So what exactly is the new Next Media Tablet Newsstand? “iTunes for magazines? Maybe Hulu for periodicals?” asks Neiman Journalism Lab's Ken Doctor.
It feels like it. Next Issue Media is a joint venture formed by five leading U.S.-based publishers – Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc. Yesterday it announced the launch of its all-new tablet newsstand featuring top titles designed specifically for Android tablets. “No other offering delivers the combination of a catalog of top-tier titles, a choice of unlimited access plans, a consistent magazine reading experience and a commitment to interactive content,” the venture enthused in a release.
“In short, the Next Issue kiosk idea is transformative,” said Doctor, “though we’ll have to see how quickly customers take to its unknown brand.”
“It’s unclear what benefit Next Issue’s newsstand will bring [publishers], not to mention how heavily the offering will be promoted with consumers,” wrote Adweek, given Next Issue’s plans to rely heavily on word-of-mouth over advertising—surprising for a consortium of heavyweight publishers. And Adweek is skeptical about how an Android-only slate will hold up in the iPad-friendly digital publishing industry.
Still, the value proposition is there. At the heart of the offering: Customers have unlimited access to as many magazines in the Next Issue newsstand as they want, starting at just $9.99 per month. “Now they can easily access and discover more great stories, writing and photography within the entire breadth of the catalog,” and presumably, see that many more ads along with content.
Thus for $9.99, readers can reach a digital catalog including Better Homes and Gardens, ELLE, Esquire, Fortune, Glamour, Parents, People, Real Simple, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, TIME, Vanity Fair and more. There are 32 titles available now, and the catalog is expected to expand later this year. However, the company's focus on new titles will remain on quality and mass appeal, not quantity.
A Consistent Reading Experience
“No need to navigate separate apps for each magazine,” claims Next Issue Media. Now customers can browse, manage and read all their favorite titles from a single app in one consistent and easy way. For example, customers can quickly flip through an entire magazine using the animated carousel. Once they choose what to read, they navigate using the same simple, intuitive commands across all titles. They can also access an entire library of magazines in the cloud any time they are connected, while easily managing what they choose to store on their tablet.
Enhanced Digital Editions
All Next Issue magazines are custom-designed for the Android tablet experience, so include enhancements such as videos, bonus photography, interactive features and links to more information online.
"This is a game changer for customers," said Morgan Guenther, CEO of Next Issue Media. "We're bringing it all together. The most popular magazines, a great reading experience, interactive content and unlimited access to our entire catalog – with lots more to come."
- Unlimited Basic: Includes titles published monthly and bi-weekly for $9.99 per month
- Unlimited Premium: Includes all titles in the catalog, including weeklies such as Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, TIME for $14.99 per month
- Individual magazine subscriptions range from $1.99 to $9.99 per month
- Individual magazine issues are available from $2.49 to $5.99 per issue
- 30-day free trials are available for all subscription plans and print subscribers can add digital editions of the same titles for free or a nominal cost.
The Association of Magazine Media (MPA), working with a coalition of senior magazine executives from throughout the industry, has developed a common set of definitions, a consistent position on timing for data release, and guidelines around tablet metrics, it was announced today by Nina Link, President and CEO of MPA. These voluntary guidelines are intended to provide enhanced understanding and clarity about the measurement of magazine media audiences on tablets for the advertising community.
As Adweek describes the need for guidelines, the various rules sets for determining how magazines can access tablet subscriber information across different platforms has irked publishers, and “Apple has always been especially stingy with the statistics.”
The guidelines are voluntary, but ad buyer Robin Steinberg of Mediavest called the voluntary guidelines an "excellent first start" toward a standardized measurement model for tablet editions. “It will be interesting to see who leads and who follows,” Steinberg told Adweek."
