Category Archives: Spreed

How News Organizations Need to Change in Order to Succeed : NAA MediaXChange Keynote with Rishad Tobaccowala

This morning at the NAA MediaXchange Rishad Tobaccowala gave a provocative keynote session on the future of marketing and advertising and how traditional media companies must leverage new platforms to more effectively serve advertising to customers.

As the Chief Innovation Officer of Chicago-based Publicis Group Media, Rishad is one of the most influential thinkers in the North American advertising industry. It is therefore no surprise that the audience was on the edge of their seats listening intently to Rishad`s advice.

We at Spreed found his talk very interesting considering many of his recommendations push newspapers in the direction of a number of the products and services that we provide (mobile platforms, mobile advertising, location based advertising, etc).

Rishad left with 10 recommendations for newspapers to follow in the future that we would like to share here:

  1. Be schizophrenic – Only the schizophrenic will thrive. Run two or more business models at the same time but make sure they are very separate. Do not make a big mesh of all your models.
  2. Embrace technology – Tech is the new magic. Make sure the follwing ive things are done by the end of this week.
    1. Use an RSS reader and start following your passions through it
    2. Get a Twitter account
    3. Get on Facebook
    4. Get on Foursquare
    5. Go to someone in your company who is younger (probably 2-3 levels below you) and make them your mentor. Take them outside of the company every two weeks and get them to teach you about what is new and upcoming
  3. Embrace the blur – Church and state are too separate within news organizations. All elements of a news organization (sales, editorial, technology) need to work together in the same group.
  4. Learn fast, iterate faster, make mistakes and don’t be afraid to fail.
  5. Do a massive outreach to young people – You want to make the industry exciting. Don`t be swamped with old people. Get youngsters into the industry.
  6. Think about what curating, combining and editing really is
  7. Platforms – Every company needs a platform strategy. How do you attract new partners? What’s your device strategy (iPad, iPhone, etc)? What’s your search strategy?
  8. Make sure that you celebrate the software and technology folks at your organization. Don’t hide them in a room somewhere even if they are strange. Tell them about the business and ask them to solve business issues
  9. Think about  the future of your organization. Thank about your organizational design, incentives, benefits, etc.
  10. This one was a bit odd and I am not sure exactly what he meant by it, but the industry is not anyone but you. there is not industry but yo, embrace the “muchness”. “This is my dream and I am going to decide how it ends”

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Filed under advertising, internet, ipad, marketing, mobile, newspapers, publishing, Spreed, technology

Mobilizing Retail : If it's Important to Retail Advertisers, it's Important to Publishers

Retail advertising is the engine of newspaper revenue.  Of the $13,356.2 billion spend on national and retail advertising in Q’3 2009, 77% came from retail.    As retailers and newspapers continue to test new ways to engage shoppers, flyers are and will remain an connection bewteen retailers and their customers.

According to Matthew Tilley, COO of Inmar quoted in the January 26th edition of Internet Retailer “newspaper inserts still account for 89% of coupons distributed to consumers and more than half of coupon redemption” .  Tilley also points out that consumer coupon redemption grew by 27% between 2008 and 2009.

As mobile publishers, we are aware of the increasing importance consumers place on their smarphones as a source of price intelligence.  A recent study from Compete demonstrates how smartphone users in general, iPhone users in particlular, have made mobile device an essential part of their shopping activity.

Mobile users are now able to access retail price information on their smartphones because of  the increase in the number of retailers that have mobilized their weekly inserts/circulars.  Virtually every major American retailer now distributes their weekly Free Standing Inserts (FSI’s) on mobile devises.  Retailers continue to expand their use of mobile to engage their consumers and to distribute feature pricing information and mobile coupons.  Retailers as diverse as Armani and A&P have add mobility to their marketing communications activity.  Very recent examples of the expanding role mobile plays in retailer’s  include Valpak’s mobilization of the 17,000 coupons in their vehicle.  Verizon has made their SpendSmart digital coupon product available to their mobile sunscribers.  Safeway has joined Cellfire to allow loyalty club members to download coupons to their mobile.

The mobilization of retail flyers/ circulars and coupons respond to a very clear demand from consumers for mobile price intelligence.

We believe that we are still in the early stages of the mobilization of retail. As more consumers purchase smart phones we will see a dramatic increase in their reliance on their mobile phones for price intelligence and product discovery. Retailers will need to respond to consumer demand for price intelligence with applications of their own and with smart ad placements across mobile applications. Spreed has been following this development – we know that it is vitally important to our newspaper publishing partners because inserts deliver significant ad revenue.  We have built FSI capability into  our mobile application platform.  We call this solution mFlyers.  It has been built to allow publishers to easily sell retail based insert space in their mobile applications. We we will be showing off this functionality very shortly in our blog and on our applications. Keep your eyes peeled for more information soon.

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Is The Mobile Web More Popular Than Reading?

The European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) recently released a study on European usage of the mobile web. According the EIAA a whopping 71 million European’s use the mobile web on a weekly basis. They also found that on average European surf the web for an average of 6.4 hours a week.

