Originally Published as part of the International Digital Services Centre December Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/K6F4j
Gone are the days when men would walk to work along dusty pavements followed by the chorus of a 12 year old boy singing “Extra, extra! Read all about it” from a street corner. The rise of the digital transformation has changed this altogether.
Today those businessmen are reading their news from an Iphone and that boy is running his business online. His cheerful cries would be operating from a social media platform, probably Twitter.
It might present itself as something along the lines of this:
Breaking News Kid (@NewspaperKid): “Extra, extra! Get all your live news here! #ReadAllAboutIt”
Read All About It, All of the Time
Many consumers and newspaper publications alike are lamenting over this decline of the printed newspapers. But is the fall of print and the rise of the digital publication something news companies should fear, or is it an opportunity?
Online publication has opened up a whole host of new channels linking the newspapers to their readers. Smartphones, tablet devices, Kindles, websites and social media mean that the reader is now connected to the news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No longer do people wait until tomorrow morning for yesterday’s news; they expect their updates to be live.
This illustrates one of the necessities in the digital age. There must be anywhere, anytime access. The website should be accessible at any time on devices such as laptops, computers, and smartphones. The popularity and potential of apps should also not be ignored. Many of the most successful publications have their own apps that send live news updates to a person’s smartphone or tablet, or they collaborate with services such as the Windows 8 Bing News app.
It cannot be forgotten that these new channels between the reader and the newspaper are flowing both ways. The reader is now the newspaper’s unofficial reporter. Instead of waiting for postage, tech-savvy newspapers can take advantage of email, online article comments, social media (in particular Twitter and their hashtag facility) to directly interact with readers. It is commonplace for news websites to have an “Opinion” section and comment facilities under stories.
So how can companies keep up with these expectations?
The digital reporter undoubtedly should be connected and digitally enabled in order to function effectively in today’s world. Many publications have begun equipping their staff with iphones, tablets and laptops. This allows their reporters to tweet (and if it calls for it, upload a photo) live from the scene, then write an online article, all before writing their full story for tomorrow’s print.
Digitise for Success
Newspapers must move away from focusing on a completely traditional mindset of printed media and adopt digital.
Advertising revenue has accounted, on average, for 80% of total income. The revenue from printed advertisements however, dropped by 44% between 2005 and 2009. The only advertising revenue to rise was online.
The process should be taking advantage of the digital tools now available, and using these tools to improve the customer’s experience. In the digital transformation the customer is the co-creator.
A culture has developed whereby it has become the norm for news to be free. Almost all major news publications have all their news freely available on their website. Experiments have been made with paywalls, but these are short-term fixes and have been relatively unsuccessful. People no longer expect to be charged for online access.
Now the barriers that were once present in the form of overhead costs for printing equipment, paper and distribution have been removed, almost anyone can set up an online newspaper. As such, many newspapers struggle to generate online loyalty amidst the ever expanding population of digital publications.
In the face of this tidal wave of small and independent digital newspapers, companies need to transform their articles from one-click wonders into a gateway to the rest of their website.
To help enable this, one of best digital tools available comes in the form of analytics and big data.
Google analytics allows companies to measure traffic and track the popularity of different pages and articles on their website. This data is vital. It tells the company which areas are working, and which are not. Through proper analysis the data can be used to direct focus on areas that show success or promise, and to help locate exactly where to stimulate and direct traffic. Well analysed and organised data can also be used to promote precision advertising from relevant sources on the website.
Through this analytics provide an essential advantage exploiting the full potential of online advertising. Data, data, and more data can be used to compile information and statistics to help work out where to improve. This includes such information as the number and demographic of those visiting certain pages.
Bringing all this together can provide a company with essential pointers, directing where to target resources. It also provides evidence to those wishing to advertise, that the right kind of people are visiting the page where their advert will be hosted.
This is just a taste of what digital has to provide. There already is, and will not cease to be, many more tools created by the transformation which can aid any company’s development.
The Future of Print
In the end, the question everyone is really thinking is simply: will print media survive?
It is quite possible that it will, after all, radio survived television. Then again it may not; the cassette tape did not survive the CD or the MP3. It all depends if consumers still find something convenient in print. The radio survived television because people still like listening to music and talk shows, and for this video is not needed. The cassette tape however, did not provide anything not found in CD/MP3 apart from inferior quality and digital restrictions.
Companies must realise the division between print and digital. They must not be afraid to adopt digital as simply an extension of their publication, rather than fearing it as the death of their printed paper. Digital opens up their company to a huge new market, without (as many fear) destroying the market for their hard copy.