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Boletín Semanal diciembre 12, 2019

Escuchar  los artículos puede disparar la lealtad del lector

El cambio de hábitos de consumo de las nuevas generaciones, muy familiarizadas con el audio, está obligando a los medios a reinventarse también, más aún desde que los altavoces inteligentes empiezan a colarse en todas las casas.

Uno de los medios que ha logrado más éxito en su exploración de nuevas vías ha sido una revista online danesa, que decidió crear una aplicación para móvil desde la que es posible leer todas las noticias, en un interface muy fácil de usar.

Pero no se trata de una voz engolada o automática la que los lee; son los propios periodistas los que la narran, en un tono cercano. Resultado: más lealtad, más permanencia del lector y el consumo de audio llega ya al 70% del total del consumo de contenido del medio.

Según ha explicado Sara Altfort, responsable de captación de nuevas audiencias y engagement, la revista danesa Zetland se transformó completamente en audio durante el verano de 2017, “y los resultados nos han sorprendido: ha mejorado la retención y la satisfacción de los suscriptores. Los oyentes consumen más, se quedan más tiempo con cada historia. Y también nos ha traído un mayor sentimiento de lealtad y compromiso por parte de nuestros suscriptores. Es como si ésta hubiera sido una forma de acortar la distancia entre el lector y los medios”.

Zetland tiene algo más de tres años de vida y cuenta con más de 14.000 suscriptores de pago. Cada mañana publican dos o tres artículos más largos, disponibles tanto en texto como en versión de audio.

“No tenemos anuncios ni noticias de última hora. En cambio, deseamos explicarle al lector por qué sucedió algo, y contarle sólo lo que necesita saber. Hacemos hincapié en informar sobre soluciones, porque creemos que es esencial para crear una conversación pública constructiva y significativa”.

A mediados de 2016 -relata Alfort- estábamos en una encrucijada. Luchábamos por crecer. Incluso miembros satisfechos nos dejaban. Dinamarca es un mercado pequeño, pero sin embargo tenemos ocho periódicos diarios nacionales, una emisora ​​pública muy poderosa, los podcasts comenzaron a inundar el mercado en 2016… Entonces nuestros suscriptores solicitaron audio. Querían escuchar a Zetland”.

Estratégicamente, “este era un camino cuestionable para nosotros, porque no había un modelo de negocio sostenible para nosotros al hacer audio. No podríamos pedirle a la gente que pagara más por escuchar nuestras historias”.

Sin embargo, a fines de 2016 tomaron la decisión de pasar a audio las noticias en función de estas solicitudes de los lectores. “Decidimos crear la mejor experiencia de usuario posible con nuestro contenido principal en formato de audio. Creamos una aplicación donde nuestros artículos están disponibles tanto en versión de texto como en una versión que puede escuchar cuando va en bicicleta al trabajo, conduce o lava los platos. Comenzamos a leer una selección de nuestros artículos en voz alta, y durante el verano de 2017 Zetland comenzó a publicar todos los artículos en audio”.

Una transformación completa

La decisión de publicar todos los artículos en una versión de audio fue “una transformación completa de nuestros medios en un tiempo relativamente corto, -indica la responsable de captación de nuevas audiencias-. Y resultó ser un gran éxito. En dos meses, el 40% del consumo fue de audio, en menos de 6 meses fue del 50%. Nos sorprendió mucho la escala y la velocidad”.

Hoy los lectores “escuchan” mucho más de lo que leen con respecto a los artículos del día. El 70 por ciento del consumo es en  la versión de audio de los artículos.

Los periodistas leen sus propias historias

“Los periodistas leen sus propias historias y tratamos de mantener un tono informal. Creemos que esto es clave.  Nos esforzamos por mantener un ambiente informal, personal e íntimo. porque creemos que el tono de voz marca la diferencia. Se podría argumentar que escuchar la versión sonora del artículo es una forma más íntima de consumir el periodismo. La transformación en audio ha tenido un enorme impacto para nosotros. Ha mejorado la retención y la satisfacción de los miembros. Los oyentes consumen más, se quedan más tiempo con cada historia y también nos ha traído un mayor sentimiento de lealtad y compromiso. Es como si esta hubiera sido una forma de acortar la distancia entre el lector y los medios. Lo cual es crucial hoy. La relación entre Zetland y nuestros lectores debe ser mucho más que la relación entre el fabricante de un producto y el cliente”.