“The tablet guidelines have been created to recognize the need within the advertising community for greater insight and understanding into how to best leverage this powerful new platform,” said Link. “Tablets are one of the fastest-growing consumer electronic devices in history. They are ideally suited to leverage the incredible strengths of magazine media content. Tablets create a highly immersive experience for readers; a dynamic, new environment for advertisers to connect with magazine audiences; and almost unlimited opportunity for our brands.”
The recommended guidelines are the first deliverables developed by the MPA Tablet Metrics Task Force, a group of magazine executives charged with the creation of guidelines and metrics for tablets. The group has been meeting since the last quarter of 2011. The Task Force consists of representatives from seven magazine media publishers: Bonnier Corporation, Condé Nast, Forbes, Hearst Magazines, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Meredith Corporation and Time Inc. Seven advertising agencies were consulted about the guidelines as well as the MPA Executive Committee.
Among the guidelines that MPA helped advance are five initial recommended metrics for use by magazines, agencies and advertisers:
1. Total consumer paid digital issues
2. The total number of tablet readers per issue
3. The total number of sessions per issue
4. The total time spent per reader per issue
5. The average number of sessions per reader per issue
“The iPad has been around for two years, while magazine brands have been available on digital newsstands for less than a year,” said Michael Clinton, MPA Chairman and President, Marketing and Publishing Director, Hearst Magazines. “In that short period of time, magazine brands have already established a strong relationship with readers. That new experience requires new language and baseline metrics for the magazine media planning community. This initiative will enable a broader understanding of the power of tablet magazines and facilitate faster adoption of tablet advertising.”
“This initiative and the increased transparency it provides will enable Ford and our agency partners to better leverage our marketing dollars in this growing consumer media platform,” said Matt VanDyke, Director, Marketing Communications U.S., Ford Motor Company.
The Task Force also created an initial set of terms and definitions that provide advertisers and publishers with a suggested common language.
Link also announced voluntary time frames for the release of tablet metrics. For monthlies, the MPA Tablet Metrics Task Force recommends the release of metrics data in 10 weeks from the newsstand on-sale date. For weeklies, the Task Force suggests the release of metrics data in seven weeks from the newsstand on-sale date. The time frames provide a four-week window for the extended capture of metrics as well as a two-week period of data analysis.
“This voluntary release timing is the most accurate method we have of capturing the incredible engagement that readers have with their tablet issues,” said Link. “Our research tells us that magazine readers continue to engage with their tablet issues as long as a month or more after the on-sale date of the publication and we need data that reflect this engagement. As we learn more about the reader experience, we expect to be able to shorten the reporting time frame.”
Link added, “These voluntary guidelines are an exciting first step in an evolving process and they will continue to be refined and revisited by the MPA Tablet Metrics Task Force.”
Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici reports that the Huffington Post Media Group will launch “Huffington,” a digital magazine for the iPad and tablet format. “Huffington” will be available as an app, rather than as a mobile-optimized website.
Huffington Post Media has appointed its own executive editor Tim O’Brien to oversee the project. The company lured O’Brien away from The New York Times in 2010, to spearhead original journalism at the Huffington Post or “HuffPo.”
Huffington will be a weekly, though the company has yet to determine how it will monetize the magazine. Bercovici received dueling accounts by HuffPo insiders. But as he describes, News Corp.’s The Daily is available as a paid app ($39.99 per year, $.99 per issue), and is one of the top-grossing apps in the Apple store.
AOL has begun putting considerable resources into HuffPo, after a quiet first year (it acquired HuffPo in February, 2011). AOL will launch a video-HuffPo streaming network between Q2 and Q3, with 12 hours of programming running five days a week. Called “HuffPost Streaming Network,” it will sit on every available platform, including desktops, smartphones, tablets and “over-the-top TV,” that is, off network.