Where the study falls apart in our eyes is how they compare these stats to the average number of hours a typical European spends reading traditional news/magazines a week (4.1 hours). The study concludes that people are reading news and magazines more on the mobile web than traditionally. This seems like a flawed assumption considering that most of these reported users are in a younger demographic and are probably surfing Facebook and other geographically relevant social networks, not reading a news website.

I have no doubt that in the near future we will see more people reading the news through mobile applications and websites than traditional forms of media. However, it is important that we stay grounded in the statistics and not act to hastily.

An interesting next study for the EIAA would be to segment their data in order to find out how much of the 6.4 hours a week Europeans are spending on actual news and magazine mobile sites.

The mobile web is clearly on the rise and here at Spreed we are constantly asked whether the right mobile strategy for a publishing company is to launch a mobile website or whether it’s best to just launch an application. This is worthy of a blog post in itself, however  simply put we do not think that the two are mutually exclusive. In this increasingly mobile world that we live in, it is necessary to work on both strategies as they each address specific goals and challenges.

The mobile web is great for sharing and receiving links on the go. Mobile applications on the other hand serve the purpose of content discovery. More information to come in a future blog post 🙂

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Filed under applications, digital publishing, mobile, newspapers, publishing, Spreed, technology

Apple and Newspapers Can Co-Exist

This is a guest post from Kirk LaPointe, the Managing Editor of the Vancouver Sun, blogger at and adjunct professor at the UBC School of Journalism.

The routinely strong Seeking Alpha site features a somewhat conciliatory post from media corporate financial advisor on the impending coexistence of the Apple iPad and the newspaper industry.

Dan Ramsden has some tough words for Google. He sees its recent encouragement of the newspaper industry to experiment as self-serving — the more papers try to do things online, the more Google’s search engine technology benefits.

But he makes an interesting choice in where to place the technological bet. While recent media coverage has suggested Google’s open-source design of its Android smartphone offers the greatest opportunity for old media to succeed, Ramsden begs to differ.

He is firmly in the Apple camp. It’s the technology of choice by consumers, it’s the technology company that has figured out (through iTunes and the iPhone) how to exact a premium for content, so it’s the technology the newspaper business should focus on serving.

“Newspaper and magazine owners, who are struggling to redefine their business models for a new online and mobile environment, would probably be well served to align themselves with the platform that can offer a revenue model, and a mobile marketplace, and leave the experimentation and iteration stuff to young entrepreneurs and startups that do not yet have a franchise to protect,” he writes.

He suggests: “Style, design, quality control, are all characteristics that will do much more to facilitate the popularity of paid content than one more colorful website that may or may not show up at the top of Google’s search results.”

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Filed under apple, applications, digital publishing, e-readers, ipad, mobile, newspapers, Spreed

Flurry Smartphone Industry Pulse, February 2009: Traditional Media Dominating the News Category

Flurry, a mobile analytics company known for their strong industry statistics released their February report today. The report is interesting as it relates to the consistent surge of iPhone developers and their unique demographics. What is interesting to our readers is the specific attention it gave to the news category. As expected traditional media sources are dominating the news category. This is mostly due to the fact that it is not easy to simply start publishing the news and creating content. What it does point out though is that the iPhone and other smartphones are very useful channels to distribute content very inexpensively and target a very attractive demographic.

Possibly, more interesting is the rise of online news sources on the iPhone. Flurry believes that with the release of the iPad we are going to see an even strong supply and demand for blogs and other online media sources. It is therefore essential that if your newspaper does not have an app now, to act fast. If you wait too long, the online media sources will own the real estate on users phones and other mobile devices.  More below and in the report.

Like gaming, the creation of compelling content in News is a specialized and costly operation. To source and report quality news, companies often have to span various media such as TV broadcast, radio and print, which further increases cost. It’s therefore no surprise that Traditional Media dominates the News category, controlling nearly two thirds. For traditional media (e.g., New York Times, ABC News, NPR, etc.), the iPhone represents a large channel through which to distribute their existing content. The small incremental cost of expanding the distribution of Traditional Media’s core content, and the attractiveness of reaching an educated, affluent and tech-savvy audience, makes iPhone the perfect platform through which to serve news. Looking forward, the iPad creates an even greater opportunity to increase reach because its larger screen size works better works for newspaper and magazine layouts, as well as TV broadcast.

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Filed under applications, digital publishing, marketing, mobile, newspapers, publishing, Spreed, technology

Mobile Newspaper Applications: Beyond the Headlines

It is often a habit of mobile developers to crunch every piece of functionality they can into their apps. This is a fatal flaw in many of the applications that we see built for newspapers and media companies today. There is a very fine line that needs to be drawn between user experience (UX) and functionality and we find many people try and cram everything, including the kitchen sink into their apps. When developing an app you must first think about what your goals are and how best to leverage the mobile platform. After you have defined your goals, you can then define the functionality.

