Digital Service Providers Take it from Page to Pixel
Through their content management technologies and expertise, digital service providers play a vital role not only for media companies and their audiences, but also for the advertising community.
An example of how this applies to the Spanish-speaking world is the recently announced Global Newsstand Initiative, a partnership between Zinio and Spains' Acceso Group, a company part-owned by advertising agency Havas, to provide publishers increased reach and introduce more variety for consumers in Latin America and Europe.
Currently there are a number of digital service providers aiding media executives in launching and maintaining digital editions. These companies-NxtBook, Texterity, iMirus, Zinio, Zmag, and others-help publications and corporate catalogs digitize their content, often providing online newsstands and selling subscriptions. They describe themselves as full-service digital providers, offering publishers logistical, sales and marketing services. According to a study by Gilbane Publishing Group, overall sales in this sector are approximately $80 million a year. The annual growth rate lies at 20%. The higher the frequency of a publication, the more repeat business a digital solutions provider gets.
Ask any media executive who has gone through the process—getting the content online is just the first step.
Once it is up, there are a whole host of considerations about how to have your content appear in people’s online searches, how to organize the content that you have, how to keep it updated and much more. “Right now, we’re really just starting to approach the U.S. Hispanic market,” says Zinio’s Senior Sales Director Scott Verchin. “We see a tremendous opportunity in this space,” he adds. Verchin says that the primary appeal of digital editions from a publisher’s perspective is that they can leverage the content they already have into an additional source of revenue.
“Another huge factor is reach,” says Verchin, noting that by making one’s publication available digitally, one is no longer constrained by production/distribution concerns posed by print editions. “It really levels the playing field.”
Other benefits of digital distribution is that it cuts costs associated with paper and production, both of which have risen in recent years, and is also a “green solution” as it does not rely on these resources or on the fossil fuels to distribute hard copies.
Zinio’s services are available only to magazine publishers, not newspapers, as their technology is better suited toward the former. “It’s a pretty turnkey solution,” says Verchin. “The whole process takes about seven days.”
Sales, Marketing & Metrics...
Once the publication has been uploaded and formatted, distribution is the next thing to tend to. Some providers offer sales and marketing support. The digital edition is often sold both on the publisher’s website as well as through an online newsstand that the service provider might offer. Revenues are divided between publisher and DSP based on which outlet sells the edition or subscription. A full service provider will also offer analytical reports on sales, broken down by single copy vs. subscription, geography, back issues, etc.
B2B and B2C
The market is divided in the Business to Consumer (B2C) publications subsector, which is led by Zinio, and the Business to Business subsegment (B2B), in which the main players are NxtBook and Texterity.
Marcus Grimm, Marketing Director of NxtBook tells Portada that B2B titles tend to get a higher proportion of their readership online than B2C titles. “The average B2B gets 15% of its readership digitally; the average B2C gets approximately 3% digitally,” Grimm notes.
The digital solutions provider market can also be categorized in two different sectors by functionality. On one hand, there are the self-service providers (firms that provide technology to help publishers do the work themselves) and, on the other hand, there are the full service providers that manage the whole process, such as those listed above.
An Online Publisher’s best friend...
Canada-based Nstein is a digital service provider that specializes in text mining and digital asset management. “A large part of what we do is to organize the publisher’s content in a consistent and highly searchable way,” says David Crui, a spokesperson for Nstein, which recently implemented the integration of all Impremedia properties online.
Crui tells Portada that the text mining component— which extracts concepts, entities, sentiments, etc—is central to their service. “What it does is it provides the basis for automatically organizing an article with related content, thereby increasing reader engagement and time spent on the site.” This is a concept that is familiar to most Internet users; when reading material on a given site, the user is presented with a list of “related articles,” which he can review and read.
These are either hand-picked and inserted by the editor or placed by an automated system such as the one Mr. Crui describes: “The difference is that a system like ours is much more consistent as it matches content across many different criteria.” It also removes much of the legwork for editorial staff, which explains the company’s slogan, “Letting editors do what they do best.” This digital content re-organization allows editorial staff focus on producing content rather than sorting through it.
Equally important, if not more so, is that the text mining capability facilitates contextual ad-placement, pairing editorial content with relevant advertising. This feature is highly attractive for marketers as it offers them the ability to reach consumers with goods or services related to the subject matter.
Of course, these benefits come with a price tag. Crui tells Portada that, depending on the scale and sophistication of the desired services, the cost for implementing a program can range from $100,000 to $4 million. Recently, Nstein implemented a program for Hispanic newspaper and online publisher Impremedia, assisting with the launch of Impre.com.
It turns out that adapting content digitally is increasingly a two-fold proposition: There is the formatting of content for standard Internet users, and there is the question of making one’s content available to users’ mobile phones. As some predict the general market’s woes coming to the Hispanic print space, others see a world of opportunity presented by the burgeoning mobile market. After all, newspapers specialize in local content, which is most relevant to the mobile platform.
People want to know what is going on where they are at any given moment: When the movie times are, what roads are closed, etc.
However, the platform can also accommodate content that has a more national appeal., Spanish-language newspaper publisher Impremedia recently announced a mobile distribution strategy that will likely be adopted by many other Spanish-language publications nationwide, as they strive to keep pace with an increasingly Internet-prone audience and become more relevant in the digital age.
Impremedia partnered with mobile services company 4INFO to handle distribution of the free alerts, which are available, initially, in three distinct categories: Entertainment, Sports, and Politics. “The mobile alerts allow us to target end users by their preference. Right now we have 3 subjects, but more will come. That way the advertising is a self-select process,” Arturo Duran, CEO of ImpreMedia Digital LLC, tells Portada “There is huge interest from advertisers in this. The purpose of offering the alerts in these three areas is to concurrently serve the needs of readers seeking specific content, and advertisers seeking specific targets.
4INFO specializes in delivering highly targeted advertising through its SMS ad network.
Another company, Primiro, is bridging the gap between print and mobile by making offline content available via mobile handsets. The company’s business model centers on creating partnerships with leading print publishers. The publishers digitize their content and make it available to Primiro. In the print issue, readers see a logo with instructions for accessing the content via their handsets and, if they wish, sharing the content with a friend. The user may also access the content from their home computer through their email, and the company allows each user to maintain a library of previously accessed content. This service is free of charge for the user.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned Zinio has an application for the iPhone where its titles are available on any user’s handset that has downloaded the application.
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