Friday, August 3, 2012

The Washington Post Co. reports a 13.6% increase in Q2 profits thanks to huge gain in earnings at cable tv division, but newspaper records 15% drop in ad revenue

The Washington Post Co. reported very solid earnings for the second quarter of the year, fueled by a 34 percent jump in earnings at its cable television division. But both its for-profit education division, Kaplan, and its flagship daily newspaper recorded depressed results, and revenue overall for the company was down 5 percent.

The company attributed its cable television performance to a jump in political advertising, which should continue into the fall.

Kaplan, the company's education subsidiary, saw operating income fall 84 percent as student enrollment fell 11 percent.

"Kaplan will likely incur additional restructuring costs in the second half of 2012," the company said in its earning statement. Ironically, Kaplan is heavily dependent on students and government subsidized tuition, while its parent company promotes cuts in government spending.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, recorded a 15 percent drop in print advertising, while at the same time suffering losses in both daily and Sunday circulation. Online advertising for the daily paper and Slate grew 8 percent, wiping out declines in Q1. For the first half of the year digital is flat.

Overall, the newspaper publishing division reported an operating loss in Q2 of $15.9 million compared to a loss of $2.9 million in the same quarter one year ago.

Political polls are at the center of TPM's first app, while the WaPo updates its political iPad app to add in polling data

One would have thought that bloggers would be some of the first to launch mobile and tablet apps. But bloggers are generally dependent on either WordPress or Google for their technology (TNM launched its iPhone app in April of last year.)
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But some blogs have grown way past the blogging stage into established web brands. Those on the right, for some reason, seem to be way ahead of their more liberal cousins. Red State and Drudge, for instance, have had iPhone apps in Apple's App Store for quite some time. Meanwhile, Daily Kos, Eschaton and other liberal blogs are still awaiting their first apps.

Recently, one of those blogs that have grown into something far more interesting than just a blog, Talking Points Memo, recently launched its first app, an iPhone app, PollTracker. The free app is being "sold" under the TPM Media label

While the product, as Josh Marshall, TPM's founder states online, was the product of Kyle Leighton, the editor of the PollTracker section of the political website, and Eric Buth, TPM’s Director of Technology, the actual app was built by Dewey Square Group's Dewey Digital division.

TPM's PollTracker app will prove useful to those who need instant access to information, but the use of outside app builders probably means TPM will have to pick and choose very carefully what and when it launches other apps due to time and costs.

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Interestingly, TPM chose not to launch an Android app, and Marshall went out of this way to explain the decision yesterday.

According to Marshall, who occasionally likes to post detailed looks at his site's traffic, TPM skews heavily towards Mac users and Apple device owners.

But I think Marshall is misreading his traffic. While it has been generally true that most sites are seeing heavy iPhone and iPad web traffic, and surprisingly low Android traffic, this is the result of Android users being less likely to use their smartphones for web browsing.

But apps are another story altogether. Confusing app usage with web traffic is probably reading too much into his data.


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Yesterday the Washington Post updated its WP Politics app for the iPad adding in its own polling data.

While TPM's app contains tons of useful data, the WaPo app, because it is for a tablet, allows readers to compare different polls using very easy to read and explore charts.

Both apps will prove very useful for those who are addicted to polls, though the WaPo app has the advantage be being able to deliver the paper's news, opinion and analysis content at the same time.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Huffington Post gives up on charging for its tablet magazine, yet to app description

The Huffington Post was not the first web property to launch a companion tablet magazine, but it was certainly was the most anticipated – at by media watchers. Apparently readers were not so impressed.
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Today Capital New York reported that Arianna Huffington's namesake tablet magazine, Huffington will no longer charge for issues or subscriptions. Previously the magazine cost readers $0.99 per weekly issue, or $1.99 per month, or $19.99 for an annual subscription.

(Capital New York also says the app is now free, but that has always been the case.)

The nominal price to subscribe was not enough to entice the more than 100,000 iPad owners who downloaded the magazine to subscribe, and so it is on to a free model.

When first released in June, I described the digital magazines as "a conservative digital magazine from a fairly liberal website," because of its repurposed content and portrait only layouts. It just didn't seem like the magazine was the product of an enthusiastic tab publisher.