No launch date as yet. Assuming the same demographics as the HuffPo website, the magazine app and the streaming network can expect this market reach:
- 12.8M women every month, who HuffPo reminds advertisers “control 85% of household spending”
- HuffPo visitors are “more likely to have a [household income] of over 150K than average internet users”
- “More likely to have a post-graduate degree than average internet users”
- “More likely to be business decision-makers than average internet users”
Forbes Media and comScore, Inc. have announced an agreement to implement viewable impression measurement across all display ad campaigns appearing on Forbes.com as part of its validated Brand Increase Guarantee (vBIG) program. This offering from Forbes leverages the comScore validated Campaign Essentials (vCE) service to validate that the ad impressions delivered as part of an advertiser’s vBIG program are in-view, such that that advertisers will be charged only for ads that have delivered the desired advertising effect.
This program is consistent with the principles addressed as part of “Making Measurement Make Sense” (3MS), an industry-wide initiative led by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s). The initiative calls for a set of standards across the industry and the need for a true measure of ‘viewable impressions’.
“Forbes is thrilled to be the first-to-market premium publisher using comScore vCE to guarantee viewable impressions to our advertisers as part of our vBIG program,” said Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer, Forbes Media. “We see this as a game-changer for Forbes and a significant first step for the industry toward improved accountability for – and ultimately monetization of – digital ad inventory.” Rogers observes that for too long online, ad pricing has involved “significant guesswork, because while we knew that not all ads were delivered in-view, we weren’t always sure which ones.”
As EVP Erin Hunter of comScore describes the dilemma facing publishers and advertisers, they need analytics on the performance of every single ad, equally, to know its return on investment. “Premium publishers that offer highly engaging content often do not get the credit they deserve for below-the-fold placements on their web page, which may actually deliver results that are every bit as strong as the above-the-fold placements.”
As comScore describes the vCE service, “comScore vCE is helping premium publishers like Forbes clearly illustrate the value of their inventory and prove to advertisers why placements throughout their site have the ability to deliver the desired effect on audiences. The result is greater transparency and accountability on both sides of the media equation, representing a win-win scenario for both advertisers and publishers.”
Where do consumers get their news (and see the ads)? New research suggests that advertisers are better off advertising in a tablet edition of a newspaper, than in the newspaper itself. Also that those advertisers are guaranteed exposures on television, but perhaps wasting their ad spends on Facebook.
Just-released findings by the Pew Research Center suggest that mobile technology fueling news consumption, strengthening the appeal of traditional news brands and even boosting reading of long-form journalism. But, technology companies are strengthening their grip on who profits, according to the 2012 State of the News Media report by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
More than a quarter of Americans (27%) now get news on mobile devices, and for the vast majority, this is increasing news consumption, the report finds. More than 80% of smartphone and tablet news consumers still get news on laptop or desktop computers. On mobile devices, news consumers also are more likely to go directly to a news site or use an app, rather than to rely on search — strengthening the bond with traditional news brands.
While technology may be adding to the appeal of traditional news, technology intermediaries are capturing even more of the digital revenue pie. In 2011, five technology giants generated 68% of all digital ad revenue, according to the market research firm eMarketer — and that does not include Amazon and Apple, which make their money from devices and downloads. By 2015, roughly one out of every five display ad dollars is expected to go to Facebook, according to the same source.
“Our analysis suggests that news is becoming a more important and pervasive part of people’s lives,” PEJ Director Tom Rosenstiel said. “But it remains unclear who will benefit economically from this growing appetite for news.”
Social media platforms, meanwhile, grew substantially over the last year, but still play a limited role in daily news consumption. Only about a third as many news consumers follow stories via Facebook as do so by going directly to news websites or apps or by using search, according to new PEJ survey data released here. For Twitter, the proportion drops to less than a sixth as many.
“News organizations have a big opportunity in the social and mobile realms,” PEJ Deputy Director Amy Mitchell said. “But they will need to do a better job than they did in the desktop realm of understanding audience behavior and developing effective technology and revenue models.”
