Our business and every business has to walk through the valley of death in order to succeed.
As I reflect on the recent INMA World Congress and try to get some perspective on the state of the news media industry, the words of New York Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. echo in my head.
The quote, however, is from a keynote Sulzberger delivered at a conference in 1999!
If you ever have visited Death Valley, you know he was talking about a rough route. Located near the border of California and Nevada, it is the hottest and driest place in North America, where the hottest air temperature on earth has been recorded (134 degrees Fahrenheit/57 degeees Celsius).
Death Valley got its name in 1849 during the Gold Rush by prospectors who had to cross the area in their pursuit of the golden dream. Some of them died there.
In one of the world’s most extreme environments, where most traditional species perish, a new breed of desert dwellers rose to supremacy. Much like in the digital landscape.
Some 14 years later, Sulzberger’s words seem almost prophetic. But just as animals and plants appear to do everything in their power to survive the extreme conditions of Death Valley, traditional media companies also adapt to the extreme conditions of a world ruled by Silicon Valley.
As Earl Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA, put it in his closing presentation of the 2013 World Congress: “The mood of the news industry is different than four years ago, when media leaders felt desperate and ready to hit rock bottom. Today, they’re anxious and hungry.”
This was manifest by a breeze of fresh air and opportunity from the North, when Anna Rastner, editor of digital content at Expressen in Sweden, and Espen Egil Hansen, executive editor of Verdens Gang (VG) in Norway, took the stage....[more]
05 May 2013 · by David Murphy
My father-in-law and I enjoy what you might call a mutually beneficial relationship.
If I need a job done around the house or office that I can’t do myself, rather than calling in a (paid) plumber, electrician, or whatever type of handyman is required, I call him instead. And he fixes it. To be fair, if it’s something in the office, like the dishwasher he recently plumbed in, we do the decent thing and pay him a modest fee to cover his time.
In return, I am his personal tech support. In the same way that plumbing is a dark art to me, so it is with my father-in-law and PCs, tablets, and mobiles.
So it’s rare we get together without him presenting a list of his current problems and issues.
Last weekend, he caught me as I was flipping burgers for our first barbecue of the summer, and asked me about all this stuff in the newspaper about scanning the pages for more information.
The current edition of the magazine that comes with his favourite Sunday newspaper, he explained, was full of such messages. But when he held up his phone to the article in question in camera mode, nothing happened.
I promised to investigate.
After lunch, I asked him to find me one of the articles. He produced the Mail on Sunday’s Event magazine and turned to the motoring pages. Sure enough, there was an article about a new Ferrari, together with instructions to scan the page for more information.
Alongside the article was a small box with a blue “B” in it. So it was as I had suspected. The “B” stands for “Blippar,” a UK augmented reality (or, in their words, “image recognition”) tech firm that has made great strides in recent years with a host of large brands, including several publishers, to bring their static, on-page content to readers’ tablets and smartphones....[more]
21 April 2013 · by Mark Challinor
A question for all publishers: Are ads in our tablet apps as impactful as in print?
New research has revealed that advertising impact can be as powerful on tablets as it is in print editions, particularly if the digital edition of the newspaper carries over the overall look and feel of the original news brand.
Cebuco, the news media marketing organisation in Holland, has invested largely in editions for smartphones, tablets, and e-readers.
First, some facts:
- The penetration of tablets doubled last year.
- One-third of Holland's people now use a tablet device.
With this growth, a huge market now opens up. In December of last year, 21% of the Netherlands’ population used the iPad for reading a newspaper ... and this figure continues to grow daily. Research company Ipsos divided a sample of 2,500 readers into three groups:
- digital readers.
- conventional (i.e. “paper”) readers.
- combined (i.e. “print + digital”) readers.
They were questioned about their reading behavioural patterns, their attention to the advertising, their brand recall, and their buying intentions as a result of the advertising.
The main summary was that the reading behaviour of print and e-paper is fairly similar. The pleasure and intensity of reading is practically the same as the engagement with the newspaper. Ninety percent said they enjoyed the edition and two-thirds said they read almost every page. The engagement is indeed high: 70% felt “connected” to the news brand.
