Archive for June, 2011

According to numbers released by the Media Industry Newsletter, The NYPost leads all publishers in gross income from IPad Apps. The Post is the #11 top grossing App overall, according to MIN. (Click Here to read why the NY Post is the best selling IPad app) After the Post and News Corps “The Daily”, several magazines show up on the list:

Top Grossing Publishers in the iPad App Store, and their number in the overall App list (as of June 22, 2011)

11. New York Post ($1.99)

14. The Daily ($.99/week)

30. Marvel Comics (in-app comics purchases ~$1.99/issue)

33. Comixology (in-app comics purchases ~$1.99/issue)

35. The New Yorker ($59.99/year, $4.99/issue)

44. Wired ($19.99/year, $3.99/issue)

65. DC Comics (in-app comics purchases, ~$1.99/issue)

85. People ($3.99/issue)

90. Food Network ($3.99)

91. GQ ($19.99/year, $4.99/issue)

95. Cooking Light Recipes ($3.99)

104. Self ($19.99/year, $3.99/issue)

108. Vanity Fair ($19.99/year, $4.99/issue)

124. Popular Mechanics ($19.99/year, $3.99/issue)

The New York Post hasn’t made any real money in years. That’s why it’s an unlikely frontrunner in the publishing industry’s uneasy turf war with Apple and the IPad. And even though it comes from a company that is spending tens of millions to invent a new news product for the IPad (News Corp’s “The Daily”), the Post has fired the loudest and most effective shots for the newspaper industry directly at Apple’s broadside.

According to the Media Industry Newsletter, The NY Post is the top grossing publisher’s paid App in the App store, and number 11 overall.

At issue is Apple’s insistence that any newspapers or magazines that sell single copies or subscriptions give 30% of their take to Apple for use of its system to deliver the Post content and collect the charges. Also at issue is Apple’s attempt to keep all or most of the customer data to itself.

Last year, the Post built a very effective IPad app that truly captures the look and feel of the paper but also takes advantage of the navigation and interactivity of the IPad. It downloads relatively quickly, giving the reader the ability to download and read while not connected to the web. It captures the fun and impact of Post headlines and layouts, and makes it easy to navigate to specific sections, pages or stories, giving readers multiple routes in a very intuitive platform.

It also engages you by giving you the opportunity to write your own Front Page headline and see what it would look like on a few variations of the front page. Your attempt goes up against everyone else in a competition each day to see who did the best job. And it allows you to share Post content easily to social media or others. For me, a life-long reader, it has replaced the print edition.

After a brief free trial period a year or so ago, they started to charge me to subscribe to the App. No public hand wringing for two years, no huge press events. They just put it up and charged for it.

Then it really got interesting.

First the Post began to block IPad users from accessing’s resident browser, Safari. So suddenly IPad users didn’t have the option to call up on their IPads. Now, to get any NYPost content on the IPad, they had to pay for it. (Here I have to disclose that since I had downloaded the Firefox IPad browser, too, I discovered that I could still get to on my IPad via that browser).

Then, the Post introduced a new feature IN the app that allows App subscribers to access the live website in a pop-up box on the App.

In the process of trying to force subscribers to pay for the Post on the IPad, and to maximize the transaction by pulling all live web content under the pay umbrella, the Post may be stumbling onto the most effective combination of content for the IPad. They offer both an IPad-optimized look and feel…with the easy navigation and the stunning photos the IPad features…. AND the constantly updating elements of the 24/7 website which are now available whenever the IPad is online. It’s a powerful offering together.

Mainstream media companies are still in the early innings of the game when it comes to new business models. But the Post is aggressively pushing in the right direction. They are gradually matching their journalism to the new medium. If they continue to build their interactive storytelling skill and develop video content and presentation, they could eventually have the first killer news app.

A few weeks ago I learned that the cheapest way to sign up and pay for the New York Times digital products was in fact to order the weekend delivery (Fri-Sun) of the printed New York Times to our apartment in New York City. If you are a print subscriber to the Times, even just a weekend one, you get free access to the digital versions. The cost of the weekend-delivered-Times ($15.20 every four weeks) was already less than half the cost of buying the printed paper from the newsstands, so when you added in the fact that it was ALSO LESS than half of a full 24/7 subscription to all digital platforms ($35 every four weeks), this deal looked too good to be true.

And some criticized the Times for “paying people to take the print paper” and accused them of undercutting their stated goal of getting people to pay for content, while others speculated they might not have even realized they were undercutting themselves.

But I have a different take. I think it’s a brilliant strategy to deal with the biggest problem the Times and other traditional news media businesses face: the painful transition to business models that will work on digital platforms. These companies need to maintain the print revenues AT LEAST long enough for Digital Advertising to become big enough and effective enough to attract substantially more ad revenues. That means preserving as many users and page views as possible in spite of the pay wall – enough to ultimately attract advertisers – while still charging the heaviest digital user customers, and at the same time keeping as many people as possible reading the print editions.

One of the biggest problems newspapers face is the erosion of advertising to digital platforms. But while it is obvious that categories like auto and home classified advertising are much more efficiently done on digital platforms — and have moved on — many display advertisers have not yet figured out how to use the web or even mobile or tablet devices, more efficiently than print. Those display advertisers feel comfortable in print, and still get enough results from print, to be hesitant to shift larger dollar commitments to digital platforms.

So the print media companies have had to deal with the fact that while readers have switched to the web and mobile in huge numbers, the advertisers haven’t moved nearly as quickly. That means that readers of the print product are still worth a lot more than readers of the web product in terms of how much revenue each reader generates. A print reader can be worth as much at 200 times more than a digital one in terms of advertising dollars generated.