These are some of the conclusions in the ninth edition of PEJ’s annual State of the News Mediareport. The report is a comprehensive analysis of the major trends in news over the last year and includes detailed chapters on eight major media sectors — digital, newspapers, cable news, network TV, local TV news, audio, magazines and ethnic media. This year’s study also includes two new national surveys examining how news is consumed on different devices and the impact of social media on news, a special report on the state of community media and an examination of Native American media.
Among the study’s findings:
- Americans are far more likely to get digital news by going directly to a news organization’s website or app than by following social media links. Just 9% of U.S. adults say they follow news recommendations from Facebook or Twitter “very often” on any digital device — compared with 36% who say the same about directly going to a news organization’s site or app; 32% who access news through search; and 29% who use news organizing sites like Topix or Flipboard.
- Even so, social media are an increasingly important driver of news, according to traffic data. According to PEJ’s analysis of traffic data from Hitwise, 9% of traffic to news sites now comes from Facebook, Twitter and smaller social media sites. That is up by more than half since 2009. The percentage coming from search engines, meanwhile, has dropped to 21% of news site traffic, from 23% in 2009.
- Facebook users follow news links shared by family and friends; Twitter users follow links from a range of sources. Fully 70% of Facebook news consumers get most of their story links from friends and family. Just 13% say most links that they follow come from news organizations. On Twitter, however, the mix is more even: 36% say most of the links they follow come from friends and family, 27% say most come from news organizations, and 18% mostly follow links from non-news entities such as think tanks. And most feel that the news they get on either network is news they would have seen elsewhere without that platform.
- Most media sectors saw audience growth in 2011 — with the exception of print publications. News websites saw the greatest audience growth (17%) for the year. In addition, thanks in part to the drama of events overseas, every sector of television news gained in 2011. Network news audiences grew 5%, the first uptick in a decade. Local news audiences grew in both morning and late evening, the first growth in five years. Cable news audiences also grew, by 1%, after falling the year before; in particular, MSNBC and CNN audiences grew in 2011, while Fox declined. Print newspapers, meanwhile, stood out for their continued decline, which nearly matched the previous year’s 5% drop. Magazines were flat.
- Despite audience gains, only the web and cable news enjoyed ad revenue growth in 2011. Online advertising increased 23%, and cable ads grew 9%. Most media sectors, however, saw ad revenues decline — network TV was down 3.7%; magazines ad pages, 5.6%; local news, 6.7%; and newspapers, 7.6%.
- As many as 100 newspapers are expected in coming months to join the roughly 150 dailies that have already moved to some kind of digital subscription model. In part, newspapers are making this move after witnessing the success of The New York Times, which now has roughly 390,000 online subscribers. The move is also driven by steep drops in ad revenue. Newspaper industry revenue — circulation and advertising combined — has shrunk 43% since 2000. In 2011, newspapers overall lost roughly $10 in print ad revenue for every new $1 gained online. (That suggests no improvement from what a separate PEJ study of 38 papers found regarding 2010, when the print losses to digital gains in the sample were a $7-to-$1 ratio.)
- The emerging landscape of community news sites is reaching a new level of maturity — and facing new challenges. As some seed grants begin to sunset, a shakeout in community news sites is beginning, along with a clearer model for success. NewWest.net and Chicago News Cooperative are among the prominent community news sites that ceased publishing in 2011 or early 2012. The model for success, epitomized by Texas Tribune and MinnPost, is to diversify funding sources and spend more resources on business—not just journalism.
Media buyers will find more digital formats with stronger targeting and localization from newspapers, but now may be the time to take advantage.
After years of already dramatic declines, the the experts at eMarketer estimate that U.S. spending on print newspaper ads will dip another 6% in 2012 to $19.4 billion. Digital ad sales on the other hand are expected to increase 11.4% this year, and likely, can be had at bargain prices. But they are still a fledgling offering, and will account for only $3.7 billion, not nearly enough to counteract print’s losses.
