New research from digital publishing solution Twipe shows more and more newspapers are re-discovering the power of digital-only editions as their unique value proposition. The report gives an overview of the experiences of 8 digital-only editions launched several years ago by leading European publishers including Le Monde, The Economist and Die Welt.
For the purpose of the research digital-only editions are defined as bundles of finite content, with a clear beginning and end, published via digital channels with a regular frequency, and with no counterpart in print containing the same content.
- Handelsblatt10 from Handelsblatt (Germany)
- DN+ from Diario de Navarra (Spain)
- La Matinale from Le Monde (France)
- Welt Edition from Die Welt (Germany)
- L’édition du Soir from Ouest-France (France)
- Espresso from The Economist (UK)
- The Independent Daily Edition from The Independent (UK)
- 12 from Tamedia (Switzerland)
- Reuters Institute identifies three groups of readers based on reading frequency and news interest: News Lovers (18%), Casual Users (38%) and, the largest group, Daily Briefers (44%). While for News Lovers a news website or feed is a good strategy, for Daily Briefers, who look for news only few times per day, the best product strategy is the edition format.
- Some digital-only editions replace print publications that were not profitable, such as The Independent which became digital-only due to commercial imperative. Other editions target new, complementary audiences, like La Matinale (Le Monde). Le Monde wanted to reach a younger audience with a morning edition, so they created a unique swiping feature for La Matinale.
- Other initiatives, such as Welt Edition, come from a pure desire to innovate—when they first started development, they didn’t even know what the iPad would be called, they just wanted to be the first on the German market with a newspaper tablet app.
- Another group of publications emerged from a need to serve time-crunched readers who feel overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of news. The Economist’s Espresso is one such edition, positioning itself as a “shot of daily news” for people on the go.
- In print newspapers, the front page is essential in highlighting the biggest events of the day, so it is important to note that half of the titles researched decided not to include a front page, instead jumping directly into a story. This is a departure from many other developments in the age of digital news, as news flow websites still often have one or two main stories highlighted on the top of the page.
- The research found three different types of digital-only editions, based on their length. The speed reads have between 7-12 pages, with a focus on hard news content and no games. When comparing their monthly subscription cost to the number of pages a subscriber has access to, these editions have the highest cost per page. This suggests that readers are willing to pay more for the added convenience of finishable editions, optimized for people on the go.
“The edition is a success because it has a clear beginning and ending. If you’ve finished it then you know you know what is necessary, people are done at some time and then can go on and do other stuff.” – Grischa Rodust, Welt Edition
- The medium reads are longer, with 21-33 pages, and have more interactive games, puzzles, and other visual elements than hard news. These are more of ‘lifestyle reads’, meant to be consumed by more leisurely readers who want to be entertained while they are also informed.
- Extended reads, with more than 50 pages, embrace a content mix more in line with printed newspapers, almost half/half of hard news and other content. The most common non-news content are games, weather, and TV listings. These editions are published every day, similar to their daily print counterparts, but have a variety of publishing times.
“We stop the clock once a day. It sounds like it doesn’t make sense, but actually it is what a significant group of people want. They don’t want to be, nor can be, online all day. The combination of the old and the new world makes a new third option. This project shows us that journalism has a bright future and there are models that work well. People are willing to pay for good content.” – Désirée Linde, Handelsblatt10
Mary-Katharine Phillips, Twipe
For more information about Twipe, visit http://www.twipemobile.com/