Friday, February 4, 2011

the distribution quagmire

Newspapers and magazines are not only concerned by the crisis of Presstalis. They also have to find the best solutions for the delivery of their electronic products.
At the beginning, in the nineties, things were quite simple. The papers just needed to open a website where they would transfer most of their content, hoping for the public to rush and read their stuff on their computers. advertising was supposed to finance the whole process.

By now, things are more more complicated. If people, including young customers, keep a strong interest in news, it is far from obvious that they are looking on the Web for a copy of the print dailies or magazines. What they mostly want is to pick up what is of use for them on any site or any support.
And there are many possibilities. You can go to agregators such as Google or Yahoo news, or, in the US, Huffington post. They can look at videos on Yutube or Facebook. They can also connect with Twitters for instant and very short pieces of information.
The computer is no longer the only support. Smartphones and tablets offer many applications made by print publications or pure players.
Distribution networks are many. Big questions arise: who is getting the money, who has access to the customers or the subscribers? Telecom operators complain that their networks cannot afford to transfer huge quantities of data, mostly video and pictures. Apple has set up a system that allows it to get 30% of the money of the applications and keep for its own use the lists of the subscribers.
And yet there are rays of hope for the print industry. Big firms like Apple and Google have to face a stiff competition from various actors including Facebook. They will have to relent and agree with some compromises with newspapers and magazines that provide a very useful content. Moreover display advertising on Internet is growing with great speed: 40% in France last year. The New York Times gets now 25% of its advertising recepts from its Websites. Stronger publications, if they act together, should get better deals from their many partners.