Moving from months to moments

The Guardian carries an interesting interview with Duncan Edwards the CEO of Hearst Magazines International. He has been with the company for 25 years and he has an interesting take on the competitive environment that magazine publishers now face:

Faced with competition from the BuzzFeed generation of digital upstarts, Edwards, chief executive of Hearst International, delivered an edict to his magazine editors: “From months to moments”.

“With the advent of mobile, smartphones and tablets, consumer expectations have changed,” he says. “Some content-driven pure plays were fast to realise that was an opportunity – examples everyone uses are BuzzFeed and [fashion and beauty site] Refinery29. We had to re-educate and re-structure our teams. We are moving from months to moments in our editorial thinking.” Hearst’s Duncan Edwards, ‘We are moving from months to moments’.

This mantra sits pretty askew with the rest of the interview, which stresses the long-term decisions that Edwards has taken since 2000 which have, on the whole worked out pretty well for Hearst (or Nat. Mags as they used to be known within the industry). The move into women’s weeklies in 2002, an alliance with Rodale in 2004, and the steady and still continuing success of Good Housekeeping. Historically magazine fortunes have not been built on instant success. Magazine hits have evolved over years, if not decades. There may be a kind of ‘shock effect’ by telling his editors to think in moments not months, but I hope that Duncan Edwards has not lost sight of the fact that the magazine business is not for nothing a periodical business. Success tends to be cumulative, and success results in renewals and recurring moments.

If Hearst Magazine International thinks it is in a toe-to-toe competition with BuzzFeed and Refinery29 it is going to come off second best. BuzzFeed and Refinery29 are parts of the competitive landscape for Elle and Cosmopolitan, but they are very different kettles of fish.

At Exact Editions we think that magazine publishers should no longer be moving on a month-to-month schedule, but the answer is not to be fussing about moment-to-moment tactical news stories. The key metric for the success of a digital magazine industry is the metric of renewable subscriptions. And in this context Duncan Edwards’ comment that only 80,000 issues being are currently being sold per month for the Hearst UK tablet titles is a real shocker. The number should be much higher, but the metric that really matters is: how many of those issues are being sold to subscribers, and how many of those subscribers are renewing annual/monthly/quarterly subscriptions. Hearst Magazines needs to turn its app subscriptions around so that they become a bright spot, and revenue from digital subscriptions is the key to that.

 

 

 

Transition Free Press joins the Apple Newsstand

We’re thrilled to announce that Transition Free Press has joined the Exact Editions webstore, and is now making it’s debut in the Apple Newsstand.

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Transition Free Press is a quarterly newspaper, built around the idea of sustainable communities and towns, with emphasis on the environment and community spirit. The focus is always on solutions, so if you’re looking for a positive and inspiring break from the standard doom-and-gloom press, this is the title for you!

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The app incorporates all the features you’ve come to expect from Exact Editions (comprehensive search, offline bookmarked content and social media sharing, to name a few) and also comes with ground-breaking ByPlace™ technology enabled.

Available on the App Store

Free Access ByPlace to When Saturday Comes

 

 

When Saturday Comes world cup edition

When Saturday Comes world cup edition

 

When Saturday Comes, “the half decent football magazine” is running a special promotion in Brazil over June and July this summer, offering spectators at various World Cup fan parks the opportunity to read the magazine for free. Using the Exact Editions ByPlace™ technology, any iPad or iPhone user within various fan parks across Brazil will be able to read When Saturday Comes for free, including the special edition World Cup Team Guide. 

Here is a list of the locations where the app is completely and freely available during the next month:

Belo Horizonte – Venue Expominas

Brasilia – Venue Taguaparque

Cuiaba – Venue Exhibition Park

Curitiba – Pedreira Paulo Leminski

Fortaleza – Iracema Beach

Manaus – Ponta Negra

Natal – Praia do Forte

Porto Alegre – Sunset Amphitheater

Rio de Janeiro – Copacabana

Sao Paulo – Anhangabau Valley

Manchester, UK – Fever Pitch Venue

If you can’t make it to Belo Horizonte, it might be more practical to head up to the Fever Pitch Venue in Manchester.

