viernes, 10 de noviembre de 2017

Cómo Bezos convierte al WaPo en una empresa tecnológica

Apareció en The Drum el 8 de noviembre.

Aquí va entero:

 
How Jeff Bezos built a tech business within the Washington Post 
In 2016 the Washington Post entered a new era of growth and profitability, an impressive feat against a backdrop of falling print revenues, rising competition and the challenges associated with operating in a digital ecosystem.

By Jessica Goodfellow

Where other publishers have been introducing disinvestment strategies for their print operations, the Washington Post has hired “hundreds” of journalists to maintain the quality of its newspaper.

It has built its own adtech company which includes over a dozen products such as custom ad units and its own “turbo” ad server. The Post also builds software that it sells to other publishers through its software-as-a-service business (SAAS), Arc Publishing, and has employed new technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) to expand its newsroom and advertising capabilities.

In short, over the past four years the Post has become both a technology business and a journalism institution, a mix it believes is essential to succeed in media in the future. Its silver bullet? Jeff Bezos.  
Before the ink had even dried on the $250m cheque Bezos handed to former owner Don Graham to purchase the Post in August 2013, traffic at the paper’s site had spiked. The Post had 27 million unique views in the US and under 10 million uniques internationally at the time of purchase. Those views had doubled less than two years after purchase. Notably, points out chief revenue officer Jed Hartman, this spike happened before Donald Trump had even announced his entrance into the world of politics.
“Jeff Bezos has been far more influential to our growth than Donald Trump,” Hartman tells The Drum, when asked if the publisher has experienced a ‘Trump bump’. However, he does add that the president is “fascinating” and has made politics “pop-culture”, with a higher proportion of both US and international audiences consuming political news as a result.

“I do feel that has put more of a light on the Washington Post,” Hartman says. “We get more individuals that sample the Post because of the increased palace intrigue – whether it is through social or search – but then they realise there is another world of the Post and they stay and become more of an engaged user.”

Don’t walk away from your legacy

Crucial to the Post’s ability to increase its readership in a newspaper landscape plagued in declines has been its continued investment in its journalists, both in print and digital. In fact, where many publishers have been ushering journalists out the door, the Post has been welcoming hundreds of them in. It means the newspaper covers Washington better than any local paper covers its community, Hartman claims. At the same time, it is outpacing the industry when it comes to print ad sales. For Hartman the reason is obvious, if you disinvest in your journalism, the core product worsens, and the appeal wanes for advertisers.

“One thing that has hurt the print industry is yes there is a viable alternative: digital. But that meant people divested investing in print so it has gotten worse. And they start curating rather than creating. That is not very good for your brand. Ours has not gotten worse; it has gotten better,” Hartman says.
He’s also critical of a growing trend of publishers ‘pivoting’ to new content forms and walking away from their legacy business, believing the pendulum swings all over the place in the industry and swinging too hard in one direction is “not a good idea”. Instead, the Post sees video, audio, VR and the like as an “and” not an “or”, a companion to the written word rather than a replacement.

“The written world is remarkably powerful, it has won many Pulitzers and it is not going away. So it is vital that we do both; that is more of a focus than leaving one towards the other,” Hartman adds.

It might still be investing in its print product, but Hartman admits circulation is on an inevitable decline: “We are very comfortable with the pace we are on; we understand it is the reality.”

Which is why Hartman was hired from magazine giant Time Inc in 2014 to turn the Post’s “modest” digital ad business into one that is now well into the nine-figures. Hartman reveals the Post has “more than doubled” its digital advertising sales, significantly contributing to its growth and profitability, and sees this trend continuing.

Building rather than outsourcing

It’s also why Bezos has been spearheading a technological revolution at the publisher that has seen it become a tech vendor as well as a publisher.

“Our owner Jeff Bezos certainly believes that if something is core to you, you build it,” Hartman says. “Google wouldn't outsource their search business.”

It started out as a simple solution to there being no “great” products for publishers on the market.

“There are a bunch of solutions that are the least common denominator solutions that are good for everybody but great for nobody. They haven’t been invested by the companies that own them as much because publishing is a challenging industry – why deeply invest in a product for them? So we made our own,” Hartman adds.

For Bezos it's also about creating a “frictionless customer experience”, which has been crucial to Amazon’s growth. For example, when ad blockers first started gaining momentum, rather than seeing a doomsday scenario the Post looked internally to see what it was doing to drive the demand, and instead created products that reduce ad load time and make the browsing experience faster.

