Clement Charles

Clement Charles 's thoughts
October 8th, 2013

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.
October 7th, 2013

Tablet publishing – do’s and don’t, with Mario Garcia

I had the opportunity to see Mario speaking in Kyiv, last year. An impressive presentation. With 40 years of experience in the field, the guy is not very young, but it clearly has some of the most innovative and modern ideas in the field. A lot more dynamic and energetic than many young players lamenting about the “good old days”.
As usual, Garcia starts its conference with a rapid reminder of how recent the tablet are, as iPad arrived in 2009-2010.
For Garcia, tablet are a great tool for the industry. To do so, and provide great product to end users, you have to hire a tablet editor (which is rarely the case), to really have a dedicated product strategy for this devices, to embed as many multimedia content and interactive elements that you can. “It’s the bast ways to take print to the next level” confirm Garcia, with it’s unique 40 years of background in the industry .
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I really enjoyed its take on the current times we’re experiencing. “We are living the radio days of the tablet” says Garcia, “as radio guys arrived to TV and had to learn to move, similarly the mentality of newspapers is now dominant in tablet but it has to change”. Progressively, you need to provide more photo, more navigation and more attention’s attraction via images and pictorial elements. “Keep that finger happy” says Garcia. “With pops ups, additional information and informative elements… Keep navigation simple, but make it more pictorial.” 
What do we people want in a tablet ? 
“They news updates, curation content, PDF of the print edition”.  The eye-tracking studies for the Ponyter institute confirms it. It also shows that iPad and phones compete for attention, including during work and day hours. Quite recent, as it was precisely perceived as laid back, home / off-work devices in 2012.
“The ones that hit the spot”  
Garcia then shared with the audience some good examples, with “the ones that hit the spot” :
– o globo, the guardian: extension on the DNA, but not a tablet of the
– The Times of London. Pushing the lead story as the most “tablet friendly” stories, not the biggest headlines.
– La Presse, Canada. “Once of the most beatufil ones that you can”. The tablet actually inspired, changed the print edition itself. The same should apply for the writing production process: produce for the mobile, for the digital and then for the print. Further presentation will be from Guy Crevier, CEO of La Presse.
– Berlingske, in Danmark. Two edition per day, with fully pictorial content.
– VG+ Norway –  nothing to do with the print edition.
“Design for the eye, for the brain and for the finger”. 
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The importance of the fully multimedia production process is always more important, as you need to enrich the content is other material. Good to see that my ideas of 2002 are now becoming popular, even if Garcia is still often perceived as a “original innovator” when he actually provides the tips that newsrooms should have discovered on their own in 99 already.

Story telling,. Pop ups. Navigation. Look & feel.  
At the heart of tablet edition, is story telling. “Things change but core mission stays the same: provide great content that will attract audiences and capture their attention”.
More content about the World Publishing Conferences and Table Apps Summit will follow.


March 17th, 2010

iPad : les dessous de tablette

Malgré le scepticisme des geeks, le succès commercial de l’iPad est déjà indéniable. Entre nouvelles opportunités de revenus pour les applications existantes et moyen miracle de sauver la presse, la tablette d’Apple ouvre clairement une nouvelle ère Internet nomade.


On a beaucoup dit que l’iPad était un gros iPhone, et c’est vrai. Dès sa prise en main, on est frappé par la transposition de toute la facilité d’utilisation de l’iPhone sur ce nouveau support. Autre surprise, le poids de l’objet, relativement élevé, et sa taille, plus petite qu’imaginée. En plus de ses faiblesses techniques évidentes (pas de caméra, pas de clavier, Wi-Fi only), la tablette à la pomme souffre aussi des mêmes défauts que l’iPhone, mono-tâches et ne lisant pas le Flash, donc donnant un accès réel, intuitif mais toujours partiel au web.


Du point de vue industriel, cela fait longtemps que les professionnels utilisent des tablettes d’accès à l’internet portable spécifiques à leurs métiers. Avec l’iPad, plus d’un lustre après les “tablettes PC” que HP n’a jamais réussi à populariser, l’ordinateur 100% tactile et sans périphérique arrive enfin dans le grand public, et peut passer de l’esprit des concepteurs de produits à un objet indispensable de la table de salon.


Aujourd’hui, beaucoup de journalistes (qui reprennent les communiqués de presse d’Apple), de directeurs de presse (qui lisent leurs journalistes), ou d’autres membres de l’industrie du contenu (qui croient le buzz dominant du moment, celui-ci comme un autre) pensent que l’iPad va leur permettre de sauver leurs publications imprimées, journaux ou magazines.


Si l’iPad (et les tablettes à venir) font partie de la solution qui sauvera le métier de journaliste et la fonction du média de distributeur d’information “labélisée”, l’envoi d’un fichier PDF équivalent à celui d’un imprimeur vers un iPad, ne solutionnera aucun des problèmes de la presse. Malheureusement, les applications actuellement proposées par les éditeurs de journaux n’intègrent pas les riches capacités multimédias de la plateforme. Mêmes siune version “journal électronique”, type PDF, sur l’iPad reste agréable, cela n’apporte aucune valeur ajoutée par rapport à sa version papier.


Dans ma vision, la navigation de contenu sur une tablette doit créer de la vraie valeur ajoutée, de manière multidimensionnelle et transversale. Multidimensionnelle d’abord, car tous ces médias ont les ressources pour enrichir tous leurs textes de galeries de photos, de vidéos ou encore d’animations; dans plusieurs dimensions aussi, en sortant de l’univers clos des droits détenus par le titre pour mettre en avant des liens pertinents, créateurs de sens, vers d’autres éditeurs de contenus. Transversale également, car une fois arrivé à la fin d’un article, le lecteur sur tablette exigera plus qu’un bouton “retour au sommaire”, et ne comprendra pas l’absence d’indices de crédibilité basés sur le succès du contenu, d’arborescence automatique vers des liens connexes indexés ou de fonctions sociales pour commenter, noter et partager ces contenus.


Avec l’iPad, les éditeurs pourront enfin combiner la profondeur de champ unique du texte, la capacité hypnotique des médias audiovisuels et la richesse interactive sans limites du web.  Néanmoins, pour ce faire, il faudra avoir conservé son contenu original qui fédère une communauté de lecteurs, maîtrisé la chaîne complète de production multimédia (du texte à la vidéo, en passant par l’interaction) et comprendre l’information comme un produit multiplateforme, interactif et en mouvement perpétuel.


On doute donc que l’iPad puisse sauver les acteurs de presse qui n’ont pas pu ou ne sauront pas, se sauver eux-mêmes. Il n’est pas encore trop tard pour changer, toutes les compagnies ferroviaires n’ont pas abandonné la vapeur le jour de l’arrivée de la locomotive électrique…