- Publication In Publishing Magazine
- Date March 19, 2014
The latest publishing news, jobs, analysis, comment, interviews and in-depth features about UK newspaper, magazine and online publishers.
Reaching the hard-to-reach
The world is full of potential readers, but how do you reach them? PressReader offers an exciting additional route to market which can place your branded content in front of many millions of new readers, and it costs you nothing. Nikolay Malyarov tells James Evelegh why the service is such a win-win proposition.
How do you make money from and get seen by people who are not your subscribers? This is one of the great challenges facing publishers today. You publish great content which you just know would be of interest to loads of non-subscribers, but how do you find them and how do they find you? Potential readers are everywhere, and … you’re not.
Well, there is a way and it won’t cost you a penny, will make you money and you don’t have to change or alter your existing digital strategy; namely, put your title on PressReader, the global all-you-can-read subscription service which does for press what Spotify does for music and Netflix does for movies. PressReader disseminates your brand and content to huge new audiences. To date, PressReader has over 30m users, and that figure is growing all the time; a large proportion of them are in high-value, hard-to-reach verticals where PressReader has a long and well-established presence, such as hotels, libraries, academic institutions, airlines, cruise ships and corporate offices.
A Compelling Reader Experience
Whether the reader is a business executive or tourist in a hotel, a student researcher in the college library or Joe Public sitting in his living room, the PressReader reading experience is a compelling one. Nikolay Malyarov, Chief Content Officer at PressReader, describes it as a “paradigm shift in the way content is consumed”. It is a multi-layered, easy to use and pleasurable experience. Newspapers and magazines are presented as full replica editions, yet the service is so much more than a traditional digital page-turner. The reader can choose to read an article in page view, that presents the edition in its enhanced digital format, or he can open the article in an optimised ‘SmartFlow’ view. SmartFlow is PressReader’s unique horizontal content presentation feature which is designed to deliver the optimum reader experience.
Articles can be liked / disliked, commented upon or shared through the usual social media channels. If you want to discover additional content about a subject that stirs your interest (Ukraine, Scottish independence, Lizzy Yarnold), then create a search, which will compile full content versions of your topic from over 2,500 titles on the PressReader service for you – an incredibly powerful tool – a search engine that only searches the current and / or archived editions of trusted news brands: like Google without the rubbish.
If it’s a subject you want to come back to, then save the search under fully customisable ‘My Bookmarks’ options and the list will be refreshed with newly released editions as often as every hour.
Content discoverability is a key component of the PressReader platform, and it’s helping to make the site extremely sticky. Consumers evidently value the service and are choosing to consume news on it, and publishers receive royalty payments from PressReader every time their title is opened. Great for publishers on the service, and something of a missed opportunity for those that are not.
Additional Routes to Market
One of the key things Nikolay wanted to stress is that PressReader is not trying to compete with branded content – the aim is to offer new additional distribution channels and content monetisation opportunities that will complement a publisher’s existing arrangements. Indeed, to take advantage of the PressReader service, a publisher doesn’t have to change a thing. Their existing distribution channels, digital strategy, website, mobile apps et al are all unaffected. It is not a binary choice a publisher has to make; all existing routes to market should be maintained and continue to be developed as you’re doing and, in addition, says Nikolay, you should put your titles on PressReader. It’s not either, or; it’s also.
In fact, PressReader goes out of its way to be as hassle-free to the publisher as possible. When a new title gets set up on PressReader, “we never ask the publisher to change the content or the layout of their publication, we only ask sometimes to change the PDF structure received for optimal XML extraction.” To get your title included, all a publisher needs to do is upload their PDFs. PressReader’s automated systems then prepare the edition, run quality control routines and the smart algorithms that prepare the data for the SmartFlow and content discovery components. Within four hours of upload, the edition will go live on the site. Automation is key, enabling PressReader to deliver real scale cost-effectively.
Once a title signs up, PressReader’s content integration team liaises with the publisher’s team to configure and test the processes. Throughout, the emphasis is on minimum interference with publishers’ existing systems. “You could be up and running on PressReader within weeks of reading this article,” says Nikolay.