Still, newspapers recognize the long-term importance of digital advertising. Some just-released research from the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism suggests that newspapers view targeting and newer ad formats as sources of incremental revenue—but they’re rather late to the game. Pew examined 5,381 ads on 22 homepages and landing pages at different news operations between June 2011 and January 2012. Most news sites did not feature ads targeted by consumer behavior. Only CNN, the New York Times and Yahoo News delivered different ads to the researchers based on online activity. Targeting is of course a key component to ad value for Google and Facebook. The news organizations rely most heavily on static banner ads, while pop-ups and animation are rare; so are video ads, a fast-growing category that eMarketer predicts will increase by 43% in 2012. Banner ads by contrast will grow just 18% and will likely level off. And few newspapers have convinced their legacy advertisers to make the digital transition.
Still, more than nine in 10 US newspapers that sell targeted online advertising believed those ads will take in a stronger share of digital revenue over the next year, as will video ads. But those two formats represent just a minor portion of their ad sales effort; the bulk will go to display and banner advertising or classifieds. True, those ad formats are less engaging than video—downright bland. But they favor local advertisers with smaller budgets.
Mobile ads may be bright spot for the print world. Between Q4 2010 and Q4 2011, mobile ad revenues jumped to nine times their earlier level as a percentage of total digital revenues.
eMarketer predicts a continued growth in online ad spending at U.S. newspapers, to reach $4.5 billion by 2016. Print ads will continue their decline, but eMarketer projects they will still outweigh digital gains. By 2016, the newspaper industry will continue to lose about 1% of total ad dollars each year.
- Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich “may occasionally refer to a Twitter hash tag as a hash mark,” observes CNN, but is attempting to reach out to voters “one tweet and Facebook friend at a time.” With a smaller TV ad budget than his rivals, Gingrich is attempting to make up the difference in social media. Gingrich announced at an Alabama campaign stop that he had reached his 175,00th donation; and is fond of saying that 95% of his donations are under $250. Referring to the importance of social media to his campaign, "This is part of how we've survived against Romney, frankly…we reach out through the Internet, so we can run a very inexpensive campaign."
- Hulu’s original series are going global, reports Deadline Hollywood. FremantleMedia Enterprises has signed a deal with Hulu for international distribution rights to the online video service’s original programming. FME retains the rights to distribute Hulu original series globally, and across all platforms, including traditional media. The first such series is Morgan Spurlock’s documentary series “A Day In The Life,” which follows celebrities around for a full day (including to the gym and day care). “This is a ground-breaking deal, which sets a new precedent for acquiring content that can live on both digital and linear platforms,” said FremantleMedia CEO David Ellender, which opens opportunities “outside of the traditional distribution models.”
- comScore has released its monthly comScore qSearch analysis of the U.S. search marketplace for February. Google Sites led the explicit core search market in February with 66.4 percent of search queries conducted, up 0.2 percentage points, followed by Microsoft Sites with 15.3 percent (up 0.1 percentage points) and Yahoo! Sites with 13.8 percent. Ask Network accounted for 3.0 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.5 percent. ComScore clocked 17.6 billion explicit core searches were in February, with Google Sites ranking first with 11.7 billion.
- The 4th Annual Social Media Awards or “SoMe” awards is seeking nominations. The SoMes are presented by the Social Media Club Portland, SEMpdx, ThoroughlyModernMarketing.com, the Software Association of Oregon and InnoTech, and the ceremony will take place on May 3rd in Portland, Oregon. The Awards include ten (10) categories.There are 10 SoMe categories including Brandbuilder: Awareness & Engagement Over 10K, Moneymaker: best ROI Over 10K, Non-profit Campaign of the Year and Agency of the Year. Deadine for nominations is March 15.
- Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) has clarified where to find digital magazine circulation in its reports—apparently a source of confusion till now. Most U.S. and Canadian magazine Publisher’s Statements for the second half of 2011 are available in ABC’s e-Data center, and ABC has pinpointed where to find that information, in a series of highlighted graphics and an informational video.