“All of that comes out of Jeff’s involvement with the Washington Post,” Hartman reveals.  
So far it has built over a dozen products including a custom CMS that incorporates viral predictors and headline testers that it has licensed to Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing), a patented “turbo” ad server, Zeus, that can compete with the speed of blazing browsers like Google’s AMP and PWA, plus first-of-their-kind ad units that focus on user experience and speed.
These products are built by the company’s internal adtech ‘company’, Red (research, experimentation and development in advertising), which was formed by Hartman shortly after he joined to bridge the engineering gap between editorial and advertising. Red is headed up by Jarrod Dicker, VP of innovation and commercial products at the Post. Dicker’s charge upon joining the company in July 2015 was “not to fix broken things, like IT will do at a company, but build the future”. 
“I think we have found our sweet spot in everything we do which is the combination of technology or engineering and great content,” Hartman says. “That is our unique position.” 
“There are many companies that do incredible engineering and technology; our owner’s other company Amazon, Google and Facebook. Then there are some wonderful journalism companies; the New York Times, CNN. We are stronger at journalism than these technology companies, and we are stronger at technology that journalism companies,” he adds. 
For Hartman, this hybrid model is the blueprint for the media business of the future and explains why traditional tech/telecom businesses are snapping up publishers, such as Verizon’s purchase of AOL and Yahoo (now Oath) and AT&T’s bid for Time Warner, and why Facebook and Google have been working with publishers to create products with more favourable terms.
The impartiality question

While Bezos may have set up a sustainable media business in a troubling time for news, his purchase of the paper did not come without its critics. Free speech advocates – and indeed the president who calls the paper the ‘Amazon Washington Post’ – have questioned how involved Bezos is in the Post’s editorial output, and whether this affects its ability to hold Silicon Valley giants such as Amazon to account.

Hartman believes Bezos’ involvement is “completely appropriate”, and is focused on the tech founder’s expertise in product development and customer experience, rather than editorial. The senior management team have a call with Bezos every two weeks, and refer to him internally as ‘chief inspiration officer’.

In fact, Bezos’ reasoning for buying the Post was fuelled by his belief that having a powerful, independent, journalistic operation that holds the powerful accountable is a vital part of democracy worldwide. Does this include holding himself, and Amazon, to account?

“100%” says Hartman, “It doesn't mean we don’t have relationships with Amazon but we are very separate.” The Post uses Amazon products, including Alexa and its affiliate marketing program Amazon Associates. But editor Marty Baron confirmed last month that Bezos “doesn’t get involved” in coverage “at all”, including negative stories about Amazon.
 

Douglas McCabe, chief executive and director of publishing and tech at Enders Analysis, believes Bezos has done a good job of evading the potential downsides of a tech entrepreneur buying an impartial news organisation. 
“The downsides could have included: interference; technology innovation at the expense of investment in journalism; an Amazon strategy shoehorned into the publishing business; too much distance, that is, money without intelligence,” McCabe says.

“None of these outcomes have emerged because Bezos has evidently not interfered with the Post’s content at all. He has applied a strategic framework and some tactical elements to generate a means of investing more in journalism in the short and medium term.”

Not the guardian of Amazon, after all.

jueves, 9 de noviembre de 2017

Rediseño de El Día de La Plata

21 de febrero de 2017


Hoy

El pasado 3 de noviembre salió a la calle el nuevo diseño de El Día de La Plata, por Gustavo Lo Valvo. No sé nada más... por ahora.

jueves, 2 de noviembre de 2017

O empezamos a cobrar o esto se va al garete

Quizá pueda entrar en The New York Times y leer allí mismo el artículo. Si no puede y sin permiso le paso la copia que conseguí. El título del post es del tuit de Vicente Lozano que traía el link

New York Times Co. Reports Solid Digital Growth as Print Slides
By Sydney Ember
The New York Times Company continued its march toward a digital future in the third quarter of 2017, as strong growth in digital advertising and new online subscriptions helped counteract a further collapse in print advertising.

The company said on Wednesday that digital advertising revenue in the quarter rose 11 percent, to $49 million. The company also added 105,000 net digital-only subscriptions for its news product, helping to push digital subscription revenue to $86 million, a 46 percent increase compared with the same period a year ago. Over all, the company said, total revenue increased 6 percent in the quarter, to $386 million.

Including subscriptions for its crossword and cooking products, The Times now has nearly 2.5 million digital-only subscriptions.

The Times, however, has not been immune to the punishing, industrywide downturn in print. Print advertising revenue fell 20 percent in the quarter, fueling a 9 percent decrease in total advertising revenue.