As of today The Huffington Post has not updated the app description to reflect the new free issue policy – or else the changes have not taken yet in the App Store (it can sometimes take a while for the changes one makes inside Apple's system to be reflected live in iTunes). Nor is there any mention of the change on The Huffington Post website.

Retweet: Brian Barrett of Gizmodo speculates on the coming of 3rd party apps to the Apple TV

With the launch of the newest edition of the iPhone and the constant rumors of a smaller iPad to launch, the Apple TV continues to get scant tech media attention. For me, the possibility that Apple would open up its "hobby", the Apple TV, to third party apps was always the most exciting thing on the digital media horizon.

In other words, I've been beating this drum to death.

Brian Barrett today, writing for Gizmodo, speculates on the meaning of the recent appearance of Hulu, Amazon and Sky Now TV (UK) on the Apple TV. Barrett does an excellent job of rehashing the hows and whys of each launch and then asks the big question: why are they appearing now, what has changed?

Barrett's conclusion is that Apple will finally open up the Apple TV to third party apps.

"Why would Apple suddenly agree to put Amazon Instant Video and Sky Now on the iPad and Hulu Plus on Apple TV? Because Apple TV is getting serious, and Apple's laying the groundwork for it to finally have apps," Barrett writes. And by "apps" he clearly means third party apps.

"Why would Apple concede a large chunk of that content cash by allowing competitive products into the fold? Because it knows it's chasing bigger game," Barratt concludes.

Barratt then goes on to lay out the numbers.

Since I don't aggregate (read: steal) other people's content I would encourage you to read the entire post, it's worth it.



As I've written in the past, for many media companies, the app-ification of the television would be a revolution in both publishing and television itself. The cable and satellite companies know this is coming, as do the television set makers – in fact, they are leading the charge to a certain degree, if only reluctantly.

The Apple TV still does not have the market penetration that, say, the iPad has. But unlike a tablet, or especially an iPhone, the Apple TV doesn't need that kind of sales numbers.

Where as total users is the criteria for judging most tech products, the measure for success in this area is household penetration. One Apple TV, located in the family room, is worth two or three iPhone sales – at least when measuring reach.

I think even Barrett is not 100 percent sure that the recent moves equate to the opening up of third party apps on the Apple TV. But he sure seems as excited about the prospect as I am.

The future of The Daily and the future of tablet newspapers (actually the two are completely unrelated!)

Some media writers seem to be taking great pleasure in the news that The Daily is laying off staff in an attempt to survive (no links, there is no reason to encourage them).

I may be no fan of The Daily as a digital newspaper, but I am never happy to hear of layoffs.
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As an experiment, I have found The Daily to be a brilliantly conceived and executed attempt at the world's first tablet newspaper. The design is logical – one of many possible – and the use of Newsstand, in-app subscriptions, pricing are above reproach.

I don't subscribe to The Daily, however, because I find its journalism to be repulsive, bigoted, reactionary. It is, in a nutshell, the Murdoch press.

But who else by Murdoch would have attempted The Daily. The New York Times is certainly own tablet edition is as conservatively conceived tech-wise as The Daily's is politically. The NYT's mobile and tablet efforts have lacked imagination, audacity.

Because the VC community has become the PE community, at least as far as media is concerned, there are few if any start-ups willing to create anything nearly as interesting or experimental as The Daily. There is no VerticalNet for the tablet newspaper market, no company will to put it all out there to prove the legitimacy of the platform for news.



Whether it is newspapers or magazines, there are always two kinds of readers publishers are attempting to reach: those that will subscribe to their products, and those that are casual readers.

Newspapers have long pushed hard for print subscribers because it has presented them with a fixed audience that they could sell to advertisers. Growing up in the newspaper business, the whole ad sales game revolved around ABC audits. If you were on top you simply presented your audit and convinced the advertiser that they needed to buy your product because it was the one that had the largest reach. If you weren't lucky to be in the position you sold on quality of audience or price.

