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#mms12: Lessons for consumer publishers from Immediate Media

September 25th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Magazines, Mobile

At today’s Mobile Media Strategies conference, Rebekah Billingsley, mobile publisher, Immediate Media, explained how the publisher, which was formed in November 2011 after a merger of BBC Worldwide magazines, Origin Publishing and Magicalia, has become the “second largest publisher of digital magazines”, based on Immediate’s own tally, with more than 1.3 million downloads to date and 16 apps downloaded every second.

Immediate Media launched its first magazine app in 2010 when it released Focus, later following with Good Food, which is now the “highest rated magazine app in Newsstand”.

When Apple’s Newsstand launched in October 2011 “sales quadrupled overnight”, Billingsley said. The same month as Newsstand launched, Immediate Media launched its History Magazine to Kindle.

And the previous year it started releasing ‘bookazines’, single editions with a long shelf-life. Two years on and the publisher aims to launch three bookezines a month and “every month they are making more and more money”, Billingsley told delegates.

Today 48 per cent of Immediate’s revenue from Apple comes from outside the UK and monthly PDF revenues have grown 500 per cent since launch.

“Be prepared to be surprised,” Billingsley urged delegates.

She had thought consumers would only opt for “enhanced, fully interactive models”. But recent ABC figures show “four out of the top 10 sellers are PDF replicas”.

Billingsley was also surprised by the numbers reading magazines on their phones, with 10 per cent of magazines bought via Zinio read on phones.

“Launching our titles gave us access to data in lots of countries,” Billingsley said, explaining they are now planning the roadmap based on actual data.

Billingsley warned:

Don’t just assume on behalf of your consumers. It’s new to them as well.

One thing Immediate did in order to convince advertisers of the value of the new app products was to hire 20 iPads and send them to media planners and also equipped sales teams with the devices.

And Billingsley’s advice for consumer publishers considering apps?

As long as you are using cost-effective technology and testing you can try new things.

She also encouraged the repackaging of existing content.

Her final words of advice were to “watch your competitors, better still take them to lunch”.

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#GEN2012 talks newsreader apps – ‘Let content be a travelling salesman’

By Drnantu on Flickr. Some rights reserved

Social magazines and newsreading apps are a “key part of the puzzle”, if not a game-changer on their own, when it comes to digital strategy for publishers, and news outlets should be prepared to give up control over how content is shared on other platforms.

In a session on social magazines and newsreading apps at the News World Summit in Paris editor-in-chief of Digital First Media Jim Brady said the technology is responding to the changing ways people are accessing content.

Consumers coming into the market made it pretty clear about what they want – they want choice, they don’t want to necessarily consume a package containing content from one brand.

Tthey don’t necessarily want to get it on the platform you’re delivering it to. They want to consume information by subject in a lot of cases and not by brand.

And in order to meet these needs news outlets need to “step away” from the mentality of “trying to maintain control”.

The more control you try to exert the less successful you’re going to be.

He added that publishers of high-quality content should “do all the things you have to do to let people in the world know” about what you’re producing.

Let your content serve as a travelling salesman.

Publishers’ “resistance of giving up control is something we have to give up”.

He also warned that websites are becoming “less and less important”.

Newsreading apps are highlighting that “more of your audience are consuming content, not print and not the web, a third whole category of content”, he said.

So Brady encouraged publishers to let go of control and get content on these platforms.

You can’t cant change the game until you change the thinking. That’s where we’re still short.

Robert Picard, research director at the Reuters Institute added that publishers do not have the choice of whether such platforms increase in importance.

The choice available “is whether we make use of them to best possible use”, he said.

Or news outlets can have their own social readers, he added. But then the challenge is how to get users to engage with their content, rather than others.

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New Sun app comes top in iTunes paid-for news chart

February 16th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Online Journalism

A new iPhone application from the Sun has become the most downloaded paid-for news app on the iTunes store this week – in its first week on the market.

The Sun app is currently sitting at number 10 in the overall league table of paid-for applications and is number one in the news category, with the Daily Mash in second.

Downloaders are being lured with an introductory price of 69p for the first month. The price of a monthly subscription rises to £4.99 after the first month.

