Friday, September 17, 2010

Late Friday afternoon entertainment break: BERG and Dentsu London combine to do some 'iPad light painting'

Here's a little break from all the heavy media news: a video from Dentsu London and BERG that I think you'll find fascinating (thank you to John Gruber at Daring Fireball for pointing it out).

Those who have followed this site will remember the name Jack Schulze from BERG. He is featured in a great video that the design consultancy posted on YouTube back in December of last year. In it he discussed his thoughts on tablet publishing design, almost five months before the iPad was launched in the U.S. I still think it is very instructive.

Now, working with Beeker Northam at Dentsu, Schulze is featured in another amazing video that involves the iPad itself. Take a look:


European developers look to find a new home for print advertising products by creating 'shopper' apps

Once a week some guy drives by my house and throws a rolled up newspaper out his window onto my driveway. If it is raining the paper sits there until it begins to decay and melts into a solid mass. On other days it gets picked up and immediately thrown into the recycling. On rare occasions it gets picked up and opened.
It is our local "shopper": an advertising driven newspaper that contains almost all advertising, sold locally ... to local merchants ... by a local company. Along with marriage mail, mailed circulars, and other print products, this was once the main competition to big metro newspapers. Now, they are the least of the newspaper industry's worries.

But what is the future of these advertising driven products? Many advertising products didn't survive the rise of the Internet: real estate tabloids and auto traders may still be around, but most consumers look at home using such sites as or Zillow. The question is 'will location-aware sites such as Facebook or Foursquare, or even Google maps, make the local shopper obsolete?

While doing a little research for a modest post about a couple of new media apps from Luxembourg, I contacted Bruno Pinto, the developer of several media apps already in iTunes about his new app

MengReklammen means my ads. Pinto said that in Luxembourg people will put a sign on their mailboxes saying "no ads" -- meaning junk mail not wanted. Of course, one person's junk mail is another person's business model.

Seeing an opportunity, in jumps Mr. Pinto with a new universal app that gives consumers the opportunity to collect all those advertising driven publications in one place, and those retailers an opportunity to reach consumers in a new way.
I couldn't think of a U.S. media company that was doing this, but Pinto pointed me towards a German app that was similar to his. MeinProspekt HD (even I could translate that one without Google) is the iPad version of previously released iPhone app that gathers together offers from such retailers as Aldi and Ikea.

This app, from London Project Adv. GmbH, includes a map to show locations, and their bookshelf is designed to look like Apple's iBooks app (very clever).

Most third party app developers appear interested in pursuing the larger media companies, whether they are newspaper or magazine publishers, or radio stations with news feeds. But the local advertising-based products need help even more. Pinto's iPad app is a great first step.

Ultimately, I would see many of these apps evolving towards a location-aware solution, combining general advertising with push notifications.

For the developers, this could be fertile new ground, as they can offer both a replica solution combined with other services such as Google maps.

Strangely, this again brings me full circle to the first experiences with web advertising. Back in the stone age of the Internet, a company like VerticalNet would offer its advertisers Store Fronts, essentially online circulars. This is essentially what these pioneers of mobile and tablet publishing are doing, as well.

For some of the legacy products such as Valassis, or newer web-based companies like ShopLocal, this could be a product add-on -- a way to extend their brands, while attempting to keep their local clients and retail chains out of the hands of Google and others.

As for that other app from Luxembourg? Well, there isn't much to see really.

LaVoix is an iPad-only app that readers can download for free. Readers can get access to the daily edition of La Voix du Luxembourg free-of-charge for the rest of the year as long as they register with the paper. The process is easy, even with limited French skills.

Obviously the paper sees themselves eventually charging for access to the paper. They might successfully get readers to pay if they heavily discount -- there is nothing interactive about the tablet edition of LaVoix, so ease of reading and archiving is the only real sales point.

