The future is bright for those who stick to their knitting

For many years, my broker reminded me that I should diversify my investment portfolio, but I didn’t listen. I dabbled in the market, investing in my favorite high tech stocks of the week, thinking I knew what I was doing. I thought, hey, I work in high tech, so I should know the high tech stock market, right? WRONG!

So when the bubble burst in 2000 I was one of those who crashed and burned by over-investing in dot-coms and high tech giants like Nortel. I learned the hard way that I should “stick to my knitting.”    Older and wiser now, my investment eggs are no longer in one basket – they are spread across a diverse set of stocks and bonds, and I feel much more secure in my future than ever before.   I felt the pain of last year like everyone, but my 2008 headache wasn’t the migraine it could have been.

Now what has this got to do with the publishing industry?  Well this week I read a couple of articles in the WSJ that made me want to give someone’s head a shake and remind them about needles and yarn.

First up: Hearst’s plans for a digital magazine/newspaper service called Skiff – a system that will sell publications through a digital storefront on electronic readers and mobile devices in a more appealing way.  Then there was a story about how News Corp. is about to unveil a joint venture to prepare print publications for the next generation of electronic readers and other digital devices.

What great ideas! Why didn’t we think of those?   Oh that’s right….we did!  It’s called!

You know, people who want to reinvent the wheel when they’ve got Michelins and Perillis sitting in their driveways always dumfound me.   Sigh…I guess desperate times lead to desperate measures, but it doesn’t have to be that way…

Let’s take a look at what publishers really want/need, assuming this is what drove Hearst and News Corp. to embark on these initiatives.  Some of their most pressing business priorities are:

1. To have their publications available everywhere in the world in a secure format that protects their content from piracy,
2. Paid content – they want to be paid fairly for every copy read and have every copy recognized as paid circulation by audit bureaus,
3. Platform agnosticism – on today’s devices and on whatever devices the future brings,
4. To offer an engaging and interactive reading experience that their readers love and return to daily,
5. An online advertising platform that provides much higher monetization than existing CPM and CPC models today.

It was exactly these objectives that we set out to address when we conceived and SmartEdition.  These two products offer publishers:
1. Their full-content publication everywhere, with Digital Rights Managed (DRM) built in to every digital file.
2. Paid content – every time someone reads a title on on, that issue is counted as ‘audit paid circulation’ by audit bureaus.
3. Platform agnosticism – today PressDisplay offers over 1300 titles on PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPod Touch and BlackBerry devices and numerous eReaders (The publishers do nothing special to have their publications on those devices – they send us one PDF when they send it to the printers and they are guaranteed to be immediately available on today’s most popular devices and the devices of the future. I wish I could tell you all the cool new devices we have in our labs that will soon have on them (but then I’d have to shoot you. ;)).
4. The most engaging reading experience on the market today with advanced digital features such as: instant translation in up to 12 languages, cross-title search, monitoring, article ranking, bookmarks, on-demand audio, offline reading and social features that allow readers to comment on content and the quality of reporting, share articles, and interact with other readers.
5. A more profitable online advertising model, including:
a) Ad Value Map, which shows advertisers where and when to place ads in digital editions to maximize exposure and ROI; and
b) our Adget technology, which offers publishers a way to safely migrate advertisers from print to online and enjoy a cost-per-transaction model that yields higher ad revenues

Hmmm…Publishers +…sounds like a match made in heaven don’t you think?  Readers certainly think so.  Here’s just one of many testimonials…

“Previously, when facing long car trips as a passenger, I had been downloading full newspapers into the PressReader software and reading them on line on my laptop. Now I have a Blackberry 8700 which displays the articles nicely. And $29.95 per month is hardly expensive for this service. All I did was quit home delivery of the New York Times and it paid for itself!”      Craig, Beaufort, SC.

Successful companies understand that it is imperative to stick to their core competencies, especially in tough markets.    So, Mr. Publisher, may I be so bold as to suggest that you focus on what made you great in the first place – producing your high-value content, NOT the paper it was printed on.  The same is true in the digital world.  Let the experts in digital devices and presentation technology do their thing.  Let digital platform companies like NewspaperDirect do our thing.    Together we are a formidable team. Apart, well…let’s not go there…