By: Kristina Ackermann
Newspaper publishing vendors and professionals convene in Frankfurt for education, networking, and business opportunities
Publishers, journalists, production vendors, and techies from every corner of the digital market met in Frankfurt, Germany, during the last week of October for World Publishing Expo 2012.
Hosted by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the expo featured daily educational seminars and networking opportunities in addition to exhibitors catering to every aspect of the newspaper business. This year, WAN-IFRA chose to host production, software, digital publishing, and other vendors all under one roof, making the expo a one-stop destination for publishers seeking to learn new strategies and find the tools to implement those strategies.
While the U.S. newspaper market has been nothing to write home about as of late, the global market is a different story in many cases. Expo spotlighted this optimism in its daily program of Media Port presentations, in which speakers shared the ideas and information driving successful case studies in Europe and other regions. Themes from these presentations set the tone for the course of the expo.
Driving mobile profit
The one question that is top-of-mind for publishers all over the world is how to make money by publishing content on tablets and smartphones.
Mobile platforms, and to a lesser extent social media, are a category of distribution that publishers know they need to have, but they’re still struggling to find a path to sustainable returns on that investment. Many of the Media Port presentations centered on this theme.
Kaj Ritala, digital media product manager for Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL), shared his strategy for catering to a bilingual readership — a challenge not unlike the one faced by many U.S. newspapers in ethnically diverse markets. Rather than presume that bilingual readers have the time and money to subscribe to and read two different newspapers (they don’t), HBL instead introduced a weekly digital news magazine to target the Swedish minority living in Finland. Those readers still get the daily Finnish news covered in the standard edition of HBL, but they also get a tablet-ready supplement, in Swedish, that covers cultural issues specifically relevant to them.
Though publishers still bicker over whether it’s best to pursue an ad-supported or subscription-supported model, there is nearly unanimous agreement that a tablet or mobile news product must offer more than static PDFs of a print product in order to be successful. The number of vendors that specialize in producing dynamic, engaging, multimedia experiences on tablets and smartphones — especially the iPad — are multiplying daily, and many were represented in the expo halls.
One company with a unique solution is Netherlands-based imgZine, which helps publishers create dynamic, magazine-like apps that update in real time — similar to Flipboard or Zite. The solution includes a content publishing platform, native tablet and smartphone apps, and an analytics dashboard. Chief operating officer Wilbert Smits demonstrated how the product pulls the photos, news stories, and other content that you’re already publishing on your website and presents it in an engaging and interactive app that caters to a “lean back” reading style.
Another hot topic at the expo was integrating workflow for multiple platforms into one system. Between print, Web, digital editions, social media, iPhone apps, iPad apps, and apps for Android smartphones and tablets, one news story can go through the publishing workflow five or six times in order to be published everywhere. This is not only time consuming and tedious, but it can introduce errors and cause needless duplications in workflow. Systems that integrate all these processes into one workflow are becoming increasingly popular among publishers.
Software powerhouse Adobe was on hand to demonstrate the latest iteration of its Creative Suite package of edit and design tools, which allow users to specify the destination of the product being created within the software — so a story destined for the Web, print, and a digital edition only has to be laid out once. WoodWing is another popular multichannel publishing solution that integrates with Adobe Creative Suite to manage editorial and advertising content for print and digital all in one program.
Publishers are becoming more and more aware of the need to integrate social media into the mix of content creation and gathering tools, but many are struggling to make this effort easy and seamless. PCS is an innovative publishing software company that has put social media right at the heart of its digital content management offering, and has served the United Kingdom publishing industry for 40 years, having developed one of the very first electronic journalist tools in the early 1970s.
At the World Publishing Expo, PCS unveiled its cloud-based digital content management and publishing solution, Knowledge. This editorial system has fully-integrated social media monitoring, management, and engagement.
“Knowledge comes with a built-in data analysis and text summarization engine. Every piece of text entering the system is mined and its key concepts analyzed — as are the links between them,” said PCS managing director Phil Walker. “The system is able to suggest the concepts that dominate, that is to say, ‘this text is probably about X, Y, or Z’ and when associated with match-lists can apply intelligence and structure where before there was none.”
Knowledge allows publishers to make sense of social media and feed the information into a publishing workflow to inform content creation, quickly and responsively. Knowledge complements a strong stable of PCS products for advertising, circulation, and real estate marketing.
Publishers’ demand for integrated tools extends beyond content production, as evidenced by the near-constant flow of expo attendees at Lineup Systems’ booth. A multichannel media system vendor, Lineup was offering live demos of its Web-based AdPoint system. At the expo, Lineup signed a new business agreement with the Hackney Citizen, a London-based newspaper with estimated readership of 30,000, for print and online advertising CRM, booking, and finance management.
Lineup’s SaaS products are a complete advertising solution that adapt to the type, scale, and complexity of the media customer. Other Lineup clients include Metro International, Time Out London, Time Out New York, Archant (the U.K.’s largest independent regional publisher), Village Voice Media, and Abu Dhabi Media.
Responsive design & HTML5
Keeping with the theme of integrated, multiplatform publishing, many of the Media Port presentations catered to publishers wishing to learn more about HTML5 and responsive Web design (see the Oct. 2011 and Apr. 2012 issues of E&P, respectively).
Belgium-based digital publishing company Twipe presented what it calls its NextGen HTML5 tablet app, and demonstrated how the capabilities of responsive design provide the ideal format to present rich content across all devices —iOS, Android, even Windows 8.
As a case study, Twipe chief executive officer Danny Lein presented the company’s work with Corelio, the largest newspaper publisher in Belgium. Corelio utilizes a mix of free content on mobile and the Web, and paid content on tablets and in print. The Twipe SaaS allows publishers to easily manage all these different platforms and pay models.
WAN-IFRA magazine partnered with Twipe to produce the tablet and mobile versions of its World Publishing Expo newspaper, Gazette.
Global market bullish on print
Print production vendors reported upticks in international business at the World Publishing Expo. Markets such as China, India, and Latin America are heavy consumers of printed newspapers, with their booming populations and demand for information.
Automated workflow provider ppi Media kept busy at the expo, signing contracts with Schwäbisch Media (publisher of German daily Schwäbische Zeitung), German daily Lippische Landes-Zeitung, and Bremer Tageszeitungen AG (publisher of German daily Bremer Nachrichten). ppi offers a suite of products that automate everything from page assembly and ink reduction to proofing and distribution. Its web-to-print solution OM portal delivers a finished product in just four steps, and integrates the publisher’s customers in the workflow so they can edit orders, supply print data, and generate proofs and releases.
Sitma, Italian manufacturer of packaging and distribution systems, was at the expo to demonstrate its compact labelers, inserters, and stackers. The machines offer speeds from 15,000 to 60,000 products per hour and are ideal for publishers working with minimal space for post-press equipment. In addition to newspapers, Sitma services commercial printing and mailing operations and direct marketing customers.