Today, newspapers compete with more forms of media, and in an environment where their market penetration pales in often lower than other forms of media. Many newspapers are struggling to position their products as market dominant, and are failing to sell their greatest strength: the readers that are pushed the product every day – these are more loyal and valuable customers than the casual web surfer.

The goal of The Daily was to create a daily digital news product that could be pushed out to subscribers that would generate the total readership necessary to garner advertising. That is a very complex and difficult task.

Consider how hard it is today to launch a daily local newspaper that is not using a free distribution model. One has to print the paper and begin to attract subscribers, all the while waiting for a critical level to be reached where advertisers begin to look at the product as an effective marketing vehicle. Today it takes lots of money and patience to launch a daily newspaper. Guess what, 30 years ago it did, too.

The promise of tablet newspapers is that the cost of production and distribution is a fraction of print newspapers. But digital publishers make the mistake of depending on Apple and Google to reach their intended audience. The App Store has opportunities for promotion, but that is just one channel. Launching a national tablet newspaper still means reaching a national audience and convincing them to download the app. Few app owners are today advertising their apps on prime time television, are they?



A number of media writers have questioned whether the newspaper form is even relevant in today's digital media world. It is a legitimate question. I prefer to ask the question this way: is there a place for news products that are pushed to their readers rather than made available for them to find?
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I think the answer is still yes. But one wonders whether the newspaper form will survive, or whether it is perfectly served by the news magazine form. The Daily, after all, looks more like a news magazine than it does a newspaper.

For the editors of The Daily, who came from the NY Post, the tabloid model seemed the most appropriate. I think they might have been right. Newspaper apps that look like print newspapers only exist because the print product still does. If The Boston Globe, for instance, were to get rid of their print edition, would it make sense for them to continue to design their digital products to look as they do?

With zero print subscribers, would one have to design a digital product to look like print?

But the real question is probably this: in a world without any print newspapers, is there still a need for a daily news product that is pushed to readers? Or are web, mobile and tablet products that are passively available to the reader all that is necessary?

My answer, at least today, is that pushed products still have an advantage in the market over passive ones. The problem is creating a digital news product that will appeal to the reader as much as print newspapers did in the past (and then attracting advertisers).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Time Warner reports lower earnings; Time Inc. sees revenue declines in both subscriptions and advertising

These are clearly not the best of times at Time Warner as the company reported Q2 earnings this afternoon. The media giant reported that operating income fell 16 percent, while total revenue fell 4 percent.

At Time Inc., home to a new CEO in Laura Lang, revenue fell 9 percent – and unlike some publishers who can claim some circulation revenue increases, while facing ad declines, Time Inc. saw both categories fall.

Subscription revenue fell 11 percent while advertising fell 7 percent.

Overall, revenue for the publishing side of Time Warner totalled $1.631 billion for the first half of the year, about a 6.5 percent decline. Total income is suffering due to the revenue declines, with operating income at $93 million versus $232 million a year ago.

Recently Time Inc. reversed itself and began to sell subscriptions for its magazines through Apple's in-app system. It will be interesting to see if for Q3 Time Warner touts any digital subscription numbers.

The only Time Warner segment that had a decent quarter was networks, which means Turner Broadcasting and HBO. But for the first half of the year total revenue for the compant is up slightly, though operating income is down slightly.

Advance Publications launches redesigned websites for Nola.com and the Cleveland.com

Back in May Advance Publications announced that it would cut back the print schedule of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (a similar announcement cut the print schedule for their Alabama newspapers). The excuse, at least the publicly voiced excuse, was a move towards a digital strategy. While readers complained about the cut pack in the schedule, my complaint was that Advance did not announce any digital initiatives – and still haven't.
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But today new website designs were unveiled for both the Nola.com (the website of the Times-Picayune), as well as for Cleveland.com, the site run by the Plain Dealer.

"You'll notice changes to the home page of NOLA.com today. We've heard your requests and concerns about the website. This is part of a continuing effort to respond. More changes are coming soon as the site continues to evolve," writes Jim Amoss, editor of the Times-Picayune.

The blog post by Amoss then spells out the changes to the website design. I found the proposition that the paper was responding to reader input a bit disingenuous seeing as the same design is being used at another property.