La Razón acelera su transformación digital tras implantar la plataforma del Washington Post

La Razón tenía un déficit muy claro en su versión digital respecto a la competencia. De hecho, nunca ha aparecido en las primeras posiciones de los rankings de audiencia que mensualmente emite Comscore.

Su tráfico está muy por debajo de sus publicaciones rivales, como son El País, La Vanguardia, El Mundo y ABC; cabeceras que lideran la clasificación de digitales con más usuarios únicos de España.

Para remediar esta posición de desventaja, llegó hace algo más de un año a La Razón el periodista Sergio Rodríguez como subdirector digital de la publicación del grupo Planeta. Procedía de El Mundo, donde llegó a ser director de Transformación Digital e Innovación del periódico.

Una de sus primeras decisiones fue contactar con The Washington Post para contratar su plataforma de gestión de contenidos, denominada Arc. Tras llegar a un acuerdo con ellos a mediados de este año, solo seis meses después La Razón ya ha lanzado su nueva versión web con esta tecnología integrada. Es el primer periódico español en hacerlo, al adelantarse a El País, que también contrató la plataforma de The Washington Post, pero cuyo lanzamiento se producirá a finales de este año.

Esta tecnología de la influyente cabecera norteamericana permitirá a los periodistas de La Razón publicar sus noticias con más rapidez, lo que mejorará la productividad de la redacción; y que las páginas se carguen a máxima velocidad; entre otras funcionalidades.

Además, Arc contiene herramientas como Websked o Pagebuilder que facilitarán la forma de gestionar las noticias y la portada de la web. Ya utilizan esta tecnología otros diarios extranjeros, como Le Parisien (Francia), The Globe and Mail (Canadá), Infobae (Argentina) o La Nación (Costa Rica).

La nueva web de La Razón también otorga más peso a la navegación móvil; así como a la imagen y al vídeo. En este último aspecto, la cabecera se asoció el pasado verano con la plataforma JW Player para ayudar a desarrollar las audiencias y la monetización de sus vídeos en su web. 

El rediseño del portal de noticias también ha traído consigo cambios en la manera de servir la publicidad. A partir de ahora, cada creatividad ocupará un espacio fijo con formatos estándar. De esa manera, la página será más fácil de leer y estará mejor estructurada, según apuntan desde La Razón.

Muro de pago

Esta nueva versión web llega poco después de que La Razón se haya lanzado también al pago por contenidos en Internet. A finales del año pasado lanzó Younews, plataforma bajo suscripción que contiene artículos de opinión y videoblogs de las firmas más relevantes del periódico; reportajes, entrevistas, recetas de cocina o pasatiempos. Todo ello por tres euros al mes o 30 euros al año.

El pasado mes de abril esta plataforma se convirtió en la primera en España en incorporar la posibilidad de completar la suscripción a través de Google (Subscribe With Google, SwG). Una funcionalidad que ya utilizan medios como The Washington Post, The New York Times, Financial Times o The Telegraph.

Se trata de un sistema que facilita el pago de la suscripción mediante un solo clic a través de la cuenta personal de Google. El socio tecnológico que colabora en La Razón en su sistema de pago por contenidos es Product Hackers.

Los CEOS de la nueva Gannett planean reinventar una digitalización ahora que la fusión esta lista

New Media Investment Group and Gannett finalized their merger Tuesday, putting top executives in position to move ahead with plans they believe will transform the new company's local and national news brands, including USA TODAY, into a reinvented digital media powerhouse.

The merger creates the largest U.S. media company by print circulation and one that will vie for the nation's biggest online news and information audience. 

The new company's CEOs – Mike Reed, who will lead the overall public entity under the name Gannett Co., and Paul Bascobert, who will lead an operating company called Gannett Media Corp. – told USA TODAY in a joint interview that they have a compelling opportunity to reinvent the business and expand digital revenue. Both said the company will continue to focus on its journalistic mission.

"Our mission is to connect, protect and celebrate our local communities," Bascobert said. "Great journalism really is the core of that mission. The question really becomes, what’s the sustainable and exciting business model that powers that mission?"

The company faces significant challenges – namely how to counteract the news industry's severe print revenue decline with new sources of digital dollars.

Deal approved:Shareholders of USA TODAY owner Gannett and New Media Investment Group approve merger

The more than 250 daily publications that are part of the new Gannett – such as the Detroit Free Press, The Columbus Dispatch, The Arizona Republic and the Austin American-Statesman – and several hundred weekly publications have cultivated online brands in local markets. Now, Gannett needs to find ways to turn those connections into more revenue.

