Sunday, 19 May 2013

EDGE Media Seminar: Highlights from Caviar Content to Digital Strategy and The Future of Print

EDGE research group hosted a Media Seminar in Helsinki in May to bring together editors, media executives and researchers associated with EDGE and Åbo Akademi University. Below are some of the highlights from the seminar, where EDGE researchers presented their topics followed by four keynote speakers. Everyone did an excellent job and the dialog was one we valued as arrangers. There was also a trending Twitter stream in Finland at #edgesemi.

The full presentations are shown on the EDGE website.

Malin Brännback, Professor, Åbo Akademi University

In her opening address Malin pointed out that "Business Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast". If you want to be on the EDGE how often do you argue with your success stories? When do you make a MOVE When you have to? When it is too late? Or well in advance? Do you have a cutting EDGE culture in your organization? Do you seek true novelties, or do you focus on efficiency. She claimed that you have to put yourself at the EDGE CONSTANTLY and look for really NEW solutions instead of just making incremental changes to what you already have. Do you manage the future as if it was your past or do you LEAD into the future. How often do you step out of the comfort zone. When did you first time hear that newspaper consumption is declining? The Birdcage syndrome "but this does not concern us in Finland". Newspaper circulation actually started to decline in the 1990’s. And now we are looking for an EDGE.

Gunilla Widén, Professor, Åbo Akademi University

Gunilla talked about the different information behavior perspectives including the cognitive dimension (information needs affected by age, gender, personality, education, values, motives) and the contextual dimension (professional life, work environment, everyday life, the Internet, social media, groups and organizations, networks). She noted that 90% of the Finnish population are active internet users and 42% are registered in a social network. Women search for more specific information and social relations, whilst men download more often files and buy/sell products on the Internet. Digital natives are connected 24/7 and are developing 'checking habits'. They are quick information seekers, but poor information evaluators. Information behavior actually starts in the age of 3-5 years, and children have the ability to formulate web-queries at the age of 4 years. Gunilla pointed out that we’re all part of the ‘Google generation’, whether we’re digital natives or digital immigrants. We show impatience in search and navigation and have a poor ability to do strategic and well-planned searches. “Learning by heart is pointless to the Google generation”, commented our Professor in Information Sciences. The obvious problem is the information overload and we need to develop improved information and media literacy skills. Latest research results of young peope’s use of mobile media shows a success both in formal and informal learning contexts. This represents a challenge for information professionals to develop future services and activities – it is important to understand the digital information grounds.

Anna - Greta Nyström, Post doc researcher, Åbo Akademi University

Anna-Greta talked about current research activities within EDGE and particularly about ‘Mobile Value Services’: exploring new solutions for innovative and personalized media experiences in the mobile and digital landscape. She also referred to the consumer survey looking at media consumption patterns in Finland (the survey was done in Q4/2012 with n=982 Finns in all ages). “The typical media day is fragmented into smaller pieces, consisting of several types of media on different platforms. The media consumption patterns are, however, very much characterized by routines.” Even young diginatives have routines, but they differ from older people who might prefer to start their day with a newspaper and a cup of coffee. For most youngsters the media day starts with browsing social media. Anna-Greta went on to talk about what people do with their smartphones (56% of people in the survey have a smartphone, amongst young people aged 15-24 it's 76%) and tablets (19% have access to a tablet). Apps are actively used by 60% of smartphone users, and 50% have paid for apps. For smartphones most preferred apps are the use of maps, weather, news and social media. As for tablets 68% use apps and 64% have paid for their apps. On tablets people prefer news, weather, social media and streaming of movies and TV-programs. Digital media platforms and particularly tablets are mainly used in the evening and during weekends, whilst smartphones are in use throughout the day (24/7). In the ‘Mobile Value Services’ project EDGE researchers will make sense of the user experience of mobile applications (measuring the behavior) and user engagement (understanding the behavior). EDGE will also focus on the business model in order to understand the value of development and innovation of mobile applications for media and advertising.