The design, though, is an improvement – especially if the redesign makes it to the Advance properties in Alabama (al.com).

My own biggest gripe with the redesign is the amount of space dedicated to the top flag and navigation – approximately 333 pixels. The NYT, in comparison, uses only 160 pixels at the top. This means the news starts higher up on the screen.
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On the other hand, a look at the site on the iPad reveals a slight, but not insignificant difference. On the tablet, the top banner is different, and the leaderboard ad is missing. As a former publisher, I lament the loss of the ad, but must admit that the site looks better.

The change in print schedule at the Advance newspapers are have a ripple effect in their communities. Three weeks ago the Times-Picayune lost the contract for the legal notices for the Civil District Court. Recently the law had been changed that stated that the notices had to be published in a daily newspaper, probably giving hope to the Times-Picayune that they might retain the contract even after cutting their print schedule. But instead Gambit, a weekly paper, got the contract, worth around $7 million.

Adidas launches new app for its magazine, one that places it inside Apple's Newsstand

Many media companies, when they have wanted to make their apps compliant with Apple's Newsstand, have simply issued an update. But the update, of course, makes the stand alone app disappear from reader's iPads and a new one appears inside Newsstand.

The result, unfortunately, is that some readers don't understand and complain inside the App Store that the update has made their favorite app disappear.

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Click here for iPad hi-res image.
Maybe this is why Adidas, the athletic clothier, has issued a brand new app for their magazine.

The new app, adidas outdoor magazine - english, now lies along side adidas outdoor magazine inside the App Store. The old app, the app description warns, will no longer be updated.

The downside of using this approach is that owners of the old app may begin to wonder why their app isn't working any longer, unaware of the new app.

Besides the Newsstand support, there is not much else different about the apps. The issue inside is the same, a well done custom publishing project by boa! agentur gmbh, supported, the app says, by StoppAustria.

Like other magazines designed to be marketing vehicles, the app and its content are free to download.

Here is a short look at the issue to be found inside the new app:

When property rights trump free speech, digital media outlets can be the loser

The incident involving Twitter this week has a lot of users wondering about the company's values, but the banning of The Independent's Guy Adams should be a reminder that digital media outlets are very often at the mercy of their distributors, whether that is Twitter, a cable company or ISP (often the cable company is the ISP).

For newspapers, used to controlling both the means of production and the distribution channel, this can be an eye opener. The whole idea of a "free press" is turned on its head when the news outlets suddenly realizes that producing their product no longer guarantees access their audience.

Today a whole range of new middle men are part of the equation. Apple, Google and Amazon, for instance, can determine whether your app meets its own guidelines for distribution.

In the first months of Apple's App Stores, plenty of apps were declined based on a wide range of objections including satire. In most case, Apple reversed itself and allowed the offending app into the store, though not always. (It should be noted that those cases involving political speech or humor eventually were approved.)

Two basic rights are at play here: property rights versus freedom of speech (or of the press). In the U.S., property rights generally trump other rights. You may have a right to criticize NBC's coverage of the Olympics, but Twitter reserves the right to ban you. That trumping of free speech leaves the media company or individual in a bind when the vehicle used to deliver information is in the hands of a third party.

But if Apple, Google or Twitter believe that they hold the upper hand they need to realize that the rest of the world doesn't necessarily believe in the supremacy of property rights. Europe, in particular, gets a little testy when they see a giant corporation treading on basic human rights. The scales of justice may not always come up with the same judgement on this issue, and so digital distributors may find themselves less able to freely deny access.

Just one or two years ago Twitter banning a user would have been seen as a nonissue. But today, media outlets use social media to drive traffic. As I write this post tweets from TechCrunch, Engadget, the BBC, Mashable, TalkingPointsMemo, the WSJ, Financial Times and the New York Times have appeared on my screen. Each tweet links to a story online, each link represents traffic, and that traffic represents ad dollars (or at least pennies). But each of these companies, whether they know it or not, are at the mercy of Twitter to keep the channel of communication open, just as they are at the mercy of Apple and others to keep their mobile and tablet apps accessible to the public.

