Tablets – findings to date

The International Newsmedia Marketing Association’s one day seminar on tablets provided a rich overview of the current learnings. Suzanne Raitt, vice-president marketing and innovation for Newspapers Canada, attended and provides a summary.

What we know so far

  • Evenings dominate iPad use around the world
  • Currently the tablet is used for relaxation and entertainment
  • More than 60 tablets are expected to launch in the next year

Comparison of newspaper tablet apps

INMA (Tom Corbett, European office) prepared a review of apps from newspapers compared to personal news aggregators. He sourced data from many countries around the world (including Canada and the United States). Corbett found:

  • Newspaper apps are lower in price (Euro €1.67 vs. €2.93)
  • Newspaper apps are lower rated (2 ½ out of 5 vs. 4)
  • 57% of newspaper apps are in pdf form (i.e. not live)
  • 45% of newspaper apps are offered free with free content while 31% are a free app with paid content

Who is doing it well

  • Tablet superstars: New Zealand Herald, Globe & Mail, Wired, Time Inc., Times of London
  • Innovation: Hearst App Lab, New York Times, USA Today

How to make money

Very few apps make money (those that do offer something unique in terms of content, convenience, packaging and/or experience). And the demographic that doesn’t read the paper, will they really buy your paper’s app? The current thinking seems to be that most newspapers offer an app free and sell something once the user is in the app. For example, the most popular non-media apps are games. The "Angry Bird" free game supplies a cheating bird for 99 cents to help users.  In terms of advertisers, they will pay for message richness, context, audience, location, intention and/or fulfillment.

App or not

  • Is there a market for an app for more than 2-4 national/international papers? Know your paper’s strategic reason for offering an app.
  • Most used on the iPad is the web browser. Does your paper need an app (as the user can link to your site)? By using the site, the newspaper also keeps control of data and pricing (which is an issue when offering an app through Apple).
  • To target different users (such as tech-savvy younger readers vs. hard core older readers), the paper may want to offer more than one app or more than one site.

Use tablets’ interactivity?

The tablet provides the opportunity to offer an amazing interactive experience. The Times of London was referenced as an example of wonderfully designed content prepared for the tablet (see screen shots of its Wall of Debt, World Cup, Health indicators

Theoretically each media would be used appropriately (i.e. tablets interactive, mobiles for headlines). There was no agreement over whether it was possible to both utilize this ability and make money. Another (cost effective) option was to use one design that adapts automatically to the device. Filipe Fortes, Interactive