal computer (PC), and 30 percent of total time online via mobile.  Additionally, total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PCs and mobile devices increased 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012, compared to 88 billion in July 2011.
The recent proliferation of mobile devices and connectivity helped fuel the continued growth of social media. While the computer remains as the predominant device for social media access, consumers’ time spent with social media on mobile apps and the mobile web has increased 63 percent in 2012, compared to the same period last year.

Study: People Always Shopping, Even If Unaware

MarketingDaily reporting: The so-called “purchase funnel” for consumers is no longer linear, and it no longer stops, thanks to social media. 
According to a new study from the Advertising Research Foundation, nearly one-third of shoppers said social media influenced their brand preference, either by introducing those consumers to brands they were unfamiliar with or changing their opinion of a brand during the shopping process. 
The study also determined that, thanks in part to social media, the purchase process never ends. With constant updates from social networks (including from friends and colleagues who are talking about their own recent purchases in social networks), consumers are constantly shopping, even if they are doing it in a passive manner. 
“People have a [predetermined] mental image of the marketplace even if they’re not in it. Even if you’re not a snowboarder, you probably have an image of what the market is like,” Todd Powers, executive vice president, primary research, the Advertising Research Foundation, tells Marketing Daily. “By the time you start that active search, you already have the view of the marketplace. The old image we had was using the funnel. Those stages still exist; they’re not linear anymore.”

Can Local Newspapers Collaborate with Blogs? J-Lab Finds Answers

mediashift reporting;
J-Lab recently released the results of its Networked Journalism pilot project, a three-year initiative that "called for eight newspapers and one public radio station to network with local blogs," resulting in "nine different models of collaboration," J-Lab reports.
In a detailed report called Networked Journalism: What Works, J-Lab's executive director, Jan Schaffer, outlines the problem the project was designed to explore:
With U.S. newspapers losing more than 42,000 journalists since 2007, local news coverage has suffered. At the same time, hundreds of local blogs and news sites have launched in their markets ... What role can traditional news organizations play not only to expose their audiences to more news than they themselves can deliver, but also to connect new sources of information rising throughout their communities?
She concludes that for a partnership between a legacy newsroom and its community partners to succeed, two things are needed: First, "it is the responsibility of the hub news organization to provide their news networks with enough visibility and outbound links to drive traffic to their partners' sites." And second, "it is the responsibility of the community news partners to post frequently enough to be robust participants and to nab the visibility -- either on the network page or the home page -- that would bring them traffic."

E-Books via Kindle FreeTime Unlimited: Game-Changer or Non-Starter?

PW reporting:
Amazon’s launch of Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, announced earlier this week, could change the way e-books are distributed to consumers. But the new subscription service, which is targeted at kids between ages three and eight and offers access to books, games, movies, TV shows and educational apps, raises questions and red flags for the publishing industry.
Andrews McMeel is one publisher providing select titles from its AMP! Comics for Kids imprint, including Big Nate books. “It’s a safe environment for kids and families to access digital content and a good way for us to build awareness for our brands,” says Kirsty Melville, president and publisher of AM’s book division. “We learn things every time we partner with different distribution models. Lots of people are trying to reach kids as they get more access to digital devices, and this is an interesting opportunity to explore a new way to give kids access to our content and see what happens.”

Relevant Content Is Key to Getting Digital News Readers Interested in Mobile Ads

ClickZ reporting;
Consumers who get their news on mobile devices look for ads that are relevant to the news, according to a new study from mobile ad network Mojiva.
Mojiva's study surveyed 1,000 U.S. and 1,000 U.K. mobile users to find out what sort of trends are coming out of the digital news market. According to the study, consumers are now getting their news fix from a variety of sources. Mojiva also found that when it comes to mobile ads on news sites it's all about relevance.
Consumers ranked relevance, humor, and interesting ad content as keys to getting them to pay attention to ads on mobile news sites. According to the study, 67 percent of U.S. consumers will pay more attention to an ad if it's relevant to the news item they are reading.
Another interesting factoid from the research is that 19 percent of U.S. respondents said humor is an important factor when it comes to ads. Another 15 percent said they are more likely to check out a mobile advertisement that has interesting content.
Ads on mobile news sites have become a growing way to get consumers to pay attention to advertisers. According to Mojiva, 24 percent of U.S. respondents reported they get their primary news from a smartphone or tablet.
Mojiva also found that 30 percent of respondents say they receive their breaking news via text message or mobile notifications. That figure comes in contrast to the 29 percent of respondents who said they rely on the traditional television sets to discover breaking news.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Best (and Worst) of Mobile Connectivity

PEW reporting:
Some 85% of American adults own a cell phone, and these mobile devices now play a central role in many aspects of their owners’ lives according to a new survey. For many cell owners, their phone is an essential utility that they check frequently, keep close at all times, and would have trouble functioning without:
  • 67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. Some 18% of cell owners say that they do this “frequently."
  • 44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.
  • 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without."
Despite this connection to their devices, most cell owners don’t worry too much (or get many complaints from their friends) about spending too much time with their phones:

Online sales are flat-lining at newspapers

Newsosaur reporting:
With total ad sales sliding 5.1% in the third quarter of this year, newspapers have set what must be some sort of record in the annals of American business by having their primary revenue stream fall for 25 quarters in a row. 

