On 16 January this year, President François Hollande addressed the press with a "message of confidence" (see Le Figaro's article in French). Concerning the topic of aid to the press, Hollande promised the French media that the government would get down to work on the somewhat thorny issue, with the aim of reorienting their aid towards the digital press. Following three months of hard work, this promise has finally been delivered: yesterday, Thursday 2 May, the group responsible for brainstorming ideas for press aid delivered its recommendations to the Minister of Culture and Communications, Aurélie Filipetti. The report does not suggest a complete overhaul of the press aid system, but instead recommends two major changes: firstly, that the government harmonises the VAT system applied to printed press and online press, and secondly, that it unites the currently scattered financial aid into one single fund, which would regularly report back on its usage. The report argues that, in the interests of establishing neutrality of government support, it is time to "put an end to the discrimination from which the online press is currently suffering" (see Le Figaro's article in French).
As Director of Video Transformation at the Associated Press, Sue Brooks has done in depth research into the importance of video to the content offering of news sites. Below she explains how 'stickiness' of video supports paid content strategies, and encourages news publishers to "use video creatively, reinvent the genre," rather than copy broadcasters. The AP Video Hub makes it easy for publishers to download and edit raw footage.
Anthony Rose is the co-founder and CTO of Zeebox, a new platform for second-screen social engagement. He explains the concept and discusses how an "explosion of content" will get whittled down to the recommendations of friends.
This should be boom time for the e-reader.
The end of 2012 saw a glut of new 'front-lit' e-readers Kindle Paperwhite, Nook Glowlight and the Kobo Glo. All of these devices offer touch screens, Wifi (some even 3G) and a new technology that projects light from the side or top of the screen, avoiding backlighting to simulate a less obtrusive ambient light.
Yet in his outlook on 2013, Walt Mossberg (@waltmossberg) mentions in passing that tablets are "gradually replacing another device: the dedicated e-reader".
And Pew research supports this: while e-book or e-reader sales continue to grow, moving from 10% to 19% market penetration in the US between December 2011 and November 2012, tablet penetration increased from 10% to 25% in the same period.
So is Mossberg's statement true? Just as the e-reader evolves, the tablet has usurped it?
More than a third of all traffic to The New York Times generates from a mobile device, said Alexandra Hardiman, The Times' Director of Mobile Products at the 5th Tablet and App Summit. And when the paper live-streamed the recent presidential debates, 40% of streamers watched on a mobile device.
Mobile has hence become a key part of the paper’s business, and The Times is putting a great deal of attention into cross-platform usage and mobile-first design, Hardiman said. The fact that tablet use is high in evenings is a very exciting prospect for a news organisation without a broadcast operation, she added, as it is a time of day that papers usually struggle to reach readers.
Tablet and smartphone access is also a key element of The Times’ digital subscription model that has “re-balanced our business,” Hardiman said. The New York Times had 566k paid digital subscribers in Q3, an increase of 11% from the preceding quarter. Perhaps more surprisingly, Hardiman specified that the paper’s print home delivery circulation also increased.
Windows 8, Microsoft’s first operating system to target touchscreen devices, launched last week following months of anticipation. Several news organisations have already developed apps for the platform, in cooperation with Microsoft.
At the 5th Tablet & App Summit in Frankfurt last week, Frank Wolfram, CTO of SYZYGY Group, Johan Mortelmans, Digital Innovation Manager, Corelio Publishing (which publishes De Standaard) and Danny Lein, Founder and CEO of Twipe Mobile Solutions offered their first thoughts on the new platform.
The key differentiator compared with other mobile operating systems is that Windows 8 provides “the productivity and the consumption world merged into one experience: with a switch of a button you can more between desktop and lean-back,” as Wolfram described.
He believes that the Windows 8 store will hold 150,000 – 200,000 apps by the end of the year, with a focus on quality rather than quantity
Know your customer, wherever they are, and use that knowledge, advised Stephen Pinches, Group Product Manager for Mobile & Emerging Platforms at the Financial Times, at the 5th Tablet & App Summit last week in Frankfurt. This philosophy is why the paper decided to build its own web-based app for the iPad rather than be part of Apple’s Newsstand: because as well as taking a 30% cut of subscription revenue, Apple does not provide publishers with subscriber data.
Within six weeks of Apple’s demand that publishers offer the same subscription deals through iTunes as they do on their own site, the FT rebuilt its native app as a web app. “It has all the things you would expect from a native app,” Pinches said, but “it allows us to enact whatever business model we choose.”
“We believe that data is fundamental to build our model,” he said, and gave personalized content as an example of how to strengthen relations with readers and offer a better service. “If you are a CEO of a media company we can tell you what other CEOs at media companies are reading.”
For Android devices, the FT took the HTML5 web app and “wrapped it in a little code” to put in the Google store. The paper has already launched a Windows 8 app too.
However, Belam, who is Principal Consultant at Emblem and former UX lead at the Guardian, he thinks it is only recently that “we have finally reached a tipping point in terms of mobile and tablet usage,” pointing out that 60% of traffic to the official Olympic games channels came from mobile devices.
His key advice to publishers seeking to improve their tablet and mobile offerings was:
Google has extended a warning to France’s news publishers: quit trying to make us pay a tax on the snippets of your content displayed by Google News, or you will soon find yourselves un-Google-able. The word may sound like gobbledygook, but the danger is real: the exclusion of the country’s media from the search giant’s results is a worrisome prospect.
Google addressed its warning in the form of a letter to several French ministries earlier this month, AFP revealed yesterday. “I’m a bit surprised by the tone of this correspondence, which sounds like a threat,” replied Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti. “You don’t deal with a democratically-elected government by making threats.”
Two groups of France’s news publishers, who consider themselves insufficiently compensated for the traffic generated on Google News by bits of their own content, have been looking for a way to share in Google’s advertising revenues since the spring, according to Le Figaro.
Just before a networking coffee break in the Chicago Ballroom Foyer this afternoon, Brian Brett, Executive Director of Customer Research for The New York Times, will present the results of a “News Eco-System Study” to attendees of the INMA Audience Summit.
Commissioned by The New York Times, the study was an online survey conducted in the spring by the Knowledge Network, reaching over 3,000 U.S. residents aged 18 to 65 (of whom 85 percent are regular news consumers). Its purpose was to find out how people are consuming news, across platforms and between generations.
Thanks to a preview from Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman, here are four early points from the study’s findings:
1. Facebook is the dominant social network for news, especially for young people and mobile users
Fifteen percent of digital news consumers find news through social media, and Facebook is the place they are most likely to look.
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