The app automatically updates throughout the day with breaking news, and also includes live sports results, horoscopes, picture galleries and location-based weather updates.

It is the latest in a range of applications being launched by News International for its daily national titles. The Sun launched an Android application last month and the Times unveiled a web app earlier this week.

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#news2011: ‘Content is king, efficient delivery is King Kong’ and ‘experience is queen’

Media consumers today have the options of numerous screens when accessing content, but a session at the Global Editors Network news summit today focused on building a “four-screen strategy: mobile, tablet, PC and IPTV”.

The session opened with a powerful speech from former director general of Al Jazeera Wadah Khanfar, whose comments embodied the standpoint of content being “king”.

Concentrate on content. People demand accuracy and credibility. Content is the king, platforms and distribution should be there to service, but the strategy is always to integrate the content in a centralised location then redistribute the output.

He went on to say that “technology sometimes distracts us”.

It should not become central to the extent that the journalist becomes a technician and loses touch with the pillars of the profession. He has to be the journalist, but sometimes he has to be the technician.

We demand too much sometimes for our journalists. It starts from one important departure – from our responsibilities.

… We are here to understand what is behind the surface and what exactly the story means. We need to think beyond the data.

Continuing the metaphor Guido Baumhauer, director of strategy for marketing and distribution at Deutsche Welle, said that “content is king, efficient delivery is King Kong.”

We have to understand what it is people are interested in, that’s where the technology kicks in.

And the delivery of this is determined by their POPE strategy, he said – “plan once publish everywhere”. He described it further to me in an interview after the session:

The idea behind it is if you want to reach different platforms with your content you have to tailor it to the needs of the platform and target groups. It can never be done if you produce once and publish everywhere. So if there’s a television item that you then put on a mobile device or on a similar device, it doesn’t really make any sense.

But if you plan from beginning that there is some part of the content that you have produced that will go to mobile and some that will go to television, it means you plan once then publish everywhere and that does make sense.

During the session he also said “we have to stop thinking in broadcasting terms”.

We have to become part of the dialogue. If [the audience] still stands at the gate, he or she will just walk around us because the gate has no fence anymore. We have to become part of the network.

The BBC’s controller of digital and technology James Montgomery also shared the broadcaster’s approach to multiplatforms, telling the conference the BBC is “trying to move towards seamless coherence between platforms” and offer “access to the same content in different ways”.

By creating a “joined-up experience and content delivered across multiple platforms” he said that “adding a fifth or sixth [screen] in the future wouldn’t be difficult”.

In terms of use across different platforms at different times of the day, he said mobile devices tend to “spike” in the morning while access via desktops is more prevalent at lunchtime. He said the research also showed mobile – and especially tablets – were peaked in the evenings.

On the subject of tablets, the final panel member to present, Patrice Slupowski, vice president of digital innovation and communities at Orange, unveiled for the first time a new iPad app not yet launched called Newsblend, with the declaration that “if content is king … experience is queen”.

The app brings together “videos, drawings, polls and social media” along with news articles, and mixes them together to create a “social magazine”.

It is a smart clustering of news and social media.

The app content is currently in French but there are plans to launch an English version also when it goes live next year.

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#wef11 audio: Zeit Online’s Wolfgang Blau on not being ‘locked into an app’

October 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Online Journalism

At the World Editors Forum today editor-in-chief of German news site Zeit Online, Wolfgang Blau, discussed the company’s decision to build a html5-optimised site to present the website on the tablet instead of a native app, which is instead used alongside its print products.

Some of the advantages for this model, as cited by Blau included having shorter product cycles which are better suited to the web environment, lower development and maintenance costs and the opportunity for higher advertising revenue.

I spoke to him after the session to get more detail on Zeit Online’s approach:

Wolfgang Blau, Zeit Online by journalismnews

During our conversation I mention Apple’s new subscription rules and the concerns this raised for some publishers about lost revenue and the lack of a direct relationship with the audience and related data.

When Apple first announced its new subscription plans in February they states that “customers purchasing a subscription through the App Store will be given the option of providing the publisher with their name, email address and zip code when they subscribe”.

You can read more on this debate here and about the Financial Times’ decision to also use a web-based app at this link.

