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February 03 2012


#newsrw: Ten facts and figures learnt in the paid-for content models session

One of the sessions at news:rewired – media in motion looked at paid-for content models, tackling the question of how to make money to pay for digital journalism.

The panellists were: François Nel, researcher, academic and consultant on newsroom and digital business innovation; Tom Standage, digital editor, the Economist; Chris Newell, founder, ImpulsePay; Alex Watson, head of app development, Dennis Publishing

Here are 10 facts and figures from the session:

1. Dennis Publishing has had 3.5 million app downloads since the launch off Apple’s Newsstand on 12 October, Alex Watson told news:rewired delegates.

2. Since the launch of Newsstand, purchases within the App Store have generated $400,000 for Dennis Publishing, publisher of The Week magazine. That is the figure after paying Apple’s 30 per cent cut and VAT.

3. A typical Dennis Publishing page-turning PDF app generated 47,000 app downloads between October and February, resulting in $16,000 of revenue. Richer iPad apps with video, for example, generated 53,000 app downloads and $100,000 in revenue.

4. Tom Standage: The Economist “is looking at creating an HTML5 web app” that can be used across devices.

5. “What we sell is the feeling of being informed when you get to the end of it,” said Tom Standage, digital editor of the Economist.

6. 300,000 out of the Economist’s one million print subscribers are using the Economist’s apps.

7. In two years more than 70 per cent of subscribers to the Economist expect to be reading the publication digitally.

8. 77 per cent of digital subscribers to the Economist are new readers, said Tom Standage.

9. Chris Newell: 90 per cent people complete transactions with PayForIt, a mobile payment system. That compares with 50 per cent when asked to pay by PayPal.

10. François Nel looked at the Daily Mail versus Guardian, two leading titles with two different approaches.

The Daily Mail has experienced one of lowest declines in print circulation, while online has seen a “meteoric rise” of 60 per cent year-on-year. The Mail has focused on its website, not on offering lots of different digital platforms.

The Guardian, meanwhile, has seen a 14 per cent decline in print while offering content on many different digital platforms.

The difference between the Daily Mail and Guardian is that the Mail uses “digital channels to supplement” print; the Guardian, with its many digital platforms, offers a “substitute for print”, François Nel said.


LIVE: Session 1B – Paid-for content models

How can we to make money from online content? That is the million dollar question in the news industry today and one which continues to be answered in many different ways. As we move into another year it’s time to return to the debate and look at how the main models being pursued in the industry today which can be adopted by both national news titles as well as more niche outlets and magazine publishers, be it through app subscriptions, a bold paywall or a more metered approach. This session will also look at how Apple’s Newsstand, which was released in October, has increased app downloads for magazine publishers.

With: François Nel, researcher, academic and consultant on newsroom and digital business innovation; Tom Standage, digital editor, the Economist; Chris Newell, founder, ImpulsePay; and Alex Watson, head of app development, Dennis Publishing.


Over the last year, the Mail has declined by 4.6% in it’s print edition. Online, however, it’s readership has grown by nearly 60%.  MailOnline’s rise has been “meteoric”.


There have always been differing price points and pricing strategies. We’re now going to look at the most successful news websites (traffic-wise) in the UK: MailOnline and the Guardian.


Nel says that we need to drop the binary arguments: to paywall or not to paywall is not a good question.

It’s too simplistic.


Social, local, and mobile are the key areas for the future in the eyes of media executives. But at what price?


Sorry, slight crossing of live blogs here. Sorting to fix things.


He wants to look at experimentation, and whether there are underlying principles that are essential for understanding online business models.



David Dunkley Gyimah is up next – a video journalist, academic and artist in residence at the Southbank, apparently!
Reportage in 1991/2 was “the YouTube of the BBC back then” – young and disruptive.
It all comes back to cinema. You need to get people to feel something, and to do that you need to experiment with image and movement and how best to capture that.


Overall, make it easy and people will pay! Streamlining the payment experience is essential is seems.

Francois Nel is now taking the stage. He is an academic at UCLan. He says he will be talking about the “alchemy of paid content innovations”. Yeah.


Previously, Premium SMS was the best way to do mobile payments – this is clunky and readers also don’t want to be waiting around for a text.


Impulse Pay’s alternative is a one-click approach, where the cost is added to your mobile phone bill.


People don’t like filling in forms, they are tedious and boring. The average credit card payment takes 120 character strokes – it’s too much effort for readers!


Now speaking: Chris Newell, founder of Impulse Pay.


Standage is talking about about their web presence now, and the strengths of a metered paywall.


The Economist call this “finishability” approach Lean Back 2.0.


Standage says there is a catharsis in finishability. And this is still available on their apps, whereas you can’t find that on the web, because there is always more information available.


Currently, readers prefer print over digital (80 – 20), but in two years the split will be 70 -30 in favour of digital.


When we ask people why they cancel their print subscriptions, they largely say it’s because they see them piling up and they don’t have the time to read.

They are addressing this with digital, by offering it in app form, and in audio. You can read it on your iPhone in a cramped train carriage with one hand, or listen when you’re on a run.


Tom Standage, digital editor of the Economist is now speaking. They have about 1.5 M print readers, of which a third use their apps as well. Largely digital users, are digital only.


Questions now: “What about Android apps?”

Answer: “We’ve not done so much with Android. In Newsstand, Apple have created a retail experience, which is something that we think Google are missing.”


It’s worth producing a high quality product, because users will rate you highly, and Apple will give you access to promo spots if you offer a good experience.


Moving forward, it’s important to note that Apple will sell more iPhones and iPads.


John Domokos, video producer at the Guardian, showing clips from the student protests where he got to know and followed a group of first time protestors. Videos showed an alternative side of the protests when the main ‘traditional’ media story was the attack on Charles and Camilla’s car.

Online video doesn’t have the resources of broadcast but is finding its own special place – raw, microcosm approach – not the top-down, broad view presented on TV.


One problem with apps though is that people want to be able to sample, but making an issue free can cause surges in downloads that have unpredictable effects – like melting servers.

Technical support queries are also overwhelming at times, and iOS users traditionally expect bulletproof reliability and high production values.

You’ll be judged against Flipboard, even if you’re Landrover Monthly.


“Newsstand completely redefined “doing well”"

3.5 M app downloads since the launch of Newsstand, across a range of titles. And revenue is up to – 0, 000 – even after VAT and the Apple cut.

Consumer attention is high.


Alex Watson, Dennis Publishing is talking first, about how the Apple Newsstand is changing magazine online publishing.


Katie King, senior product manager, Portal & Partners, MSN UK, is introducing the panel for this session, which you can take a look at here: http://www.newsrewired.com/agenda-6/.

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