Monday, October 25, 2010

iPad users most likely to engage with ads

iPad users are more willing to engage with advertising and pay for content than users of other devices, according to a study by Nielsen. More than two thirds of the 452 iPad owners surveyed have bought a chargeable app for their device, with games being the most popular purchase. Some 57% say they would engage with advertising if it led to free content and 49% claim they are more likely to look at an ad if it displays video content. More than a third are interested in what ads can do on their tablet, but only 8% have actually made a purchase through their device.

The cheapest iPad retails at USD499 but despite its hefty price tag Nielsen claims owners of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader are wealthier. The research firm says 28% of Kindle owners earn more than USD100,000 a year compared with just a 25% of iPad owners.

The results should prove useful for mobile app advertisers and developers as the availability of tablet devices rockets. A recent report predicts Apple will sell as many as 120m iPads globally by the end of 2012 while developers such as Samsung and LG are launching their own tablets in the coming months.


HP challenges iPad with $800 Slate 500 tablet computer

Hewlett-Packard Co. jumped into the nascent tablet computing market Friday when it released its Slate 500, an $800 competitor to Apple Inc.'s 6-month-old iPad.

The Slate 500, which runs Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system and is aimed at workplace users rather than consumers, goes beyond the iPad in some places, and stays behind it in others.

The iPad has no camera, where the Slate has built-in front- and rear-facing cameras, including a three-megapixel higher resolution camera on the back. And unlike the iPad, the Slate has a USB port that allows it to work with a variety of plug-in digital accessories.

But HP's tablet, which is now available through its retail store and will ship in mid-November, is priced higher than Apple's entry-level $499 iPad, has half the advertised battery life (five hours instead of 10) and does not come with the option of a cellular wireless plan, like Apple's more expensive iPads. Instead, the Slate is limited to Wi-Fi Internet connectivity.

A press release advertising the device says it is "designed specifically for business, enterprise and vertical customers looking for the mobility of a tablet, the familiarity of Microsoft Windows 7 and the ability to run custom or corporate applications."

HP, which acquired Palm earlier this year, is also at work on a consumer device that will use the webOS operating system that runs on some of Palm's smartphones.


New York Times Co. Posts $4.3 Million Loss

The New York Times Company on Tuesday reported a $4.3 million net loss for the third quarter as advertising and circulation revenue declined, and charges at The Boston Globe weighed on the bottom line. That result, which translates into a loss of about 3 cents a share, was an improvement from the period a year ago, when losses were 25 cents a share.

The Times Company, which publishes its namesake newspaper in addition to The Globe, The International Herald Tribune and a number of regional newspapers and owns, continued to accumulate cash. And costs, at $522.9 million, were essentially flat compared with the period a year ago.

On an operating basis, the company said it had earned $9 million, up from a loss of $23.7 million in the third quarter a year ago.

Total revenue decreased 2.7 percent, to $554.3 million, in the third quarter compared with the period a year ago. Advertising revenue dropped 1 percent while circulation revenue fell 4.8 percent. Digital advertising, which now makes up 27 percent of the company’s overall advertising revenue, rose 14.6 percent.

In the company’s News Media Group, which includes the newspaper businesses, advertising revenue fell 1.7 percent, as a 21.6 percent increase in online ad sales helped offset a 5.8 percent decrease in print ad revenue.

Looking to the fourth quarter, the Times Company said it expected the print advertising market to “improve modestly” and digital advertising to grow 10 percent. It cautioned, however, that circulation revenue was expected to continue falling 4 to 5 percent, and that newsprint prices would rise.

At the company’s New York Times Media Group, which includes The Herald Tribune, advertising rose 1.6 percent over all. That division’s reliance on national advertising, which has shown growth in recent months, helped buoy the results.

Advertising revenue at grew 5.3 percent, to $30.9 million.

Other divisions did not fare as well. At the Regional Media Group, which includes newspapers like The Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida and The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., revenue fell 4.5 percent. Revenue at the New England Media Group, which includes The Globe, dropped 6.2 percent.

The two one-time costs at The Globe that contributed to the company’s quarterly loss included a $16.1 million write-down of assets in the sale of a printing facility in Billerica, Mass., and $6.3 million for pension obligations.

Despite the difficulties in some areas, executives stressed that the company had steadied other areas of its business.

“We have remained vigilant in managing our expenses, and we were able to keep our third-quarter operating costs virtually flat with the third quarter last year, despite higher compensation costs and newsprint prices, and investments in our digital offerings,” the chief executive, Janet L. Robinson, said in a statement.