Anette Novak, Vice President, Fojo & Board Member, World Editors Forum

Anette opened her inspiring talk with the fact that we now have an online generation as the Media Audience. “Digital is default. Everything. Immediately. Are we ready for this in Media firms?” Consumer first! The newspapers should look more at “want to have” than “can get” from a Media Audience perspective (with reference to Fredrik Strömberg, creative director at Bonnier Magazines). 
We need to change the structures, become much more agile, more like start-ups, she argued. Ethics and credibility are extremely important in the ‘Twitter age’, when the speed of news can no longer be controlled by Media firms. “Ethics. Credibility. Think before you Publish.” Look at the Boston tragedy as an example”, this goes for social media as well! Talking about ‘caviar content’ it must serve customer needs. Be ethical and reliable. Be emotionally engaging.

Anette referred to a ‘Context based newslist’, where editors need to think about the consumer in the context of the time of day (am, pm). Also weekends and holidays are different from a media consumption perspective. Editorial staff should according to Anette get rid of the old "Headline + text for tomorrow" type of thinking. For more more thoughts by Anette, look up her blog on tumblr.

Petteri Putkiranta, Business Director, Helsingin Sanomat

Petteri made an excellent presentation of Helsingin Sanomat (HS), the largest subscription based newspaper in the Nordic region published by Sanoma News. HS has a net coverage of 1.9 million Finns. The number of print readers was 859,000 at the end of 2012, with a circulation of 364,000 in total (including digital subscribers). The website has 1.4 million unique visitors per week. The HS brand family also includes weekly and monthly supplements, two free sheets and Channel Four TV news. Why did Helsingin Sanomat need to change? Well the reason is obvious, consumer behavior is changing and the circulation of the printed paper has been falling since the millennium shift, and the curve has been steeper during the last 3-4 years (-3,8%). Meanwhile, the number of unique mobile visitors to the HS website has sky rocketed. Petteri also admitted that previously the business model for the web was unclear, with free content and income only from advertising and banners. The ‘Combo’ subscription model has been a success, now 33% of HS customers pay for a combination of digital and print content. Tablets have changed the usage patterns and perception of digital content, the HS tablet app user spends 11x more time with the content than an average web user, and 5x more time than an average mobile app user. The tablet app was introduced already at the end of 2010, and HS now have more than 40,000 tablet users. Since 2010 there have been many new steps in the development of the HS offering. The ‘paywall’ for all digital content (online and mobile) was implemented in November, 2012.

The printed newspaper was relaunched in tabloid format in January, 2013. Mobility in paper format has also been and important investment in order to stay competitive. Both changes have had a positive impact. As for digital content most consumers prefer the premium package including all content and archives at 14.90 euros / month. Since the paywall was introduced the number of unique visitors is up by +3%, whilst page views are down by -3% (only 5 articles per week can be freely viewed). Many sections of the printed newspapers perform better than ever, according to Petteri. Tabloid has been a good format with regard to the attention value of advertising. Advertisers and media agencies say Helsingin Sanomat is now clearly more interesting than before. Petteri made a point of the need for continuous development and stressed that analytics is now extensively used to track audience behavior and advertising performance on all digital platforms. He stressed the importance of the 'HS Brand promise': Quality content, engaged readers.

Fredrik Nars, Director Digital Media, KSF Media

The newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet was founded in 1864 and is today published by KSF Media. It is still the largest Sedish language daily in Finland. Fredrik presented the digital producs of HBL including eHBL, the mobile services and the new weekly magazine HBL+ launched in October, 2012. He said the the media environment in Finland has been changing rapidly and the print subscriptions continue to slide down and the use of new media devices is up. Newspapers are read 30 minutes per day, while the Internet is used 2 hours per day by Finns. And more ‘media’ is consumed on social media platforms. Today most Finnish newspapers publish ‘1t01 replicas’ on tablets like eHBL.