New Media’s purchase of Gannett, using a combination of cash and stock, was valued at approximately $1.1 billion as of Monday’s market close, according to a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That was down from about $1.4 billion when the deal was announced in August because of a decline in New Media’s stock price.

Outlining a strategy

Bascobert outlined a strategy based on lead generation in local markets – similar, he said, to the approach taken by home services site Angie's List and Yelp, a reviews and directory service.

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Need a plumber, for example? A Gannett publication could help you find one and then earn a fee for helping make that connection.

"This is really us beginning this pivot toward more of what I would call a software-based business model" rather than "an advertising-based business model," said Bascobert, who pursued a similar model while president of XO Group, owner of wedding planning site The Knot.

His vision would represent a significant overhaul. In the first nine months of 2019, more than 51% of the combined company's revenue came from advertising and marketing services.

But a wholesale reinvention is necessary because of "the collapse of the newspaper advertising model," which is "the most fundamental business problem facing local news," said Jim Friedlich, CEO of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, a nonprofit that promotes local journalism innovation and owns The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The new Gannett, which offers digital marketing services through brands like ThriveHive, ReachLocal and WordStream, will need to continue down the path of becoming a sophisticated digital marketing provider, Friedlich said.

When local businesses need help reaching potential customers, Gannett's representatives need to be able to help them. Otherwise, they'll go to Google, Facebook, other online giants or other service providers.

"Building a new local marketplace business at scale requires a long-term commitment of expertise and financial resources," Friedlich said in an email. "None of this will be easy," he added, but if Gannett can generate sizable revenue from local marketers, "it will benefit not only their news properties but the industry as a whole.”

Shedding overlapping costs

In the short term, though, the success of the merger is linked to the company's plan to shed $275 million to $300 million in overlapping costs on an annual basis within 18 to 24 months. That's crucial to paying off a $1.8 billion loan from private equity firm Apollo Global Management that New Media used to help finance the acquisition.

Those cost savings will come from a wide variety of areas, including corporate functions, news operations and what Reed called "centralized" services where there is significant duplication.

New board:New Media and Gannett announce board of directors for combined company

He said the overall cost savings goal is "very, very reachable," in part because it's only 7.5% to 8.5% of the combined company's total revenue, compared with 10% to 15% in a typical corporate merger.

Concern about further cuts

Journalism advocates fear heavy-handed layoffs in already strapped newsrooms, which provide the content that drives readership, fuels digital ads and attracts paid subscriptions online and in print.

Jeff Gordon, a regional vice president for The NewsGuild, whose region represents journalists at four GateHouse newsrooms, expressed concern last week that the deal would lead to further stress on newsrooms that already have faced budget reductions. GateHouse, the operating division of New Media, ran the company's publications.

“The obvious concern the Guild has expressed is all the debt incurred in the merger, which creates pressure to drive cash flow and could result in further cuts,” said Gordon, whose region includes Colorado, Illinois and other states in the Midwest and Great Plains.

Reed said he's confident the company can achieve its cost-savings goals "without deep newsroom cuts."

Bascobert said the new Gannett is "committed to delivering great quality journalism," including investigative work and meaningful local reporting.

"Those are the things that people subscribe for, and we believe we deliver that," he said.

Michael Silberman, senior vice president of strategy at subscription commerce and tech provider Piano, which has counted New Media as a client, said the new Gannett needs to cut unnecessary costs while investing in journalism to boost subscriptions.

In the third quarter, Gannett's digital subscriptions rose 27% to 607,000 compared with the same period a year earlier. New Media's subscriptions rose 65% to 217,000 over the same stretch.

"Our fundamental belief is that even in a small community there's an opportunity to create value in terms of a subscription and get people to pay," Silberman said in an interview last week before shareholders approved the merger. "In some ways, that’s the basis of the merger."

As print circulation and advertising continue to decline across the industry, the future of physical newspapers is shrouded in doubt. But Bascobert said "print is a good business today" and generates profits for Gannett.

Could the company, which will be based in McLean, Virginia, cut unprofitable print days at some of its publications, as has been done elsewhere in the industry?

"We constantly look at different versions of frequency of delivery or alternative delivery methods, but at this point, it’s a good product," Bascobert said. "There’s nothing we’re looking at right now to change any of those variables."