Note: Twitter posted a blog entry yesterday explaining and somewhat back tracking on its banning of Guy Adams. It is important to note, though, that Twitter did not relinquish its right to ban a reporters Twitter account (as you'd expect) just that they would try and make sure this does not happen again. I believe them, I think. But Twitter is not the only distributor of digital content, and other companies probably would simple let it stand at "it's our right to say who uses our services."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Architectural Digest: A second new tablet edition released from Condé Nast Digital today

A second new tablet edition has been released today by Condé Nast Digital (the first being Lucky Magazine) with the release of Architectural Digest for the iPad.
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The app is pretty much identical as the new app for Lucky Magazine in that the digital editions can be read in both portrait and landscape with completely native tablet article design.

For me, the design works even better for Architectural Digest. The ability to use slide shows and to include video can be used in the future to create some very compelling content in the future. It will be up to the editors to think of the tablet edition from the beginning with visualizing future issues.

There is one strange quirk to the app: while the app and the issues work in both porttrait and landscape, the store page in only in portrait.

Like previous tablet editions, Condé Nast will allow print subscribers to log into their accounts to access the digital issues. Digital subscribers are offered a monthly option at $2.99 per month, or an annual subscription at $29.99 – not surprisingly quite a bit more than the rates for Lucky.

Individual issues can be bought for $5.99.

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Most publishers work on their small screen solutions when maybe they should be thinking bigger, as well

The past few years have been a blur for many publishers. Working hard to get their web strategies in order, suddenly mobile explodes thanks to the introduction of third party apps for the iPhone. Then, after only a few months notice, the tablet publishing era began with the introduction of the iPad.

Sometimes change can seem to occur at lightning speed – but sometimes it is slow, and therefore seems a bit under the radar.

For the past year and a half another revolution has been occurring, though its slow speed may be making many publishers ignore it.

Starting with iOS 4.3, Apple allowed any developer to tap into AirPlay, its feature that enables iPhones and iPads to stream content to an Apple TV. With the Apple TV still seen as a minor niche product, the new streaming capability was underplayed by many.

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Publishers are rightly concerned about how their
websites appear on tablets, but the next new
device to consider have have a larger screen.
Now, with the launch of Mountain Lion, any Mac owner (assuming they have a very recent new Mac) can stream content to an Apple TV, just as iPhone and iPad owners (and let's not forget iPad touch owners) have been able to.

Now it is starting to get some people's attention.

Peter Kafka of the WSJ thinks that this ability to mirror a Mac to an Apple TV forced the hand of Hulu to join the Apple TV party, launching its Hulu Plus service for the Apple TV today. Other tech sites, such as TechCrunch seem to agree.

But this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. This television revolution has been underway for a while now, it is just taking a long time.

It is not a crazy idea anymore for someone to cut their cord with the cable company and use their TV strictly for streamed content. With most sports available through streaming, and with computer mirroring now possible, a sports fan needed be forced to hope Fox will broadcast their team's game (in fact, they hope they won't).

Meanwhile, publishers continue to fret, rightly, about how their publications will be read on mobile and tablet devices. But savvy publishers have to wonder whether the ability to stream or mirror content onto an HDTV isn't yet another new platform that should be taken seriously.

For a year and a half I've said that the television would eventually be the next important platform for developers to consider. Things are moving at a glacial pace, but they are most surely moving.

Condé Nast Digital launches its first tablet edition for Lucky Magazine

If I were the editor of Folio: I would have long ago required someone at the magazine to compile spreadsheet of the largest magazines in America and whether they had launched a mobile or tablet edition. Unfortunately, the industry's trade magazine is not exactly a leader in all things mobile or tablet so, of course, they haven't kept up with these things.

It's too bad. Today's launch of the first tablet edition for Lucky Magazine caught me by surprise – surely they already were in the Newsstand, right? But the fashion magazine, with over one million in circulation, just now has gotten its first app edition launched by Condé Nast Digital. It's a good one.
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If the launch of Lucky Magazine, the app, surprised me, it looks like it surprised the developers, as well. The app description is pretty short, and there is no real screenshots of the digital magazine to be found (no doubt this will be corrected today, and might even be corrected by the time you read this post).

