John Farquhar, editor-at-large of Wag The Dog Publishers, gives an overview of the digital impact on print. Tablet technology is evolving, he says, and soon it will enable publishers to mass produce live action editorial, and sell subscriptions at an affordable price. Producing live content is already happening. Making it economically viable is the challenge.
There is war of supremacy currently in progress between the web and the traditional print titles as to which is the better source of financial information, and carrier for brand publicity.
Websites, such as Bloomberg and I-Net Bridge, win the race because of their ability to keep a running 24/7 dialogue on the current financial, economic, and political state of play in every country across the world.
However, at this stage the sites do not lend themselves to the traditional style of brand advertising that is currently possible with print titles. Print allows the seller to go into greater detail regarding the merits of the product being promoted.
Companies that target financial institutions as markets for their products therefore have a problem.
The few financial titles that are currently surviving the digital attack, such as the Financial Times, the Economist and the Wall Street Journal are relying on their historic reputation, not only as publishers of essential data, but also for their well informed interpretations. This insight is their unique selling proposition. In this way, they are keeping subscribers and advertisers on board for the hard copy version.
Eventually, the tablet reader will hopefully solve the problem and evolve to the level which will enable financial print titles to supply a 24/7 stream of economic data similar to the Bloomberg feed, backed by the in-depth analysis, and interpretation, for which they best known.
Business titles are not only concerned about finance, they also offer insights into current upmarket lifestyle trends such as literature, sport, art, travel. Lifestyle to the rich is the pursuit of wealth and pleasure. The tablets will offer a visual advantage, as these subjects will be discussed in live action presentation.
Newspapers and the Web
For the moment the web will have minimal effect on the mass market daily press in South Africa simply because their main customer base is the financially strapped middle income consumer. It all depends on how soon the Internet becomes a mass market medium in the country with a high household penetration similar to the U.S. and the U.K.
General consumer magazines
The reading tablet offers opportunities for general consumer magazines. The apps alternative will encourage subscriptions and lower consumer, as well as publisher costs.