The company reported that it had $129 million in cash on hand and debt of $774 million, compared with $102 million in cash and $773 million in debt at the end of the second quarter. Ms. Robinson said this month that the company planned to repay a high-interest $250 million loan from the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim HelĂș by Jan. 15, 2012, the earliest date possible.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Newspaper asks readers: 'What would you cut?'

A regional daily newspaper is asking its readers which items of wasteful public spending they would cut as the Chancellor prepares to reveal where the government's axe will fall.
The Belfast Telegraph is calling on its readers to help it expose where taxpayers' money is not being well spent.
It launched its 'War on Waste' campaign ahead of the government's spending review, which is due to be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne in a Commons statement today.
The paper has started the campaign to ensure public organisations spend every pound of taxpayers' money well and will report on examples of waste highlighted by readers.
Editor Mike Gilson said: "The cutbacks are highly likely to affect everybody in some way. We need to keep pushing the case for adequate funding for Northern Ireland, while at the same time making sure that savings are made in the right places.
"That is why we have launched War on Waste. We all know of anecdotal evidence of wasteful and inefficient practices.
"We are not interested in lambasting public bodies. It is very much in the interests of employees themselves to stamp out waste."
The Telegraph is inviting public sector employees, as well as those in the private sector, to blow the whistle on wasteful practices with an online form, which can be anonymous.
Chancellor George Osborne is due to announce later today where the government will make major public sector cuts to tackle the deficit under the Comprehensive Spending Review.


Why I believe in print: Giovanni di Lorenzo

Giovanni di Lorenzo, Editor-in-Chief of weekly newspaper Die Zeit, Germany, believes in the future of newspaper, despite the current crisis. In his speech "Why I believe in Print," di Lorenzo emphasized the importance of economic sustainability to finance quality journalism - both in print and online.
And although he acknowledges that new media could be a possible source of income in the future, he stated: "As long as we do not make money out of online journalism, we have to concentrate on print." He challenged the prophets of a digital revolution and reminds the audience of the virtues of print journalism. "In times of crisis the readers demand for analysis and orientation". In his view, print caters for both. "Newspapers of the future are not the river but the shores" he says. They are providing guidance for the flow of information.
Nevertheless, di Lorenzo received the World Editors Forum's proclamation of the "The Tablet Year" as a new chance for journalistic work: "We need to understand the iPad as a promising device to monetarize high-quality journalism in the digital world - simply to keep this independent and unadjusted profession alive." But meanwhile, he questioned the progressive tone of some colleagues."When journalists declare the end of print in the newspapers and publishers promote the internet, I wonder about this pleasure to diminish their own profession."
Di Lorenzo added that although it was true that fewer young people read the paper today than did so in the past, it is not true to say that only interested in how many friends they had on Facebook. Indeed, most new readers of Die ZEIT are in their twenties or thirties. "We have to concentrate on those who still do read rather than run after those that we cannot reach anymore anyway", he said.
However, newspapers and weekly magazines have had to change, too. They have had to get to know their readers better and listen to what they were interested in, di Lorenzo said. Not only journalists but readers too can create great content. An example he gave was that print media can try to embrace a very digital idea of user generated content. For that reason Die ZEIT introduced a new section that gives readers the opportunity to write about what they are angry about, what quotes they liked - something they would normally do online. Di Lorenzo explained that on this page, readers nominated their "hero of the week", protested against political decisions and wrote letters to prominent personalities. The feedback was amazing, he said. And this content could be transferred on an iPad as well. However, the boundaries between professional journalists and readers should never be blurred, he stressed.
In times of change, print media must dare something instead of freezing in fear, di Lorenzo said. They should risk failing with a new section rather than not giving it a go in the first place. "I call that, in the style of the military, 'flexible response'", he said.


SFN Study reveals surprising results on newspaper business

During the 17th World Editors Forum, the results of the Future & Change study, conducted by the Shaping the Future of the Newspaper project, the Norwegian School of Management and the University of Central Lancashire were presented by project director Martha Stone and Dr. Erik Wilberg, associate professor from the Norwegian School of Management. "How to recover the revenue loss that newspapers suffered in the last years lies at the heart of the SFN study," Stone said.
The investigation of how editors and publishers deal with change of the newspaper business and explore new ways of revenue generation showed that key issues for the newspaper business are the finding of new revenue model opportunities, stronger focus on targeted publications and the increase of independence from advertisement. Concrete plans to increase revenue as mentioned by respondents, among them more than 45 percent from the top management level, indicate a stronger emphasis on business outside the newspaper business such as internet services, other print products, all-advertising newspapers as well as distribution services.
"Those at the top have a job to do", emphasises Wilberg by pointing out that the biggest challenge for development lies at the management level. Lack of leadership and different perceptions of the urgency to invest in potential areas of growth are the main obstacles for improvement, he said. The study's most significant finding shows that the investment in new roduct development and mobile platforms are the industry's way forward.
A SFN website which will allow for researching data of this and other studies is to be launched soon.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is the iPad Really the Savior of the Newspaper Industry?

