Friday, October 26, 2012

Superman, Newsweek, iPad Mini: Three Nails in a Coffin

Article first published as Superman, Newsweek, iPad Mini: Three Nails in a Coffin on Technorati.

·         Superman, or rather his mild-mannered alter ego Clark Kent, quits is decades old job at The Daily Planet to become a blogger.
·         After 79 years in print Newsweek, begins 2013 as a digital only publication. It’s last print edition will hit the stands on December 31 this year.
·          Apple launches the iPAD Mini…smaller size, smaller price ergo, analysts claim, much more demand that the earlier, bigger, more expensive editions of the iPAD.

Superman is probably a decade late to blogging, Newsweek isn’t the first print title to go digital only and the iPad mini is neither the first at that size, nor the cheapest. Yet these developments are significant as three nails that signify print publications might be closer to extinction that many of us believe.
The reason I put the launch of the IPAD Mini up there is because, I believe, the IPAD Mini will be significant in accelerating the move from print to online for two very significant reasons: Price and ease of use. Let’s look at price first. At $329 the mini is the cheapest iPAD ever by almost $150. Admittedly there are excellent 7-inch tablets at lower rates, but Apple has demonstrated an ability to move volumes unmatched by any other product. So the iPAD Mini should see a wave of first time users to the tablet genre.
Second is ease-of-use. I love the Kindle because it has been engineered for people to read. It is just the right size, the right weight and has incredibly long battery. The larger tablets, on the other hand, are just a tad too big and heavy to use for long hours. Smartphones are too small for anything other than cursory browsing.
Kindle Touch 3G
Kindle Fire
iPAD Mini
Screen Size
Dimensions (mm)
Weight (Ounces)

While digital is a great way to cut costs and reach a larger audience, publishers also find that subscription models online do not work as well as they do in print. Realizations from digital ad revenues are also nowhere near what publishers have traditionally got from print titles. Even though digital advertising  budgets are expected to overtake print for the first time this year…the bulk of this is actually shared by New Media companies.

According comScore the top 10 online display advertisers in the US are:
·         Facebook
·         Yahoo sites
·         Microsoft sites
·         Google sites
·         AOL Inc
·         Turner Digital
·         Glam Media
·         ESPN
·         Viacom Digital
·         EBay
The real challenge with publications going digital is not that they are up against sites with huge user bases. It is that they are up against sites that have incredibly high user engagement levels. Content sites have been unable to get anywhere near user engagement levels of a Facebook, Google or Yahoo. I believe user engagement level is directly proportional to ad revenues.

Time on Site (mm:ss)
Bounce Rate%
The point is publishers are trying a variety of different tactics to create online revenues. I believe the one area that will yield results will be a greater focus on user engagement levels. There are a number of ways to do this…not the least to understand user requirements, rather than just user behavior.  

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