But don't let the badly written app description fool you, this tablet edition is no quickly done replica affair. The tablet edition for Lucky is contains all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a digital edition designed for the tablet.

The free app opens to an invitation to subscribe or log into your account. It's the first of many dialogue boxes that confront the reader and lure them to subscribe (or at least buy an individual issue).

Subscriptions are priced aggressively, reflecting the aggressive pricing Condé Nast is offering for print: annual subscriptions are priced at $14.99, with a monthly subscription at $1.99. Individual issues can be bought for $3.99.

Once you have bought a subscription, the app, like many others invites you to share your information. My guess is that few readers allow this, so the app them invites you to create an account in order to "access future benefits" – who knows what these might be, something should have been mentioned in the app description. But the idea is clearly to gain more information, and in that regard the publisher is pretty smart.

Downloads are pretty quick and progressive, meaning that the digital edition can be read without the entire issue downloaded.

The issue download does not show the size, but my settings says the latest issue only weighed in at 77 MB. That seems hard to believe because the issue can be read in both portrait and landscape. Additionally, the ad team has made sure that most of the ads contain copy for both portrait and landscape orientations, as well. The ad from MaxMara, for instance, stands out like a sore thumb due to its lack of landscape artwork.

Readers inside the App Store will no doubt give this app very high marks unless there were bugs I did not encounter.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

St. Louis Post-Dispatch releases its second outsourced iPad edition, this one from NewspaperDirect

It is sometimes hard to keep track of what Lee Enterprises is doing when it comes to the mobile and tablet platforms. Some of its apps have been released under the Lee Enterprises name, though most must be searched for under the name of the newspaper.

A search for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will find that there are two main news tablet editions inside the App Store for the newspaper. The first one was outsourced to Verve Wireless, St. Louis Post-Dispatch for iPad.
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This weekend a new app has now appeared, PD e-Edition. This one was developed by NewspaperDirect. Neither app is built to take advantage of Apple's Newsstand, and one assumes the earlier app will be eventually pulled from the App Store (recent reviews say the app has stopped working).

The new app is built along the same lines as many other NewspaperDirect apps where the newspaper inside looks like a replica of the print edition, but tapping the headline pulls up a text copy of the news story for easier reading. (The Boston Globe ePaper tablet edition uses the same system.)

The replica/native hybrid is not a bad compromise, though one has to wonder about the business model being employed here. For one thing, there are no subscription options available through the app (individual issues can be bought for $0.99), and by avoiding the Newsstand, the reader is forced to download new issues themselves.

Print subscribers can log into their accounts through the settings found in the app, though this is not mentioned at all in the app description. In fact, there is no mention of single issue pricing at all, which is strange since I would have thought Apple would require this.

(I would be remiss not to mention that around the time the new app appeared the paper announced that it way laying off 23 staffers from the newsroom, advertising and production departments. This came two days after the company had announced a $500,000 bonus for its CEO, Mary Junck. One guesses the two actions are no doubt related.)

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The Post-Dispatch is not the only Lee Enterprises newspaper that has multiple iPad apps in the App Store. The Arizona Daily Star, out of Tucson, has two apps, as well: one is a replica edition from Technavia, the other is a tablet edition that mirrors the paper's website.

It doesn't appear that Lee Enterprises has put a corporate priority on its mobile and tablet platform strategy, leaving it up to individual publishers to work out their own solutions.

FT reports Murdoch's The Sunday Times will launch new classified site for higher priced used cars

Hallalujah, finally a newspaper that hasn't given up completely on classified advertising - or so it would appear.

The Financial Times is reporting (paywall) that News International is planning to launch a new website targeted at higher priced used cars. The site would be branded with The Sunday Times name, and would focus on cars priced over £15,000.

The new site will feature editorial from the paper's columnists much like many U.S. Friday auto sections and is being led by Tom Mockridge, the New Zealand born chief executive of News International.

What TNM will be looking to see is if the launch will be a thoroughly thought out launch, complete with supporting mobile and tablet support, or if it will merely be a companion website.

