NNN Perspectives

Chicago Tribune app is designed to personalize digital experiences

October 13th, 2014

The Chicago Tribune is launching a mobile app that can be customized to feel more like a printed newspaper. Readers will be able to personalize their experience by choosing sections, topics and even specific community news in order of preference. The apps for iOS and Android will be available to download for free, but readers will need a subscription for full access to premium content. Current digital and seven-day print subscribers will have unlimited access.

“What you get with the app is a much more customizable experience,” said Bill Adee, executive vice president of digital platforms for Tribune Publishing. “You could turn (it) into an app that just focuses on politics and the Bears, if you wanted to.” The app will be available within weeks in Chicago and will roll out to the Los Angeles Times and six other core Tribune Publishing properties by the end of January. Mobile users account for nearly 50 percent of unique visitors to the Tribune website.

Billionaires know best when it comes to newspapers

October 6th, 2014

Power players like Warren Buffet scooping 28 regional papers, Red Sox owner John Henry buying The Boston Globe and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos buying The Washington Post turn heads. Why would these savvy businessmen make such significant investments in a medium that has struggled?  Well, for starters, they see incredible value.

All three investors see beyond the dollars and cents and Henry in particular, expressed a sense of civic duty to preserve the medium. At the core of it all, the billionaires also see the extraordinary asset of their newspaper investments.  Preserving journalistic integrity is at the forefront of their motives. Henry comments: “”I see The Boston Globe and all that it represents…worth fighting for. Any great paper, the Globe included, must generate enough revenue to support its vital mission.” Bezos feels the same about The Washington Post.”

People may not be paying much for news online now, but they are reading it in record numbers on the computer, and increasingly, on smartphones and tablets. With newspapers at a buyers’ market price point, Buffet saw the value in dozens of smaller market papers across the nation. “At our cost, I believe these papers will meet or exceed our economic test for acquisitions. Results to date support that belief. Thanks to paywalls, circulation revenues for papers seeing a second-consecutive year of growth, the future is looking bright. Although print advertising declined, revenues have increased greatly from digital ads, direct marketing and newly developed sources.

Of course, investors are aiming to make money. One hint of the future of the industry lies in Bezos’ strategy to translate the traditional “bundle” of a print newspaper sections into a digital, hand-held format.  Another indicator for the future of the medium is a new national content sharing arrangement. The Post will share with about 100 partner publications its digital products for free. In turn, the Washington-based papers get to dedicate more resources for its stories and acquire new customers to track and market.

Henry and Buffet believe that improving newspaper business will take investment. Henry’s play with the Globe is focused on targeted, regional news.  He has worked aggressively to expand niche coverage, adding weekly sections or stand-alone websites for real estate, politics, sports, the tech scene and Catholicism. Buffet believes this sense of community is what lies at the heart of preserving the medium: “Newspapers continue to reign supreme, in the delivery of local news.  Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.”

The road ahead will be shaped by innovation and new revenue opportunities, but at the same time keeping to the mission to provide quality journalism for local communities. It is something that will be exciting to see in the next 5, 10 and 25 years, especially with such strong leaders at the helm.

For more on about the billionaires buys in newspapers, read here.

Gannett is using the “Butterfly” effect to increase time spent with audience

September 30th, 2014

Gannett is connecting more deeply with its audience across more than 80 markets by giving them more of what they want – exceptional and engaging content. Dubbed “Butterfly”, Gannet is taking trusted local newspaper and digital products forward with USA Today Local.  Here’s how:

1)      Listen to your readers: Find out what they, like, and what they don’t to tailor content for new product initiatives.

2)      Collaborate  to develop and launch new products. By integrating the national and general content that makes USA Today iconic, the US Community Publishers (USCP) contributed ever-important hometown coverage enhancements to make the product distinctly engaging.

3)      Test concepts. It’s important to spend money to make money, but a soft rollout of four markets (Indianapolis, Rochester and Appleton and Fort Myers) allowed Gannet to troubleshoot and identify  local coverage was getting the most readership.

4)      These changes were promoted to subscribers via direct mail, e-mail and social media. By reaching consumers on all touchpoints, their message was amplified.

Today the Butterfly product is in an impressive 34 markets and still growing. To read more on the details of the product, check this article.

Hearst is enhancing premiere brands with a formation of new digital development group

September 24th, 2014

One of our publisher partners, Hearst, announced last week the exciting news that they have formed a Silicon Valley digital product development group working to propel growth in their premium brands. Hearst already has one of the largest digital media consumer footprints with over 200 million uniques worldwide including large daily papers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News and Albany Times Union.

The new product development group will be producing multi-screen digital media offerings along with mobile enhancements.  Philip Wiser, the chief technology officer states regarding the new division: “Hearst has a mission to advance our technical capabilities with a particular focus on the development of highly engaging multi-screen experiences… and now (we) intend to supercharge our mobile efforts.”

Large publishers like Hearst are taking advantage of their vast resources to pave the way with the most cutting edge UX engineering to ensure success as “mobile media madness” accelerates forward for advertisers, consumers and publishers alike.

To read more about the core team, check the newsroom release here.

