Maverick DNA spawns iMaverick, Africa’s first iPad daily newspaper
In what is a first for South Africa – and Africa – the Daily Maverick is launching the first daily iPad newspaper in August this year. The idea for iMaverick, editor Branko Brkic told TheMediaOnline, came within half an hour of his sitting down and playing with an iPad.
“I felt as if I’d been hit by a train. I had an idea in my head; every day, at 6am, you receive a daily newsletter. The news is as fresh as it can be, fresher than any print newspaper can hope to be. I saw the future of newspapers, and it wasn’t in the print space.
“The beauty of the iPad is that you will receive a high quality newspaper with the latest news, all in one publication. While electronic newsletters work to a certain extent, the quality just doesn’t cut it. But with a tablet, you can produce the ultimate quality product. We’re keeping a print ‘frame’ but the content will be more dynamic. And let’s say that the editorial ‘freshness’ will give it an edge.”
The thinking, he said, is that many readers of online and print publications will sit down with their morning coffee and cruise around the various news sites and newspapers to digest their daily news feed. iMaverick, he said, will cut through that time-consuming process.
“Time-pressed readers face a veritable data deluge and want a source they can trust for the best daily read. What’s wrong with enjoying your daily read?” Brkic asked, spinning the party line.
Brkic said iMaverick is born out of the DNA of his previous print publications, Maverick and Empire, as well as the successful Daily Maverick, the site that reaches 100 000 users every month and its 8 500-strong subscriber base who receive the daily newsletter.
Trust, for him, is the bottom line. “We’re aiming for the same quality, giving them information from a source they trust,” he said. It will “combine long and short form journalism on a hugely expanded range of beats so readers are given daily news offering that fulfils most, if not all, their information needs”.
Its editorial philosophy, he said, could be summed up on one sentence. “Traditional newspapers are in the business of distributing information; we’re in the business of creating understanding of that information.”
Brkic said he didn’t think newspapers would worry about iMaverick in terms of competition. “We’re creating a new market here, a new space for ourselves. The question is whether the market will accept it or not. But we think they will!”
Of course, advertising is key to the success and the break-even point for iMaverick. While subscribers will pay, initially, R395 a month for the daily iMaverick to be delivered to their iPads, advertisers will pay ten times less than a full-page ad in a print paper for a full-page tablet ad.
“Each ad will be a full page on the iPad with 100% share of voice. Any ad formats supported by HTML5 can be accommodated, with dimensions of 1004 x 768, with a 12-pixel bleed all around the frame. We have launch offers currently on the table but our ceiling costs will be a fraction of equivalent ads in traditional newspapers,” said iMaverick CEO, Styli Charalambous.
The hitlist for the sales team he’s building will target “Premium brands and data providers; premium brands that resonate with our high LSM reader base and data providers to target users of a data hungry device. Premium brands we are targeting include those in financial services, luxury goods/vehicles, premium alcohol brands and travel industry service providers”.
A daily newspaper, online or not, requires staff in editorial and production. With the impending launch of iMaverick, staffing up to capacity is key. Brkic is looking for 25 people, from journalists to production and design specialists. “Because we won’t have the huge costs of paper, printing and distribution, we can afford to pay salaries that will gives the editorial excellence that is our backbone,” he said.
Charalambous – wait for this – will use in-house sales staff as well as an outsourced agency. “The reason for this is to channel as much of the budget into editorial production,” he said.
A marketing campaign kicks off today, driven by a witty YouTube clip, using ZANews’s President Zuma and Julius Malema puppets discussing iMaverick. Needless to say, ‘iMaverick’ is not a word found in Juju’s culture…
It was the brainchild of Charalambous. Said Brkic: “The video is an idea of our CEO, Styli Charalambous, who is also a CA. As you could see, even accountants are imaginative when they work for us… ”
Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIlaNrxuVaI
iMaverick needs between 6 000 and 8 000 subscribers to break even. Considering that the Daily Maverick, with no marketing whatsoever, achieved 100 000 in 20 months, Brkic doesn’t think it will be a stretch “even before launch”.
Charalambous estimates that iMaverick will “get to break-even within 12 months. With almost 90% of our overheads dedicated to producing editorial content, and no printing costs, we are in a fortunate position that our subscriber numbers required to break-even is quite low when compared to traditional newspapers”.
The launch subscription campaign is sweetened by a “first come first served” subscription offer that will see subscribers get an iPad2. Sounds to good to be true? Charalambous thinks not. “Without giving too much away, yes. We will be launching a newspaper-only subscription drive before the newspaper launches. This is to accommodate our fans that live overseas and those who have iPads already. For obvious reasons, we want to focus on the iPad subscription offer at launch, but we can say that the newspaper-only subs will be significantly less than comparative traditional newspaper subscriptions.”
Getting agencies and advertisers up to speed on how to make iMaverick work for them is the responsibility of Charalambous. He is about to embark on a training scheme that will familiarise agencies and clients with how to optimise their ad space that will include sound, video and “the full functionality and promise of social media”.
‘The approach is very much an educational one. We have been conducting one-on-one presentations to both agencies and direct clients about iMaverick‘s advertising opportunities. We have also been engaging with creative agencies to let them know about the diverse formats supported. We are working closely with creative agencies to provide input into this new category of advertising,” he said.
Of course, the bell and whistles will come at a premium price, but still cost less than traditional newspaper advertising for the same space. “Both agencies and direct clients have been extremely welcoming of iMaverick. Every presentation we’ve done has resulted in further discussions and the first couple of deals will be concluded this week. Until these are completed we cannot disclose names, suffice as to say they fall within our ‘hotlist’, “ he told TheMediaOnline.
“Our goal is to work closely with agencies, who will impart this knowledge to clients through their campaigns. We can only offer our thoughts on this process as this is such a new category with ones’ imagination the only limiting factor,” Charalambous said.
With the launch to take place on August 15, there is much to do. Find offices. Find staff. Sign up advertisers. Keep the Daily Maverick running optimally. And prepare, finally, as Brkic said, to “bring coolness to the daily newspaper space”.
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