Perhaps reassuring for advertisers is the fact the advertising impact seems just as powerful on tablet as it is in print. There seems to be no significant difference found in advertising reach.
What is also interesting is the differences that did come to light between platforms. For example, when looking at the same advertisement, Cebuco’s online readers felt a better impetus for ideas and originality, whereas the printed versions seem to realise more credibility for the advertised brand. In addition, the printed ads were perceived to get a much clearer message across.
15 April 2013 · by Otto Sjöberg
As the World Congress programme reads, the Financial Times “continues to re-write the rules of print to multi-media transformations with its ubiquitous embrace of print and digital subscriptions, and now innovations in HTML5 and mobile adoption that are setting the pace for publishers worldwide.”
Undaunted courage is an integral part of an organisation’s digital and mobile strategy.
- Since the launch in June 2011, the FT Web app has had more than 3.8 million users.
- Financial Times became the first publisher to see digital subscriptions overtake print circulation — 316,000 to 286,000, respectively, as of February.
- Total paid online subscribers grew 18% year on year. Mobile drives 30% of traffic to FT.com and 15% to 20% of all new digital subscriptions.
But the story behind the scene is the one relevant to newsmedia companies.
What made the Financial Times step out of the App Store at a time when every media company in the world was rushing into the arms of Apple? And what is the lesson learned from leading innovation?
We all know the rewards are there when you do it right. But what does it take to make gutsy decisions?
I had the chance to talk to Grimshaw about that last year, when he was awarded “Best Mobile Innovation for Publishing” at the Global Mobile Awards in Barcelona, Spain.
For the Financial Times, the issue of coming up with a different strategy became urgent in January 2011, when Apple announced new subscription terms — i.e. all subscriptions have to go through the App Store, giving Apple a 30% cut of the revenues.
“We were convinced that (the new policy) wasn’t any good for us,” Grimshaw said, “and that we needed to look at something different. At that point we gave our developers the green light to try to build something in HTML5.”...[more]
09 April 2013 · by David Murphy
A couple of weeks ago, I was hosting an event in a series now in its third year.
The series aims to bring together executives from a given vertical – publishing, retail, finance, etc. – with mobile marketing companies that have experience in their sector and might be able to help them on their mobile journey.
My main role at these events is to introduce the speakers, then summarise what they said when they have finished.
One of the presentations talked about the pace of change in the mobile marketing space. It reminded me of a conversation my colleagues and I had soon after we ran the first event back in 2011.
Looking back on the event the week after we ran it, we pondered over how often we could put it on for the same vertical. So if we ran a publishing event in January 2011, could we run it again a year later? Would things have changed that much in the intervening period?
Listening to the presentation two weeks ago, I concluded that, arguably, you could run them every three months. That’s how fast things are moving in this space – and that presents its own set of challenges.
Take a device that is currently of pivotal interest to the publishing industry – the iPad....[more]
02 April 2013 · by Dirk Barmscheidt
In the old days, the publisher’s world in the offline print business was simple.
The industry’s three basic priorities included:
- Target group selection: reach, advertisers, copy price.
- Editorial team organisation: editors, producer.
- Sales force: distribution, media sales.
The result was one product, one price, one target group, and one need to satisfy.
The digital era started nearly the same for desktop browser Web sites: one Web site, all for free, one (broader) target group, and one need to satisfy.
But the digital world has opened up in complicated ways. Internet usage is no longer concentrated on the desktop; we are using the Internet as a news source everywhere and at all times; and we have absolutely different needs to satisfy!
We now develop products for three target groups with very different backgrounds and behaviours:...[more]
25 March 2013 · by Mark Challinor
Today, our readers are on their smartphones, glancing at the headlines, checking movie start times at their local cinema, viewing the weather forecasts… What’s that at the top of the screen? An ad appears at the top of the browser screen. A banner ad!
If it appears on your news site, it’s probably served by an ad network or sold by your news media ad sales staff. So it’s a new revenue source for us in the new digital world. But is it effective from the point of view of the advertiser’s return on investment?