“This was another strong quarter,” Mark Thompson, the chief executive of The Times, said during an earnings call, although he added that the market for print advertising remained “challenging.”

Mr. Thompson praised the “sheer breadth” of journalism at The Times, comparing the company to a “multi-ocean Navy” because of its ability to break and cover international and national news while also dedicating resources to investigations. He also cited The Daily, The Times’s popular podcast, which he said had been downloaded more than 100 million times since February.

The sound, if not earth-shattering, financial results were announced as The Times fundamentally reshapes itself into a business no longer rooted in newsprint. In the last several months, it has eliminated its copy desk, offered buyouts to employees and reorganized the structure of its newsroom.

But from a financial perspective, The Times appears to be moving in a positive direction.

The $64 million in print advertising revenue represented just 17 percent of the company’s total revenue in the third quarter, Mr. Thompson said, and was $22 million less than revenue from digital subscriptions. He said The Times was on track to reach its goal of $800 million in annual digital revenue by 2020, and he reiterated that he did not think it was unreasonable to project that the company would one day have 10 million subscribers.

Operating profit for the quarter increased to $33 million, from $9 million in the same period last year. Adjusted operating profit rose to $57 million, from $39 million. (Adjusted operating costs in the quarter rose slightly, to $329 million from $324 million compared with the third quarter of 2016.)

Total subscription revenue increased 14 percent in the quarter, to $247 million, partly because of digital subscription growth. Other revenue, which include revenue associated with Wirecutter, a product-review and recommendation site that The Times bought last year, rose 18 percent.

Times executives project that digital subscription revenue will increase about 40 percent in the fourth quarter, but Mr. Thompson said the company expected digital advertising growth for the fourth quarter to be flat or down slightly compared with the same period a year earlier.

Still, he added, “We remain fully confident in our ability to deliver sustainable revenue growth in digital advertising.”

