The 12 key elements of iPad media strategy


iPadmedia.jpgOn August 27 in Sydney The Insight Exchange is running an iPad Strategy Workshop as part of the Newspaper Publishers Association Future Forum conference. It is free for PANPA members and very inexpensive for others, including discounts for members of industry partners, so if you’re in Sydney I hope to see you there. See here for full details and registration.

It will be highly compressed event, packing much content, action and participation into two hours. One of the highlights will be the panel discussion with a group which has extensive experience and insights to share, including:

Keith Ahern, CEO, mogeneration

Grant Holloway, Managing Editor – Online, The Australian

Warren Lee, Group Director – Content Strategy & Integration, APN

Jan Razeb, CEO, Hungry Mobile (Czech Republic)

Abigail Thomas, Head of Strategic Development, ABC

Content partner for the event is Future Exploration Network, which is currently preparing a website and report on iPad and media. We are still developing the strategy frameworks, but I thought it would be worth sharing some of the high-level strategic issues we think are important, and will be raised at the iPad workshop (to the extent we can in the time available!).

iPad in the distribution mix. As some have pointed out, iPad can not be looked at in isolation. It is one of an increasing number of channels for content distribution and revenue generation. Strategies need to examine not only relative characteristics of the available channels, but how they complement each other and afford economies of scale or reach. In particular, the iPad is just the vanguard of a coming cornucopia of tablets and other media-friendly mobile devices.

Scope of content. For established media, there are important choices to made on what content is included in the iPad app. This can include the same content as the print or broadcast, a subset of it, content adapted to format (e.g. shorter, include multimedia), and a combination of repurposed content and iPad-exclusive material. Production issues as well as positioning need to be taken into consideration.

Pricing and multi-platform pricing. There are a wide variety of possible pricing structures, including one-time app purchase, subscription, in-app purchase of selected content, and free. A key issue is relative pricing across channels, notably compared to web, and the demand dynamics of bundled pricing.

Role of advertising. Many print publications are selling bundled packages to their advertisers which include iPad, or sometimes iPad-specific offers, which is now getting easier as usage patterns are beginning to be understood. Ad pricing structures are still emerging based on the limited data available on ad viewing, often moving beyond CPM. Mobile ad networks such as iAd and AdMob will not generate as much revenue as in-house sales. As iPad advertising rates find their natural level strategies will have to evolve.

Design and navigation. The iPad is a completely new format, enabling innovative design for access to and interaction with news and content. The opportunity for awesome design that transcends established formats and thinking has only begun to be explored. A number of navigation standards have begun to emerge, however it is not clear whether these will be become used across the board or new ones will develop. A key element is the intelligent use of portrait and landscape orientations.

App development and platform selection. There are four main choices for publishing on the iPad: publish to the browser, publish onto platform apps such as Zinio and PixelMags, create an app using publishing platforms such as Woodwing, Adobe DPP, Oompf or Spreed, or create your own app from scratch. The choice will depend on issues including relative priorities, financial resources, pricing models, and ambition.

Production and workflow. For the creation of non-trivial apps new or changed workflow is needed. Newsrooms may need to re-engineer their systems to create XML or other outputs in appropriate formats. Depending on the platform used, new tasks may be required including reformatting, custom layouts, and so on. In some cases new or reallocated staff may be required, usually with design experience.

Social media and social news. Basic functionality in social sharing e.g. on Twitter and Facebook is a starting point for many publishers. As on the web, issues of access to paid content through social referrals needs to be addressed. Social news, so far most best expressed in Flipboard, provides content curated by your social network. This has great potential, particularly on the iPad.

Aggregation. News aggregators are an increasingly important news source for many on both the web and iPad. Publishers need to consider their role and value relative to aggregators, and indeed look at the degree to which they aggregate external content into their own offerings.

Relationship with Apple. Many media companies struggle with paying 30% commission on iTunes revenue and becoming beholden to the famously whimsical Apple, but these are non-negotiable aspects of distributing on the iPad. Managing the relationship effectively and anticipating the potential frustrations are important part of iPad initiatives.

Organizational responsibilities. In existing media organizations which have some combination of print, broadcast, and digital operations, there has often been a tussle over which is responsible for the iPad. It is difficult to transcend organizational politics. However if clearly defined responsibilities are established, predicated on business models, capabilities, and the ability to bridge operating groups, chances of success will be maximized.

Change management. The introduction of the iPad is highly significant for many media organizations, as the first time they bring in a significant new channel since the web. Change management is of course a perennial for media companies, however there is a real opportunity to use this transition to facilitate or accelerate change into staffing and structures and make since in a multi-channel media landscape.

Any thoughts? Anything missing here?

We are in the process of developing far deeper content on the topic, so keep posted for more soon!

Photo credit: Johan Larsson