Heard on the Web" Media Intelligence
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Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why.

James Joyce

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Publishers Still Waiting For The Tablet Revolution

by Florian Kahlert ,



In 2010, Apple introduced the iPad. Suddenly, the idea that people could actually read things on a portable digital device-with an experience similar to and possibly exceeding that of a paper magazine-seemed possible. Magazine publishers started developing digital editions of their magazines. Many in the media business thought that the end of the paper world as we knew it was near. 


Fast forward to 2014, when almost half of the U.S. population has jumped on the tablet wagon. By and large, magazine publishers have made comparably little progress in convincing their readers to consume their publications on the tablet, and few are able to derive significant revenue from their tablet apps. 

So what happened to the revolution? Let's take a closer look.

Consider that when a magazine subscriber downloads, say, an app for a fashion magazine, it's not as if that particular magazine app is just competing with other digital versions of fashion publications for the subscriber's attention. It is actually up against any number of the 500,000 iPad-specific apps that Apple has authorized, hundreds of which have something to do with the fashion world. (I just did a perfunctory count and found that there are 37 starting with just the letter "A.") 

It's quite possible that publishers never foresaw this crowded scenario when they took the plunge into digital, and it clearly changed the playing field.


We know from GfK MRI's research that digital magazine readers are an attractive audience for advertising messages. Our studies show that 52% of US adults who read magazines on digital devices are between 18 and 34 years old, and 48% have household incomes of $75,000 per year or more. We have also determined that digital readers are receptive to advertising messages and not just swiping past the ads contained in magazine apps to concentrate on the editorial content. We found that ad recall in 44 digital magazines measured was equal to print - and that enhancing ads for the digital experience did not necessarily make a difference. 


One of the biggest challenges publishers face is convincing advertisers to pay to reach their digital audiences. Given their financial investment to date and the allure of being able to reach future readers who may never sign up for the paper print experience, publishers are not about to abandon their digital efforts. They also want to reach existing readers without the huge costs of printing and distributing paper publications. 


Research companies are providing new solutions to capture the nature of the emerging medium in the best possible way.

For example, research is under way combining the benefits of more traditional audience and reader studies with the highly granular data collected passively within magazine apps. Early results show that this blend of approaches increases the understanding of what and how users consume content on these new devices and across different platforms. The remaining problem at this point is still that the audiences on the tablets are too small. 

Again, numbers tell the story. For a glossy magazine that over many decades has painstakingly managed to build an attractive audience of millions of monthly print readers, the addition of 50,000 digital readers - many of which are the same - is not yet a game changer. The revolution is still waiting.


BoSacks Speaks Out:
I object to the last sentence here in this article. Neither the revolution, the public, nor publishing is waiting for anything.


Here is the deal, most publications, books, newspapers, magazines, blogs and journals that aren't doing well with a digital platform fail because they can't/don't resonate with the digital buying public. Sounds simple right? There is more money being made from readers now, right at this very moment, than any time in the history of humankind. Billions are being made digitally from readers. The problem is that "traditional" publishers aren't on the whole the one's making the money with digital public. They want to and dream of the advantages, but as of yet most can't seem to make the profitable leap.

The trick is to engage the public's mind, heart and subsequently their pocket book. That falls into two categories. Convincing the public that your material is worth the investment in time and money. The competition for the "time spent" with media is the hardest part. We the writers compete with video, radio, games and other 21st century distractions. We also compete with other writers. That is the key to the problem, your for sale writing, editing, and information has to be perceived as worth not doing something else. That is the game we are in now. "What I got to tell you/sell you, is worth your time".  If you can get the time from them, you can get the reward.

The only criteria that works is being perceived as more valuable than doing something else. That is a very high bar to leap over, but it is being done every day. The public is reading, seeing and doing things on the web with ever greater dollar volumes. At the end of the day the challenge is to be very interesting and well-crafted or be gone.



The Financial Times paywall is in the pink: everyone else is still in the red

Online advertising and subscriptions may be growing, but in only one place do they compare favourably with print totals

By Peter Preston





Straws in the wind time: the mighty New York Times, which stakes so much on paywall success, reported profits ($55.7m) in the second quarter down $15m year-on-year, with total revenue ($389m) a couple of million off the 2013 pace, and digital subscriptions only 32,000 up, in spite of a flurry of new app launches. In one sense, 831,000 subscribers is pretty heartening. In another, it won't keep the great grey battleship afloat.


The almost equally mighty Mail Online - 169 million unique browsers around the globe - doesn't do subscriptions like the NYT. It relies on advertising: and that was nearly 50% up in the quarter that ended in June, more than offsetting a droop in print ad cash. Brilliant, superb? Or perhaps just a tad euphoric if you prefer actual money to percentages. Web ads brought in �15m over the quarter, up �5m on 2013.


 (Maybe they'll just miss a �60m web target by the year's end.) But total revenue was �183m - and print ads still accounted for �46m, more than three times the digital take (while online staffing moved towards 500, no clear running costs provided). So profit, loss, development plans, ultimate success? You pays Lord Rothermere's money and you takes your uncertain choice.


Which thus locates unalloyed success in only one newsroom: at the Financial Times, where digital subs at over �5 or �7 a week on various packages are high enough for realistic reckoning alongside print circulation, so that rolling 455,000 online subscribers and 220,000 print buyers together produces a 13% rise year-on-year (with mobile growth accounting for nearly 50% of total traffic). The FT is in a special place and holds a special position. It shows signs of a real transition from print to digital. Of course one specialist model doesn't fit all. But it's still a neat model to watch - and admire.


bo"The Industry that Vents Together Stays Together"  
Responses to all Articles and Bo-Rants are greatly encouraged and may be included in " BoSacks Readers Speak Out"  =======================================
All news items and the various opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the opinion of, nor in agreement with the opinions of BoSacks. They are just interesting thoughts and other opinions that BoSacks thinks you should know about.  
After all, as the Japanese proverb goes: 
"If you believe everything you read, perhaps you better not read." 

"Heard on the Web" Media Intelligence:  
Courtesy of  The Precision Media Group.   
Print, Publishing and Media Consultants 
193 Brookwood Drive, Charlottesville VA 22902
Contact - Robert M. Sacks  917-566-7437

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