Tag Archives: Robert Andrews

paidContent: Apple drops Financial Times apps from store

Apple has pulled the Financial Times’ native iPad and iPhone apps from the iTunes App Store after updating its terms which state in-app subscriptions must be paid through the store, reports paidContent.

The FT launched a web-based app in June which allows the publisher to avoid paying Apple a 30 per cent cut of it’s app revenue and to gather its own audience data.

This article on paidContent states:

It is a blow to the FT, whose apps had processed subscription transactions independently. Last year, 10 percent of its new digital subscriptions were taken out on iPads. But the publisher says its model is premised on owning data about customers that goes through along with transactions. This was more important to it than Apple’s 30 percent take, CEO John Ridding told [Robert Andrews] recently.

The FT’s web app, which was described as a ‘wake-up call’ to publishers, saw 150,000 uses in the first 10 days before the part-paywall went up, in line with the FT’s other digital platforms.




PCUK/Harris Poll: Readers want to spend as close to nothing as possible for online news

Perhaps unsurprisingly – given Monday’s results indicating that only five per cent of 1,188 users polled by paidContent:UK and Harris Interactive would pay for their preferred news website – people do not want to spend very much either.

“When asked the maximum amount they would be prepared to pay, respondents who read a free news site at least once a month gave us the lowest possible amount in each category – annual subscriptions under £10, a day pass costing under £0.25 and per-article fees of between 1p and 2p.”

Furthermore, PCUK’s Robert Andrews reminds us to bear in mind ‘that most of these readers said they did not want to pay – their answers suggest they may pay even less or not at all’.

Full PCUK findings at this link…

Readers prefer subscriptions to micropayments – according to paidContent:UK/Harris survey

PaidContent:UK has this week launched a series about online payment models, using the results of a poll conducted by Harris Interactive. Its first story reported that if newspaper groups were to begin charging for their websites, three quarters of users would abandon them in favour of a free alternative.

Only five per cent would pay for their favourite free news website

The research, which polled 1,188 British adults, found that among users who read a free site at least once a month as their top source of news, only five per cent would pay for that website, if such a payment model was introduced. Seventy-four per cent would find a free alternative news source; a further eight percent would continue reading the website’s free headlines only; and 12 per cent were not sure what they would do.

Long term subscriptions more attractive

Today’s update indicates that long-term subscriptions rather than micropayments, is ‘by far the most attractive option’ to consumers:

PaidContent:UK reported:

[Harris Interactive] asked users who read a news site at least once a month what their favoured option would be if they either chose to pay for their favourite site or were forced to pay by all news sites going pay-for:

  • Per-article fees (ie. micropayments) are the favourite option for 21 percent.
  • A day pass giving unlimited articles within a 24-hour period is favoured by 26 per cent.
  • But a subscription of up to a year is the most desired model, supported by 54 per cent.

So what does this mean for micropayment models?

“There’s been a lot of buzz about micro-payment recently, and some prominent players, like Google have moved into this field,” said Andrew Freeman, the  senior consultant with Harris Interactive’s technology, media and telecoms team.

“But there are massive challenges: and not just technical ones. From a simple business point of view, micropayments are disproportionately expensive to administer. Until you have an enormous volume and value, it just won’t be worthwhile.

“If consumers are going to give up their preference for single-subscription payments they can more easily check and monitor, they will need to have real confidence and trust in the brands they use. Micropayments will probably benefit only the very largest of companies.”

The survey

“The likelihood of newspapers instituting online charging models has become a hot topic. But the debate has mostly been led by what the publishers, and not the readers, want. We felt it was important to ask them and put some data in the public domain to inform publishers currently faced with this decision,” paidContent:UK editor, Robert Andrews, told Journalism.co.uk.

“Everything we’ve learned over the last few months tells us that there’s likely a bigger pay-for market for mission-critical, business and niche information than for general consumer news like sport, celebrity or perhaps even politics.”

Although they didn’t ask about specific news categories for this survey, paidContent:UK hopes to take these questions to consumers in a follow-up survey, he added.

Forthcoming stories will look at what price consumers would be happy to pay; and whether including a newspaper subscription would affect users’ willingness to pay online.

Surprising findings

“The top-line results are in line with my expectations. Conventional wisdom that has grown up around this debate in recent months has told us that, whilst there may be a pay-for market for mission-critical, business or niche news content, there’s enough plurality in the global consumer news market that readers can find an alternative source with just a few mouse clicks,” said Andrews.

“But some specific findings surprised me. For example, those in their teens and early 20s are many times more likely to say they’ll pay than those aged 35 to 54, whom I would have thought would have more disposable income.

“The working class and those on subsistence are nearly as likely to say they will pay as the upper middle class and middle class. And some of the regional variations, for example Wales are right up with Londoners on propensity to pay, and those in the north east of England far more likely to say they would continue reading their favourite site but only via its free headlines.”

Advice for the industry

“Publishers will need to carefully consider the effects of implementing a pay wall before mixing their cement – our survey suggests most of their readers would flee to a rival paper,” Andrews said.

“Sites must consider whether they have a value proposition unique enough to retain readers despite our findings. And they need to do the maths: raising a pay wall would reduce the number of eyeballs achieved for publishers’ advertisers, so are payments from five per cent of readers enough to offset the decline in ad income?”

paidContent:UK: A pay-for BBC could backfire on its rivals

paidContent:UK’s Robert Andrews argues that charging for BBC content – as some critics have suggested – would damage rather than rescue its rivals.