I will admit, though, that I am more open to replica editions of print newspapers than I am of magazines, though only just a little bit. A hybrid model might be the eventual answer here. For one thing, it makes no sense to have to endure "jumps" in a tablet edition. Putting in a live link in the headline of a story should pull up a window with a text version, or some similar solution.


Morning Brief: Samsung tab gets cheap with materials; international media apps begin to dominiate app store

Good morning:

Eric Zeman from Information Week got his hands on the new Samsung Galaxy Tab, one of the first Android based tablets expected to hit the market before Christmas. His impressions can be found here.

Among his findings:

  • "Rather than use high-quality metals, the Tab is made mostly of plastic."
  • "The screen looks good, and the capacitive touch controls on the front of the Tab work without fuss."
  • "Some of the biggest changes are found in MediaHub and the Android Market."
  • "I did like using the Tab, but because it is so much smaller than the iPad, it feels more like a giant Android phone than it does a tablet."
  • "Is the Tab an iPad killer? No. Not at all."

Jennifer Waters has written a story for the WSJ that tries to be way too cute, but has some interesting information buried within it. Because it is written in the "you're too dumb to get this anyway" style of a Murdoch paper, I wouldn't subject myself to it voluntarily, but if you choose to you can find it here.

The story recaps some of the previous surveys that have tried to figure out the differences between iPhone and Android users, quoting among others the data that showed iPhone users tend to have more sexual partners than Android users (is it because Android users are so smug? -- ooh, cheap shot).

But there are some interesting tidbits in this story that were new to me. For instance, Patrick Crisp, a spokesman for, said that he has data that shows that the top coupon used in the body-wash category of iPhone owners was for the women's product, but it was the men't product for Android phone owners.

The more important statistic continues to be that iPhone owners tend to be more affluent and better educated that owners of other smartphones. But Android users tend to click on those mobile ads more than owners of other smartphones, according to data collected by Chitika.

In the end, all this is important when considering ad networks for supporting your mobile publishing strategy. But if wish the reporter would have played this one straight. I would have thought that WSJ readers would have appreciated a straight advertising and marketing article about mobile media.

There hasn't been a big new iPad or mobile app released recently that has caused the kind of splash that the Wired or Vanity Fair apps did months back. But one reason for this is that the focus may have shifted internationally.

Take, for instance, Sabado Bicentenario (Saturday Bicentennial or Saturday Magazine, in English), a new iPad app for the magazine from Chile. More and more magazines from outside the U.S. are being released and they tend to crowd out U.S. media apps right out.

The issue here is that right now the iTunes App Store as a newsstand is a bit of a mess, making it hard to find what you are looking for unless it is a specific product. Part of this may be the way apps are submitted -- can you, for instance, classify an app into one category for the U.S. store, but another category in another store? (Comments welcome.)

In any case, checking out the Sabado Bicentenario app led me to the app store for Chile. Ever go there? You'll find that it is limited to an app store, iTunes U and Podcasts -- that's it. No music, movies or TV shows, and definitely no Ping.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Retweet: Kiesow interview with Seattle Times editor

Over at Poynter, Damon Kiesow has a very good e-mail interview with Seattle Times managing editor Heidi de Laubenfels that discusses the headaches the paper suffered when attempting to get their U-W Huskies football app approved by Apple (find it here).

As I've mentioned on numerous occasions, these problems that the media companies are having with Apple and their app approval process can all be solved with the tech giant adopting a category management approach, similar to that of other retail companies. If there were a media representative, someone who got the media side of the business, a situation like that discussed in the post would not be as frustrating.

A look at the numbers will explain why: there are approximately 6000 iPhone apps currently under "News" in iTunes. In comparison, there are 10,000 games under "Action"alone, only one of the many categories Apple has created for games. In other words, it would not that difficult for the company to put a "face" on its media relations when it comes to the app approval process.

One thing the post fails to mention is that there is a competing universal app in the iTunes store. This app, which is produced by a company that seems to spit out apps, takes the editorial content from media outlets -- one reviewer says most of the content comes from the Seattle Times -- and profits from it by repackaging it inside an app that will cost you $1.99.