After all, it’s not the most creative of ad formats, and while a whole range of newer formats (which are more rich and more creative) come to the fore, we mostly are all still left with the banner ad. The question is, can such a small, even unimaginative, banner ad be effective, especially when it is arriving when attention is divided? Advertisers are truly betting that it can be (along with that growing range of ad formats).
Global spending on mobile advertising topped US$8.4 billion in 2012 and is expected to soar to US$36 billion by 2016. This growth is fueled by the huge growth of Internet-connected mobile devices, as well as the increasing tendency for consumers/readers to access Web sites on their smartphones....[more]
18 March 2013 · by David Murphy
So what is mobile advertising, anyway? What does it look like? It might seem an odd question, but it’s one that bears investigation.
If you look at the way advertising works in most media, it’s pretty similar, and can be summed up in one adjective – interruptive.
Whether it’s the full page ad in the newspaper opposite the gossip column, the banner ad on the Web site where you go to check your e-mail, the 48-sheet poster that stops you in your tracks as you walk down the street, or the interminable ads that break up ITV’s live coverage of any football match in the UK – the process is the same. We as consumers tolerate advertising, partly because we have become used to it, and partly because there is an unconscious acceptance of the fact that advertising makes free – or less expensive –something we might otherwise have had to pay.
Now consider mobile advertising. The rules, to date, have been pretty much the same.
Visit a mobile Web site from a newspaper publisher and you will likely encounter a banner ad at the top of the page. If you’re lucky, there may be a degree of targeting behind the ads, so that a male browser with an interest in golf might see an ad for a golfing weekend break, while a female browser with an interest in ballet might see an ad for a ballet performance. That’s the theory, at least....[more]
15 March 2013 · by Otto Sjöberg
The one-line summary of Mobile World Congress 2013: The inside matters more than the outside.
Outside: Barcelona, the hosting city with more than 5 kilometres of Mediterranean beaches in the city center, is not supposed to be freezing cold and rainy at the end of February (25-28). But it was.
Inside: The brand new conference centre is more spacious than ever. The exhibition itself covered the equivalent of 40 football fields and was bright, warm, and filled with fresh air to keep attendees alert during four days of panel discussions, keynote presentations, product demonstrations, and announcements.
Inside: The move to the flashier new venue, the Fira Gran Via on the outskirts of Barcelona, was precipitated by the sheer growth of Mobile World Congress:
- In a couple of years, attendance has gone from 20,000, when the conference was held in Cannes, France, to 72,000 from more than 200 countries in Barelona.
- This year set a new record with more than 1,700 companies showcasing products and services across the 94,000 square metres of exhibition space.
- This year also saw a record attendance of government delegations from 143 countries.
- More than 3,400 international media and industry analysts attended to report on the mobile revolution.
- Mobile World Congress contributed more than €320 million (US$ 417 million) to the local economy, an increase of €19 million (US$ 25 million) from 2012, according to an independent economic analysis.
24 February 2013 · by Mark Challinor
Many of those reading this blog will also have read INMA’s Outlook 2013 report or will have heard INMA’s CEO, Earl Wilkinson, present the findings on the association’s recent webinar, which focuses on the print and digital ecology that is emerging across the globe and how the “mobile moment” will become the centre of our universe (if it’s not already) within the next three or four years.
It got me thinking, as a “print man” of more than 20 years who has now made the leap into the mobile media space: What will become of print? Is it dying? Is it still the cornerstone of our offerings (alongside tablets, mobile handsets, and online)?
For us at the Telegraph Media Group here in London, it is certainly the latter. I think I will be long gone before print disappears off our streets. But there is certainly a change of focus in how we package our platforms.
The print world we used to know is very different than that of today. New technologies — such as printed electronics, creative Web formats for advertising, and augmented reality — now seem to blur the lines between print and digital.
They take the print medium to new and exciting levels. And with this increasingly changing landscape, I can’t help but wonder what the next evolutionary step for this medium will be.
Traditional print now has to compete alongside a whole range of increasingly sophisticated and complex platforms and channels. At the same time, many overall marketing budgets have been reduced, and all spend is under the microscope.
“More bang for the buck” is the order of the day....[more]