miércoles, 1 de noviembre de 2017

Soporte digital y periodismo sustentable

Daniel Dessein, el presidente de ADEPA (Asociación de Entidades Periodísticas Argentina), estuvo en la INMA (International Newspapers Marketing Association) de Dallas. Les paso el resumen que publicó en el sitio de ADEPA.
Lo que viene en la estrategia de suscripciones 
En el seminario de paywalls de la INMA, realizado el jueves pasado en Dallas, se analizaron los últimos cambios, éxitos, fracasos, variantes y desafíos de los sistemas de pago.
2017 es el año uno de las suscripciones digitales en la industria periodística argentina. Los diarios norteamericanos llevan más de un lustro experimentando activamente con el cobro por acceso digital. El 75% de los diarios norteamericanos superiores a 50.000 ejemplares y un porcentaje significativo de los más chicos fijan algún tipo de restricción al consumo de sus contenidos en la web en un mercado en el que el 10% de la población adulta paga por información online. Repasar las experiencias presentadas en la INMA de Dallas implica asomarse al porvenir de los muros de pago o, al menos, a una de sus posibles fisonomías. 
¿Qué se debate hoy en la industria norteamericana? La evolución, las contramarchas, los ajustes, los defectos y virtudes de los modelos. Son muchos los medios que implementaron grandes virajes o modificaciones sensibles en sus sistemas.
The New York Times, que apostaba hace una década al fallido “Times Select”, consolida desde hace seis años el paywall poroso, la variante más adoptada por los medios alrededor del mundo. Pero hay mucho más que decisiones sobre la altura de la barrera de notas gratuitas, el precio o el discurso pedagógico de los anuncios de suscripción. 
Con más de un millón de suscriptores (300.000 en el último año) detrás de un hardwall, el caso del Wall Street Journal es uno de los referentes en la materia. Jon Buckley, director de ventas digitales del WSJ, hizo una presentación futurista para muchos. Cada uno de los usuarios no suscriptos a su edición digital tiene un score de propensión de suscripción en base a su tasa de retorno al sitio y tipos de lecturas, entre otros indicadores. “Lo fundamental es darle la experiencia correcta a cada usuario y recordarle, a través de constantes avisos de suscripción, que somos un sitio basado en la membresía”, resaltó Buckley.
Desprovisto de las excepcionales características en reconocimiento de marca, target y alcance de diarios como el WSJ o el NYT, el Boston Globe es un caso más “terrenal” para la mayoría de los diarios metropolitanos. Sus directivos se hicieron la gran pregunta que nos hacemos todos: ¿Podremos convertirnos en una empresa exclusivamente digital y sustentable? Su respuesta es afirmativa y lo distintivo es que se apoya en números. 70 millones de dólares es la cifra que marca la sustentabilidad del periodismo de calidad que hoy produce el medio, nos revela Peter Doucette, jefe del departamento de ingresos. Y especifica que actualmente, con suscriptores digitales que este año quebrarán la barrera de los 100.000, alcanzan el 57% de esa meta. 
¿Qué ocurre con los más chicos? Robert Saurer, vicepresidente del departamento de marketing de Gate House Media, nos cuenta que la mayoría de los 135 diarios (pequeñas publicaciones comunitarias, en su mayoría) hoy tienen un paywall.
¿Qué ocurre con aquellos medios que no tienen una gran corporación detrás para costear la implementación y coordinación de los sistemas? Christian Panson, vicepresidente del área digital del Winnipeg Free Press, un periódico canadiense que promedia los 50.000 ejemplares, brinda detalles interesantes: “Nuestro problema es la escala. Solo tenemos un millón de personas (la cantidad de habitantes de su ciudad) con las que podemos interactuar”.
Los lectores de la edición online se enfrentan con un loginwall al tercer artículo leído. Allí se abre un período de prueba de 60 días. El día 61 el lector recibe una oferta. Si en ese lapso leyó más de 40 notas, un pedido de suscripción. Si fueron menos de 40, una oferta de micropagos (27 centavos por nota).
Hoy el diario tiene 37.000 suscriptores digitales. Dos tercios son suscriptores del papel con acceso gratuito. 6.500, suscriptores digitales puros. Y otros 6.500, lectores de micropagos que sumaron 760.000 artículos en el último año. Tres años después de la instalación de este sistema híbrido los resultados no son descollantes, confiesa Panson, pero sí constituyen una base sólida para crecer. También deja una reflexión inquietante: “Nunca mando a los miembros de mi equipo a congresos de nuestra industria sino de otras. Nosotros sólo hablamos de supuestos éxitos y tenemos que hablar de los fracasos”.
Indicadores
Matt Lindsay, de Mather Economics, señala algunos parámetros para planificar la estrategia comercial: “La aceleración de páginas vistas y el incremento de visitas a la web de un mismo usuario son dos de los mayores indicadores de propensión a la suscripción. Otro es páginas vistas de contenido local. Son indicadores que marcan el momento de hacer la oferta. Pero debemos pasar de una estrategia ‘one fits all’ (un mismo tamaño para todos) a una personalizada”. 
Valentin Cornez, de Google, da detalles de Fuse, el proyecto de su compañía para ayudar a los medios a procesar el tsunami de datos que tienen para luego identificar la estrategia eficiente, en cada momento, para cada segmento de audiencia. “Clasificados en casuales, leales, devotos y suscriptos, nos proponemos impulsarlos en cada escalón para avanzar en el proceso de conversión”, dice Cornez.
El programa proporciona una comparación de los datos del medio (tasa de conversión, propensión promedio de los distintos tipos de tráfico, etc) con los de la industria. 