It may be the Wild West out there, but there is no excuse for Apple to treat long-established, legitimate news organizations worse than the developers who are simply out to rip off iPhone and iPad users, as well as the media companies that produce the copy found in their apps.

GIE Media uses Texterity to bring their trade magazines, including Lawn & Landscape, to both the iPhone and iPad

One company that is building replica edition apps for both the iPhone and iPad that I have not covered is Texterity, one of the leading digital publishing vendors for magazine companies. As of today, Texterity has 25 iPhone apps inside the iTunes App Store, and 24 iPad app.
Texterity is one of B2B media's biggest vendors, building flipbooks for GIE Media, Canon and Crain, among others. They also work with consumer publishers like Meredith and Rodale, though I could not determine whether Rodale's apps are a product of Texterity or internally created as Rodale is listed as the seller.

In any case, we are talking about replica editions here, not completely new media products.

The app I chosen to look at is from Lawn & Landscape, a magazine I am very familiar with because I receive it at home. One of the magazine's competitors, Landscape & Irrigation, is a magazine that once bore my name as publisher. The magazine is produced by GIE Media, and the print edition has a BPA audited circulation of around 74,000, down from a high of 80,000 at the end of 2008.
The immediate advantage for GIE Media of working with Texterity is that their universal app is branded with their own name, and the app stands alone inside the App Store, as opposed to being part of a digital newsstand owned and controlled by the vendor. Not surprisingly, GIE Media has other apps from their various divisions represented in iTunes such as apps for Golf Course Industry, Pest Control Technology and Greenhouse Management & Production.

The free app from Lawn & Landscape features access to multiple issues, offline reading, a live RSS feed from the website, and pinch-to-zoom. Some of the programming is a bit buggy, such as the pinch-to-zoom, which can give you headaches as you fight with it. A like a lot of apps, once you've zoomed in the page tends to float about like a drunken sailor. I don't know of this is a programming problem, or the fault of the iOS platform because it is fairly common.

Texterity offers its publishers plenty of features such as e-mail sharing of stories, bookmarking, etc. Some features, however, are rather strange, such an option to view the story in a text version. I like the idea, but the column that comes up to house the text is so small that it kind of defeats the purpose. Oh well, it's harmless.

I also like the idea of live RSS news feeds. I wonder if it is possible, though, to categorize these so that readers could focus in areas of interest to them. In fact, this is the kind of feature that could make the app truly useful. For instance, instead of simply bringing in the RSS feed is a drab way like it is done here, why not look at the RSS feed readers that are being launched for the iPad and come up with a design that makes the app more like a live news product? Just an idea.

Left: The live RSS feed; Middle: a rather strange way to display pages of the issue; Right: e-mail sharing of stories is built into the app.

The question I always ask myself is why do replica editions at all? The tablet is, after all, a new media that will develop its own characteristics. Readers of this site know that I believe flipbooks for the web are a complete waste of money. The web is the web, and print is print -- so why try and duplicate the print experience online? And besides, name someone (besides the vendors) that are making money at flipbooks?

But there are some advantages to having a replica edition for the iPad: 1) it is a brand extension -- that is, while a flipbook does not extend the brand (the website already did that), the app does give the publisher a branded presence on the iPad; 2) good vendors are offering many options that will, in the end, create a new, separate product -- for instance, some publishers are not including the print ads in their replica editions, pulling them out completely and only including ads that were specifically purchased for publication in the app edition.

Texterity offers its publishing clients several package options: from a "Starter Pack" that is a non-Flash flipbook for the web, to a "Total Mobility" package that includes branded apps for the iPhone and iPad.

The option I like best, though, is the "App Package" -- just an universal app that creates for the publisher new products for mobile and tablet publishing.

In the end, though, that means that one would be using their vendor simply as an app developer, and therefore you will be judging them based on their ability to create a good app (and Texterity looks like a good option in this regard).

