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E-Replica Editions: A Niche Product to Build Readership

[από τη Newspaper Association of America, By Dinah Eng] Readership and circulation of newspaper replica e-editions continue to grow. For numerous reasons, including interactive features that complement newspaper Web sites, these editions are retaining readers who are used to print publications.

A niche product, e-editions that duplicate the exact pages of a newspaper online are being used for a variety of purposes, ranging from reducing the cost of NIE expenses to providing subscribers an alternative when newspapers are no longer printed on certain days of the week.

«The e-edition has created savings from a distribution and newsprint standpoint… I see it as a gateway to the e-reader, which may be our future.»

Hybrid subscriptions of print and the replica e-edition were offered to readers when The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press changed from seven-day home delivery of their print publications to three-day (Thursday, Friday and Sunday) home delivery last April. Subscribers now receive the e-edition seven days of the week.

Single copy editions are still printed seven days a week.

«While people were not thrilled to give up the print product, many were pleased with the replica e-edition and most readers have adapted to the new model,» says Janet Hasson, senior vice president of audience development and strategy at the Detroit Media Partnership, which manages business, advertising, and circulation for both papers.

«The most difficult transition was with people who were less computer savvy, or who had outdated equipment, software or very slow Internet. We conducted classes for customers, provided a manual, and significantly increased our customer service assistance.»

Hasson says there’s a distinct divide between readers under 50 and readers over 50 in reactions toward the e-edition. Those under 50, she notes, were not as impressed with the digital version, but those over 50 liked the e-edition because its format is similar to the print product. The replica e-edition garners an average of 25,000 visitors a day on non-home delivery days, with 7,000 visitors a day on the three home delivery days. She says between 1,000 to 2,000 new users sign up every week.

«I suspect we’ll see increased usage this winter because people won’t want to face the elements,» Hasson says, «and because we increased the price of daily single copy from 50 cents to $1. It’s a reader retention tool to minimize a decline in readership because of our distribution change.» She says the e-edition has numerous interactive features, including the ability to turn pages, increase font size, e-mail and archive articles, and click on links to an advertiser’s Web site.

Hybrid subscriptions are $12 a month for the print and e-edition. E-edition only subscriptions are also $12 a month. E-editions & ABC Reporting

Due in part to individual newspapers making the decisions to convert NIE programs to electronic delivery the electronic percentage of electronic paid circulation increased from 2.0 per cent to more than 4.2 per cent in that past year. The Wall Street Journal accounts for roughly a third of electronic copies. The formatting of FAS-FAX now classifies copies into one of four categories; individually paid, electronic editions, other paid and unique editions. This format does not accommodate the reporting of electronic editions by sales channel or identify who paid for the newspaper. Therefore, individually paid home delivered e-replica editions are counted as electronic editions. Educational copies, if delivered electronically are counted as electronic editions rather than educational copies.

In November 2009 the ABC Board of Directors will be considering a sweeping change in reporting formats that will correct this and highlight e-replica editions by sales channel. «The e-edition has created savings from a distribution and newsprint standpoint,» Hasson says. «I see it as a gateway to the e-reader, which may be our future.»

Hundreds of newspapers now report e-circulation, with the majority of them being replica e-editions. While most e-editions stem from the desire to cut newsprint and distribution costs, the move is also giving print readers — including snowbirds and travelers — an alternative when electronic delivery is more convenient. USA TODAY recently added two new e-edition offerings in partnership with Tecnavia Press. These e-editions are distributed to classrooms through USA TODAY’s Education Program and to readers in a bundled offering with local and regional digital newspaper subscriptions. A Saturday-Sunday USA TODAY e-edition, available only to digital subscribers, is included.

The two new initiatives join an existing e-edition produced with Olive Software that is available to all USA TODAY print subscribers, or as a stand-alone digital subscription. «The e-editions will win an audience beyond the print audience but will not replace it…»

One of the first newspapers to offer a replica e-edition was the Colorado Springs Gazette, which began offering hybrid subscriptions in 2001. «We only sell a limited number of Sunday only print subscriptions,» explains Cory O. Arcarese, vice president of circulation at the paper. «We primarily sell hybrid subscriptions, so you can buy Sunday in print, and get the paper electronically the rest of the week. You can also get a Friday-Saturday-Sunday print package and the rest of the week in electronic format. We have a seven-day subscription mindset to everything we sell.»