“Tenemos que hacer preguntas -apunta el representante de Google-; tenemos que saber si el usuario planea suscribirse, si la respuesta es negativa conocer el motivo y lo que espera de una suscripción”.
Piano es la empresa que más paywalls ha instalado en el mundo y posee estudios particularmente valiosos para los que se disponen a cobrar. Jonas Rideout, representante de la empresa, lo primero que hace es ahuyentar los temores sobre pérdida de publicidad. “Con una audiencia premium identificada, incluso pueden incrementar esos ingresos”, señala. También, desde Piano, nos impulsan a revisar conceptos. “No están instalando un muro de pago; están construyendo un negocio de suscripciones, que es algo que va mucho más allá”, resaltan.
Algunas lecciones de la experiencia de Piano:
– Lo primero es clasificar, conocer a la audiencia, y la herramienta es el signwall o muro de registro. 
– Luego viene la oferta de la suscripción y para ello es clave conocer cuál es el momento indicado para cada tipo de usuario. Puede ser a la quinta nota leída si viene de redes sociales, o a la tercera si es tráfico directo. 
– La propuesta de valor y los paquetes deben ser claros. Hay que resaltar el tipo y la cantidad de beneficios. 
– A los usuarios hay que pedirles que se suscriben más de una vez (siete veces es el promedio de los medios que trabajan con Piano). 
– El modelo poroso funciona mejor en medios generalistas.– El valor de un suscriptor anual duplica al de uno mensual. 
– Hay que tener cuidado con los “perros dormidos” (dos tercios de los suscriptores no consumió contenidos en el último mes). 
Paywall defensivo 
No todos ven al paywall como una vía clave para acelerar su transformación digital. Algunos lo conciben como un dique de contención que ayuda a preservar la edición impresa. Es el caso del Honolulu Star Advertiser.
Se trata de un diario con ciertas tendencias inversas a las que registra la amplísima mayoría de las publicaciones. Veamos: Con 285.000 ejemplares diarios de promedio y 14 millones de páginas vistas al mes alcanza al 76% de la población adulta de Hawaii. 
Este porcentaje lo convierte en el diario metropolitano de mayor penetración en los Estados Unidos. Pero lo más sorprendente es que en el último año su circulación subió.
El propósito de su muro de pago es proteger los contenidos. “Y también los 30 millones de dólares de ingresos al año”, aclara, sin vueltas, J. David Kennedy, directivo de Oahu Publications. 
Aaron Kotarek, otro de los directivos de la empresa hawaiana, agrega: “Queremos que los compradores de la edición impresa sepan que el contenido por el que pagan no lo reciben otros gratuitamente. En la suscripción digital no hay descuentos ni promociones. Vivimos en un isla y no querríamos que los que pagan se enteraran que hay otros que pagan menos”.
Después de leer la tercera nota en el sitio, el lector se topa con un muro de registro. A la quinta, con el pedido de suscripción. Hoy cuentan con 5.000 suscriptores digitales puros.
Lecciones vikingas
Earl Wilkinson, presidente de INMA, acaba de llegar de un viaje por los países escandinavos con mucho para contar.
Lo que los escandinavos están haciendo muy bien, sostiene Wilkinson, es el cambio cultural. Tienen una cultura corporativa que gira en torno a lo digital, manejan KPIs y scorings de contenidos actualizados, las redacciones están reenfocadas y tienen una sana obsesión por los datos. 
Noruega ofrece muchos ejemplos que vale la pena analizar. En 2015, la mayoría de los diarios noruegos lanzaron juntos sus muros e pago.
Amedia, compañía que tiene 63 títulos con una circulación conjunta de medio millón de ejemplares tiene 151.000 suscriptores digitales puros. Una cuarta parte de ellos, menores de 40 años. Su patrón de medida son los visitantes únicos diarios (no los mensuales) y tienen un foco en los usuarios leales que no se suscriben, como también en los temas que disparan las suscripciones (salud, inmuebles, transporte, policiales). 
El Aftenposten reemplazó su paywall poroso por un freemium híbrido (6 artículos libres y 35% del contenido cerrado). La estrategia se apoya en newsletters personalizados y beneficios segmentados.
El Aftenbladet es uno de los pocos diarios que están revirtiendo los porcentajes de la ecuación generalizada de ingresos.
Hoy la mayoría de sus ingresos son digitales.
El Dagens Nyheter, diario sueco con 280.000 ejemplares diarios promedio, tiene una meta ambiciosa pero no inalcanzable por el ritmo que tienen: 400.000 suscriptores para fines del próximo año. Su jefe de redacción, un periodista de 39 años, es el encargado de las suscripciones digitales. “Eso es cambiar la cultura”, dice el presidente de INMA.
Estas son algunas de las lecciones escandinavas:
– El lector debe estar en el centro y hay que adaptarse a sus tendencias. 
– Debemos entregarle una propuesta de valor adecuada. 
– Las suscripciones deben priorizarse dentro de la organización para tener éxito. 
– Hay que fortalecer la comunicación interna en las compañías. 
– Debemos obsesionarnos con la economía del contenido y los disparadores de las suscripciones.
Conclusiones finales
No hay respuestas mágicas. Cada mercado es único. Cada organización es única. Cada lector o potencial lector son únicos. Pero hay ejemplos y tendencias útiles para encontrar el camino para cada caso.
Los modelos de cobro están en plena evolución y probablemente siempre lo estarán. Arribamos al consenso de que no podemos seguir ofreciendo nuestro contenido gratuitamente y sabemos que la publicidad digital no pagará las cuentas.
Tenemos que sofisticar la producción, concentrarnos y multiplicar ese 10% que dispara las suscripciones. Se consolida el modelo freemium apoyado en datos. No podemos seguir a ciegas. Debemos apoyarnos en ellos para encontrar la fórmula adecuada para cada medio.