So newspaper publishers are trying to keep as many people reading the print products as possible, at least until the ad dollars flow to digital as broadly as the readers have. They need to financial the transition period. But many of these newspapers have used absolutely the wrong incentives. The San Francisco Chronicle, for example, runs much of their best content in the print product only, boldly proclaiming “Print Edition Only” atop those articles in the paper. But rather than convince the reader to change their habits to suit the newspapers business model, this method only serves as a reminder that the newspaper’s web site is lacking and, in effect, tells the reader who prefers digital to go elsewhere because the paper’s best content won’t be on the digital platform. Duh.

Newspapers must respect their reader’s habits, even when they change, and they ARE changing rapidly. The papers must stop trying to get readers to help the papers out of their jam. Rather than trying to slow down change by forcing readers to do something they don’t want to do, newspapers should concentrate on beefing up the news output on the digital platforms and helping advertisers to find their “web” legs.

The Times has taken a much better approach. It is effectively inducing the reader to read the print product by “paying” that reader to do so. It is “rebating” some of the cost of reading the Digital Times, which the reader wants to get, by asking the reader to take three days of the Times in print and allowing the Times to make more money from those print advertisers for now. It’s actually not all that different from the strategies in happier newspaper times. When papers charged 25 cents, that cost didn’t cover the newsprint and the ink on that newspapers. So the paper was effectively subsidizing the rest of the cost of that newspaper being delivered to that home because the advertiser would pay plenty to be carried into that home on the back of the paper.

There is absolutely no reason consumers shouldn’t be paid to hear messages from advertisers. It’s a fair trade. The advertiser wants the exposure and the reader’s time has value. As long as that print edition is worth more to some advertisers, then it behooves the NY Times TOO give their readers a financial incentive to stay with print as long as possible. That will provide the continuing revenue necessary to support the paper until technology is sophisticated enough to give the advertisers the kind of true advantages in targeting and multi-platform selling that will drive significant increases in digital advertising revenue. In fact, it is quite likely that both digital AND print subscription fees will support a more realistic organization

There is also something else about this experiment that could yield very interesting information about changing reader habits. It is quite possible that the future of print newspapers may be on weekends or at least weekly. With information moving so quickly now, one conceivable scenario could be that newspapers put their breaking news on efficient digital platforms 24/7 but on weekends use print products to give context to the week’s news and to look ahead. Essentially, the print editions of newspapers become what the News Magazines were when newspapers ruled the real-time news world. These new weekend (or at least weekly) publications may even look more like the news magazines, with longer and more reflective or investigative pieces appearing well-displayed in a print product. Oddly enough, it might look like The Daily Beast and it’s new family member, Newsweek.

What’s really interesting is that the combined revenue streams from all these directions could begin to support the significantly-sized newsroom at the center of it all.

As a weekend reader of the print edition of the New York Times, and a religious reader of its website and mobile platforms, I feel like I might already be looking at the first version of what the newspaper of the future will look like, and I like it.

Slowly but surely, through careful experimentation and continuing technology development, the major media companies are starting to see the framework for their future business models emerge.

At the Cable Show in Chicago this week much of the interest shifted from content to technology. Tablets were being shown everywhere and programmers were blasting their intention to offer their content on every platform in creation. A picture emerged of an ecosystem in which a tv network could serve video ads differently on every platform, using interactivity, related text and images and even the ability to tether ads from one platform to another (for those of us who multitask and have our IPad or Phone out while watching TV.

The most interesting demonstrations came from technology companies that were part of a new universe of businesses that were building the new video advertising infrastructure. For the first time there were demonstrations of multi-tiered systems that were able to not only serve video advertising across several platforms, but could also allow for coordinated multi-media messaging, which begins to look like the future of advertising.

Like the television programmers themselves, who are trying to learn multi-platform storytelling, advertisers are trying to perfect their own storytelling. They are trying to figure out how they can use multiple platforms to tell their business story more efficiently and powerfully. Some nifty new technology is getting them close.

While watching a program on a cable box, we saw what looked like a traditional car ad come up during the commercial break. Only this time a button popped up on the bottom of the screen telling us that if we wanted to see much more information and more video about that car, we could click on the button and either see it on the screen, while pausing the show, or bring it up on a screen of our IPad or phone which we might have with us while we are watching TV.

The car company got to show a traditional commercial, some banner-like text and also give the reader a chance to dive much deeper into the experience immediately by seeing much more information on their IPad or Android Tablet, even with the show still running on the big screen.

The system as demonstrated will both give the advertiser the opportunity to target specific ads to specific tv viewers, AND enhance the ad with text and additional video or other images. It would allow an advertiser to offer significantly more detail and information to viewers who got interested in what they just saw. It’s clearly both a targeted and enriched experience that will be worth much more to an advertiser than a one-way broadcast ad.

For the first time television programmers can see a world where they can monetize their viewers and all the platforms those viewers use. This will come just in time, as at least one major network found itself in an interesting situation about a month ago. A couple of NBC shows apparently were view MORE by people accessing the show on digital platforms than on the air when they were first aired. Consumer power to watch whenever they want is growing every day.

The system I saw demonstrated also allowed the advertiser to view a dashboard watching the resulting response to their advertising on multiple platforms, including Ipads, Android phones and tablets, and even the old reliable 60″ plasma.

Brace yourself for the new world of tv advertising.