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#MarketBriefing: How the FT is measuring its shift to mobile

Multichannel analytics is key for the Financial Times, which is well known as a leader in understanding its audience and using the data to increase revenues.

The FT, which has 4.5 million registered users of its digital offering and 285,000 paying digital subscribers, has a team of 30 people focusing on web analytics, data and digital marketing for the title.

The digital subscriber base grew by 29 per cent last year, demonstrating how understanding the audience pays off.

Why audience analytics is key

Tom Betts, head of web anaytics as the FT, told today’s ‘audience revenue tools for online publishers’ conference how it has grown its subscriber base and used data to help “fuel” their shift to mobile.

One of the things the FT has been doing for the past two or three years, Betts said, is personalising the communications with readers based on the types of editorial content they are are interested in.

The FT looks at customer DNA, at how much of each type of content, such as “markets”, “world”, “personal finance”, they read.

The FT can then tailor newsletters “to personalise the experience that people have with us”, Betts explained.

How mobile alters the digital landscape

But simply looking at digital analytics is not enough. Platform-specific data can give a better picture of the individual.

For example, Betts explained how if a reader has not read “weekend” or “personal finance” content online, it might be that they read it on a tablet or mobile when they are at home.

Mobile is altering the way our customers read our content.

And this information can turn into revenue. At least 20 per cent of new FT subscriptions comes from behaviour-driven data marketing, Betts said.

He also said it is essential to understand whether if people are engaging across platforms.

“Are the platforms generating a new audience or are we just moving the audience from one platform to another?” Betts asks the data, as that will dictate how much it is worth investing in digital offerings for different devices.

The FT famously created a web app in order to have a direct relationship with the customer, which it was not able to do with its previous iOS native iPad app.

As well as providing data from the web app and bypassing Apple’s 30 per cent levy, the technology behind the app also makes “deployment easier”, Betts said.

“HTML5 makes deployment easier” as the “core remains the same with different wrap-arounds” overlaid for the Android and Windows 8 native apps.

And looking at the data demonstrating when the various devices are used is also beneficial.

Betts demonstrated with a graph to show the main smartphone and tablet usage peaks at breakfast, with another rise in the evening.

Existing subscribers are not just reading during the business day.

They therefore get better value of their subscriptions and less likely to cancel.

Update: This post initially quoted Tom Betts as saying “everything we’ve done that has been successful at the FT has been related to data”. The FT would like to clarify that Betts was referring to the fact that “the intelligent use of data has been a significant driver of our commercial success”.

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#followjourn – @benfenton Ben Fenton/head of ‘live news desk’

March 23rd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Recommended journalists

Who? Ben Fenton

Where? Ben was the Financial Times’ media correspondent and now heads up its new “live news desk”

Twitter? @benfenton

Just as we like to supply you with fresh and innovative tips, we are recommending journalists to follow online too. Recommended journalists can be from any sector of the industry: please send suggestions (you can nominate yourself) to Rachel at journalism.co.uk; or to @journalismnews.

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#ftmedia12: FT content revenues could overtake advertising in 2012

March 7th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Advertising, Business, Journalism

Image copyright Chris Young/PA

This year “could well be” the first year in its history that content revenues, including print and digital, overtake advertising revenues at the Financial Times, its chief executive, John Ridding, told the news organisation’s Digital Media Conference today.

The latest figures show content revenues for the FT accounted for 41 per cent in 2011, while advertising revenues accounted for the majority.

Speaking on a panel debating “the future of digital journalism and news”, Ridding said the FT’s relationship with its readers has helped to “sustain” quality journalism.

Having that understanding about what readers want is very helpful in continuing to improve the quality of journalism we provide.

We are confident in the business model and confident it will not just sustain quality journalism but enable us to further build quality journalism.

The site currently offers free registration which gives users access to eight articles a month, after which they would need to pay a subscription to access further content.

During the panel Ridding also spoke about mobile, which he said has been “a complete game-changer” for the FT.

One of my issues to start with was will the kind of content we do work on mobile? The answer is yes.

He added that one question to consider is whether there are ways publishers can reach out to “large continental economies” via mobile and tablet devices, such as by using “incentives … to stimulate that demand”.

Last month the FT’s parent company Pearson reported in its end-of-year results that FT Group revenues increased by six per cent to £427m in 2011.

Digital subscriptions to the FT were said to be up 29 per cent year-on-year to 267,000 and registered users on FT.com had risen by 33 per cent.

