The final session at the PPA Inspiration & Innovation digital publishing conference today returned to the now common discussion of how publishers can, and should be, developing digital revenues.
Neil Thackray, co-founder of Briefing Media opened up the debate by urging publishers not to repeat what he called a “monumental cock-up” in terms of making money through online advertising. “Let’s make sure we do the paid content thing well”, he said.
But this begs a question that remains unanswered for many: how exactly? Well the main pieces of advice were for publishers to take their time in developing strategies and new digital products, to use the unique content on offer, and not to simply regurgitate online content on new digital platforms. But overall in developing new revenues and products such as mobile, Thackray summed up, it is about putting the reader at the centre of what you do, not the brand or magazine.
And understanding these readers is key, the panel agreed, as fellow panel member Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com, was able to demonstrate.
According to some of the latest figures the FT website saw a 79 per cent year-on-year increase in registered users in 2010, taking the total to more than three million. There has also been a reported 50 per cent increase in digital subscriptions on 2009, with 207,000 registering, and 900,000 downloads of FT apps on mobile phones and tablet devices for the period.
And now it is planning on using this vast data, which it has accrued as a result of its business model, to improve and inform the editorial content offered to its users – and that’s through personalised news.
It is about using insight to power the delivery of the content on the site. We have a fantastic rich picture of what our readers like about the content, how they consume it, and we have an opportunity to use that insight to deliver to people the content that they want.
I caught up with Grimshaw at the end of the panel debate to hear more about the plans:
Similarly John Barnes, managing director of digital at Incisive Media – and who is speaking at news:rewired, noise to signal later this month – echoed the value of knowledge when it comes to the audience.
I think business-to-business publishers went after the numbers and lost sight of the fact we should have a deep knowledge of our readers.
With the proliferation of platforms and operating systems, technology can make you a busy fool. For example we hear about digital magazines or iPad apps – what is the right way to go? Well maybe the right way is to not go quickly, or not at all.