About 11,000 subscribers take the e-edition daily with a Sunday print component, and 2,500 subscribe to the e-edition only. «As we try to offer more options to our readers, we have the challenge of increasing open rates on the e-edition, while also growing the page views on our free site,» Arcarese says.

She notes that the newspaper packages its replica e-edition, marketed as a «Green Edition,» with some features from its free Web site so that readers can easily access both.»The e-editions will win an audience beyond the print audience but will not replace it,» she adds. «We have a more aggressive pricing model for this option. It’s cheaper to get the e-edition online, but it’s not free.»

«I see it as another channel to acquire and maintain readers in future.»

At The Kansas City Star, the replica e-edition is sold as a hybrid subscription with the print product, and as a stand-alone offering. The paper has about 8,000 hybrid subscribers and 1,000 e-edition only subscribers.

«The number of hybrid subscribers is much higher because we have a larger audience from which to draw,» says Jim Gorman, circulation sales and marketing manager for The Kansas City Star. «We started offering the hybrid subscription in January 2007, and it’s had a pretty steady growth rate.»

Gorman says seven-day print subscribers receive the e-edition as a perk through the paper’s subscriber loyalty program. The e-edition is included in the cost of the paper’s various print subscription rates, and e-replica only subscriptions are $4.95 a month or $58.95 a year. The e-edition can also be accessed on the Kindle.»Our e-edition comes up as a split screen with our Web site,» Gorman says, «so readers can keep a 24-hour news cycle with one stop on the Web. You can see the newest headlines or the replica of the paper, so it’s the best of both worlds.»He says reader reaction has been mostly positive to the e-edition, which offers search features and the ability to read back issues of the paper.

The newspaper went to an all-electronic NIE program in January 2008. While a few teachers were disappointed with the decision, he notes, they have since embraced the change, and the program is larger than it’s ever been.The newspaper offers a free two-week sample of the e-edition, which is followed up by telemarketing or direct mail offers. The sample offer is promoted through single copy tip-in cards.

Readers can visits the newspapers site and view a video on the features and usability of the «E-STAR».

The promotional page addresses the convenience of the e-edition and the advantage of being able to «move seamlessly from the electronic edition, E-Star to the number one Web site in Kansas City».»Our e-edition is priced significantly lower than the print edition because the cost for producing the PDF version is lower,» Gorman says. «People see e-editions as a good value, so they’re paying for the content. I see it as another channel to acquire and maintain readers in future. The subscriber will have access to what’s going on in our city in a 24 hour news cycle, with the e-edition available anywhere on Earth.

«While the emerging consensus among newspaper marketers is that the e-replica edition is not a replacement for the print product, rather an effective substitute and enhancement, it does fit into an emerging newspaper strategy for positioning and pricing.

This thinking is evident in the proposals still underdevelopment by the NAA/ABC Liaison Committee’s strategic visioning effort. The developing recommendations for the qualification and reporting of e-replica editions are for rules to be drafted regarding electronic editions that should permit hybrids to flourish, but not be reported and qualified in a manner that there are double counted for a single subscriber / household.

The considered long term assumption is that newspapers will be charging not for editions, platforms, or copies, but for content. In this scenario that addresses the home delivery subscription, at some point in time newspapers will be selling and charging for access to their content 24 / 7 and it will be up to the consumer to select a platform at any point in time and the concept is that the «hybrid» is a standard offering.

Subscribers will select what days they want in print, what days they want a e-replica editions delivered to their in box, and what day they just want access on their e-readers and handhelds along with e-alerts and e- newsletters.

In this scenario there are no vacations stops or breaks in service, but a single monthly rate that encompasses the multiple platforms along with the newspaper’s various loyalty and added value programs. It is a scenario that has a secure niche for the e-replica edition and especially for the traditional print reader.

Written by gr.mme.observer

2 Νοεμβρίου 2009 στις 12:47 μμ

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