But the reality is that most publishers, especially B2B publishers, chose their vendors based on their ability to create inexpensive, workable flipbooks for the web. Apps for the iPhone and iPad, then, are product extensions for most digital publishing companies -- like specialty printing products developed by printers.

Adobe releases Digital Content Preview Tool

Good morning:

I see that Adobe has released a new app that might be of interest to production and art people -- the Adobe Digital Content Preview Tool.

Full description:

Preview and test interactive, richly designed digital publications created using the Digital Magazine Solution from Adobe. After designing publication layouts using Adobe InDesign® and packaging them with the Digital Content Bundler, publishers can load .issue files into this Digital Content Preview tool to verify that content, metadata and interactivity display as intended on iPad.

I will admit, however, that I'm confused about where things stand at Adobe -- looking at the Adobe Digital Publishing Blog it looks like the late summer release of the firm's Digital Content Builder has been delayed a bit. Worse, the last entry was from July.

Google's Android platform continues to gain market share against all its major competitors, according to a new report from comScore. The Android platform continues to be the third most popular smartphone system with a 17 percent market share in July, compared to 12 percent back in April.
But it is important to point out that all the major platforms actually gained subscribers.

I would expect Google's Android system to eventually take over the number one spot. Google's strategy continues to be to allow the carriers wide latitude in their customization of Android phones, something Apple simply does not allow -- this makes it an attractive platform for the carriers. Though it should be pointed out that this freedom granted to the carriers is starting to create a backlash among Android users who do not like the junk thrown on to their phones.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tribune Interactive launches app for The Baltimore Sun; Hollywood's Walk of Fame also gets the star treatment

Like The New York Times Company, Tribune Interactive is beginning to launch specialty iPhone apps that are both separate from their newspaper titles, and complimentary at the same time.
Yesterday the company released its 18th mobile app for the iPhone (the NYT have only five total apps in iTunes), this one in support of The Baltimore Sun -- and continuing a trend they started months ago, this news app is a paid app, costing $1.99. Other paid apps for news properties now in iTunes include their apps for the Chicago Tribune, and the LA Times. The other apps in support of radio properties are free to download.

As time goes by and Tribune Interactive launches and updates its apps, the company's programmers are slowly adding features and capabilities to their apps. This new app for The Sun allows some customization of content, share tools for Facebook and Twitter, as well as your own address book, and includes some offline reading capabilities -- great during commuting on mass transit.

While Tribune Interactive appears committed to adding new features to their apps, they are in no hurry to deploy these new features until they are confident in their ability to function properly. "Having a feature completed is not the same as having a feature deployed," Jonathan Ozeran, manager/product innovation for Tribune Interactive, told me during a recent conversation.
In addition to Tribune Interactive's 16 news apps, the interactive division has also released two stand alone special apps. The first was a bit of an experiment, launched in the very early days of iPhone apps -- Mobile Zodiac.

But now the division has launched an app they have put into the Entertainment category that both supports its LA Times brand, and works as a separate consumer product.

LAT Star Walk is a 99 cent app that gives tourists an easy way to find their way around the streets of Hollywood to find their favorite stars. This well designed app is perfect for the smartphone as it combines maps, and easy to read directory, and just enough content to satisfy iPhone users.

“Our goal was to create an amazing user experience and we’ve done just that. Users of this app are getting not only a map of the Walk of Fame, but also a complete download of historical information from the archives of one of the country’s top media sources, the Los Angeles Times,” said Marc Chase, president of Tribune Interactive, in a release for the app.

Morning Brief: Trends converge to threaten print-only publishers; Apple may offer 'opt-in' approach to user data

Two stories yesterday give support to the "Print is Dead" crowd:

BtoBOnline reported on the advertising choices of the top 50 B2B advertisers yesterday. The report showed the continued move away from B2B magazines, and print, in general.