Even before the iPad was revealed, analysts, pundits and the publishing industry were already heralding the tablet as the platform that would save the industry from declining readership and dropping revenue.
The iPad’s high-res display, large screen, digital delivery and interactive capabilities were lauded as the next generation of tools that print publishers could use to woo their readers back into the fold.
Now, six months after the iPad’s launch, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at which newspapers have taken advantage of the digital platform, and the state of the market today.
We recently tested the apps ourselves and spoke with content creators and industry experts to get an overview of where newspaper iPad apps are — and where they might be headed in the future.

Adopting a New Way to Consume News
In order for the general public to consume their daily news on a tablet device, they have to own one. Although great things are promised for the consumer tablet, recent data from ABI Research suggests that at the current rate of sales, such devices won’t reach what’s considered “mass-market penetration” until 2013.
However, there are enough devices out there to make app building worthwhile. Apple sold 3 million iPads within 80 days of the product’s release in the U.S., with the most recent sales figures (dating back from July)coming in at 3.27 million sold.
Wall Street analysts Bernstein Research suggest that the iPad is enjoying the fastest adoption rate of a consumer electronics gadget ever — even overtaking the DVD player and Apple stable-mate the iPhone .
Forecasters at the Harrison Group found that 13% of all American consumers showed “interest” in buying a tablet device between now and next September, with potential sales of up to 15 million units. In fact, some reports suggest that the iPad’s popularity could affect PC and laptop sales figures as consumers opt for the touchscreen tablet over a new netbook or upgrading an old PC.
As far as the wider market goes, Apple is far from the only player. RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, the Android -based Samsung Galaxy Tab, and HP’s PalmPad are just a few of the alternatives due soon on competing operating systems.
And the good news for content creators on the tablet platform is that consumers are hungry. The Harrison Group survey found that tablet users spend nearly 75% more time reading newspapers and newspaper articles, and 25% more time reading books.
Those surveyed were apparently so convinced by the digital delivery and form factor, that 81% of tablet owners believe that it is inevitable that all forms of publications will eventually be produced almost exclusively in a digital format.

Establishing Pricing and Attracting Readers
So what is the current state of the newspaper app market for the iPad? Six months after the iPad’s launch, more than 900 apps populate the “News ” category in the App Store in both the U.S. and the UK. News is a broad category, however, and it includes feed readers, other types of content aggregators, websites’ iPad apps, and even magazine apps.
The number of actual dedicated newspaper iPad apps is low — surprisingly low if you consider how the platform was heralded as the savior of the industry. In the U.S. the Wall Street Journal and USA Today are the main options, along with a recently released “complete” version of The New York Times’ app. As far as big names in the UK market goes, The Financial Times, The Times, The Daily Express and The Sun offer apps, while The Telegraph is currently dipping its toe into the water with an Audi-backed app.
Out of those options, only the USA Today, The New York Times and a trial version of The Telegraph apps are free. The others require payment to either download or access full content, making them a “personal choice luxury” rather than a must-have download, considering how many free options exist. (It should be noted that while The New York Times app is currently free, you will need an account to access all of the content once the paywall goes up in January 2011).
So why is this the case? Surely struggling publishing companies would do well to attract as many users to their apps as possible in order to increase brand loyalty and make money from mobile advertising.
Paul Gillin, a social marketing consultant and author of the Newspaper Death Watch blog suggests that, in time, apps could be a “significant revenue stream” as the platform grows. He says that newspaper companies are wary of falling into the same trap they did when free online versions of their papers debuted, making it hard for a pay structure to be introduced at a later date.
This assertion is backed up by data from the Association of Online Publishers “Content & Trends Census 2010.” The census revealed that apps are seen as “the most significant route for mobile Internet revenue opportunities,” according to the UK publishing companies (not limited to newspapers) that took part. In fact, 61% expect to see significant revenue from subscription services, compared to 55% via sponsorship and 46% via in-app advertising.
The same AOP research also reveals that while 16% of online publishers currently have paid-for iPad apps, another 60% are planning to introduce one in the next 12 months.
“Publishers are establishing pricing from the start,” says Tim Cain, head of research and insight at the AOP.
“iPad apps are being seen differently [than] mobile apps. It’s thought that people value them differently and will be prepared to pay.”