Last week paidContent reported that “in the US, to where its online chief recently relocated, digital subscriptions have now overtaken print subscriptions”.

The interview with Riddings also revealed that content revenues are expected to overtake ad revenue in 2012.

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Newspapers and PCC deny Baroness Buscombe claims

February 7th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism

Three newspaper publishers have denied a claim by Baroness Buscombe (pictured) that they threatened to quit the organisation because of negative adjudication recently.

Responding to Robert Jay QC at the Leveson inquiry today, who said: “I think a number of editors threatened to leave the PCC”, Buscombe replied: “Yes, the FT, the Guardian, the Mirror.”

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger tweeted:

The Mirror said:

The Financial Times added:

The PCC said: “Baroness Buscombe was giving a personal recollection of her conversations and experiences whilst at the PCC, during her evidence at the Leveson Inquiry this morning. The PCC has not received any formal proposals from these publishers to withdraw from the system in recent years.”

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FT web app has been used 1m times

November 21st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Traffic

The Financial Times is reporting that its web app has clocked up one million hits since it was launched in June.

Around 45 per cent of users have bookmarked the FT web app to a iPhone or iPad, replicating a native app experience by providing an app icon on the device’s home screen.

The app, which is free to download but through which content is limited due to a cross-platform part paywall, saw 150,000 uses in the first 10 days; five months on it has achieved one million clicks on the app.ft.com url.

The web app, built with HTML5 technology, has two advantages for the FT over its previous native iPhone and iPad apps: it avoids the FT paying Apple a 30 per cent cut, the charge for any music, app or book publisher selling through its store, and the FT gets to access and own its audience data.

In a post on its blog the FT said the web app has “significantly boosted mobile and tablet traffic”.

FT.com now sees 20 per cent of total page views and 15 per cent of new B2C subscriptions each week coming directly from mobile and tablet devices. These readers are also more engaged, with FT.com users who register on mobiles and tablets 2.5 times more likely to subscribe, as well as being more active in giving feedback.

The FT has also produced an infographic.

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#mobilemedia11: FT web-based iPad and iPhone app a ‘wake-up call’ to publishers

The release of the Financial Times’ web-based HTML5  app has provided “a big wake up call” to publishers , said Andrew Grill, keynote speaker at the today’s Mobile Media Strategies day.

Earlier this month the FT released an HTML5-based iPad and iPhone app which circumvents the 30 per cent charges levied on app sales by Apple by allowing users to update content through the FT website and thus allowing the newspaper to take the full revenue.

The Economist is “watching closely” and Tom Standage, digital editor of the title, signalled it may follow suit.

“HTML5 will be the answer to all of our problems; even if it’s not yet,” predicted Ilicco Elia, a mobile product expert, who until yesterday worked for Reuters and is yet to announce where he will be working next.

Elia warned that “you can’t do everything in HTML5″ and said it was a sensible option for the FT to launch in HTML5 compared with an unknown title. “It’s okay of you’re the FT because people know the brand in will go in search of it,” he explained.

Many publishers are now looking at the HTML5 hybrid: not a pure app, not a pure browser experience, said John Barnes, managing director digital strategy and development at Incisive Media, which works with B2B publishers. He explained the dilemma between developing apps when working with very different titles.

Barnes gave the example of two titles he works with: Legal Week, where 10.5 per cent of web visits are mobile, most of them accessing the site via a BlackBerry device. He urged the audience to compare this with Photography magazine which is mostly read on the iPad and iPhone.

During a session on how to make money with mobile media, Paul Lynette, head of mobile advertising at EMEA, Microsoft Advertising, showed the potential for in app ads using HTML5.

Thinking of developing an app, an mobile site or a HTML5 hybrid?

Considering the advantages of mobile editions (m.editions) versus apps versus the HTML5 hybrid, Barnes said the advantage of m.editions is they are browser-based and, therefore, provide full integration with a CMS, have the same domain name, integration with analytics and web trends.

And for news sites without an m.edition Elia gave a word of warning to the delegates of the event: “You should not be here if you don’t have an m.edition, you should be in the office coding.”

He warned there is “not a lot of margin in mobile” but it should be central to any online strategy.

Elia warned of the importance of listening to your audience. “You don’t have to be first when it comes to apps,” he said and suggesting it was better to spend more time developing a better app.