Last year these top advertisers spent 27.6 percent less with B2B magazines, which increasing their Internet advertising by an almost equal percentage. While the top brands may not be the lifeblood of most B2B magazines, the writing is certainly on the wall for those hoping to attract big national brands to their print products: better to bring them in via the web.

The report did not break out mobile advertising in the report, though it may be assumed that this is considered Internet.

A second survey revealed that the wealthy are increasingly preferring to get their editorial content from the Interent or their e-reading device than from print magazines. While print magazine readership among the wealthy slipped 16 percent last year, readership of the same content online, or through such devices as an iPad or Kindle rose 12 percent.
"The consumer is getting more and more comfortable with the alternative platforms," said Bob Shullman, president of Ipsos Mendelsohn, the author of the survey report.

So what we have here is a convergence, of sorts: we already know that younger, mostly male readers are migrating to mobile and tablet devices (as well as the Internet), that the wealthy, regardless of age, are doing the same. Following this audience are the largest B2B advertisers.

My attitude towards the future of print media has not changed much in the last year or two: I still believe that print will survive as a profitable format (for some) but that it will also continue to shrink in size as readers migrate to electronic reading devices. Magazines that are hugely profitable now should continue to be so in the future -- barring the usual whims of readers and advertising. But any marginal, or unprofitable publications should not expect that an improving economy will automatically mean a reverse of fortune.

(I received a venerable B2B title in the mail yesterday, run by a very pro-sales publishing outfit, that was virtually ad-less except for an obviously ad-for-edit section near the back of the book. Unfortunately, I see this all too often as the rise in available advertising dollars has not meant that print magazines, especially B2B print magazines, will be recovering any time soon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Cinema Show: an entertaining tablet-only publication that can't quite shake off the legacy of the print magazine

You can take it to the bank: the launch of Apple's iPad, along with the slew of soon-to-be-released Android tablets, will spur on the creation of tablet-only magazines as publishers embrace the format and enjoy the lack of print bills. But as this is happening, iPad owners will be presented with a wide variety of visions of what exactly is a tablet magazine.
Case in point: The Cinema Show, an Italian tablet magazine that is focused on Hollywood films and stars.

Despite its name, The Cinema Show is not an English language magazine (and, yes, it takes its name from the Genesis song of the same name). The magazine is completely in Italian except for its headers, which are all in English. While claiming to be an International film magazine, the iPad product is clearly obsessed with Aerican movies and their stars. The first issue, for instance, features Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz on the cover, and has a feature on George Clooney.

(As someone who loves the films of Fellini, Antonioni and Bertolucci, it would have been nice to see this magazine be about Italian cinema -- but this is certainly a better business model.)

The magazine is the creation of Alessandro De Simone and Federica Aliano of Alphabet City, and is directed by Boris Sollazzo.

"This project is a gamble," said De Simone, in Google translation. "The idea of creating a magazine for Apple's new platform stems from the desire to discover immediately the enormous potential of the system developed by Steve Jobs -- (we see this as) the prototype of a new editorial that allows you to create a quality product at manageable costs and even raise the quality."

The app will set you back 0,79€ (99 cents), but for that small price you get a tablet magazine that weighs in at 141 MB and a bit over 70 pages (they promise that the next issue will be 100).

The app has a few minor problems, but the publisher already has a free update ready to go.

The reaction has been nil in the U.S. iTunes App Store, as you'd expect. But the Italian App Store shows that readers are impressed:
Dopo aver visto mille altre app che propongono gli stessi contenuti delle riviste in edicola, finalmente un magazine pensato per essere letto con l'iPad.

After seeing many other apps that offer the same content of the magazines on newsstands, finally a magazine designed to be read with the iPad. Excellent work. I really hope other numbers come out ... maybe at that price.
Compared to Sideways, this magazine has a clear center of gravity. It also, of course, feels more like a commercial magazine. (I won't judge the quality of the writing as my Italian is . . . well, a bit lacking.)

Left: An ad for Alphabet City, with a live link to their website; Middle: the TOC which, for some reason, exactly duplicates print design; Right: a feature story, again duplicating print, though still well done.