Readers Respond to Subscriptions and Pay Up
So just how many people are prepared to pay, and how many are using the apps? Different companies have different policies on revealing their download figures and are generally even more secretive about subscription stats.
We can, however, note a few choice numbers. The WSJ for iPad has been downloaded more than 650,000 times since its launch and has “thousands” of paying subscribers. The FT’s iPad Edition option has seen 400,000 downloads and is credited for driving 10% of all FT digital subscriptions since its launch. Meanwhile, USA Today’s free app has had a slightly higher download figure of over a million.
If companies are guarded about download stats and subscription figures, they are even more guarded about how those relate to revenue. This is not the case for the Financial Times, however, as Ben Hughes, the paper’s deputy chief executive recently revealed to The Guardian that its iPad app’s 400,000 subscribers have helped the app reach £1 million (approximately $1.5 million) in advertising revenue since May.
And previous reports note that in-app iAds are fetching as much as five times the price of online advertising, with click-through rates reported to be significantly higher (15% versus 0.10% in a recent NYTM campaign from JPMorgan Chase & Co) on the tablet device than a website.

News Organizations Harness the iPad’s Possibilities

These stats show that consumers are obviously downloading and using these apps, but which consumers? Are the papers cannibalizing their own print and online audiences with shiny new apps? Or are the App Store offerings opening up a different market to the titles?
“The iPad definitely provides a valuable platform for newspapers to engage their readers in a new way and, in many cases, to appeal to a different set of readers,” says Dena Levitz, manager of digital strategies for the Newspaper Association of America. “Mobile is going to be a growth area going forward, and tablets are one exciting subset of that larger trend.”
The Dow Jones & Company’s senior director of corporate communications Ashley S.Huston says the Wall Street Journal’s plan is to offer content wherever readers are. “We know that readers consume news and information on multiple devices … The iPad app complements our existing print and digital offerings with an experience created specifically for the iPad.”
USA Today, meanwhile, notes the obvious portability the platform offers, making it a good choice for those away from home. Matt Jones, vice president of mobile strategy and operations for Gannett/USA Today tells us: “Our target is the early and middle stage tech adopter, frequent traveler and general news/sports/entertainment enthusiast.”
Despite the comprehensive content in the Financial Times iPad Edition, the publishers view the app as a “companion product,” and notes the value of easy global distribution in places where it’s more difficult to distribute a print copy, according to Steve Pinches, lead product development manager at
So far we’ve only considered national titles. Regional newspapers, arguably the hardest-hit markets, could take advantage of the iPad’s potential too, like UK publishing company KOS Media did with its free Kent News for iPad, which was released in August.
The company is not releasing its download stats, so we have no way of knowing how popular the launch has been, or if, as KOS Media claimed at launch, it has offered “huge advantages” to iPad owners.
With national publications seeing an increase in click-through rates on its in-app advertisements, it would make sense then that location-based advertising might see similar success. And that success could be replicated by local papers. They should view the tablet platform as the potential savior it was initially billed as.

Newspapers Must Adapt Again to New Technology
After looking at a variety of newspaper iPad apps, our main complaint — and we’re generalizing across the entire market — is that they don’t take enough advantage of the iPad’s wowing capabilities.
This view is shared to a certain extent by Roger Fidler, the program director for digital publishing for the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. He is organizing the RJI National iPad News Survey “to better understand how people are consuming news on the iPad and readers’ expectations for news apps.”
“I’ve long believed that utilitarian tablets like the iPad would evolve into the 21st century equivalent of the printing press; and, as such, would be vital to the digital transformation of newspapers and magazines,” says Fidler.
Fidler says that newspaper iPad apps need to offer a new visual format that blends the “relaxed reading modality of print with the dynamic interactive modality of online media.” It should be differentiated from print and online editions and offer tablet-specific content — all things he doesn’t think most apps are doing very well.
The solution could be found in a new “hybrid newspaper app” suggests Fidler, in which “automated sections with continuously updated news stories and more visually rich magazine-like sections created by editors and designers could coexist.” The Reynolds Journalism Institute is experimenting with exactly that kind of new publishing model.
The NAA also acknowledges the need for newspapers to “differentiate” content, and digital strategist Levitz says that consumers read longer-form content on the iPad, and they really enjoy the high quality of the visual images on the screen. She thinks newspapers can thrive in the tablet space if they take advantage of the device’s capabilities.
So is the future of print to be found in touch-screens? In the immediate future it certainly seems that publishing companies are going to be jumping on the app wagon, but how many of them will go the distance is questionable. You’ve got to think that targeted papers such as the WSJ, or the FT for business types, or geographically relevant titles have got the brightest future in the app market because they offer something that can’t be found via generic news feeds or readers.
“I would expect to see the iPad and the dozens of competing products planned for this year providing revenue for newspapers either through subscriptions or advertising sponsorships,” says Levitz. “Still, we expect tablet apps will be one part of a broad portfolio of products which will continue to include print products in some form, web-based products and other emerging products. Newspapers will continue to be the dominant local sales and content franchises reaching a range of audience segments through multiple media channels.”
The new sparkle of the iPad will keep the newspaper app market buoyant only for so long, and unless Fidler’s “hybrid newspaper app” advice is heeded, consumers will grow tired of the app-ified newspaper just as they have grown tired of previous formats before that. Newspaper Death Watch’s Paul Gillin has a grim take on the future.
“Will tablets save the mainstream publishing industries as we know them?” he asks. “No. There is still a lot of pain to come as publishers wind down their print operations over the next 10 to 15 years. However, tablets could present a source of some circulation revenue growth that helps ease the pain somewhat while that transition occurs.”
So, with more and more ways to consume free news content, is the traditional newspaper’s time up, regardless of platform? Or is the tablet the shot in the arm that the industry needs to really innovate and grab consumer’s interest once again? Have your say in the comments below.