“For starters, it [the suggestion] ignores the fact that the BBC already charges for its websites as part of the £142.50 annual TV licence, while it’s commercial competitors who offer their material for free with ad support. That makes their protestations ironic.”

Full post at this link…

paidContent:UK: Is raising the pay wall an ‘impossible dream?’

Robert Andrews gives a rundown of the problems newspaper companies face when trying to ‘get the genie back in the bottle’ – charging for online content that has been free for 15 years. Also be aware of gorillas and white elephants, he says.

Full post at this link…

Just under tenth of UK Twitter traffic diverted to news and media sites

Today’s Hitwise report showing that UK internet traffic to the website has increased by 974 per cent over the last year (now the 291st most popular website in the UK), brings with it significant statistics for media and news sites:

  • “The amount of traffic it sends to other websites has increased 30-fold over the last 12 months.”
  • “Almost 10 per cent of Twitter’s downstream traffic goes to news and media websites.”
  • BBC News is currently the seventh most popular site visited after www.twitter.com.” (i.e through re-directs)

(Hitwise report, January 2009)

As PaidContent flags up, Twitter is proportionally more popular in the UK than in the US. “This frankly could be because there are more websites or more diverse interests in the US,” comments Robert Andrews.

US elections: the best of the rest on the web

For those that have been under a rock/on Mars for the last year, the next President of the United States will be decided tonight, giving news organisations another opportunity to flaunt their interactive, live reporting and user-generated wares as the votes unfold.

We’ve already covered Sky News’ election coverage and BBC News’ live online plans, but here’s our round-up of some of the best projects out there – open up twenty browser tabs, sit back and enjoy:

  • NYTimes.com: the paper has set up a political ‘word train’ visualising how readers are feeling. It’ll update with new answers every 30 minutes (thanks to @matthewbuckland for the link). Elsewhere the site’s homepage is dominated by election coverage, with plenty of images and video – making use of the new video player – and a pop-up results widget.
  • Twitter Vote Report: the microblogging tool has been harnessed by a network of volunteers to map voters’ experiences at the polls. Tweets tagged with waiting times (e.g. #wait 120 for a 120 minute delay) are plotted creating a rapidly updating map of problems. Could be a great service for local newspapers in the states to provide:

  • Yahoo: created a one-stop shop, US election microsite drawing together all of its features, including forums, Yahoo Answers, AP and Politico stories and aggregated content from external news sites, a Flickr stream of photos and options to set up news alerts on the candidates.
  • Hubdub: the just-for-fun news prediction site is carrying an election forecast map, which it claims is based on ’51 underlying prediction markets that respond in real-time to breaking news’. Users can view forecasts state-by-state to help them decided where to place their Hubdub dollars when predicting the outcome of questions such as ‘Who will win the 2008 US Presidential Election?’ and ‘What will be the margin of victory in the state of Ohio?’

That’s not enough, I hear you cry. You want more? Well, over at paidContent:UK, Robert Andrews has wrapped up the online coverage from the UK’s newspapers, while Online Journalism Blog chieftain Paul Bradshaw has an extensive list of online activities.

This is only the tip of the iceberg – any other great coverage, tools or websites that need a mention, let us know below.

Problems blogging with SpinVox

After speaking to SpinVox about the potential advantages of its blogging technology, some bright spark at Journalism.co.uk thought it would be a good idea to test it out ‘in the field’.

So I did – or attempted to – from yesterday’s conference on widgets in Brighton, the idea being that I could phone in updates to the blog providing instant reaction and a way to record my notes on the day in draft form.

I thought wanting to compose my post before calling it in would be the biggest problem, but you quickly get used to ordering your thoughts in this way.

Instead two major problems occurred:

  • I used the service about six times during the day, having to nip out of sessions or make the call in breaks. On four occasions I received text messages after I had returned to the session telling me that my message could not be converted and that I would need to send it again.

This was too late – it wasn’t convenient to leave the conference again to make another call and if I did so it wouldn’t be such a direct reaction.

There is an option on the SpinVox site to add new vocab to their voice recognition service and this might be a useful preparation tip, particularly at a conference where widgets is the unfamiliar buzz word.

Maybe I don’t enunciate well enough and I can forgive it not recognising certain technological terms, but confusing ‘in’ and ‘and’ is surely the basics.

Aside from these issues, there also seems to be no way to assign a headline to the blog post over the phone – this requires going in and editing the blog, which defeats the point.

Another thing – the length of post you can leave through the service is severely limited – about two minutes – so it really can only be used in a Twitter style. (In which case I’d rather just use Twitter).

This is an emerging technology – so if we can get it sorted I’d like to try it out again as I’m not sure I got the whole experience.

As a plus point, the service didn’t pick up any background noise from the conference space, which is pretty impressive.

SpinVox have built up a business on converting mobile voicemail to text and the Times are already using their blogging software – so was I doing something wrong?

UPDATE – SpinVox have contacted me and are looking into it to see if their might be a problem with my account, so hopefully they can give some advice.

UPDATE – Paid Content’s Robert Andrews is currently using SpinVox to update his Twitter account (though this might not be using the same technology as the blogging service) and it seems to be working perfectly.