The app has a lot going for it, but also a lot of faults, as well. Unlike Sideways, this magazine seems to want to be a print magazine. It lacks a landscape mode, and most importantly, multitouch features like pinch-to-zoom. And crazy as it sounds, the e-magazine even numbers pages as if it were a print magazine (even putting the even numbers on the left and odd on the right) Finally, the tablet magazine even comes with a two-page TOC that would fit right in at any print magazine.

Maybe this is being done to show off their capability to convert print magazines into tablet publications, but the idea of designing a tablet publication to appear like print will seem very old fashioned soon, I'm sure.

On the other hand, the magazine feels like something the public will want to read -- it has great layouts (despite duplicating print) and incorporates little elements of animation throughout that constantly reminds you that you are reading this on an iPad.

What the app lacks, though, is trailers, which would have seemed a natural. There is some video in the app, including two videos in an ad for Biografilm Festival in Bologna (which freezes the app when played, probably one of the reasons an update will be released soon), but it is strange that the app wouldn't have had more.

The Cinema Show, despite it's rather silly print legacy issues, may find an audience (in Italy, of course) because it enters a market dying for good magazines designed for the iPad. This is a product that can't work on the Kindle because of all the color photograph and the occasional video -- it truly is iPad-centric. But it approximates a print magazine very closely, which some readers may find comforting.

Of course, this is only the beginning -- for The Cinema Show, Sideways, and all the other iPad-only magazines to come, as well as for all those print magazines that want to have good models to follow as they launch their own first tablet publications.

Update: I would have loved to reviewed the new myFry app for Stephen Fry's new book but unfortunately the app has been launched in the UK App Store only -- and for now, only as an iPhone app. Part of the problem may lie in the fact that right now the iPhone and iPad are using two different versions of the OS. November can't come quick enough! (That is when iPad owners will get an OS update that will give them multitasking and a host of other features currently available on the iPhone.)

iPad-only magazine Sideways continues to showcase the platforms potential, though it fails to inspire as a magazine

Back in June Sideways LLC launched one of the first iPad-only magazines in existence. It was the product of a new company founded by Charles Stack, the founder of The company billed itself as a software company first that was producing products for Apple's iOS platform, and its magazine, also called Sideways, would both experiment with the form, and showcase the company's capabilities.

The TOC serves as the cover for Sideways,
 an iPad-only magazine.

Today and tomorrow you can download the latest issue of the iPad-only publications for free (normally it is priced at $3.99). The September issue is the third to launch inside the iTunes App Store (they skipped publishing an August issue).

(In the meantime, the company has recently released another iPad app, this one an iPad book by photographer of Diana Curran. The $4.99 app can be found in iTunes here.)

When I first looked at Sideways I wrote the following:
The first issue of Sideways may be a work in progress, but it shows great promise. Just as importantly, Sideways is very committed to the platform.

"We're really interested in experimenting with the form, what this medium wants to be when it grows up," said founder Charles Stack.  "The iPad medium wants to be something, like when sculptures talk about letting the sculpture out of the wood. It's the same kind of model,  we're trying to figure out what this hardware platform is really good at, or best at."
The magazine continues its role of showcasing the company's programming capabilities as app developers, though it frankly misses the mark as a magazine.

There are two main reasons this magazine is failing to ignite.

The first, and least important I suppose, is that as an iPad-only magazine it is a modest effort from the standpoint of programming. Yes, the navigation is good and it incorporates enough interactive material to demonstration to other publishers what a tablet publication should include (which is one of the reasons you should take advantage of the free-to-download offer).

But unlike the big boys that have created native iPad apps for their magazines, there is a lack of programming expertise on display here, especially in the area of animation. The fact is that iPad programming, the more advanced examples of it, depend on HTML5 expertise. (Check out the app from Mac|Life created by the team at Balthaser Studios (B3 Publishing). Their app for the Future US magazine is a cross between a replica edition and a native magazine.)

