Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How media can profit from new iPad

While it may be difficult for Apple’s new iPad to live up to the hype that accompanied its release today, there can be no doubt that this slick new device has raised the bar for interactive content delivery.

Unfortunately, as discussed previously here, most media companies already are late in developing editorial and advertising strategies to meet this new challenge.

Significantly, publishers and broadcasters should be single-mindedly focused on finding ways to charge (checklist at left) for all the exciting new content, services and advertising opportunities that will be enabled by the ’Pad and the imitators that follow.

As media companies scramble to catch up, here are seven “ates” to help them gear up for the formidable task of tablet-izing themselves:

Invigorate – Cross-media content has to take full advantage of the bigger screen and richer multimedia capabilities of this highly portable new platform. This not only means that static words and pictures must be augmented by audio and video but also that the active media must be fully and seamlessly integrated into storytelling. Even data can be marshaled graphically to tell a story or a map to tell a compelling story. Sticking a video next to several gray columns of type won’t cut it. Here’s something that’s on the right track.

Ingratiate – Like it or not, consumers are likely to be tightly tethered to these highly portable, always-on devices. They will use them not only to soak up startlingly increasing amounts of news and entertainment but also for work, play, shopping and socializing. To remain relevant and top of mind amid the ever-proliferating array of offerings, next-generation media applications will have to make themselves indispensable by providing calendars, shopping guides, social applications and similar consumer tools. If you have never seen the “Scope” feature in the Urban Spoon app for the iPhone, check it out now. You’ll never dine in a dive again.

Triangulate – Tablets make it possible for publishers to know not only where a consumer is, but also where she has been and – very likely – where she is going. This not only makes it possible to customize content delivery based on a customer’s location and interests but it also will be a bonanza for advertisers, who can intercept prospects at or near the point of purchase with exquisitely targeted offers. Geo-adverts are about to start at the Metro newspapers in Canada.

Curate – There never again will be a respite in the 24/7 news cycle. The good news for media companies is that the relentless flow of information is absolutely overwhelming consumers with information. That means they will need more help than ever to find what’s important to them. Media companies can make themselves indispensible – and charge handsome monthly fees for their services – by creating tools to organize, prioritize and customize the tsunami of in-bound info. A number of earnest science-fair projects (example) are under way to curate the news algorithmically and – who knows? – some of them eventually may succeed. Meantime, I have heard that certain human beings called “editors” are known to have this capability.

Propagate – The reason we call the interactive media “interactive” is because it is possible for users to interact with them. This distinguishes the modern media from such lean-back formats as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books and skywriting. Tablets, like the web and smart phones before them, will turn these two-way, information-consuming devices into increasingly vital platforms for personal expression and social interaction. New applications make it possible for users not only to take active control of their experiences but also to provide ample incentives to share them with others. It was one small step for mankind when newspapers made it possible a dozen years ago for readers to email day-old articles to their friends. Now, we need some giant leaps.

Integrate – For most users, the right commercial message in the right place at the right time is as welcome as any other type of content. Journalists should not fear – or at this point, anyway, cannot afford to fear – tighter integration of editorial and commercial content. Most consumers are smart enough to grasp the distinction between news and advertising; subtle but explicit labeling can clue in the rest. For one example of how artfully advertising can be integrated into an interactive editorial package, click here. Note that this particular representation cleverly sells iTunes along with shampoo.

Celebrate – This stuff is cool. Let’s have some fun with it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's just a honking big IPhone, except you can't put it in your pocket. I don't see the excitement. I would prefer it to a Kindle, but books are still delivered in black and white, regardless of whether it is a Kindle or an IPad.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Rincewind said...

Sorry Alan, I really think it's too late for most of the newsosaurus species. Either they don't have the brass to *really* change to the new model or the imagination to work out how to adapt, or even understand. The last century has probably been an aberration - we're back to the small news business, even if its scale is large.

A new uberhyperbolitron like the iPad won't make one whit difference for the old media. Embedding visual aids with text isn't going to get somebody to pay for an online 'newspaper' when there's a blogger who'll gladly do the honor of analysing news content.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous T Heller said...

Tablets, like the web and smart phones before them, will turn these two-way, information-consuming devices into increasingly vital platforms for personal expression and social interaction.

Alan - I'll bet that's what they said about the telephone, when it was in competition with the telegraph (or the postal service.)

Does anyone think of the phone as a "vital platform for personal expression"? It's just a communication device (and an annoyance to many) -- so let's not get carried away so soon....

P.S. the device doesn't consume the information, its user does. It would be good to remember that the user's bandwidth is the real limitation to the functionality of these devices. (At least until they can mimic the Roomba...)

5:48 PM  
Blogger LocalNewsGuy said...

This may be the digital flavor of the year but nowhere is there any reason to believe serious numbers of paying subscribers and display advertisers will migrate from print to this nifty item any more than they migrated from print to the more bulky MacIntosh screens. Yes the Internet is an efficient delivery system - if the content is free. But content is not free and display advertisers only pay when people actually see their ad. Someday a technology will arrive to do this - this isn't it.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Bradley J. Fikes said...

This not only makes it possible to customize content delivery based on a customer’s location and interests but it also will be a bonanza for advertisers, who can intercept prospects at or near the point of purchase with exquisitely targeted offers.

Have you considered that people might not like being "intercepted" by ads? I sure wouldn't. I see enough ads and spam as it is that you couldn't pay me to put up with being "intercepted."

And what I've seen of the iPad is distinctly unimpressive. I can get more functionality from a netbook for $300 -- in fact I just bought one.

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At first I was skeptical, but I must concede that there is a valid point here.

People who are willing to pay for Apple's overpriced, underperforming products - will probably be willing to pay for biased and inaccurate news as well.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Steve Ross said...

The iPad is one among many... and a few years from now will be replaced by paper-thin OLED technology that truly folds into your pocket.

I read the WSJ on my "old" Android G1 when I travel, which is about half the time, and wish the NYT and Boston Globe were as easy to handle on it -- and sold ads that exploited it.

I've owned a Fujitsu U-810 -- tablet/physical keyboard Windows machine with 6" touch-screen and 6-hour battery life -- for two years, and read on that as well (Fujitsu actually owns or owned the iPad trademark Apple is using).

Lesson: Of course newspapers should be preparing for iPad technology! It's already here! And the users are spenders! But EVERYONE will have a smartphone in the next year or two. That's the front line of the revolution right now.

5:58 AM  
Blogger GorMar said...

Meh. I've used Macs since 1993, I love my iPhone but this is Apple Cube p.2. Maybe it takes off on bells & whistles & Apple glory, but there's no real substance or usefulness to this product.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How boring to read news online. Anyone else sick of scrolling through headlines and excerpts? The dynamic interaction of reading a newspaper or magazine is the presentation. I'll read things in the paper that I would pass during an online scroll because a photo or the placement on a page caught my attention with a print edition. Current online presentation can be described as "dry"! Where's the imagination in page design with online? I agree Steve who said that devices like the i-pad are going to be quickly replaced by the paper-thin OLED technology. The i-pad may just be a bridge in the transition phase where the public acclimates to a paperless media. The recent publication "Panorama" was a sellout and shows what can be done to attract readers with some knock-out graphics and well-planned regard for presentation.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Steve Ross said...

Some stories can be told better with interactive elements, and audio, and video. Others need only text. As one who has tried unsuccessfully to get newspapers to use even simple things, like javascript calculators, on their sites, it is clear to me that the barrier involves money (to pay sharp content-creators) and imagination. Newspaper managements are sorely lacking in both. But technology alone doesn't write the stories.

12:55 PM  

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