viernes, 27 de octubre de 2017

La ley del embudo

Artículo publicado por The Economist, con todos los derechos reservados, que respeto citándolos, en este medio que no cobra por leer textos que valen la pena.

The Future of Journalism: Funnel Vision
How leading American newspapers got people to pay for news


Sometimes it feels like the 1970s in the New York Times and Washington Post newsrooms: reporters battling each other to break news about scandals that threaten to envelop the White House and the presidency of Donald Trump. Only now their scoops come not in the morning edition but in a tweet or iPhone alert near the end of the day.

Their experiences offer lessons for the industry in America, although only a handful of newspapers have a chance at matching their success. A subscription-first approach relies on tapping a national and international market of hundreds of millions of educated English-language readers and converting a fraction of those into paying customers. With enough digital subscribers — Mark Thompson, chief executive of the New York Times, believes his newspaper can get to 10m, from 2m today — the subscriptions-first model could (in theory) generate more profits than business models dependent on print advertising used to. Such optimism is hard to summon after two decades of accelerating decline. In that period American newspapers lost nearly 40% of their daily circulation, which fell to 35m last year, estimates the Pew Research Centre. Annual ad revenues have shrunk by 63%, or $30bn, just in the past ten years (see chart). Newsrooms have shed 40% of reporters and editors since 2006. High returns on equity turned into single digits, losses or bankruptcy.
Like Detroit carmakers before the arrival of the Japanese, in pre-internet days newspapers flush with profits from a captive market grew lazy and complacent. Some big-city papers, like the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Baltimore Sun, splurged on foreign bureaus and fluffy suburban sections whether or not readers wanted them; classified ads alone covered these costs many times over. Now such newspapers are struggling to remain relevant to diminished readerships. A tier below, hundreds of local ones are dying or turning into advertiser sheets; newspaper chains, some managed by investment funds, have snapped up many of them, maintaining high profits by sacking journalists. 
From the ashes of newsprint 
The Times and Post have been buffeted by the same forces. But now each is in turnaround. The Times has doubled its digital-only subscribers in less than two years; the Post has managed the feat in ten months, and now has more than 1m. Both have staunched losses. Revenue at the Times had fallen by more than 20% in three years to less than $1.6bn in 2009; this year they are on pace to climb back above $1.6bn, led by digital subscriptions. (Return on equity still fell, to 3% last year from 37% in 2001.) 
The Post had also been losing millions before Jeff Bezos, boss of Amazon, bought it in 2013. The newspaper is now privately held and does not disclose revenues and profits, but Fred Ryan, the publisher, says both are growing and the newspaper is on track for its most profitable year in a decade. The Wall Street Journal added more than 300,000 digital subscriptions in the year to June, but a sharp fall in advertising crimped revenues by 6% at Dow Jones, the division of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, that houses the newspaper. How have they done it? Early attempts by newspapers to put up digital “paywalls” floundered, and met with derision from critics and competitors vaunting the internet’s ability to generate huge audiences for free content. How could anyone hope to attract paying digital customers when they could go elsewhere online for free?
The Times hit upon the answer in 2011, when it introduced a metered paywall, something the Financial Times was also trying. Visitors to the website could read a few free articles a month, after which they would be asked to pay. This approach is now standard across journalism (including at this newspaper), but it was controversial at the time. At News Corp Mr Murdoch erected a hard paywall at all his newspapers in the belief that giving away his product online would cripple the more profitable print editions. Those suffered anyway, and he later dropped the paywall at the Sun, a tabloid, and has allowed some flexibility at the Journal. Softer paywalls have created funnels to suck in customers. 
On a whiteboard in Mr Thompson’s office at the Times is a diagram to illustrate the approach. At the top, where the funnel is widest, are all those who visit its digital site. (In September 104m people in America did so, according to comScore.) At the narrow end are its 2m paying digital-only subscribers (plus 1m print subscribers). Mr Thompson’s main preoccupation is to tweak the “geometry of the funnel” to shift more people from free to paid. At the Post, Mr Ryan is also busy funnelling. 
The job of funnel mathematician did not exist at newspapers six years ago. Now it is one of the most important functions a digital site has. The Times and Post conduct numerous tests of different ways to trigger the paywall, for instance if a visitor returns to the same columnist. It is A/B testing like at a technology company, Mr Ryan says, except it is more like “A to Z testing”. The Post has settled on three site visits a month before hitting the paywall, which means 85% of visitors will not encounter it. The other 15% are asked to subscribe at the introductory rate of 99 cents for the first four weeks. 
Both newspapers sift through data about what visitors do just before stumping up. The Post looks at the “month zero” of a reader’s pre-subscription activity on the site. Mr Ryan credits the effort, which began a year ago, with helping to convert more visitors to subscribers this year. 