Source: Mashable

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We thought the internet was killing print. But it isn't

There is no clear correlation between a rise in internet traffic and a fall in newspaper circulation. Some papers are growing in both formats, others are succeeding in neither, according to new research

The woe, as usual, is more or less unconfined. September's daily newspaper circulation figures, as audited by ABC, are down 5.31% in a year: Sunday totals are 6.7% off the pace. And, of course, we all know what's to blame. It's the infernal internet, the digital revolution, the iPad, laptop and smartphone taking over from print. Online is the coming death of Gutenberg's world, inexorable, inevitable, the enemy of all we used to hold dear. Except that it isn't.
A fascinating new piece of research this week looks in detail at the success of newspaper websites and attempts to find statistical correlations with sliding print copy sales. As one goes up, the other must go down, surely? These are the underpinnings of transition.
But "in the UK at least, there is no such correlation", reports the number-crunching analyst Jim Chisholm. "This is true at both a micro-level in terms of UK newspaper titles and groups and at a macro-level comparing national internet adoption with circulation performance. Indeed, the opposite case could be argued: that newspapers that do well on the web also do better in print… Understandably worried traditional journalists should know that the internet is not a threat."
Chisholm's aim is to prod British publishers into renewed web action – citing the Guardian, Telegraph and Independent particularly for producing the highest ratios of monthly unique visitors to their sites when compared against print circulations. (The Guardian, with a 125 unique-visitor-to-print ratio, is far higher than any other European paper he can find, and also generates over three times the number of UK page impressions relative to its circulation). Moreover, UK national papers as a whole score well on such tests, clear top of the EU league and walloping German performance nine times over.
Could they, and British regionals, do better, though? Indeed they could. "The issue is not one of total audience, but of frequency and loyalty – and online, as in print, newspapers are great at attracting readers from time to time, but they don't attract them often enough, and they don't hang around."
At which point, perhaps, it's time to look at the flipside of Chisholm's findings. If the name of one game is frequency and loyalty – via investment, innovation, constant linkages and promotions – might that not also be an answer to drooping print sales as well? If you reject the net as an agent of newsprint doom, then reverse scenarios also apply.
Go back to ABC circulations before newspaper websites really began – say September 1995 – to make the point. One, the Daily Star, is doing better than 15 years ago with no net presence to speak of: 757,080 copies in 1995 against 864,315 last month. The Daily Mail, at 2,144,229 this September against 1,866,197, is well up, with a website growing by more than 60% a year. Some – say the Mirror, down from 2,559, 636 to 1,213,323 – have suffered direly. See: no correlations?
The Guardian, Times and Telegraph are all down by around a third, and the Sun has lost more than a million: but again there's no mechanical relationship here. Price matters. It always does. But investment and innovation matter as well. They always do. And you can't help by being struck how little of that goes on in print these days. A pull-out section vanishes, and comes back. Single-theme front pages come and go at the Indy. The Telegraph still looks for somewhere else to put its features. Nothing much changes. Another researcher (at Enders Analysis) calculates that papers have lopped 20% of the pages they put in a decade ago in order to bulwark sharply rising cover prices.
No correlations here, either? Nothing to prove that the more effort and talent you put in, the more you get out? More, more, more ... and more research, please.