New Publishing Tech
5 mins read

Q&A: Pugpig, a leader in digital edition apps

Privately-owned, Pugpig was founded in 2011 by Jonny Kaldor and Jon Marks, both of whom came from NewsCorp where they built “Alesia”, a digital news service that embodied the Murdoch’s vision for the future of news media (a platform with more than a few parallels to Apple News +). Having been firmly on WNIP’s radar since their inception, WNIP caught up with Jonny Kaldor to hear about their latest developments…

Remind us where are you based?

We have just over 30 people across offices in London and New York.

What business problem is your company addressing?

Amidst the ever-growing dominance of the big tech platform players, publishers must focus on offering their own services to readers and avoid reliance on these third parties who naturally have their own interests at heart. Only this way will they maintain direct relationships with their audience, have full access to data and be able to dictate their own terms of service. 

While mobile apps have offered publishers mixed results over the last decade, one thing has been clearly proven: engagement in apps is significantly higher than what can be achieved on the web. Typical digital edition apps regularly show average daily user engagement of around 20-25 mins and we see this consistently across our titles. Not only that but 78% of all time spent consuming news content in the UK is done via mobile and 87% of all time spent on mobile is through apps (only 35% of that time is spent on social media). So it’s clear that mobile is extremely important and apps are where everyone is spending their time.

The problem is that doing apps well can be difficult and costly, and we’ve seen many examples of where publishers have failed to give readers what they want on mobile – it’s this that accounts for much of our industry’s failure to properly exploit the medium. 

This is where we come in – we’ve spent the last decade working out how best to publish content on the web and through mobile apps – we’ve developed technology that allows publishers to launch their own branded websites and apps on a platform that has proven results. We do all the tech dirty work so that our customers can concentrate on their core business. 

What is your core product addressing this problem?

Pugpig is a fully hosted digital publishing platform. It comes in three flavours:

  • Pugpig Site, which powers fully featured paid content websites for publishers
  • Pugpig Publish, a beautiful branded digital edition platform for mobile and web
  • Pugpig Bolt, a totally customisable content app platform for mobile, web and TV

All of these products are underpinned by our Pugpig Express CMS, the content from which can also be syndicated to Apple News, Kindle, Alexa and a whole host of other channels. We also plug into your favourite subscriptions and memberships platforms, analytics engines, push providers and email services.

Our CMS driven approach allows you to publish beautifully responsive content across every channel regardless of size and form factor and with zero effort. We take content from anywhere and in any format, which means we seamlessly plug into any editorial workflow, regardless of the editorial platform or CMS that you’re using.

With Pugpig you can get beautiful apps and websites up and running in just a matter of days and you never have to worry about managing or maintaining the technology – we do all that for you. And if you want to create something beautifully bespoke, we can do that too. We spend much of our time partnering with our customers to customise and evolve our platform, ensuring that we’re always ahead of the curve. In fact, we invest over £500k in R&D each year to ensure that Pugpig grows and evolves as our industry changes.

Can you give some examples of publishers successfully using your solution?

Pugpig is trusted by over 100 of the world’s biggest media brands from News Corp and Condé Nast to Hearst, Dennis and The Economist. 

One of our most exciting customers has to be Tortoise Media, who use our products to power their business and our team to help drive their technology strategy. The project kicked off in October 2018 and from a standing start we launched Tortoise to its founding members in January 2019. The Tortoise tech platform is powered by Pugpig in partnership with Piano, with us managing all of the content technology (CMS, website, apps) while Piano manages the subscribers. Tortoise offers a whole new perspective on news media, and we’re there with them every step of the way, customising and managing the Pugpig platform to give them a truly unique news media service on mobile and web.

Pricing?

Prices for Pugpig start at £10,000 per annum including setup and support. Volume discounts are also available.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

Most of Pugpig’s competitors only offer a basic PDF replica platform, which can be effective on tablets and offer a cheap alternative to what we do, but provide a very basic user experience which is almost illegible on mobile.

Other competitors offer Adobe InDesign plugins allowing publishers to handcraft every page of an edition, but this approach will always mean significantly more work for editorial teams.

More recently, some Pugpig competitors have taken on the Pugpig approach to delivering responsive template-driven pages in their solutions, but we’ve been doing this for almost 9 years now, so we have a significant head start on them.

How do you view the future?

All the evidence we’re seeing right now tells us that the future of publishing is bright, and it revolves around paid content. Our purpose at Pugpig is to power the publishing platforms that will help secure that future and to that end, we’re focused on providing the services that enable monetisation of content in as many ways as possible: 

  • Deep integration with subscription, membership and paywall providers
  • Syndication to all the key third party channels such as Apple News
  • Integration of membership and social features to drive up reader revenue
  • Multiple sponsorship opportunities 
  • Events management
  • Podcast publishing

Anything else?

We love nothing more than a healthy debate on the future of publishing over a cup of tea or a beer, so if you fancy a chat, or just want to see a demo of what we do, please do get in touch!

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