Ad Age is reporting that Cosmopolitan (a Hearst Magazines publication) is the first digi-mag to reach 100,000 paid subscriptions, calling it “A good sign for magazines’ digital ambitions in general.”
Interestingly, digital Cosmo is not new; it has been available since 2005 and on the Zinio platform, but, has benefited by the explosion in tablets and eReaders like the Nook and Kindle Fire.
Editor in Chief Kate White told Ad Age that the success comes down to the content. “Women want our content, and they’ll get it on a variety of platforms.”
Content may be king (or queen), but Hearst and Cosmopolitan have taken some gambles with the digital edition.
First, it charges more for its digital Zinio or iPad edition than for a print subscription, at $19.99 versus $15 for one year.
Secondly, it does not bundle a digital subscription with a print subscription. Titles like Wired and People, as well as most newspapers with a paywall, toss in the digital edition to print subscribers. As Ad Age puts it, that “[Undermines] their prospects for digital-only sales.”
Cosmo claims a total paid subscription of 1.43 million and 1.6 million in newsstand sales, per June 2011 Audit Bureau of Circulations data; that exceptionally high newsstand performance has likely boosted the digital interest. The next highest newsstand performance is from InStyle, with sales of 570,000.
As BizReport describes, eReaders are not new (the Amazon Kindle was introduced in 2007). But eReading is not stagnant, it has spread to tablets and mobile devices through apps. BizReport interviewed Mike Brand, marcomm V of Martini Media to identify some best practices. Martini Media is a digital media platform that targets American households of $100,000+ income, focusing on high-end brands like Bloomberg, BMW and Bellagio.
1. Focus on magazines and newspapers. As Goldberg describes, "Consumers are already comfortable with ads in these publications, so it is nothing new on the e-reader.”
2. Combine the feel of print with the interactivity of digital. An ad for a cruise line will be static in print, but in an eReader, you can provide 3D views and zoom-in imagery. As Goldberg puts it, “Let users jump off the page and dive into your message.
3. Think local. A local advertiser can take advantage of advertising in national publications which allow for targeting for geography and demographic information.
4. Steer clear of books for sponsorship opportunities. A consumer who pays $15 to download a book is likely antagonized by advertising. “On the other hand,” says Goldberg, “if advertisers can begin working out sponsorship deals with publishers in turn for readers to download free books, I think people would be much more open to ads."
Fast on the heels of Gannett announcing its paywall around 80 community newspapers, the Los Angeles Times (LAT) on Friday announced it will launch a metered paywall on Monday, March 5.
The mechanics are the usual. Print subscribers will have free and unlimited Website access. Web-only visitors can read 15 LAT stories per month for free, after which they will be charged an introductory rate of 99 cents for four weeks, then $1.99 per week for a website-plus-Sunday-print-edition package. Kathy Thomson, president and COO of the LA Times Media Group, says the company “priced the digital subscription with the Sunday newspaper at a lower rate because they are complementary products.” A Web-only subscription is $3.99 per month, but the LAT sweetens the digital subscription with “retail discounts, deals and giveaways.”
The paper will also launch a print-only Saturday section called “Lifestyle.” This will combine the health, food and home sections, which the paper will phase out as standalones, in a cost-cutting measure. Those sections will remain live on the website.
According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), the LAT has an average daily circulation of 572,998 (down 200,000 from two years ago, says the LAT) and the website has 34.8 million unique monthly visitors. The LAT points out to readers that it is following the example of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Dallas Morning News; as well as the 80 Gannett properties.
A Gamble Worth Trying
If LAT's web advertisers fear they will lose exposure, LAT is saying "fear not."
According to ComScore data, the LAT was the third-most-viewed U.S. newspaper website in 2011, with 17 million unique visitors a month; the New York Times and Washington Post ranked first and second. The LAT points out that the New York Times has signed on 390,000 digital-only subscribers, without damaging its traffic. The New York Times charges between $14.99 and $35 a month, depending on the digital subscription program.