Barnes had a different suggestion to those thinking of creating an app: “Write the press release on the launch of an app before you build it. You’ll often realise it’s a crapp (crap app),” he said.

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Media release: Financial Times launches A-List commentary section

June 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Comment, Editors' pick

The Financial Times has announced the launch of a new section called the A-List, claiming to offer commentary from leaders, policy makers and commentators, on FT.com and all global editions of the newspaper, based on issues “at the top of the news agenda”.

Topics will range from business, economics and finance to world politics and diplomacy. The headline commentary will be accompanied by a response from related experts to encourage debate, and readers will be able to participate and comment online.

Read more here…

This follows the launch of Bloomberg View last month, a new editorial page featuring columns and commentary across all of Bloomberg’s platforms, as announced at the end of last year.

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Financial Times: Clearance on BSkyB bid delayed by at least two weeks

May 10th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Clearance on News Corporation‘s bid for the remainder of BSkyB will be delayed by at least two weeks, the Financial Times reported this week, “after a hitch in negotiations between Rupert Murdoch’s media group and UK regulators”.

People familiar with the talks between the two sides said on Monday, that the delay had been caused by the level of detail that Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport required in a merger remedy offered by News Corp.

The remedy was for Sky News to be spun off into a separate company called Newco to address concerns for media plurality.

See the full FT report here (FT.com does operate a registration model).

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Reuters: FT resisting Apple’s efforts to channel subs through App Store

April 4th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Reuters reports today that the Financial Times is “resisting Apple’s efforts” to channel subscribers through the App Store.

Last month Apple launched a new subscription service which ruled that publishers will still be allowed to sell app subscriptions through their own websites but will also have to offer subscriptions through Apple from within the app for the same price or less. This will then give Apple an opportunity to take away a 30 per cent cut of the subscription charge.

As part of the new service it is understood that customers purchasing a subscription through the App Store will be given the option of providing the publisher with details such as their name and email address when they subscribe, while publishers can also seek additional information from App Store customers “provided those customers are given a clear choice”, a release said at the time.

But in an interview with Reuters, the FT said it wants to continue to sell subscriptions for its digital news directly, rather than “surrender control of new customers”.

Apple’s hit tablet computer, the iPad, has become a major driver of new subscriptions to FT.com, thanks to its large and crisp display, possibilities for interactive features and affluent customer base.

But the FT values direct relations with its customers which allow it to tailor advertising and products to its audience, and is resisting Apple’s efforts to channel them through the App Store.

News publishers across Europe have raised concerns with the new service, such as the loss of 30 per cent of the subscription revenue, which the International Newsmedia Marketing Association (INMA) said would mean news publishers will not be able to invest in new technology, products and services.

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FT editor criticises Fleet Street for ‘conspiracy of silence’ over phone hacking

February 1st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Events, Journalism, Legal

Financial Times editor Lionel Barber accused Fleet Street of being ruled by a ‘conspiracy of silence’ over the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, and said it was because of other newspapers being involved in the so-called “dark arts”.

Barber was giving the Hugh Cudlipp lecture last night at the London College of Communication.

Below is an excerpt from his 5000-word speech, a full version of which can be found here.

The phone-hacking scandal marks a watershed – not just for News International but also for tabloid journalism. True, the practice of phone-hacking was widespread (and not only among the tabloids). The Information Commissioner’s report in 2006 showed that 305 journalists used private investigators. The number may well have been higher. And yet, beyond the conviction of one News of the World journalist and one private investigator, the infamous Glenn Mulcaire, no serious action was taken against them; not by the police, not by the courts, and not by the Press Complaints Commission.

The PCC was supine at best. And while the Metropolitan Police has now re-opened its inquiry, many questions remain about why it did not pursue the original News of the World investigation with sufficient rigour.

Most important of all, the newspaper industry itself did not take the issue seriously or seek to establish the truth. Indeed, aside from the lead taken by the Guardian, which was followed by the FT, BBC and Independent, the rest of the newspaper industry took a pass on the News of the World phone-hacking story – almost certainly because they too were involved in “dark arts”.

Yesterday the Press Complaints Commission announced it was setting up a phone-hacking review committee to draw together the lessons learned as a result of the outcomes of the relevant police inquiries and ongoing legal actions in the phone hacking case.

The Metropolitan police are currently investigating the use of phone hacking by the News of the World after reopening the case earlier this month.

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