Clement Charles

Clement Charles 's thoughts
October 8th, 2013 by Clement Charles

INvest in the future instead of managing degrowth

I followed yesterday the complete and exciting presentation of Guy Crevier, CEO of La Presse, a group that holds multiple titles in Canada.

As any paper business, times were not very happy a few semesters ago.  “It’s not very fun to manage de-growth. A vicious circle is not exciting”  says Guy. So the company decided to invest in the future, invest in digital.

 Their survey shows that people need information, but need to be suitable for current consumption practices. For Crevier, “tablet are becoming a medium, a delivery platform, in itself – even more with its quicker than ever penetration rate”.  In its perspective, to provide “free information is now compulsory”. He adds that “paywall are only right with global brands, with large audience an very unique content, for people that can invest the cost of subscription, often covered by professional expenses” . So it may for the NYT or the WSJ, but not with the rest : /
He adds that paywall – does not allow to touchy the 16-25 generation, just an other way to touch the 50+ generation that does not really interested advertisers anymore. Need to do something else. Interesting take.  In “La Presse” perspective, the strategy of “mirroring” websites to those new devices is not relevant. “To create a new medium, we’ve invested 40 M CAN$ put 100 people in a lab and worked closely with Apple people.”
You knew innovation cost money. Now, you know how much.
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Numbers are big, but always a lot smaller for having a printing plant with all the associated permanent OpEx to run that business. So, it is a digital plant, than can scale as much as needed,, with no limitation.
It imposes new ways to create story telling.
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Various ways to browse the content, to see other things or to share what’s more important. Also, it is needed to propose ways to access other services, while not going out of the application, to , for example, get some eCommerce services (buy movie ticket or reviewed fine foods products). On side, this could also lead the way to eCommerce that could lead to new stream of revenue for publishers – I have said it and wrote it, many times.
Ads needs to be different too.
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Have some interactive elements, with little games inserted on the ads. Based on their study, 100% of users did use the game and all of them remembered the brand.  Interesting, although the attention that you have in a focus group is very different from the one that you get when people use the product on the side on their day to day life.
Logically, those interactive ads are a lot more efficient. And the can now be sold, with the proof of usage, to prices that are closed from print pages price, without having all the “physical” costs associated to print ! Impressive ! !  Crevier adds that 5 out 7 users do confirm that  viewing and playing with ads it part of their “pleasure of using the apps”.
The impact is unique . And measurable.
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Why is it free ? They boast 300’000 subs today. If payment was needed to access content, they would have invested the same amount of money , and possible, have had 25’000. Not enough to be a mass media to advertisers.
Also, the growth potential is huge, and they believe its a new medium in itself, and it will be the dominant medium in the future. Target to transfer 80% of paper revenue to digital and tablet edition. One day, print edition will stop, and we will spare 100M $ per year – not money in the core business, which is to produce good content, but to side spent such as print, distribution and plant management.
I was happy to see a traditional news publisher demonstrating success and being sincerely optimistic about the coming times. Future is bright, but you have to believe in it ; )
Picture of slides with iPhone, from the floor, so please excuse medium quality.

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