iPad and iPhone

On 25 September TheMediaBriefing hosts Mobile Media Strategies, the only UK event on mobile product development and business models designed for and by content publishers, featuring speakers from the FT, Future, Dennis, The Guardian and more. In a new series, we look at the challenges and opportunities as content moves from print, to screen to device. Read part one of this series here.

What does mobile publishing mean to you? A nice-to-have content channel, an addition to print and desktop publishing, or an entirely new revenue model?

For many it’s all of those things – but having looked at the size of the mobile opportunity for publishers in this series, we now turn to the role device-led publishing plays in media business models – I’ve listed just two here:

1. Subscription lever – the ‘content everywhere’ bundling model

One of the most high-profile and successful ways to incorporate devices into media business models has been to use them as mechanisms to increase regular user revenue. The functionality and convenience of tablet and smartphone apps is one of the strongest levers to drive subscriptions in publishers’ armouries.

This model sees products – newspapers, websites, mobile apps – as mere vehicles to deliver content and advertising.

The Financial Times pioneered the content-everywhere model, with FT.com subscribers getting unlimited access to its HTML5 web apps on iOS and Android devices as standard. The FT has 2.1 million readers across digital and print and 14 percent of them read FT content on at least two devices every day. The famous FT matrix of subscription benefits is now much copied across the industry:

The result? FT.com paid subs up 30% year on year to more than 300,000 surpassing the newspaper’s global print circulation. Mobile accounts for 25 percent of FT.com traffic and generates 15 percent of new subs. The FT predicts (via @Adders) that half of all FT.com access wil come via mobile within three years.  Not a bad place to be.

The Wall Street Journal’s Raju Narisetti recently told me about his belief in making WSJ content available wherever consumers want:

“The big strategy I think you’ll see is WSJ Everywhere – no matter where our consumers want to consume our content, we’ll be there, as long as they are willing to pay. (WSJ just launched a paid subscription content offer on the Pulse aggregator) You’ll see us do more of that.

“You can imagine, if and when Twitter gets around to doing a premium Twitter channel, that would be a great opportunity for us to play in that space as well, and the same thing with YouTube.”

2. One-off content sales to offset print declines

But not everything needs to be about subscriptions. Publishers can find success through one-off issue and app sales too.

There remains a huge potential here for consumer magazines, many of whom have yet to even dip their toe into the app market – for fear of cannibilising their print sale.

But that print sale isn’t doing too well in some UK magazine sectors, with newsstand sales falling about seven percent every six months and subscriptions are under pressure.

Future, the most enthusiastic publisher on Apple’s Newsstand platform, with more than 70 titles available on tablets, has found the iPad a solution to that fall in print: 90 percent of its iPad sales are to new customers and 55 percent buy one-off titles rather than subscribing.

Future may have a few iPad mags – increasingly with interactive bells and multimedia whistles – but as data analysis from our own Peter Kirwan found, there’s a long way to go across the industry:  

mag analysid - bar char - 1


Taking Conde Nast’s Wired as an example (an perhaps a uncommon one, with its tech-savvy early adopter audience), single copies aren’t always  the way to go.

— In the second half of 2011 the US edition averaged 108,000 digital copies per issue (including 68,000 print subs who activated their digital subscription) …

— 33,000 paid digital subscriptions and 7,000 single digital edition sales (US ABC stats via AdAge).

3. Going beyond the magazine replica

But thinking differently for a second, why does a mobile product need to be based on an existing print product? There is a market for replica editions (people do buy pdf page-turning editions, app purists) but also one for apps based around niche content or functions.

Haymarket’s Four Four Two magazine won big at this year’s AOP Awards for its StatsZone app, which tracks players’ movements and actions across a football match. The mag has always had access to OPTA stats (like most footall media) but the publishers saw an opportunity to turn that data into an ancilliary revenue stream (it’s £1.49 to download).

As The brand’s editorial director Hugh Sleight put it at this year’s PPA conference, “What can you do for your audience that doesn’t involved just filling up the bucket with content?”

The FT, Future, Dennis, The Guardian, Informa, pricing experts Simon + Kucher Partners are all speaking at Mobile Media Strategies 2012 in London on 25 September. Don’t miss our early bird ticket offer until August 10.