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#wef11: Ten lessons on news app creation from Mario Garcia

October 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Journalism, Mobile

Today’s session on tablet applications at the World Editors Forum featured a fantastic presentation by Mario Garcia, CEO and founder of Garcia Media, who ran through 10 incredibly useful lessons to learn when creating news apps.

They are repeated below as he listed them (and are also posted on his blog):

1. Tell stories across platforms. “We must think in terms of a media quartet”.
2. What the tablet is. “A tablet goes beyond, to create an immersive experience, not a newspaper, not an online edition, not television, yet has the abilty to fulfil the role of all these platforms together”.
3. The lean-back platform. “You have got an audience that’s relaxed, but not that relaxed. At any point they want to know what’s happening now”.
4. What the tablet is not. “It is not a replication of the print/online experience”
5. Covering three tracks. “Users want their newspaper tablet apps to have the three main tracks of curated edition, news updates and e-readers”.
6. The tablet and design. “You have to make it sophisticatedly simple”.
7. Create those pop-up moments. “This is not a newspaper. When you design for tablet you design for the eye, finger and the brain and all have to be entertained simultaneously.”
8. Pay attention to the essentials. “Start with a good sense of navigation, make sure the user knows how to go from point A to point C or Z and make sure you give people ability to share.”
9. Make it functional. “Remember what people are using it for. They come to read, they come to read long, they come to read short. Need to train people in art to write mini story.”
10. You must consider a curated edition. Have an editor to curate the edition.

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OJR: Apps v eBooks – are we missing paid content opportunity?

September 14th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Mobile, Online Journalism

In an interesting post on the Online Journalism Review website Robert Niles weighs up the opportunities for publishers investing in apps versus eBooks. In his post Niles says he would be surprised to find a newsroom spending “even half of what its devoting to app development on eBooks”.

But with a quick look at the pricing of the top paid apps compared to eBooks, he says it is about time news organisations take “a serious look” at the eBook market.

There have been some recent examples of news outlets entering the eBook market and ultimately enhancing the shelf-life of news content as a result. Last month the Guardian launched its pwm new series of eBooks called Guardian Shorts, which started with Phone Hacking: How the Guardian broke the story.

According to Niles within the News category of the app store, the most expensive paid app in the top 20 was Instapaper at $4.99, compared to the Politics & Current Events category in iBooks, where he recorded that 19 out of the top 20 sell for at least $4.99.

Clearly, the public is willing to – and does – pay more for content in eBooks than it does in apps. That fact should encourage any serious news business to take a serious look at eBooks. But what about volume? That’s where I couldn’t find reliable data comparing sales in the app store versus sales of eBooks. But it’s clear from the pricing that a news organisation would need to sell many times more apps than eBooks for apps to have better sales revenue, given the higher price points routinely supported in eBook stores.

Read more here…

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Economist launches app into Android Market

August 2nd, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Magazines, Mobile, Traffic

The Economist officially launches its app for Android phones and tablets today (2 August).

The app was released to the Android Market last week and, according to the market, has been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times in one week and rated more than 230 times averaging 3.6 stars. A press spokesperson for the Economist was unable to confirm or release download figures.

The new app follows in the footsteps of the magazine’s iPhone and iPad apps, which have seen 2.4 million downloads since they were launched in November.

“We now have almost 700,000 unique devices accessing the apps each month,” Oscar Grut, managing director, digital editions said in a release.

Speaking in June, Tom Standage, digital editor, said around half of those accessing content were paying subscribers.

As with all digital content, Android users will be able to read some articles for free but will need to pay for a subscription to receive all content. A weekly subscription allows users to receive the magazine by post, plus read content via the app and paywalled website, which is available from 9pm on a Thursday evening (5pm New York time), 12 hours before it is delivered through a subscriber’s letter box.

A single issue can be bought via the app for £3.99. The magazine cover price is £4.

Once downloaded, issues are stored on the user’s device and can be read when not connected to the internet. Every issue also includes a full audio edition.

The Android app, which operates on all Android phones and small and medium tablets running OS 2.x, was built by TigerSpike, which built iPad apps for the Economist, the Telegraph and Time Out.

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Five nifty ideas for journalists using SoundCloud

The number of users of SoundCloud has jumped by four million in the past year and the audio recording and sharing platform is increasingly being used by journalists and news organisations, one of its founders, Alexander Ljung, told Journalism.co.uk.