In 75 months of unremitting declines, the industry’s consolidated advertising sales have plunged from an all-time high of $49.4 billion in 2005 to what I estimate will be no better than $22.5 billion in 2012. The year-end revenue projection is based on historic trends. 
One of the reasons newspapers are underperforming the market is that they have built their interactive businesses on the two weakest digital advertising categories: banner and classified advertising...

Tablet Readers Don’t Want Interactivity, Says Hearst President

Mashable reporting:
When Hearst first launched digital editions for the iPad, it loaded its titles with interactive features — features, Hearst President David Carey said, readers don’t necessarily want.
“We had to find out whether people wanted something all-new and interactive, or if they just wanted the magazine in mobile mode,” Carey recounted onstage at Mashable‘s Media Summit in New York City Friday. “The industry overshot the interactivity early on. What we discovered is that most people just want the product itself,” he explained, echoing the sentiments expressed by editors at The New Yorker and Popular Science.
In 2010, Hearst partnered with app developer Scrollmotion to develop richly engaging magazine apps for the iPad. The first issues of titles, including Esquire and O: The Oprah Magazine, were loaded with multimedia and interactive elements: photographs and graphic models that could be swiveled 360 degrees, illustrations that became animated upon touch. Audio and video made frequent appearances, too.
Esquire took over the development of its tablet edition from Scrollmotion beginning with its November 2012 issue. The issue still offers some of the same interactivity as previous issues, including videos and an animated cover, but certainly not as many as before.
“We were frustrated with how unstable the app was,” David Granger, Esquire‘s editor-in-chief, told me in an interview at Esquire‘s offices earlier this month. “We had a lot of complaints, a lot of bad reviews,” he said of the reason for switching to Adobe’s publishing software.

Children’s E-Books Surge in First Half of 2012, Paperback Sales Sag

dwb reporting:
Revenues from children’s and young adult e-books were up to $146.4 million in the first half of 2012, an increase of 252% over the same period last year. At the same time, adult trade e-books were up 34.4% in the first half, a marked slowdown from triple-digit growth a year earlier. Meanwhile, trade paperback sales are down about 20%, presumably losing sales to e-book buyers.
Overall, e-book sales accounted for about 25% of total trade sales, up to $768 million for the first half, an increase of 52% over the same period last year, according to Publishers Lunch.
From 2007 through 2011, e-book sales doubled or more every year. Digital growth at major trade publishing companies like Random House and Hachette — bellwethers for the industry — has slowed, too. Digital publishing revenues at both companies now represent 27% of total revenues, up from about 21% the year before.

Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?

NYT reporting:
....To dig deeper into my new identities, I visited the Web site of BlueKai, one of the leading online data aggregators. The company’s software enables its customers to sort consumers into 30,000 market segments like “light spenders” and “safety-net seniors,” and this fine-grained categorization helps make real-time bidding possible. According to BlueKai, Republican Jeff is someone who makes between $60,000 and $74,999 a year, lives in Portland, Me., is interested in luxury cars, celebrities and TV, may have bought a cruise ticket, is an ideal candidate to take out a mortgage and a “midscale thrift spender.” Democratic Jeff is someone who lives in Los Angeles, Long Beach or Santa Ana, runs a large company with more than 5,001 employees and cares about advertising and marketing. Neither of these profiles is accurate. Nevertheless, the pigeonholing of Republican Jeff and Democratic Jeff represents our digital future.
Google and Facebook have each been expanding their use of real-time bidding. In June, Facebook announced that it would introduce a new service called Facebook Exchange, which will enable advertisers to send promotions for Spanish hotels, say, to Facebook users who have searched for trips to Spain.
Should we worry about ads aimed specifically at us everywhere we go on the Web and, increasingly, on our mobile devices too? Yes, and not just because the ads can be invasive and annoying. Real-time bidding also makes the online marketplace less of an even playing field, allowing companies to send loyalty points or discounts — or price increases — to individuals based on their perceived spending power. The travel site Orbitz, after learning that Mac users spend 30 percent more on hotel rooms than P.C. users, has started to send Mac users ads for hotels that are 11 percent more expensive than the ones that P.C. users are seeing, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.....

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Esquire Uses App To Make Print Magazine Pages Interactive

AppNewser reporting:
How do you keep print alive in a digital world? That is a big question these days. To help keep the printed page relevant, Esquire is testing adding app-triggered interactive features to print editions by partnering with a company called Netpage.
Netpage’s tool is called Digital Twin. A user points this smartphone app at a Netpage-enabled print page which creates a digital replica of the printed page from the cloud. In this environment, a user can clip and share content digitally and even watch videos. A code is not required.
The December 2012 issue of Esquire is the first magazine to use this new tool. The entire magazine has been doctored to become interactive. From now on, all issues of Esquire will be Netpage-enabled and next year Hearst plans to use this app with even more titles.

‘The Economist’ Finds Charging For Digital & Print Separately Works Best

AppNewser reporting:
Like many publications whose readers are looking for both digital and print options, The Economist has been experimenting with different ways to package its content to subscribers.
The magazine offers subscribers content through its weekly print magazine, app editions of the magazine, as well as online access. For readers who commit to a two-year subscription, a print subscription is  $2.19 a week; a digital subscription is 2.19 a week; and a subscrition to both is $2.74 a week. Full app access used to be free with a print subscription.
In an interview published today by Ad AgeMichael Brunt, SVP of circulation for the Americas and global head of marketing at Economist Digital, explains why the magazine stopped giving away app access with a print subscription.