Ifra's Beyond the Printed Word conference -- Executive Summaries, day 2
Beyond the Printed Word 2006
Hilton Vienna Hotel, Vienna, Austria
Co-Chairmen: Annelies van den Belt, New Media Director, Telegraph Group Ltd., and Vincent Crosbie, Managing Partner, Digital Deliverance LLC
Second day -- 10 November
Summaries by Steve Shipside
See also the multiblog: beyond.ifra-nt.com
Innovative uses of digital media
Rob Curley, Vice President New Product Development, WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive, U.S.A.
Self-styled "Internet punk" Rob Curley listed the top "strategies that we better not be afraid of":
- You must dominate local breaking news. If it happens in your town you'd better feature it, or people will go to another site.
- Focus on hyperlocal content and database-driven coverage.
- Multimedia overkill.
- Evergreen content – the material you never need to update because it's always fresh.
- Embrace platform-independent delivery (PSPs, iPods, everything).
- Lastly, remember that it's a dialogue, not a monologue.
Curley showed examples of his previous work, notably for Marconews, Florida (www.marconews.com):
- Daily listings feature every event, every social club meeting, every history club, every bar band, and every golf tournament, with reminders available via e-mail or SMS.
- Restaurant reviews not only listed by food type and location but the answers to 30 questions, including 'if I have no money and clean your windows can I have a hamburger?' [five said yes]. Restaurant guide transferable to iPod with one click, or accessible by mobile phone.
- Church guide, including location, sermons, and 360-degree scrolling views. Even a podcast of the sermon.
- A three-minute 'travelogue' about every beach in the area.
- Fishing blogs with details of yesterday's catch, a fishing forecast, user-uploaded photos of their fish, and an interactive map of the sandbars.
- Every statistic of every local football game, scores updated as they happen, and post-match studio interviews with the journalist who had covered the event.
- When the local major families competed for the rights to hold charity dinners, Curley's team published the menus, interviewed the chefs – and filmed the evening.
- On politics they had the politicians blog, included neighbourhood maps of street-by-street voting, and a questionnaire to match users' views with politicians'.
On the subject of podcasts and vodcasts (video on demand), Curley explained the need for high production values, including high-quality graphics and sound, very tight shots (to allow for display on small screens), and training from documentary makers. The resulting video could be downloaded to iPods and phones or uploaded to YouTube. With commercials embedded in the video, every YouTube viewing was seen as success, rather than piracy. A deal with the local cable company led to the highly professional Studio 55 vodcast being shown on local TV. Curley said that with no anchor desk, it looks like an entertainment show, but for those listening to the audio only, it sounds like pure news.
In Curley's "evolving newsroom," writers are now referred to as reporters, whose duties include adding multimedia features to make stories better for the Internet. They must be available to participate on vodcasts and podcasts, read readers' comments, and embrace changing roles and responsibilities.
Web TV & video
Jim Chisholm, iMedia, France
Jim Chisholm said surveys show that Internet users are most interested in television, photos, and video telephony. He highlighted the Nokia N93 video phone, which is clearly aimed at transforming citizens into broadcasters. He also demonstrated a Bluetooth link between PC and phone, over which a podcast was downloaded, an advert displayed, and then TV transmission was demonstrated live on the phone.
Chisholm said, with cheap/free Skype and other VoIP phones in the offing, this phenomenon is set to mushroom. Increasingly, video broadcasting and conferencing will take place not on large screens but on games consoles – which puts it squarely in front of the kids.
Chisholm pointed to the media niche this creates for rapid delivery to small audiences, using as an example a video of a rocket attack in Beirut. A blogger shot the video from a balcony, using a video phone provided by a newspaper. The paper put the footage on its site before TV news could get onto the case. Users want to interact with video, too -- twice as many people in the Netherlands voted on Big Brother as voted in the general election.
His suggestions include teaming up with local TV news, including digital services from agencies (notably Reuters), and partnering with local telcos. Offering free network access, for example, would provide a media platform and a ready audience. The key is to exploit the deregulated environment in content and distribution while drawing up an honest assessment of the paper's media value, market, competition and growth. To survive, newspapers must evolve from a "print plus" model to truly integrated multimedia.
Panel discussion: Digital formats
A group of 16- and 17-year-olds from the International School in Vienna tested new formats from various newspapers around the world and gave their feedback during a panel discussion. The teens talked about their favourite sites, including MySpace, LiveJournal, and other social networking sites. They spend an average of 4.7 hours per day online during the week but only 2.6 hours on Sunday.