Here are five ideas to help journalists expand their use of SoundCloud.

1. Produce a daily or weekly podcast-like audio round-up

Take a leaf out of the Next Web‘s book. The hugely popular blog produces daily round-up of the previous day’s top tech stories and delivers them to followers’ dashboards in an under five minutes morning update, or Daily Dose, as it is called.

You can also create an RSS feed to automatically send SoundCloud recordings to iTunes as podcasts. This SoundCloud option is currently in beta but if it is not available in your account as present, it may be worth contacting SoundCloud to request it.

2. Add existing audio to SoundCloud

If you have audio on webpages, a third-party app called SoundCloud Importer makes it possible to upload this audio to SoundCloud simply by entering the URL.

3. Record, edit and upload a recording from your iPhone

If you’re out in the field you can edit a complicated audio packages using multitrack recording using VC Audio Pro, which allows you to record, edit and then post directly to SoundCloud. Other apps with edit features include FiRe 2 – Field Recorder and iRig Recorder.

The SoundCloud apps gallery has an ever increasing number of interesting options to explore, from desktop audio editing packages to ways to share and distribute audio.

4. Change the colour of your embed widget to suit your website

This is a really simple option of changing SoundCloud orange to a colour to suit your site. Simply follow the prompts from the share and embed option.

5. Add the SoundCloud plugin to WordPress

WordPress users can install a plugin called SoundCloud Shortcode. It allows you to easily integrate a player widget for a track, set or group from SoundCloud by using the code generated from the share option within SoundCloud.

Related content

How to: record phone interviews on iPhone, Android or landline

How to: Liveblog – lessons from news sites

 

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Flurry: Mobile app use overtakes web browsing in US

June 21st, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted by in Mobile

People in the US are spending more time using apps on smartphones than browsing the internet on a desktop computer or mobile, with the average user spending 81 minutes per day using apps compared with 74 minutes per day web browsing, a new study has found.

Out of the average one hour and 21 minutes per day consumers are spending using mobile apps this month, 47 per cent of time is spent on games apps, 32 per cent using social media apps, and 9 per cent using news apps, which comes in ahead of the use of entertainment apps standing at 7 per cent.

Flurry, an analytics firm which carried out the study, said this is the first time native mobile apps have taken more consumer time than web browsing:

This stat is even more remarkable if you consider that it took less than three years for native mobile apps to achieve this level of usage, driven primarily by the popularity of iOS and Android platforms.

Although these figures are based on app use and browsing in the US, it is worth bearing in mind recent stats on the increasing importance of mobile in the UK and the fact mobile browsing in the UK will overtake desktop browsing by 2013. It is particularly relevant to news sites deciding whether to opt for mobile sites or apps.

The article on Flurry’s blog goes on to say:

This growth [in the use of native mobile apps] has come primarily from more sessions per user, per day rather than a large growth in average session lengths. Time spent on the Internet has grown at a much slower rate.

As a note of interest, Facebook has increasingly taken its share of time spent on the internet, now making up 14 of the 74 minutes spent per day by consumers, or about one sixth of all internet minutes. Considering Facebook’s recent leak regarding Project Spartan, an effort to run apps within its service on top of the mobile Safari browser, thus disintermediating Apple, it appears Facebook seeks to counter both Apple and Google’s increasing control over consumers as mobile app usage proliferates.

With a better understanding of how consumers spend their time across app categories, Facebook’s Project Spartan makes even more sense. As a category, social networking – which is Facebook’s core competency – commands the second largest allocation of consumers’ time. Games, which typify the most popular kind of app played on the Facebook platform itself, are also the top categories on both Android and iOS platforms. As interactive media usage continues to shift from the web to mobile apps, one thing is certain: Facebook, Apple and Google will all expend significant resources to ensure that no one company dominates owning the direct relationship with the consumer.

Flurry’s full blog post is at this link and ReadWriteWeb’s article on the study is at this link.

Related content:

Web apps v native apps v mobile sites: a guide

comScore: Social media accounts for one out of every six minutes spent online in US

Economist reveals download numbers for iPhone and iPad apps

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