I wish I was in Brazil:

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ByPlace tool showing 11 free locations for When Saturday Comes

Setting up eleven ByPlace free access points in Brazil, is the digital equivalent of setting up dump bins for the current issue of the magazine (and its back issues!) in those crowded spots. But its much easier, it can be done from a desktop PC, and Exact Editions makes the ByPlace tool freely available to our publishing partners. Users will be able to access the magazine on their device using 3G or WiFi (or of course 4G). Getting the word out to the crowds that are assembling is another challenge. Social media is currently the most instant method, our next project is to find the venues that would like to have permanent access to the best magazines, all the time. When Saturday Comes should be a regular digital resource at all the pubs in the UK that take a big interest in their football screenings.

 

 

Your Cotswold Family Online!

New to the App Store and Exact Editions webstore comes the lovely lifestyle magazine Your Cotswold Family.

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It doesn’t matter if you live in the Cotswolds or are just planning a visit, this magazine has something for everyone. It’s much more than just a parenting magazine, with ideas for days out, fantastic gift ideas and much, much more!

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The app is loaded with all the features you’ve come to expect from Exact Editions, such as social media sharing, in-depth text search and the cutting-edge ByPlace geo-promotion technology.

Available on the App Store

Stacks and Clouds and Apps ByPlace

Apple had a really big WWDC with lots of stuff for developers to digest. One of the most interesting comments came from Benedict Evans who has developed a theory about the different directions in which Apple and Google are travelling. Apple is taking advantage of its deep hold of devices (phone, tablet, desktop) to drive software down into the individual’s device and the software it runs, whereas Google is moving everything in the opposite direction, away from dumb glass up to cloud-based services where all the intelligence is happening in ways that inform Google. Google would like to know everything that might inform your choice. Apple is building an ecosystem of apps and app-driven devices with the software that matters running on the device, whereas Google wants everything to happen via Googled web services.

Apple is moving innovation down the stack into hardware/software integration, where it’s hard for Google to follow, and Google is moving innovation up the stack into cloud-based AI & machine learning services, where it’s hard for Apple to follow. This isn’t a tactical ‘this’ll screw those guys’ approach – it reflects the fundamental characters of the two companies. Digesting WWDC: Cloudy

This theory explains the different approaches the two companies have to the privacy issue. Google needs to know everything you know, so that it can inform your choice and even anticipate it. Apple needs your device to know just as much as it needs to know, so that you can control that information and the apps will look after that information. Just to the extent that you decide that they should. Apple sees privacy as a core which the user is entitled to loosen if she chooses, whereas Google sees privacy as a frontier that retreats as the cloud gains dominance.

What does this tell us about newspapers and magazines? The first lesson is that newspapers, magazines and books are small potatoes as far as these big platform wars are concerned. Apple and Google are not really concerned about these relatively small media markets. Their big battle is for the user and his/her budget across the board and for his/her decisions at the moment and the place that they are in. But I think the second lesson that we can draw from WWDC is that the Apple environment is becoming ever more ambitious. If a magazine or a newspaper designs its apps for the best performance on the iOS platform it will be increasingly difficult to achieve similar quality for the Android or web environments. Apple is winning the high end smart phone and tablet markets, and iOS apps look like they might continue winning at the premium end of the media markets. Digital subscriptions for magazines and newspapers are going overwhelmingly through iTunes. Maybe this dominance will continue.

At Exact Editions we were particularly excited by Apple’s new moves to encourage location awareness in devices and apps. Location based services and notifications is especially interesting and chimes in with our own development of ByPlace functionality for Exact Editions apps:

One new feature sees the iPhone displaying apps on the lock screen based on location. For example, MacRumors readers have seen relevant app icons pop up while at or near brick and mortar locations like Starbucks and the Apple Store. While at a Starbucks, for example, the Starbucks app icon is displayed in the lower left corner of the iPhone’s lock screen, which allows the Starbucks app to be easily accessed. MacRumours: iOS 8 offers Quick Access to Apps based on Location

We like the sound of this, and the next step is for the Starbucks app to pop up and inform you that since you are in the Starbucks on the Charing Cross Road you ought also be able to get free promotional access to an Economist app or a Vogue app. This points publishers towards new promotional strategies and new sales opportunities. Magazine and newspaper apps that are available ByPlace are apps taking advantage of local conditions. Google news is always asking me whether it can use my current location. I often say yes, but with the muted thought that Google is taking advantage of me, rather than me taking advantage of Google. I think Apple is looking to a future in which the user can take advantage of the apps available nearby. This is putting the app at the service of the user, rather than the user at the service of the app. An important difference.