Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself: The Daily iPad App Analysis
August 8, 2012 by Joy Curtis
Thanks to Ron Matejko of The Publishing Executive for his article on the state of the sensation that was The Daily. I found myself saying, "Yes! Exactly!" as I read it, so you might find yourself nodding and cheering with his arguments regarding The Daily’s current circumstances as well.
For those who prefer an executive summary over the full article, allow me to paraphrase (with some poetic license):
Recent cutbacks in The Daily’s staff does not
exemplify the struggles of digital publishing; however, it does prove
large payouts for flat content doesn’t produce a return.
The Daily is not the standard of, or even representative of, a start-up digital only publishing endeavor. From first publication (wracking up somewhere near $50 million in expenses) to promotion to staffing, The Daily’s motto seemed to be excess. This is not typical start-up mentality, and is not the path other successful digital-only publications follow. Their strategy didn’t seem to account for lack of iPad market penetration (if you remember such a time) or new technology capabilities as they dumped resources in development and large staff.
As with any publishing venture, content has to be worth paying for, either in dollars or in time. According to Matejko, The Daily’s "bland" content was not enough to grab and keep avid readers. The static design of The Daily also contributed to a lackadaisical reader response: "How about including audio or video files from interviews as extras, more slideshows or follow up interviews with reporters to add behind the scenes input beyond what story space allotted?" I ask the same thing, Mr. Matejko.
Interestingly, Matejko also mentions the Flipboard format for news consumption wasn’t as intuitive for screens, noting the horizontal format (swiping from page to page) was more natural.
With advertising trends shifting online and readers proving they’ll pay for good content online, I’m flummoxed as to why people would hold The Daily as proof digital doesn’t work. We have several clients who are successfully producing and maintaining digital-only publications, without $50 million budgets. Check out GRAND magazine, a digital only publication for grandparents, also available as an iPad app. Connections magazine serves their local chamber of commerce and has never had a print component. LocumLife is digital only (though part of a larger brand) and already has a track record of using the sponsorship spots around their digital edition and adding animations to ads within the digital edition.
Set your digital only publication up for success, not extravagant spending.