Another factor has helped the two papers: Mr Trump. Since his election they have revived an old rivalry, vying for sensational scoops, sometimes several in a day. Mr Trump’s attacks on both newspapers — “the failing New York Times”, “more fake news from the Amazon Washington Post” — have almost certainly helped their bottom lines. His presidency has created an urgency around news that has made old-fashioned journalism more in vogue than it has been probably since Watergate. Fake news shared on social media has reinforced a feeling that real news costs money. 
Trump bump 
The newspapers’ bosses agree Mr Trump has been good for business, but add they were ready for the moment. As Mr Bezos is fond of saying, “you can’t shrink your way to profitability”. He invested in the Post after buying it, hiring technologists to improve its digital presence. He has also added reporters (the Post now has 750 newsroom employees and counting). Marty Baron, editor of the Post, added a rapid-response investigative team of eight people this year. Dean Baquet, executive editor of the Times, has expanded the Washington bureau twice since the election. (The Times paid for new reporters in part by cutting dozens of other editorial jobs.) 
The subscription-first approach justifies adding reporters. By increasing the quality of the product, newspapers hope to lure subscribers. But it is not clear others can replicate that virtuous circle so easily. Many regional papers are nurturing digital subscribers — they all have their funnels now, too — but are doing so on a much smaller scale. They will have to come up with other ways to make money to survive. “They have to do everything,” says Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University. 
By “everything” media experts like Mr Rosen mean ending a reliance on two traditional sources of revenue: ads and subscriptions. At regional papers, unlike the national ones, prospects for both are limited by the size of the metropolitan market. Savings from printing fewer copies are small — printing and distribution costs are mostly fixed — so they must either cut staff or find other ways to make money. This may include staging trade fairs, offering memberships with perks, even e-commerce partnerships. Such sidelines help to ward off staff cuts; to be a community hub, newspapers must also cover communities effectively. They may forgo costly (and wasteful) foreign and national bureaus. But to attract local readers, they must provide relevant coverage of city halls, courthouses, police precincts or schools. 
Take the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, a privately owned newspaper which has managed to keep the newsroom humming along. Almost annually Mike Klingensmith, the publisher, and a few of his senior executives meet with their counterparts at the Dallas Morning News, Boston Globe and one or two other independently owned newspapers. They sign non-disclosure agreements and then share ideas about how to make money. In the past year Mr Klingensmith has adopted three of them, adding several million dollars in revenue: organising an advertiser fair to attract new clients; putting on a consumer travel show; and starting a glossy quarterly print magazine. 
The Star Tribune now sells digital subscriptions (nearly 50,000) and adverts; delivers a thick Sunday paper full of features (which accounts for 54% of print ad revenue); and is expanding the Saturday print edition. It conducts in-depth investigations that wins awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 2013, and makes podcasts and daily videos. Several reporters cover city hall. In the past year an additional one was dispatched to Washington. Mr Klingensmith and Rene Sanchez, the editor, believe quality is key; nearly 20% of the budget goes to the newsroom, which has kept a headcount of 245 for seven years. 
That gives the Star Tribune’s funnel mathematician a product to sell. Patrick Johnston, a digital executive poached from Target, the retail store, and his boss Jim Bernard, a former executive at Marketwatch, a business-news website, explain how a local newspaper’s funnel vision is different. They are, like the big papers, interested in the visitors who they call “intenders”, people whose browsing behaviour suggests they may be ready to subscribe. But whereas many visitors to the Times and Post are potential intenders, the Star Tribune can dismiss about 50% of its online traffic — the “grazers” from outside Minnesota who clicked a link — and focus on the other half. Reducing friction is vital; they have got 25% more intenders to subscribe since installing PayPal as a payment option. 
Hold the presses 
The downside to the ease of online subscriptions is the ease of cancelling them. Newspapers guard their rates of digital churn closely because they are so high — despite an all-out effort the Star Tribune keeps only one in two subscribers after 14 months (the Times and Post numbers are better, executives there say, without giving figures). A subscriber’s early days are essential. Keeping a visitor engaged with the site is similar to getting a “guest” on Target’s website to put another item in their basket, Mr Johnston says. It also means competing with ever more rivals for people’s attention: bigger fish like the Times and Post, but also Netflix, Spotify or Candy Crush. 
The virtue of digital subscriptions is that they build a deeper relationship between readers and newspapers than when distribution meant throwing broadsheets onto doorsteps. Newspapers nowadays know a lot more about their customers’ tastes. That lets them tailor the experience to readers individually, with the aim of keeping them around longer. It can be, as Mr Thompson says, an annuity for the newspaper. But the newspaper has to be worth the cover price.

domingo, 22 de octubre de 2017

Nuevo diseño de El Tiempo de Bogotá

Ayer

Hoy

El modelo que dejan, de 2010, es el de las pestañas de corte autoritario (debes saber, debes leer...) pero sobre todo de confuso lenguaje visual, fue realizado por el estudio de Mario García, con Rodrigo Fino a la cabeza. Aquí la explicación del nuevo diseño, que esta vez sale de la misma casa editorial.