Los gigantes de la tecnología están identificando potencial debido al crecimiento de suscripciones digitales de 10 a 20 millones

Digital only subscriptions for news and magazine media have doubled from 10M to 20M in a year and a half, according to the latest Global Digital Subscription Snapshot report from FIPP and CeleraOne. The actual figure is likely much higher as the report could not include data from “hundreds of titles with paywalls,” as they were not available. 

This achievement is particularly poignant in a year in which an increasing number of respected commentators have focussed their reporting on the potential limitations for the market with terms like subscription fatigue entering the industry lexicon alongside suggestions that the market for news and magazine media digital subscriptions is nearing saturation point. 

James Hewes, President and CEO, FIPP

“Create products to stimulate demand”

While concerns about subscription fatigue are based on research—the report refers to the 2019 Reuters survey—it may not always present an accurate picture. 

The FIPP report states, “Whilst surveys provide a great way to gauge opinion and understand behaviour, they may not always be accurate from a projection point of view.

“Gauging market appetite has always been challenging. While there are natural limitations to any given market, appetite for it is usually a created phenomenon based on perceived value, quality, and utility.”

It refers to Netflix which started its streaming services way back in 2007, and refined its services over the years to reach where it is now. In the news publishing sector, consumers in countries like Norway and Sweden have shown more willingness to pay for news. But even in these countries, publishers “would have started from ground zero, and had to build the market before they could create the appetite for their products.” 

“Competing for a share of wallet”

The Reuters’ survey also found that more people preferred paying for entertainment services than for news. When it asked respondents which service they would choose from if they were forced to choose only one subscription service for the next year, news was the least selected option. Other options included, video streaming, music streaming, gaming, sports, dating, data storage and nothing.

The FIPP report suggests, “it is challenging to understand under what conditions consumers would be forced to make such a decision. 

“Whilst it is a valid point that news and magazine media are competing for a share of wallet with other media formats, how much consumers will spend will more likely be driven by their disposable income and the value such services provide to the person’s individual needs.” 

It adds that the Reuters survey does not consider the disposable income unlocked when consumers give up traditional (and more expensive) services in favor of comparatively cheaper digital subscriptions. 

“If a consumer foregoes a cable package that costs $60 a month, will that consumer limit themselves to subscribing only to a single subscription service at $10 a month?”

We believe that the continuing decline in data costs and the displacement of expensive traditional subscriptions by cheaper digital equivalents might prove yet to have a stimulating effect on the number of subscriptions consumers are willing to consider overall across different categories.

Global Digital Subscription Snapshot, November 2019

Making themselves relevant to the young generation

The primary challenge for publishers is to make themselves relevant to a generation that grew up glued to screens and with a seemingly endless choice of free content.

Research from Reuters has found that young people are primarily driven by progress and enjoyment in their lives and this translates into what they look for in news. It’s not that they are disinterested in news, but find the format, approach, and tone of news products cumbersome to consume.

The disconnect with mainstream publications could be driven by a lack of a user experience that is tailored to them and their content needs.

Global Digital Subscription Snapshot, November 2019

There are several examples of publishers that have adapted themselves to the changing consumer requirements and found success. This includes the Athletic which has shown a 600% growth rate while focusing only on sports based content. The title grew from 100,000 subscribers in June 2018 to 500,000 a year later. In another month, it reached 600,000 subscribers, and is confident of reaching the 1M milestone by the end of the year.

Top 15 Publishers with the highest numbers of digital subscribers:

Traditional news publishers like the The Times and the Guardian have also shown impressive growth. The Times and the Sunday Times’ digital-only subscription base of 304,000 is now larger than its print subscription base, and has helped it return to profitability this year. 

“Tap into the zeitgeist of younger audiences”

The Guardian, which was eyeing losses to the tune of £80M in 2015, broke even this year, after prolonged restructuring and following an unconventional membership model with no fixed price point. The publisher appeals to its readers to contribute to support independent journalism. 

This year it’s positioning itself as a climate crisis activist for climate has become a top influencer for millennials and Gen Y audiences, and will influence who they vote for in the upcoming elections.  

The report suggests, “This shift in positioning, coupled with the release of a new subscription-based app could very well be a calculated move to tap into the zeitgeist of younger audiences.”

“New phase of expansion”

That the potential for subscription in news and magazines is not anywhere near saturation is also demonstrated by big tech companies’ interest in the business. 

Big tech companies are experts at spotting market potential, and then stepping in to create products to stimulate demand. Although their efforts come with mixed results, the launch of Apple News+ in the UK during September and the continued expansion of