Published on 28 Oct 2022 | Team ConsCent | 5 mins read
If you are a publisher of a newspaper or a magazine, chances are that you already have a digital edition of it, or are already contemplating to create one. E-papers – while being around for more than a couple of decades – have gained massive popularity during the pandemic when physical distribution across the world stalled. The electronic versions of newspapers and magazines became the go to destination for news consumers – and for many, who bought physical copies, it was an irreversible shift to reading the newspaper and magazine on their handhelds and computer screens.
Here are some facts:
> More than 80% of all digital subscriptions sold in India are for E-Papers.
> Online versions of Indian newspapers are read in 62 countries.
> 47% of readers visit online editions to access archival material.
> 14% use online newspapers as a tool to overcome homesickness (i.e. when they are out of the country).
(Source: JuxtConsult’s India Internet report)
Still, e-paper is one of the most undervalued products. Publishers lose thousands of crores because they either let users access the e-papers for free or many don't even have an electronic version.
As the number of digital news consumers continue to grow, and so does their time spent, publishers can look at a better monetisation opportunity of the e-paper. Overtime, e-papers have become the most appealing way not to loose print consumers, who have shifted to digital modes of consumption. Also, electronic versions are more affective for the millennials and Gen-Z who don't buy physical copies anymore.
Let's look at it from the revenue diversification lens – the e-newspaper can bring in new users who are not exposed to the physical format of the newspapers or magazines. It allows publishers to expand the reach without spending millions of dollars in building a physical distribution network, and above all there is no newsprint cost (one of the biggest expense in physical news printing).
For users, the benefits are multifold, too.
You don't have to carry the newspaper – and it doesn't matter if you are travelling, taking public transport, or even lazing in the park – the e-paper is always available on your phone.
Apart from having the digital paper available anytime, it allows users to pull out an archival issue (even if it's from 30 years ago) anytime in just a few clicks.
E-Paper overcomes the limitations of physical world. It allows access to readers from anywhere in the world via any device: desktop, mobile, or tablet. For publishers specifically, e-papers are a useful way to expand the reach of the content published and increase engagement far beyond regular users.
As technology advances, e-papers now offer a responsive user interface, support interactive content, and rich media integration, such as audio, video, animation files, and slideshows. All these add-ons make the reading process a delightful experience.
In the last five years, there has been a drastic change in the way people consume content. As smart mobile devices are now readily available to users across age groups, people prefer to consume news online rather than buying a physical copy of the newspaper or the magazine.
The younger generation is overwhelmingly mobile-first and, in many cases, mobile-only. They prefer digital media as their go-to news source which is making it hard for publishers to get their attention.
A recent survey on reading preferences conducted by the Reuters Institute demonstrates that merely 16% of individuals under the age of 35 prefer to get their primary news from print. This number is far from the 56% who identify digital platforms (search engines, social media, video streaming and news aggregator platforms) as their primary news source.
For individuals over 35, these numbers are 27% for print news and 38% for online media. These figures show that although most people over 35 prefer newspapers as their news source, the safety buffer of older, committed, legacy users of print media has significantly weakened over time.
Since its inception roughly 25 years ago, e-papers have improved for end users in terms of appearance and functionality, but the same can not be said in the case of publishers. The existing e-reader solutions in the market lack innovation and do not offer enough flexibility to publishers in terms of monetisation, understanding of the user or even ways in which a users can be engaged.
Moreover, the cost of publishing an e-newspaper daily is not inexpensive. Currently, a publisher uses multiple layers of vendors to create, publish, and then take the e-newspaper live. There are only a handful of top e-reader solution providers that offer the technology for publishing e-newspapers. The publishers frequently outsource these service providers on a revenue-sharing basis of up to 40%–50%. This amount accounts for a significant portion of the overhead expenses for publishing an e-paper.
Another drawback of the current set up is the loss of crucial data which is rarely ever passed on to the publisher. From tracking anonymous user footprints to getting data on the subscription sold via multiple platforms, there is huge gap in acquiring and understanding the user data.
And if that't not it. Publishers continuously face the challenge of leakage where the digital copy of the paper is passed on to communities via multiple social messaging apps even before it is published.
Over the years, the e-reader solutions have not been able to solve these challenges for the publishers. Which has given rise to the need of an e-reader solution that brings back power to the publishers – right from publishing, to understanding the users, engaging with them effectively and monetise efficiently while ensuring no data loss, minimise leakage and bring in cost efficiency.
In an age where news publishers around the globe are leveraging sophisticated technology and experimenting with several e-products to gain subscribers, e-newspapers and e-magazines stand a fair chance of acquiring the right audience that will later pay for your content or even subscribe to your publication.
Imagine getting the paying intent right of your e-paper reader and serving them with the fresh copy of today's newspaper right in their inboxes every morning. Learning reading habits and serving them with the best subscription offer when the time is right.
While the present technology overlooks the aspects of understanding and engaging the audience, monetising them, and delivering personalised experience. An e-reader solution for tomorrow will combine intelligence, engagement, retention, and payment solutions under one roof, enabling publishers to leverage their e-papers and e-magazines as a way to build their subscription business.