El nuevo Tiempo y sus pestañas, en Paper Papers, 6/10/2010

lunes, 16 de octubre de 2017

En The New York Times descubren la pólvora

Les paso el link y la nota con el resumen de la presentación de Michael Golden en la sesión de apertura de la IFRA Publishing Expo and DCX de Berlín el martes pasado (10 de octubre). Diera la impresión de que en The New York Times estarían descubriendo recién ahora que este negocio consiste en hacer periodismo por el que valga la pena pagar...
"Our strategy is to make journalism worth paying for" 
"We measure our success by the number of people who pay us to be subscribers in print and in digital."
***
NYT's Golden: 'Everything we do in one way or another is to increase engagement' 
“We are in this for the long term ... Our horizon is the next 100 years,” said Michael Golden of The New York Times, during the Opening Session of IFRA Publishing Expo and DCX on Tuesday in Berlin.

Photo: IFRA/DCX 2017 - Christian Laukemper
"The New York Times has been under the control and the active senior management of the Ochs-Sulzberger family for 120 years," he said. "Obviously, we manage the business on an annual basis, but we believe we will be one of the most successful digital businesses." 
Golden, Vice Chairman of The New York Times Company and President of WAN-IFRA, shared recent developments and The Times' strategy with the standing room-only crowd. "Our strategy is to make journalism worth paying for," Golden said. "We measure our success by the number of people who pay us to be subscribers in print and in digital."

1 million print subscribers, 2+ million digital 
Right now, he said, The New York Times has about 1 million subscribers in print in various forms: Sunday-only, weekend, 7-day. All of those subscribers have full access to The Times' digital offering. 
They also have more than 2 million digital-only subscribers who pay between $225 and $450 a year for NYT digital subscriptions. "In addition to that we have more than 200,000 subscribers to a crossword product, which is doing very well," Golden said. 
He also said that The Times' short-term goal is to reach $800 in million digital revenue.
"One of the big changes that we have made in the last two to three years is that we are very focussed on audience-first," he said. "Advertising is critically important to our business, but we do not believe it is the future of our business. We believe it's much less dependable, much less available to newspapers and news organisations and that audience-first and audience revenue is the key to it." 
Being a news destination is critically important to The Times' strategy, Golden said.
"We need people to come to our website, to come directly to our journalism," he said. "That's how we think you really build a relationship and really build value. We use Facebook. We use Google. We use social media to bring our audience in, but we work very, very hard to bring them directly to The New York Times. We cannot rely on them coming solely through social media." 
He said The Times' core appeal will remain national-international news, science news, culture news, that they are well known for worldwide. "But we believe that if we are going to get to 5 million, to 10 million digital-only subscribers, then we have to have more touch-points, more areas in your daily life where you see The New York Times as an authority," he said. 
"Everything we do in one way or another is to increase engagement," Golden added.
The test for success is if you can engage consumers enough to return again and again. 
Not if you can bring in a lot of people once, he said. 
Print still significant 
"Readers have stayed with print because it is a different experience, an experience they value," Golden said. "I believe that we have a significant number of years ahead of us in print – I am not going to put a number on it because then everyone will focus on the number. We are aggressively building our digital business, but personally I believe that we'll be in print for another generation."

martes, 10 de octubre de 2017

Print's not dead


Siempre pasa lo mismo: los que vienen a darnos consejos nos dicen lo que hacemos hace 200 años. Lo curioso es que los aplaudimos, pero curioso porque si nos sorprenden o los aplaudimos es porque alguna vez nos olvidamos de los principios básicos de este negocio. Van los cinco puntos que destaca esta entrevista a Robertson Barret, el presidente de Hearst Newspapers Digital Media.
1. Permanecer local
2. Profundizar el compromiso
3. Inventar productos
4. Invertir en datos
5. Directo al mercado
El título, dicho por ellos mismos, no tiene mucho sentido: Print’s Not Dead. How Hearst Is Using Social To Power-Up Its Papers.

Yo diría que mientras haya impresos y gente que los lea, habrá noticias impresas. Lo que no sabemos es de quién van a ser.