The panel expressed differences about what they seek, but sports news and local/own language content for those far from home featured heavily. Most expressed reservations about MySpace but nonetheless found themselves using it "because everyone else does," and ending up "addicted." Peer pressure emerged as a powerful force, with little evident loyalty to specific channels. MSN Live Messenger, for example, emerged as the principal chat tool, but most agreed they would switch to another if needed to talk to a particular friend.
Some specific comments on online newspapers:
- The layout and navigation of newspaper websites can be quite overwhelming.
- Brightly coloured and intrusive adverts were seen as distracting.
- They preferred dedicated news sections to features.
- Sports sections were generally highest rated.
- Web TV is a great idea.
- On blogging they preferred the authority of staff blogs, but were far more likely to reply to reader blogs, which were seen as less intimidating and more diverse.
One of the teenagers concluded, “To win over our target group you [newspapers] have to improve layout, fonts and interactivity. I also don't think you should market sections aimed at us as being 'fun' or 'educational' -- don't condescend.”
Digital success "down under"
Mike van Niekerk, Editor-in-Chief Online, Fairfax Media, Australia
Mike van Niekerk said in the Australian advertising market, newspapers look pretty good, TV is healthy, and online, at 8%, is about to overtake radio and is by far the fastest-growing segment, 60% per year. Familiar names such as Yahoo dominate online, but local brands have major power, and 50% of the market belongs to Australian search engine Sensis (www.sensis.com.au). Of the online news brands it is the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that dominate. Fairfax's (owner of The Age) online strategy has been to increase breaking-news reporting and bring popular content into the mix.
It has found that banner ads still work, with people paying to feature their businesses on the front page regardless of click-rate results. Flexibility in advertising has increased, with such approaches as "over the page" ads, half-page ads, "leaderboards" (extra large banner ads), expanding island ads (which enlarge then go back to normal size) and DHTML effects (animations on page). Van Niekerk cautioned publishers to use sensitivity when publishing ads, to avoid destroying the relationship with the audience.
Business, technology and travel proved to be the high-value areas for ad sales, and it turned out that there was too little editorial content in those areas. So the site was redesigned and the company invested heavily in attractive content, hiring extra reporters and doubling the page inventory. Fairfax also partnered with Lonely Planet for travel content and looked into sponsored blogs. Advertisers were largely mistrustful of blogs, but Fairfax found the right match of cultures with Absolut Vodka.
New revenue ideas
Kyoo Kim, Vice President Sales, msnbc.com, U.S.A.
Kyoo Kim reminded the audience of the belief that "salespeople are happy losers," and that a good team will celebrate rejection and beating the odds to share in the hunt. To do that they need a blend of empathy, ego, and concept building – the last item being especially important in new media because they “have to be creative solution providers, not just pure negotiators.”
Kim described an extensive deal with General Electric, including exclusive sponsorship of an hour-long documentary and the taping of chairman Jeff Immelt's message. To seal the deal, MSNBC also came up with:
- exclusive sponsorship of an MSNBC special site
- a link to the GE employee intranet
- creation of 3,000 DVDs with branded packaging
- various promotions from NBC/MSNBC/MSNBC.com and MSN
The company has also promoted section sponsorship featuring more than 250 available options, sold monthly or seasonally, with ad impressions typically guaranteed. Custom programs, strong account management and post-mortems underpin the success of the approach.
The future for them includes greater integration with a user-generated content (UGC) tool, exclusive online programming, and targeting of platforms such as IPTV, Xbox, and Zune. Some other goals and priorities:
- More client input
- Monetizing UGC
- Experimenting with immersive experiences such as Google Earth, Second Life, World of Warcraft
- Custom publishing
- Mobile as part of cross media
- The launch of a women's lifestyle channel
Online classifieds - Speurders.nl
Quintin Schevernels, Managing Director, Telegraaf Classified Media, The Netherlands
Schevernels introduced Speurders (sniffers), an online classified ads site that the Telegraaf had introduced to break into the Dutch online market. He said, “Our focus is trying to make as much money as possible with the existing products and build strong brands and online positions using our media power and knowledge of the different markets.”
The challenge lay in breaking open a market already dominated by rival Marktplaats. Schevernels realised that Speurders needed to be "jump started," given a large initial injection of ads in order to attract users and gain momentum.
The answer turned out to be largely offline:
- Four physical stores for walk-in trade.
- One of the journalists wrote a book on the subject.
- More than 40 Speurder salespeople on the streets, helping people find ways to sell their surplus belongings.
- Running a game in which players learn more about Speurders content and services.
Finally, a new category was started: the end-of-life-cycle product. The tactic was to contact manufacturers that were preparing to launch a new product and offer to buy the old inventory. That was then sold as "bargain of the week" and publicized in TV and poster advertising as a way of driving traffic to the site. Schevernels said the next step may be to expand the approach and move to "bargain of the day."
Page first published: 13.11.2006