Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Reinventing digital editions

In recent years, we’ve seen that newspapers are re-discovering the power of editions as their core and unique value proposition. After years of investing in the “news flow”, they have learned that their most loyal and profitable audiences are actually hooked by carefully curated and packaged publications.

That’s why at Twipe we launched the research project “Reinventing Digital Editions”. This fits very well with our DNA as technology innovators for edition-based publishing. We analyzed successful digital-only editions, defined as digital publications with a clear beginning and end, published on a more than monthly basis, and with no print counterpart containing the exact same content.

To begin, we took up the challenge of listing all the digital-only editions that existed, but we quickly found that the market was not as mature as we had expected. Other than a few stand out examples in Europe, there are not many digital-only editions available today. From this we wondered what had driven the creation of these editions and what commonalities they had that led to their success.

Analysis of the editions served as the first ever benchmarking for digital-only editions, and found common factors in terms of format and navigational structure, publishing frequency and time, length and amount of non-news content, and features. In addition to the analysis, interviews with leaders behind these editions revealed the key motivations in developing these new innovative, digital-only editions.

In total eight leading digital-only editions were studied:

•  Handelsblatt10 from Handelsblatt (Germany)

•  DN+ from Diario de Navarra (Spain)

•  La Matinale from Le Monde (France)

•  Welt Edition from Die Welt (Germany)

•  L’édition du Soir from Ouest-France (France)

•  Espresso from The Economist (UK)

•  The Independent Daily Edition from The Independent (UK)

•  12 from Tamedia (Switzerland)

Some of these digital-only editions replace the entire print publication, like The Independent, which became digital-only due to business needs. Other editions target new, complementary audiences, like L’édition du Soir (Ouest-France). Ouest-France noticed a trend in their readers of wanting something more light-hearted to read in the evening, so they created L’édition du Soir which has an emphasis on games and interactive stories. Other editions, such as Welt Edition, come from a pure desire to innovate—when they first started development, they didn’t even know what the iPad would be called, they just knew they wanted to be the first on the German market with a newspaper tablet app. The rest of the editions emerged from a need to serve time-crunched readers who feel overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of news. The Economist’s Espresso is one such edition, positioning itself as a “shot of daily news” for people on the go.

From the benchmarking and common factors of the editions themselves plus interviews with the innovation leaders, six key best practices for digital-only editions emerged.

For your own free copy of the full report with the 6 key success factors for digital-only editions, please contact mary-katharine.phillips@twipemobile.com

Mary-Katharine Phillips