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April 2016

What's Hot

Does the new day need a new dawn?

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A month after its launch and, despite good initial feedback, the New Day is lacking a vital ingredient for a newspaper’s survival – readers. As the paper loses traction after its initial sales estimates, does its distribution model need reworking?

In its launch week, Trinity Mirror indicated that circulation figures for the national newspaper were at 150,000, and it looked as if media buyers had a new title to add to print plans. However, the honeymoon period looks short lived, as circulation figures are rumoured to have dropped to just 40,000, just weeks after it first arrived on shelves. And, even though the paper has had difficulties attracting readers with a cover price of 25p, Trinity Mirror has stuck to its original plans to begin trading the paper at 50p after just a fortnight on the shelves.

We all acknowledge that print launches are difficult but several titles have managed to survive in the current climate, and they all have something in common. With the exception of the i, successful launches have carried no cover price, focusing on ad revenue to maintain profitability, and the i, whilst an anomaly, maintained a 20p cover price for over three years to allow it to build a loyal readership, before moving to 40p in January 2014.

The free model has had to develop as consumer behaviour has changed – with the emergence of free, instantly accessible content online, newspapers have to mimic this level of accessibility by being delivered directly to the hands of readers.

Despite copies of the New Day being handed out across the UK last week, the publisher remains loyal to its plans to have a cover price. In fact, its business model is dependent on sales, rather than on advertisers, in order to give consumers a newspaper with limited ad interference.

There is commercial sense in having a cover price – The Sun will sell just shy of £700k worth of newspapers today before an ad is sold. But The Sun can make this work thanks to its established readers, willing to pay 40p for the paper on a weekday. After a price rise last week, readers will now pay 70p on a Saturday and £1 for The Sun on Sunday, allowing the paper to generate £158m for weekend sales annually.

The New Day was launched as a print product for lapsed newspaper readers – those who have fallen out of the habit of buying a daily paper – so the challenge was always to change people’s behaviour and to get them back into newsagents. While it is still early days, this behavioural change is looking unlikely. So, whether this means giving the paper out for free or increasing the number of ad sites across its 40-pages, is it just a matter of time until The New Day sees a new dawn?

What's Hot

What are the key takeaways from this year’s SXSW?

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SXSW fixed a spotlight on emerging technologies and digital trends when the event took place in Austin, Texas, last month. Here we round-up some of the festival’s key findings:

Get ready to cognify
Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired, has created a new word for what he believes is the next tech force that will shape our future. ‘Cognify’ is the act of making something smarter, and he believes that, in a few years’ time, almost every part of our lives will be made smarter with Artificial Intelligence. He, and many others at SXSW, believe that we are entering an era where everything from our fridges to our clothes will be intelligently upgraded to work with AI. Clothes that measure your heart rate or blood glucose levels are just a few examples.

Artificial smartness
Artificial Intelligence has a branding problem, it’s a little too ‘end of the world’ for us to really get behind it. Also, any attempt at making something more human usually results in freakish talking toys that do what we do, but far worse and far slower.
Artificial Smartness is the idea that tech can do what a human can – especially the mundane things in life. A progression from the calculator, or a sat-nav, is perhaps the best way to think about it.
It was interesting to hear that airline pilots now fly for an average of just eight minutes on a flight, but there are clearly many more run-of-the-mill tasks that will be transformed by Artificial Smartness.

Immersive VR vs. Presence VR
SXSW has established that we need more words to describe virtual reality. The explosion in virtual and augmented reality technologies has been phenomenal; with only a few hundred developers capable of programming true VR worlds, the development of video VR tech has smashed these barriers of entry.
Products like Ricoh’s THETA, and the soon to be launched Nikon Key Mission will make what should be defined as ‘Immersive VR’ an everyday immersion into other worlds.
‘Presence VR’, meanwhile, is the development of smart tech that offers real movement and haptic feedback within the worlds. This tech is capable of tricking your mind to seemingly walk in straight lines for miles in a room no bigger than your living room.

So, in conclusion, What’s Hot at SXSW is the usual mix of known-knowns, known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns. Now, we need to start plugging ourselves into the sources of the unknown and develop our own artificial thinking.