Friday, November 5, 2010

Update on Newspaper Pay Walls

Golly it has been a while since my last post, sorry guys, moved from the world of consulting to a real job and rather taken my mind off the normal things of life, like blogging. But that has bought some time for paywalls to get a grip and now I can comment on the success or otherwise of them.

And success it appears to be for The Times, with envious results, the paper has 105,000 paying digital-only subscribers, as well as a further 100,000 joint print and digital subscriptions.

Around 50,000 of the digital-only subscribers are monthly and include subscribers to the website, iPad app and Kindle edition. The rest are either single copy or pay-as-you go customers. Last week's Neilsen figures showed that the number of unique visitors declined 42.6% from Q2 to Q3. So why do I still think is success? Because they still managed to keep 51.8% and got them to pay. Not only that they now have a relationship with the subscribers they now have incredibly valuable data on the subscribers and their reading habits; great consumer understanding and the consumers are paying News International to give the newspaper the data.

The Times is backed by a large enough organisation that this trial could take place with lower risk than some smaller publications. It also has another huge benefit that helped them be successful, quality journalism.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

News at the right price?

People have got used to getting their news on-line and free. The trends for printed news are pretty dire, in our world of immediacy even the daily paper is out of date by the time it arrives. The role of newspapers is more to make sure you haven’t missed anything and to put the news into context, plus of course the classic sections such as the film guides and sport which are designed for spreading over the bed and reading on a lazy Sunday morning whilst you sprinkle the sections with a light smattering of croissant crumbs.

On-line news access, whether it be the BBC Global news podcast twice a day or access to on-line news sites give people the news they are looking for, updated regularly, with an easy method to search. There is a trend for people to move to their hard copy trusted source onto the online version, whether that be The Economist or The Wall Street Journal, we trust the hard copy, now give it to us in a more rapidly updated and also more searchable format on the web.

But are we starting to see a change in getting online news access free. The decline in newspaper sales has hit these organisations hard, not just in sales but also in ad revenue as their circulations declined. Bringing websites on board was a way of increasing the readership and building the brand image so that the circulation would increase. In hindsight there is the potential to generate on-line advertising revenue and to better understand your readers reading habits but there is also the potential for cannibalisation of your core product.

Today marks the launch of the paid version of The Times online, The Wall Street Journal is already there, as is the Financial Times. For £1 or $1.50 you can get a day’s access, and £2 or $3 for a week’s access to The Times. There are really three ways this could go. Firstly it could remain a niche product, only aimed at a small demographic willing and able to pay for access. Alternatively with the arrival of the iPad will the online versions of the papers allow for extreme personalisation, the classic start with the sports at the back of the paper. If readers can access the news that is most relevant to them, as defined by their preferences and access it on the go, via an iPad for example, then this may provide enough value for people to pay for access. The final option is micropayments, do you really want access to all articles or just the ones on topics that interest you? Would you be prepared to pay a few pence or cents to access the article, I think most would say yes. The issue then is, how does one take payment and not make the process more costly than the revenue generated. Perhaps this is something that Paypal or iTunes should be looking at?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

So What is a Full-Service Marketer?

This is a question that I seem to have been asked a lot recently. When people hear of Full-Service Agencies there is an understanding that they will offer clients a full range of services including advertising, direct marketing, media and public relations, websites and online marketing. In the marketing world it means something rather different.

A full-service marketer is someone who is experienced in all aspects of marketing. This includes;
* Market Understanding and Market environment
* Customer Understanding
* Marketing strategy
* Marketing planning, this may direct any promotional, communication or advertising plan as a tactic of the marketing plan.
* Depending on your organisation it could include product/service development and life cycle management.
* Messaging, equity and brand building
* The four Ps, Product, Price, Place, Promotion
* The marketing tactics, which I have already eluded to marketing communications, plus eMarketing, CRM and Sales - yes Sales is a marketing tool.

As you can see Marketing is very broad and this is what makes it so fun. In a large organisation you might only get to handle some parts of the marketing mix, whereas in a smaller organisation you might end up getting to manage it all. Over your career you should be able to undertake almost all the marketing activities and see what best suits you and most interests you. What you will find is that if you don't do part of the full-spectrum of marketing, then someone else will. I have heard of operations doing product management to sales doing launches and support materials. Really that isn't an issue if you as the marketer have fed in the customer needs and market information, and set the positioning clearly, the philosophy should touch everyone in the company. If you remember whatever marketing role you play, you are the champion of the customer internally, and your role is to meet the unmet needs of the customer, profitably.

One could say that marketing is so broad because it encompases the whole business, the customer focused delivery of products or services to meet or exceed customer needs, better than the competition, to meet the corporate goals. I have been very fortunate to cover all aspects of marketing over my career, so feel free to ask me any questions, or if you want to challenge my definition I'd love to hear your thoughts.