Newspapers have all but abandoned their classified advertising initiatives, despite the tremendous opportunities the new digital platforms are presenting. Instead, many major newspaper chains continue to depend on national classified web efforts such as those of Classified Ventures. Very few newspapers are looking at their mobile apps as new platforms for classifieds and are instead simply streaming their RSS news feeds.

With most newspapers experiencing declining readership, and with many paper's putting their websites behind paywalls, a separate web and mobile initiative for classifieds would seem to be the best way to regain the necessary reach a strong classified department needs to attract both commercial and private party advertising.

(Disclosure: I am a former classified advertising manager and probably one of the last true believers in classifieds.)

Baltimore Magazine makes its debut in Apple's Newsstand with a replica edition

While it's name promises more than it delivers, the city/regional monthly Baltimore Magazine has, nonetheless, debuted inside the Apple Newsstand.

The name of the app is Baltimore Magazine+, and usually apps that have a "+" at the end of their name either contain lots of additional interactive material, or else were built using the Mag+ platform. While its possible that the publisher used Mag+ here, it is definitely not true that the app offers any interactivity.
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Baltimore Magazine+ is definitely a replica affair*, readable in both portrait and landscape, but basically a PDF of the print edition - complete with left and right page numbers.

For many magazines that contains lots of modular ads (less than full page ads), the choice of going replica seems logical. It would be difficult to get all those small ads into a natively designed tablet edition, though reworking the editorial pages would seem a good solution, if only to improve the reading experience.

The app offers individual issues for $2.99, as well as monthly subscription option for $0.99 and an annual subscription for $9.99.

Although the app description fails to mention it, current print subscribers can log into their accounts in order to access the digital editions.

The app is published under the name of the publisher, Rosebud Entertainment LLC. Both entities are owned by Steve Geppi, the former comic store owner turned distributor. Geppi is also a part owner of the Baltimore Orioles (Peter Angelos heads the ownership group).

*I've been told the app uses the Paperlit platform to create the digital issues.

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Left: the library page where back issues are available for free; Middle: the subscription page where current print subscribers can log-in; Right: a typical page where modular ads can be seen.

Founder of paidContent launches 'travel intelligence' site that aims to reach professionals and consumers alike; new site takes web-only approach to digital media

The founder of paidContent, Rafat Ali, has launched a new website that seeks to be the go-to place online for 'travel intelligence.' The introduction pages for Skift.com says it is "a B2B news and info site for the travel industry," but Ali told paidContent that he hopes to reach consumers, as well.

Skift.com has launched using the WordPress CMS, and is using the PublishThis curation software. The site will feature a mix of aggregation, licensed content and original reporting, and while the online site is what is available now, Ali said there will be data services, as well – though he says that the site will be supported through advertising.

Missing from the introduction, though, was any mention of other digital media – mobile and tablets, in particular. Because of this, Skift already seems a bit old fashioned – though maybe there are plans in these areas.

If not, it would be a major blunder. The travel media world is, by definition, mobile, and business travelers will want their information on the platforms they use while travelling. A website might reach travel professionals sitting behind their desks, but Skift.com competitors surely would recognize the importance of mobile in reaching both business and leisure travelers.

Marketing fail: Apple makes fun of its own customers in new series of TV ads for the Apple 'genius'

There is a strong trend in advertising to make the customers of the product being advertised appar to be fools. Ad agencies think this is cool, customers not so much.

Until the last bunch of Apple commercials, the customers of Apple were seen in ads to be smarter and more savvy than those of the competition.

Not so any longer.

The three new commercials, created by TBWA\Chiat\Day are pretty a dig at the typical Apple customer. They feature an "Apple genius" who knows all and a series of customers who are seen as frazzled and clueless. You own a Mac, the commercial says, you're an idiot.

Adrants sums up the problem this way: "The piling on is well warranted for one simple reason; Apple products are supposed to be so easy to use that you rarely have to call in an Apple Genius for help."

For me these new ads simply signal that Apple is no longer being led by someone with a unique vision. Apple's marketing is now, well, just like everyone else's. The new ads are not worse than other consumer product company's, there just the same.