If you are a regular reader of the Spreed blog or know much about Spreed:Inc, you will know that we believe that newspapers in this day and age need a mobile application. However, too often we see people try and cram everything they can into their mobile news reader. This is a problem in the newspaper industry as news websites have such a large amount of varying types of content.

Here at Spreed we advise our customer to follow a long tail niche approach to application development. The first application that any company develops should be focused specifically around their news content. However, by no means should you ignore all the other content that is available on your website. Now that many newspapers have applications it is time to start thinking about the different niche apps that can be built to include your other content while leveraging the unique capabilities of these phones (i.e. multimedia, GPS, built in camera). By no means should you cram all of this other content and functionality into your existing app. Each source of content applies to a different app and can provide yet another revenue source to your paper.

A few scenarios that we often suggest our clients to consider are sports apps, traffic/weather apps, tourism apps, classified apps, finance apps and home listing apps. These applications can be sold at a premium and leverage the vast content pool that newspapers already have access to. If you try and cram all these features into your main headline app, you will sacrifice both your UX and your potential future revenue.

There are three examples of strong niche apps developed by newspapers that I would like to show here:

The first is the GoVolsXtra application developed by Spreed for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Knoxville had already created a separate portal for their university sports team, so this was an obvious extension of their brand. We simply pulled their live stats, news, pictures and videos and packaged them together in an app. If Knoxnews tried to cram all this info into their main headline app they would not have been able to provide as rich of an experience.

The second app that I would like to highlight is a tourism app developed by USA Today (Gannett). The Gannett team has been very strong in the mobile space and many will call the USA Today application one of the best news apps in the iTunes app store. Although there is a lot of functionality in the USA Today headline app, they have done a very good job at balancing it and not allowing for any more than three clicks to get to any particular piece of information. USA Today has a wealth of content and they have decided to release numerous apps, however the best one in my opinion is the USA Autopilot app which is a great tool for any frequent traveler.

The final application that I would like to highlight and the newest entry in the market is the NYTime home finder app. This app lets you find home listings in the NYTimes database and find homes for sales/open houses that are around your current location. This app it light, easy to use and takes advantage of location based features of the iPhone. It is a huge win for the NYTimes who have not really updated their mobile application since it first hit the app store.

The point that I am trying to make here is that the application ecosystem holds a lot of potential for newspapers, but be careful not to replicate what you did on the web. Do not try and cram everything into your existing application as it will not service any of your primary goals; building retention, generating revenue. There is so much content available within a newspaper website and each set of content can lend itself to a specific application. Each app presents a huge opportunity to become a major revenue generator for the newspaper. I am not saying here that you should not include some of your niche content in your headline app. For example you can still have a sports news  in your headline app and then different niche sports apps that present scores, statistics as well as news.

A good strategy moving forward is to watch your headline app statistics very carefully. The key here is to not include loads of functionality around your content in your headline app to the extent that it becomes bulky and impossible to navigate. If you see that people are reading your sports section, travel section, weather section or books sections  heavily, there is a good case to be made for building a niche app around that content in order to leverage the functionality of these device to build a richer user experience in a separate app. The devil is in the details and it is very important to keep your eyes on the stats to see where your mobile opportunities lay.

If you have any questions on how you can leverage your existing content to build an app please let us know.

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Retailers are Ready to Spend on Mobile

Last week retail executives descended upon Palm Desert, California for the annual eTail West conference. ETail West is North America’s leading multi-channel retail event, so why is this of interest to Spreed, publishers and media executives? At the end of the week over 150 of the top executives opted in to stick around for an extra day and learn all about mobile advertising and marketing. This is the third retail conference that I have heard of that is putting an emphasis on retail and it is clear now that retailers are ready to embrace the mobile market.

Why are retailers now becoming attracted to mobile advertising? Mickey Khan of Mobile Marketer puts it best when he states that, “retailers are now open to the virtues of mobile marketing and commerce. Once again, consumers have led by indicating their new preferences for shopping, searching, emailing, photo-clicking, communicating and networking, game-playing and interacting with ads through mobile devices – on the couch or on the run.”

Publishers and media companies need to take this as a sign that times are changing. A number of companies have been holding off on an application strategy because they didn’t think they could fill the advertising inventory; this is clearly changing. Companies that already have an app should be making sure that their ad platform is conducive to the retail environment.

So what is Spreed doing to help our clients and prospective publishers and media companies attract retailers? Our ad platform he been built with our clients ad partners in mind. We offer a range of advertising options that are perfect for the retail environment. Firstly, we offer mobile flyers, which allow users to browse through a retailers entire catalog directly through a publishers applications.

Secondly, we are offering location based advertising which will connect readers to brick and mortar businesses as they approach them geographically. We know how many applications are being opened within the general vicinity of retail locations and these analytics can be very beneficial in closing leads and offering value. Both of these options have the potential to engage the users in a high value interactive setting and can offer great returns to advertisers.

We are excited to be hearing about the interest in the retail market and would suggest that all of our clients begin speaking to these prospective advertisers as well as Spreed about what the different ad opportunities are.

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