Jun 22, 2012
Paid. Magazine. Re-purposed. These are words that didn’t seem to have a lot of commercial value a scant three years, and certainly didn’t appear much together.
AOL is hardly alone in rethinking these big questions. We’re seeing a cascading experimenting around packaging and repackaging content from coast to coast, much of it so far unannounced, but in planning. The movement has been building (“The Newsonomics of 100 Products a Year”) and we can see it including newspapers, magazines, online-only companies, book publishers, and public media. Each are taking new twists, looking for formulas that fit their emerging business models.
At The Boston Globe, a made-for-tablet and smartphone design magazine has joined its food ebooks. The Chicago Tribune, I’m told, is looking at about 20 ebooks to be tested over the next year. Frommer’s is starting to parcel out its guidebook content, in smaller bite-sized slices, with a partner. Wired is trotting out its first ever issue — a retro rocket blast from our collective past — in the Apple app store. ProPublica is repurposing its free web content in paid ebook form, at a faster rate, one a month for the last three months. In Portland, Oregon Public Broadcasting is reimagining its publishing future.Read More »
May 4, 2012
Let’s start with this basic principle: People won’t pay you for content if you don’t ask them to. That’s an inside-the-industry joke, but one with too much reality to sustain much laughter. It took the industry a long time to start testing offers and price points, as The Wall Street Journal and Walter Hussman’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette provided lone wolf examples.
The corollary to that principle? If you don’t start to charge consumers — Warren Buffett on newspaper pricing: “You shouldn’t be giving away a product that you’re trying to sell.” — then you can’t learn how consumers respond to pricing. Once you start pricing, you can start learning, and adjust.
Apr 28, 2012
Content no longer demands to be free. It wants a fee — but how much of one? Consumer pricing is not a core competence of many media companies. For decades, media pricing was on automatic. Newspapers picked a quarter or fifty cents, and then re-programmed the coinboxes. Magazines kept prices low enough to build audiences to reap substantial ad rewards. Book publishers did some minor stratification. Music companies picked a couple of price points, and let the vinyl and CDs fly. In the digital era, though, pricing is confronting — and confounding — media companies. Just what in the digital world of vanishing manufacturing costs is digital media worth? Now with those 20th-century costs — printing, manufacture, distribution, shipping — passing into the night, the question of price, and value, is making itself loudly heard.Read More »
Apr 5, 2012
In the hurly-burly of digital content innovation and monetization, it’s hard to figure out what things are, so we try to find apt comparisons. With the new Next Issue digital newsstand, let’s think Netflix or Pandora or Spotify as the closest cousins. Next Issue, the offspring of five prosperous parents (Time Inc., Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, and News Corp.), launched last night what I think will be a model-changing product for publishers. In short, the Next Issue kiosk idea is transformative — though we’ll have to see how quickly customers take to its unknown brand.Read More »
Mar 30, 2012
The 100-product-a-year model is a much-needed growth model. We can see how it fits nicely with all-access subscriptions, and together we have two interconnected Lego blocks of a new sustainable news model. We have two essential parts of a crossover model (“The Newsonomics of Crossover”) that I detailed here a few weeks ago. The big, hairy challenges of accelerating print ad loss and onerous legacy costs remain, but at least we’ve got a couple of building blocks we didn’t have two years ago.Read More »
Mar 2, 2012
What percent of print ad loss is made up by digital ad gain? This is the crossover metric driving much of John Paton’s Digital First Media/Journal Register Company strategy. With print advertising down now more than 50 percent in 10 years in the U.S., and even diving more quickly now in some parts of Europe, replacement ad revenue is at the top of the crossover list. In 2011, Journal Register made up about 95 percent of its print ad revenue loss. It intends to hit the crossover mark — making more in digital revenues than it is losing in print revenues — this year.Read More »
Feb 3, 2012
The next CEO is a big roll of the dice, as the gaming table shrinks. There’s little room for error. Pick the right new leader and the Times has improved its chances for survival; pick wrong and these key years of 2012-2014, as news crosses over into a mainly digital business, will be cited in the obit. AP faces a similar tension as it seeks a successor for long-time CEO Tom Curley. Dow Jones, cushioned by parent News Corp.’s better-lined pockets, too, is finalizing its CEO search. Put them together, and it’s a signal moment for American news media, as three top positions open themselves up to possibility, and imagination, simultaneously.Read More »
Jan 20, 2012
Forget “content wants to be free.” Now content wants a fee. And everyone from Time Inc to The New York Times to the Memphis Commercial Appeal to Hulu’s co-owners (Fox, Disney, and Comcast) see gold. They see another digital revenue stream, in addition to advertising or to cable subscription fees. Yet they are increasingly believing they’ve got to up the ante (and Hulu is raising new funds to buy original programming) to compete and to win those consumer dollars. News companies — at least one in ten U.S. daily newspapers and many consumer magazines — are rapidly embracing digital circulation revenue and All-Access. Yet results have been quite uneven. That makes sense: Consumers will pay for digital news, feature, and entertainment content, but they don’t want to overpay, and they’ll increasingly be forced to make choices. Buy this; let that go.Read More »
Nine Questions for the Cusp of 2012: NewsRight, Erin Burnett’s Screens, Gail Collins’s Emergence & Smart Cookie Arianna
Jan 5, 2012
Getting All-Access right — pricing, real tablet- and smartphone-appropriate apps, customer ease, giving subscribers cross-title benefits — is one of the biggest tasks for news and magazine publishers this year.Read More »
Dec 19, 2011
We can point to three major phenomena that profoundly changed the news landscape this year. Each offers up its own half-formed metrics for that magic formula in process, and each has dramatically changed the possibilities of news, each largely positive:
1) The transcendant transformative age of the tablet
2) The dawn of digital circulation
3) Social curation joins editorial curation: