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Publishing News: Week in Review

U.S. News reinvents itself with data, the iPad isn't just a digital screen, and startups get a showcase.

Here are a few highlights from the publishing world. (Note: Some of these stories were published here on Radar throughout the week.)

Publishing reinvented through data

USNewsRankings.pngData is traditionally used by publishers for source references and fodder for graphic visualizations — it’s a framework to weave a story around. U.S. News & World Report doesn’t have much use for that traditional view.

In a Forbes post this week, Simon Owens, director of PR for JESS3, wrote about how U.S. News & World Report has used its rankings and data to move away from traditional national advertising, a revenue source that has been on the decline for sometime. Brian Kelly, editor of U.S. News, commented for the story:

A national news weekly had one basic advertising category that it’s drawing from: national advertisers. National advertising across the board has been leaving every print product. The news weeklies got hit harder because of the nature of the product, and that particular base was one of the first to leave print almost entirely. People thought [national print advertising] was coming back and we thought it wasn’t coming back, so we just decided to move on.

Owens pointed out that expanding its rankings to be a main source of content has given U.S. News an edge over the competition: it has a store of exclusive hard data. He explained how this edge is turned into revenue:

By becoming more consumer focused, U.S. News gained a key advantage: its target readers were people specifically looking to buy stuff. A person Googling his way to the auto rankings is more often than not going there because he’s interested in buying a car, and this fact has allowed U.S. News to diversify its revenue. Not only does it aim to sell niche display advertising across these channels, but it also makes money from lead generation. [Kelly said,] “You go on the site looking at a Honda Civic, and it says, ‘Here’s all of the data,’ and then it says, ‘Are you interested on a price on a Honda Civic?’ When you click on that button, you’re on a different channel, you’re on a dealership channel, and you’re putting in a request. We get paid for that click way more than you would get paid for a banner ad.”

The data itself is also used as a revenue stream — readers can pay for access to deeper data specific to their needs. With all the talk of the decline of print media and loss of ad revenues today, it’s refreshing to read a success story in which a company used the same downturn that’s slowly destroying much of its competition to reinvent its business model.

Simply converting print to digital isn’t what the iPad’s about

As more magazines take advantage of the iPad’s popularity, one thing thus far has been clear: most publishers are simply reproducing their print products on the digital screen.

In a recent interview, Matthew Carlson, principal of experience strategy and design at Hot Studio Inc., said established magazines are thus far missing the boat by producing iPad editions weighed down by bloated files, slow downloads and locked content:

Magazines have traditionally thought of themselves as kind of a locked book, of a complete, discreet object. Ideally, something that is going to be really interactive or live out on the web needs to be more like an open book — like if you took the cover of the magazine and turned it outside in so that people could discover and access the stories more effectively.

Flipboard screenshot
A screenshot from the Flipboard iPad app.

The story, along with the complete video interview, continues here.

TOC2012 heats up with Sneak Peek webcasts

Note: this story was published here on Radar this week by Joe Wikert.

TOCLogo
Every week I come across countless interesting articles and press releases about new econtent products and services. Many sound promising, but who has the time to research them all or even figure out which are worthy of further consideration?

We’re about to launch a new TOC webcast series to help solve this problem. Each “Sneak Peek” webcast will feature 3-4 of the most interesting startups in the publishing tools, platforms and technologies space. All of these startups will still be at the pre-release stage, so the webcasts will give you a unique opportunity to learn what makes them special before their products go live.

Details are still being finalized for the first Sneak Peek webcast, but I can tell you that it will take place in the next couple of months. Two of the slots have already been spoken for but we expect to finalize the entire lineup in the next week. All of the Sneak Peek webcasts will be free. Stay tuned to Radar for more details on the inaugural event.

Also, if you’re part of a publishing startup at the pre-release stage and you’d like to be considered for a Sneak Peek, we’d love to hear from you. Email me the details and a member of the TOC team will get back with you.

Got news?

Suggestions are always welcome, so feel free to send along your news scoops and ideas.


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