But in the end, the magazine suffers from the fact that it is just not very interesting as a magazine. Part of the problem is that, while the app contains all the content, it weighs in at only 46.4 MB. (It's an unfair comparison, I know, but the Mac|Life special issue app is 193 MB.)

Left: Built-in article sharing; Middle: a slideshow is including in this article; Right: a YouTube video included in this short piece.

Most magazines that are producing iPad editions are obviously already established, have a built-in audience, and already have an established personality and mission. Sideways exists to showcase the capabilities of its creator, not to actually say anything. What is Sideways (the magazine) trying to say? If you expect someone to dish out $3.99 at the newsstand for your print publication you know you have to grab them and force them to buy your magazine, a superficial run down of Belgian beers and a trip down to Memphis probably are not going to be enough to get iTunes shoppers excited to buy your app.

My suggestion would be to price the app at $1.99 to encourage the casual buyer. The only other solutions would be 1) spend a fortune and get some good copy, but Sy Hersh is expensive; 2) become focused like a laser. Jim Sweeney is the editor, and while he is basically a newspaper guy, he did spend some time at Penton. It is easy to be sharply focused at B2B magazines, but consumer books need to create an identity, as well. Unfortunately, the magazine launched without a reason to be other than from a technical standpoint, and now it will be hard to get those early readers to come back and try it again. (I'd say don't be afraid to toss in the towel and launch again under another name, but this time with a very clear theme and stated purpose.)

Nonetheless, Sideways continues to be among the very few tablet-only publications out there, and I continue to wish them the best of luck. (If I can get it to update properly, I will look at another iPad-only magazine: The Cinema Show, despite its name, an Italian movie magazine.)

Sideways LLC produced this video which previews the latest issue:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Current trend has online readership of newspapers exceeding print in two to three years

The latest from The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows that print newspaper readership and online newspaper readership are soon to be equal by 2012 or 2013 if the current trend continues. Today, according to the report 26 percent of newspaper readers read the print product, down from 39 percent two years ago, while online readership has risen to 17 percent, up from 13 percent two years ago.

Unfortunately for newspapers, total readership continues to decline overall, falling 14 percent in the past four years. "While 26% of all Americans say they read a print newspaper yesterday, that figure falls to just 8% among adults younger than 30," the authors of the report stated -- and men continue to lead the move to digital, with 50 percent of men getting their news that way, versus only 39 percent of women.
While the trend remains that newspaper readers tend to be older than the general population, newspapers with a strong web presence, especially the New York Times, buck the trend. According to the report, 67 percent of Times readers are younger than 50, and 34 percent are younger than 30. While Pew credits the NYT web presence, another factor may be the Times strong mobile and tablet products, as well. Readers have come to expect that the Times will be among the first to launch apps for new products such as the iPhone or iPad (the Times iPad app was available on the day Apple's tablet launched).

Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly attract an older audience, really older

While Fox News continues to run away with cable news channel ratings, the demographics of Fox News viewers is remarkably older than those of other news outlets. According to the Pew report, 65 percent of viewers of Fox News' Sean Hannity show are 50 years old or older -- 63 percent of Bill O'Reilly's audience is 50 years old or older.

In contrast, 33 percent of the New York Times audience is 50 or older, and not surprisingly, both the Colbert report and Daily Show audiences skew younger, as well.

Total ad spending up a healthy 5.7% in first half of 2010, newspapers record 19th consecutive quarterly decline

Data released today by Kantar Media shows that U.S. advertising expenditures have risen 5.7 percent in the first half of this year, led by spot television advertising. Newspapers, however, recorded their 19th consecutive quarter of declining ad spending, though national newspapers did record gains.
The report also showed gains for magazines, though both B2B and local magazine segments continued to decline. According to the report, consumer magazine spending "bottomed out in March and the ensuing rebound in page counts helped push half-year spending to a 1.5 percent increase."

