Looking to create a profitable digital product, many publishers are looking at a dynamic reader experience in the next level of e-editions. By combining the best aspects of print and web products, these “live” e-editions will offer a consumer-friendly product. Gone will be the days of exact replicas of the newspaper.
Several CMS (Content Management System) vendors and digital platform providers are coming out of the woodwork to get these products in market. The challenge is to turn the profit from pennies into real dollars. “You’re not going to replace those customers in ad revenue with just a website,” says Erlend Viddal, CEO of the cloud-based CMS and e-edition player Libercus. “You still need an editorially produced product. We think that there should be a middle ground there.”
So far, a few national and major market papers have experimented with mixed and weak results. USA Today reported 121K “Digital replica” subscribers, while the New York Post reported 1,559 and The Wall Street Journal zero.
However, the CMS vendors are optimistic about the potential of both the ad and content sides of the next generation e-edition. For advertisers, clickable ads allow users to go to the campaign’s site. Video could include a pre or post-roll ad. With ads that are entirely trackable like web but with the interface that looks like the print product, the engagement results are promising. Further tactics include developing targeted ad delivery systems based on profile data or geo-targeting.
The editorial aspect offers up a product that doesn’t have the clutter of a website, yet includes many of the same features: search and share functions, polls, interactive games and crossword puzzles. Another player in the e-edition arena, TownNews is building their e-editions on a Blox CMS which allows editors to incorporate any asset on the page, whether text, video, photo, HTML or related links, giving the user a seamless replica experience in real-time.
So this all sounds like the papers can have their cake and eat it too, so why haven’t more jumped on the bandwagon?
The leading and pretty much only reason is of course, the revenue stream this would cause, or better said, lack thereof. “The circulation manager may say, ‘Oh my God, I’ll never sell another print edition if we have this,’” Marcus Wilson, CEO of newspaper CMS purveyor TownNews says, “so we may have an anchor dragging.”
Of course, to pave the way for change is a challenge and definitely a risk, but also necessary to survive in the world, in media and overall. The providers must sell publishers on the potential for not only change, but growth, with new business – perhaps readers out lives outside the delivery area, or a new market of more technologically adept readers that prefers to read the paper, but on a tablet.
With many CMS providers coming to the table, it is obvious something exciting is brewing for the future of the print paper and the time is coming as quickly as the technology is advancing.
For more details on some of the CMS providers, check out the recent article from NetNewsCheck.