Fredrik went on to put KSF Media’s strategy in context and highlighted particularly the digital strategy for HBL. It started with eReading tests on Aland islands in 2010, where the following insights were gained: the average consumers wants a 1to1 digital paper, but the digitally savvy consumers want more interactivity. Hence the launch of the daily eHBL and the weekly digital magazine HBL+ as separate products, the latter targeting new digitally savvy customers. Today 22% of HBL’s subscriber base are digitally active and the number is increasing. HBL digital future issues includes the launch of digital-only subscriptions, paywall for the website, Spotify-like payment options and Studio HBL. Before the summer the website will be updated with more content and more frequently updated content, behind a ‘paywall’. Digital-only subs have already been introduced. Studio HBL was launched in May, i.e. web-TV with content relating to culture, sports and entertainment in a ‘talk show’ format. Currently a new digital vision for 2015 is being drawn up, with the strategic question of HBL’s future engagement with its customers: in which channels, using different technologies, considerations for new types of content and issues concerning the B2C and B2B business models. Competence is an equally important issue, dealing with the competencies of people, and the need for alliancies and strategic partnerships. 

Fredrik is a fan of Winston Churchill, citing “V” meaning that newspaper revenues form the shape of "V" i.e. we are now in the valley between analog and digital revenues, where the digital revenues are not fully compensating for the analog loss. Fredrik closed with another quote from Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Thomas Ehrnrooth, Vice President Marketing & Communications,
UPM Paper Business Group

Thomas addressed the audience with a keynote including multiple examples of the innovative use of paper as a platform for cross media brand advertising and marketing communications. The presentation can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube.

UPM is the leading paper manufacturer in the world and has also invested into new business areas like biodiesel within the framework of “UPM - The Biofore Company”. UPM is striving towards a sustainable and innovation-driven future in the areas of biofuels, energy, forest and timber, label materials, plywood, pulp and paper. Thomas was very clear on the power of print and its viability as a user interface for reading and consuming media. He showed us great examples of the co-existence of print and digital marketing communications e.g. Dolce & Gabbana’s eye-catching video ads in Marie Claire magazine. IKEA’s catalog is distributed to millions of homes worldwide. Now you can also use the smartphone and tablet apps to browse for interiors and ideas for home furnishing. Cross media marketing has created new ways to engage with target audiences. Condé Nast call their solutions ‘integrated media’ with print ads, multimedia pages and video clips on websites. Thomas claims that cross media needs print as its first point of contact. Why? Direct Mail and catalogs are useful tools in brand awareness. Print is tangible, there is a feeling of substance and it is perceived as trustworthy by consumers according to UPM. New innovations are needed and Thomas brought out a ‘Future Travel Catalog’ as an example, where the reader can browse through tagged pages bringing the pictures alive.


We at EDGE research group want to thank all our speakers and all the participants for a great day with inspiring presentations and discussions.

Timo wrapped up the day by presenting strategic choices of Media firms in the quest for new revenues in the digital ecosystem. Helsingin Sanomat and HBL are good examples of newspapers in a digital transformation, where the printed products are constantly developed and new investments are put into mobile and online media services in the digital ecosystem, not forgetting the importance of social media and web-TV. The new focus requires new competencies and requires a forward-looking corporate culture, open to co-creation and innovation. This is a true challenge for industry leaders, editorial staff and managers. In my recent interview with one of the industry leaders, Jonas Bonnier put it: "There is a new sense of urgency."

It will be quite interesting to see how digital subscribership will develop in Finland and Scandinavia over the next few years, and what kind of new tools & services are brought onto the market to serve the needs of advertisers. The importance of analytics and how to measure the engagement of the Media Audience is more important than ever. Readers are more active and the relevance of engagement is measured not only in terms of reading, but with regard to co-creation and sharing of media content, as well as purchase behavior. We at EDGE are ready and willing to dig deeper into this field with our research in ‘Mobile Value Services’.

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