The rebound in advertising can be credited, in large part, to the huge increase in automotive advertising. The category has grown 23.4 percent, year-to-date, due in large part to the recovery of the domestic auto industry. Both the financial services and personal care products categories recorded double digit increases in the first half of the year.

Publishers, beware boilerplate tablet publishing solutions, or at least make sure it's one amazing boilerplate!

Judging the work of the third party vendors that are currently selling mobile and tablet publishing solutions to media companies is pretty easy: just look at the publications inside iTunes and read the reveiws and test out the apps. But how many publishers are doing their due diligence?
Only a few app developers are offering their publishers custom solutions. The reason for this is simple: the original investment to come up with a media app can be monetized over many different media clients, while a custom solution involves constant programming.

Publishers appear used to this: after all, publishers negotiate once with their printers, and after what they want is consistent performance and no surprises on their bills.

The assumption, I suppose, is the the developer's job is to build a solution that is much like that of a printer or the digital editions many publishers have on their website -- give me a brain dead way to get my issues online.
Many vendors, however, are offering their publishing clients more than this by providing ways to embed audio and video, accomodate both portrait and landscape page layouts (especially for ads), and ways to make their print magazines (and newspapers) more "native" to the platform.

Then there is the one-size fits all approach. I've screamed about this for months now, and more than a few developers have screamed right back at me, feeling that my criticism was directed their way -- it isn't, it's up to the publishing executive to take the new platforms seriously and avoid the "easy" (and often "cheap") solutions that end up doing their brands more harm than good.

A slew of new universal apps have hit the iTunes store for various magazines, all from a developer I've not heard of until today. (I won't mention the name of the developer because I'm tired of getting the e-mails or comments. But suffice to say that I am no fan of these apps.)
One of the apps, for WoodenBoat magazine is representative -- in fact, they are all the same. The app features no special layouts to accomodate portrait and landscape -- instead shrinking the page to an unreadable size when in landscape. The navigation is clunky in the extreme, with pages turning haltingly when swiped.

The tablet edition of WoodenBoat magazine supposedly comes with text views of pages, but when I attempted to use the feature on the editor's page -- a completely graphics-free page -- it said that the feature does not work in the "preview" edition and that I needed to log-in or subscribe. But what is a "preview edition" if not a way of seeing how the app is supposed to work?

OK, so let's go ahead and subscribe and see what happens. The reader is taken to a page that says they can not read the content because Flash is required! Really, no kidding. Who creates a solution dependent on Flash for the iPad or iPhone?

So you can't use the app as designed because you have to subscribe, but you can't subscribe because the iPad doesn't support Flash. The developer's fault, right? No, someone at the media company thought creating this mess was a good idea and was sold by the developer. Caveat emptor.

This episode reminds me the time I was told that all the flipbooks for my magazines would now start at Page 0 (Zero), instead of One, because the new vendor didn't know how to make the first page equal Page One, and the second page equal Page Two, etc. So 64 page issues now would be 63 online.

"And why are we using this vendor?" I asked. "Too late, the contract's been signed, you'll have to live with it," I was told.

Due diligence, it's a publisher's best friend.

Philly newspaper union rejects latest creditor group offer

The members of Teamsters Local 628, representing drivers of Philadelphia's two daily newspapers voted 191-4 to reject the latest contract proposal which would have changed the drivers pension plan to a 401K program.

"I think the membership felt that it's not fair for these investment companies that are buying the place to throw their biggest investment out the window, which is their pension," local union president John Laigaie said according to the AP.

This is the second time in the past month that members have overwhelmingly rejected the company's offer. Machinists, presented by a separate union, as well as reporters and other members represented by the Newspaper Guild, have already agreed to long term concessions in exchange for short term promises of jobs.

The creditors group, made up of the hedge funds Angelo Gordon & Co., Alden Global Capital and CIT Group Inc., are currently attempting to close on its take over of the newspaper group. A judge had previously given the group until August 31 to complete its deals with the various unions, but recently extended the deadline -- which now expires Tuesday.