Newspaper loyalty spans across platforms

September 18th, 2014

Although everyone knows the absorption of mobile is on the rise many don’t realize that dedication to the print newspaper medium remains strong. A survey conducted by The Reynolds Journalism Institute found that about 1 in 3 people (30%) who subscribed to a printed newspaper in Q1 of 2013 still had their subscription in Q1 of 2014.

The attachment of print subscribers was evident when asking about their main source of local and national/international news. Among subscribers, 23 percent selected newspapers as their main source for national/international news and an impressive 42 percent for local.

Concurrently, 49% of boomers used their smartphones or tablets during the week to read the newspaper prior to the survey.  What is particularly interesting is that most of the growth in mobile media usage by both subscribers and non subscribers was among A55 or older.

A couple more highlights from the study include:

  • Subscribers across all ages were more likely to pay for subscriptions to mobile news content. Among newspaper subscribers, 11 % overall said they paid for mobile content, non-subscribers only 5%.
  • Subscribers who used mobile news apps were much more likely than non subscribers to use mobile apps branded by newspapers.

The loyalty of a newspaper reader hasn’t changed much over the years, although the medium itself certainly has.  For more details on the results behind the survey, check this out.

NJ Advance Media is the latest newsplatform innovation from NJ.com

September 12th, 2014

Photographers and videographers that populate NJ.com are now part of a new company NJ Advance Media whose singular mission is to expand and improve the news and information products available to New Jerseyans. This restructure  recognizes that a robust newsplatform requires full-time reporters, columnists and photojournalists who will work across the Garden State to bring its residents the most in depth coverage of the local market. Content will appear on NJ.com and in the Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s most popular news and information outlets. NJ Advance Media will support NJ.com’s aggressive growth having received more than 13 million unique visitors in August.

To learn more about the launch, read here.

Don’t underestimate the Power of Print

September 4th, 2014

In a world jumbled by such a myriad of options that it could make one’s head spin, print proves to be  a valuable platform for reaching consumers.  The survey “How America Shops & Spends” executed by the Newspaper Association of America interviewed 1,527 adults in the month of May and found that most – 79% – take action as a result of reading or seeing an ad in a print newspaper. “The power of newspapers print ads to drive consumer to action is clear,” the NAA writes in their report.

High impact poster sized ad units can speak volumes to the consumer instead of getting lost in the clicks online.

Other key findings of the “How America Shops & Spends” include:

  • Eight in 10 (79%) of adults have taken action as a result of reading or seeing an ad in a print newspaper in the past 30 days.
  • Newspaper media, combining the print newspaper and newspaper websites, are used by 57% of adults in the past seven days for shopping planning and purchase decisions.
  • Four in 10 adults have taken an action online as a result of reading or seeing an ad in a print newspaper in the past 30 days.

Read more about the newspaper industries latest findings here

Newspaper E-Editions are the next evolutionary step for news consumption

August 28th, 2014

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.

Newspaper trends worldwide show an increasing multiplatform audience

August 11th, 2014

The World Press Trends survey released this week divulged some very interesting statistics about the state of newspaper media worldwide. Print and digital combined are seeing an increase in audience numbers, but digital revenues are not keeping pace. Although digital revenue for newspapers has increased 11% in 2014 and 47% over 5 years, it is still a small part of overall internet ad dollars. However, there is much the industry can do to push onward and Larry Kilman, Secretary General of WAN-IFRA states “..the role that newspapers play in society cannot be underestimated…and that finding sustainable business models for digital news media…not only important for your business… but for the future health of debate in democratic society.”

Something to note in the print realm is that although single copy newspaper sales have fallen 26% since 2008, subscription sales have only fallen 8%, indicating high loyalty and stronger customer relationships with subscribers.  Kilman continues to point out that “there is a growing understanding by the public that you get what you pay for, an increasing willingness to pay for newspaper content…what they have offered for 400 years…and continue to offer, on emerging and existing platforms, no matter how delivered…”

It is essential for the newspaper industry to continue to keep readers loyal and to pass on the tradition to new readers in this digital age. Adaptation will be key to survival, but never forgetting where they came from, a place of ethics and journalistic integrity.

To read more trends on worldwide newspapers, check out the article here.

Chicago Tribune launches a fully responsive website

August 4th, 2014

Responsive design is at the forefront multi-platform website priorities, especially for  in-depth article coverage like that offered by the Chicago Tribune. The fully responsive experience–which intuitively tailors content based on device–is designed to help audiences discover news and information in the most entertaining, empowering way possible.

Tony Hunter, CEO of Chicago Tribune Media Group, notes that the new technology will deliver a more intuitive and enjoyable experience for readers: “We built the new experience from the ground up to give readers more of what they value most–premium content–and we designed it to facilitate dynamic discovery across all devices.”

Like the Chicago Tribune, more sites are going with a mobile-first design, which is visually striking and less cluttered than desktop-first layouts. Moreover, time based content strategically aligns reader engagement patterns with what matters most to visitors throughout the day. This ‘endless scroll’ technology allows for one piece of content to flow to the next, anchored by a row of thumbnails that automatically transport readers to related coverage or other sections.

The new design allows advertisers more flexibility in placement as the verticals and distribution channels feature expanded content. Audience engagement will be enhanced with this richer, more targeted experience.

To read more about the details of the new site, read here.