Friday, January 18, 2013

Morning Brief: The Sun uses free iPhone app in marketing effort; Newspaper Guild to open talks early with Philly newspaper owners; Apple works with Hearst Magazines on 'Read Them Here First' push inside the Newsstand

The U.K. tabloid, The Sun, owned by News International (Murdoch's UK division of News Corp.) has launched a new free iPhone app in support of a promotion effort. The app (U.S. App Store link) will be supporting the paper's promotion called "The Sun's Big Smile Giveaway." The promotion runs through March 31.

"Smile in the face of winter blues with The Sun's Big Smile Giveway," the promotion on The Sun's website reads.

Everything about the promotion seems to be tied to getting information from readers, front the sign-up form, to the new app that makes readers sign in using Facebook.

The free app features the day's funniest stories, according to the app description. The app is a good example of using mobile or tablet apps as marketing for a media company.

Here is the paper's video in support of the promotion, very cute.

The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia has agreed to conduct early talks with the owners of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and in a move that even the Guild admitted was unusual.

The union's contract with Interstate General Media LLC, owners of the papers, runs out in October. The papers are looking once again to cut costs.

While it was an unusual, and I am sure difficult, decision for the Guild, it is really a very important step they are making by reopening the contract," Interstate General chief executive Robert J. Hall said in the report.
 photo Hearst-Newsstand-sm_zps8aa205d3.jpg
Yesterday Apple began promoting the digital magazine titles of Hearst inside the Newsstand in a marketing effort under the banner "Read Them Here First."

"Subscribe to these Newsstand magazines and read them on your iPad before they appear in print or any other digital edition," reads the promotion.

The idea counters one argument against some digital magazines, that subscribers of print editions might receive their magazines earlier than digital readers.

The promotion will also help Hearst, which has received very low grades from readers inside the App Store for its pricing policy: Hearst charges all readers for its digital editions, even print subscribers.

Hearst apps also have suffered from bugs, as well. The most recent recent version of Cosmopolitan's tablet edition, for instance, is getting hammered for blank screens. The app was last updated in December.

One reason to charge all readers, of course, is to drive readers to digital, where production and distribution costs will be lower. The move, while making sense from a cost perspective, does leave out the question of paid advertising: can magazines maintain their rate bases through tablet editions without losing advertising from clients and agencies. Most publishers seem to believe they can, so long as audits reflect the total audience.