PressReader is not primarily about giving your existing readers an alternative way of reading your content, it is about exposing your content to new audiences and making money and extending brand reach at the same time. Who then are these new audiences? Readers who get to access PressReader through personal or business subscriptions at any of the 15,000 hotels, libraries and other businesses worldwide, news junkies and the inquisitive who want to consume quality news content from a variety of sources, younger readers who have less affinity to any single news brand, overseas readers, occasional readers, readers of competitor titles, the non-committed… the list goes on. PressReader is all about delivering new readers.
So, it makes you money, costs you nothing, and the additional readers can even be counted on your ABC. What’s not to like?
But what about the cannibals? Oh, yes, the cannibals. Cannibal-phobia has been a problem since the first days of the web, when publishers agonised over creating a website, for fear it would cannibalise print sales. The fact is that, yes, there are some cannibals out there, but their significance is way overstated, says Nikolay. “A publisher might say, ‘We want everyone to subscribe through us’, but not everyone will; nowadays, the reality is, if you’re not there on the main platforms with your content, then you will miss out on opportunities. If you expose your content only to your existing subscribers, how can you grow?”
If publishers had listened to the cannibal-phobic, they would never have launched a website, never have launched an app, and, most likely, would have gone out of business already. Thankfully, most publishers have come to realise this and are much more willing to experiment than they were previously.
A Substantial Operation
Access to over 30m potential readers? Pie in the sky, surely? The exciting thing is that the infrastructure and scale already exists – PressReader is a well-established player in the market, delivering this reach today. The company is not asking publishers to take their proposition on trust. The company has been around since 1999 (initially called NewspaperDirect, but rebranded in November 2013 as PressReader) and has been profitable since 2007, says Nikolay.
Significantly, PressReader already has massive scale; it has over 2,500 titles listed (currently 271 from the UK, 288 from the US, 194 from Australia, and from over 100 other countries, including little Aruba with 2 titles). It has a 100-strong team at its head office in Vancouver, a 225-strong 24/7 operational support facility in the Philippines and a global network of publishing agents and independent sales agents, selling the business subscriptions. In short, it has the infrastructure and track record to deliver on its promises. Nikolay says, “PressReader’s pitch to publishers is not based on unknowns or dependent on wish-fulfilment – it’s a proven and well-established distribution method already.”
It has an historical strength in newspapers but magazines are catching up fast. Future Publishing has recently joined PressReader and readers can now enjoy reading lifestyle and niche titles such as Fast Cars, PC Gamer, T3 and Simply Knitting. Other major magazine publishers are also in the pipeline for inclusion later in the year.
PressReader sees itself as essentially a technology company, and, as such, it is constantly innovating to improve the customer experience. The company spends large amounts on R&D, especially the smart development that enables it to build an intuitive, user-friendly, pleasurable reading experience from the raw materials (PDFs) provided by the publisher. “Flash replicas have little value,” says Nikolay, and that is why so much effort has gone into developing clever tools and functionality to enhance the reader experience. They have invested heavily in HTML5 technology to unify the reading experience across devices; their goal is for the reader experience of PressReader to be uniform across all operating systems and all screen sizes, and it is HTML5 which is enabling them to do this. PressReader’s investment in HTML5 is also allowing publishers to further enhance their presence on the platform without the limitations of app ecosystems.
Ongoing technical innovation, continually striving for the optimum user experience across all devices, is a given for any self-respecting technology company, but PressReader also has a number of very exciting brand goals in the pipeline this year, geared to improving consumer recognition of the PressReader brand, bringing on board more titles including content from web-only publishers, extending its distribution reach in the valuable verticals where it is already so strong and adding an advertising component to the site which will further increase the monetisation opportunities for publishers.
Despite being a fifteen year old operation, no youngster in digital terms, the recent rebrand has given the company renewed impetus and momentum, and the future is incredibly exciting, says Nikolay.
If you want to guard your content jealously, only revealing it to your loyal paid-up subscribers, then put up your barriers and shut out the outside world. But if you know that your content will be of interest to millions of readers and you want to let them sample it in a respected, controlled and monetisable environment, then think seriously about putting your titles on PressReader. You won’t need to change a thing or spend any money to take advantage of this additional route to market. All you need to do is sign on the dotted line. “It’s as simple as that! Contact us to find out more!”, says Nikolay Malyarov.