Tag Archives | newspaper

The Times paywall

The Times paywall flags up a lot of the challenges facing the publishing industry and its ability to get back on some kind of even keel. There have been lots of stones thrown at The Times for what is seen as some blind, desperate attempt to put the old pay model on the new world, but I believe it represents a major shift.

1. They are doing something

Many businesses and publishers are in fear and denial about what is going on with their business. One thing you can be sure of, the team down at The Times will be onboard with the fact that something advertising alone won’t work and thats why they are having to do something. They are starting to address the problem.

I was at an IAB event recently and there were a number of publishes talking about initiatives that were driving large traffic levels, but you knew that traffic volume is not their problem. Its how do you sell the traffic. Innovation with platform, technology, ad format, content strategy, structure is all good but when was the last time you saw someone innovate with their commercial model? (and please don’t talk about behavioral – not to be harsh, that wasn’t their idea)

2. They are talking about users

Customer, customer, customer. No more talking about the intergalactic figures that no one understands

Publisher:”We have 3.2 million unique users and 129 million impressions, with even more ad impressions and we are far bigger than everyone else, who we know are confused and challenged like us”

Adevrtisers: – “That’s great – can I buy those 3 million people? with an ad”

Publisher:  “Don’t be daft, you can buy impressions though”

Advertiser: “?!”

The Times are thinking about people (albeit a small number). They have set up a model that gets the business thinking about users and the revenue they generate. Publishers are going to have to start to take some reader money directly (through subs) or indirectly (through commercial deals) at some point and the sooner everyone (ad sales and editorial) start to talk about their revenue per user the quicker things will start to improve.

I would bet that more people at The Time are getting their calculators out and working out what the ad revenue per user is vs. subscription – that in itself is quantum leap.

There are some great pieces of analysis that are worth a read – Beehivecity has had a good dig round the numbers and really look at what the possibilities are.

99% of publishing businesses have editorial one side and commercial on the other. They don’t meet until they report into the CEO. “churches, needing each other, but very different. I believe the journey that The Times has started on is cultural and for once a business has potentially unified the business under a common cause and goal.

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Free newspaper model

I have just read a brilliant analysis by Peter Kirwan on implications of the Evening Standard going free.  I have directly copied the basic figures across, but I would recommend you go and have a read of his analysis of where it could go next.

Will be interesting on how they capitalise on the huge readership gains they have made and use this to really innovate into other revenue areas.

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Location, Location … app

foursquare_logo

Anyone that has kids will tell you that as soon as you find out you are expecting a baby, it suddenly seems like every other person is pushing a pram and it definitely wasn’t like that the day before. I kind of feel like that with Foursquare.

A good friend flagged them up a month ago and  I thought nothing about it and then yesterday and today it seems like all I could see (no Apples for me) was Foursquare. All the circles seemed to cross.

For anyone that is yet to discover the business, it’s a location based review site? Social networking site? Game? Type thingy – it is probably best to read yourself vs my dumbed down version. The interesting thing is that it is growing like crazy and reportedly getting a person “checking in” at locations every second.  One of those was me and I think it’s rather good.

Foursquare isn’t the only game / review site. A study of the most innovative apps (which also came out yesterday) placed 4 in the top 20, with  Gowalla, Buzzd and Rummble all showing tremendous growth. For me the excitement comes from the fact that you have this amazing network affect, of people reviewing predominantly commercial premises (bars, restaurants etc). You sense a revenue model can’t be far behind.

I then read a very insightful article by Maya Baratz about how Newspapers should be engaging in the app economy (or potentially can become structural to the app economy). With a wonderful line of, “Rather than trying to control its profits by curtailing the spread of its content, the news industry should be redefining a means to fuel that profit off of such a spread”.

I then read Metro in Canada has done a deal with Foursquare. and another pram passes the window.

It feels like a good move. Helping to build The Timeout of Timeout’s and really get their audience behind it. For the technology business they potentially get additional boost of speed to market, which is so critical for technology. We all have know the paper have online audiences in their millions !

Which is where I came to my final thought. How polarised the view is between the technology market and media market when they look at their audiences.

Media loves to bag elephants. Lets be honest there was never anything sexy about classified and for most it was only ever a stage to get to the big game accounts, Execs were keen to go out entertaining and secure the big client again vs making lots of small sales. Oddly enough Google (in the technology corner) loved it the other way round and wanted the simple scalable small business and almost looked uncomfortable dealing with big accounts. No surprise that most papers were eaten from the classified end where all the “joiners” were and the rising stars were out on safari looking for the “brand” money.

There is an opportunity with businesses like Foursquare to really work with publishers and get involved with their large online audiences and brands that many readers still have affection and respect for. I think more importantly there is also a real opportunity for publishers to learn something about not “doing the deal” and getting some money out of  smaller businesses and really having to think about what people want. Heaven forbid. “Get me editorial on the phone”

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Value of content

ny times

The NY Times announcing that it is moving to a paid for content / subscription model is a bold move and probably about time. Will it work? I have no idea. One thing it will answer is what is the value of their content and if anything start to bottom out the answer of what is the value to written content online. I used to think the old adage of “content is king” had lost its relevancy. The majority of the biggest sites in the UK don’t have editors or even create so called content – application was king, relevancy was king, context was king … content wasn’t really up there.

I have changed my view. I recently spoke to a natioinal TV station who gave an insight into the usage of their video-on-demand service (super big), the sell through levels of the advertising (it was all sold) and the yields being achieved (I reckon they must have been getting yields 4 – 5 times that off your common gardenal natioinal newspaper site). The point being they were nailing it. The reason being it was great content. TV shows that people wanted to watch again. The thing that was raised eyebrows was the amount of archive footage that was generating plays and carrying these valaubale ads. From the ARCHIVE.

Janey L Robinson – Chief Executive of Ny Times, was using the iTunes micro payment model as proof that perhaps the market was ready to pay for content. I’ll be honest I think this is perhaps a stretch too far. The nature of the contrent is very different, but it made me think of the archive word again.

My thinking is, would the creator of content archive it and would someone then come along and pay for that content. I think that this is  the model at the moment, in markets where it works. Music, video, financial even porn. Succesful paid for models. Perhaps they are selling the freshness of the content of the stories – but will people pay for that? Especially with the explosion of free media services, national funded broadcasters and wire services.

The saying of “Good strategy is about sacrifice” stands here. The papers really need to think about the type of content people may pay for and for now I kind of like “The Archive Test”. Fingers crossed they need a break.

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