E-papers: from identical to print editions to enhanced versions
It is the era of the media quintet and, with the arrival of smartwatches, the onset of "at a glance journalism". Yet, we also see that, indeed, readers tend to like reading their newspaper as an e-paper. We have seen that preference come up in focus groups. Those who like to flip through the pages of their printed newspaper on a tablet or other device insist that it keeps them closer to the newspaper reading experience with which they are familiar.
Especially on iPads, e-papers seem to do well. Those readers of e papers insist, however, that the e paper experience is not enough all by itself.
Now those guys at VisioLink, the Danish firm that brings many titles to e papers, has done some research that reveals what readers of e-papers truly want.
"The importance of the e-paper on smartphones, tablets and pc’s is still growing in importance for the reader base, meaning a transition of paper readers to digital readers is also happening in this reader segment, " says Lars Ørhøj , Chief Marketing Officer for VisioLink.
For those who may not be familiar with e-papers: they are a replica of the printed edition of the newspaper, but accessible through digital platforms. In some cases, enhancements are available, such as watching a video where a photo originally appear, or being able to engage with links. But, to date, the power of e-papers has been the familiarity they allow for traditional readers making inroads in the world of digital.
That seems to be changing slightly according to the latest VisioLink research, where the "parallel" or "identical" layout of e-papers with their printed versions does not appear to be so important.
Here is the conclusion of the VisioLink research team:
E-paper and the printed newspaper an important factor. However, between our benchmark periods there also seems to be indications that the dominant design of the traditional newspaper is experiencing a slight opposition as 24% (up from 11%) of respondents now regard the resemblance unimportant. It is our clear perception, that this slight recession owes credit to the readers’ gradual exposure to new digital features in the Epaper. By gradually gaining acceptance of new, sophisticated features, the Epaper is slowly changing the way readers associate with the news consumption situation. This might serve as an early premonition to the impending transformation of the dominant design of the E-paper.
In both 2014 and 2015 Visiolab (the Business Intelligence and consulting unit of Visiolnk) conducted extensive user surveys that aimed to track important behavior and preference tendencies among e-paper readers. The survey included readers of e-papers of nine newspapers in six European countries.
Among the findings:
1. The printed newspaper’s format is still deeply embedded in the reader’s association with news consumption, and for this reason the development of new, sophisticated designs have been met with resistance among readers, in spite of their ease of navigation, enhanced connectedness or general superiority.
2. The stability of reading motivates readers. When asked what motivates their use of the e-paper, there appears to be a broad consensus among respondents that points towards the constant availability of news through its digital distribution. Armed with a tablet, a smartphone or a laptop, anyone can now receive daily updates from their favorite news provider anywhere in the world. As can be inferred from the graph below, there has been close to no deviation in the profound appreciation of availability among readers between our two benchmarking periods.
3. Assessment of the e-paper’s design. Although e-paper readers are experiencing recurrent adjustments to their e-paper design in the shape of improvements and feature implementations, they have grown to appreciate the accompanying expansion of possibilities.
4. Varying ads preferences. The revenue from advertisements nowadays is a necessity for the survival of news providers. However, when the topic of ads appears to respondents a profound sense of skepticism occurs with many. Most of them have learned to accept their presence as a necessity of the better pricing of the e-paper, while others openly express their disdain.
E-papers will be part of the subject for a one-day conference devoted to digital storytelling. Sponsored by VisioLink, the June 8 workshop will attract participants from several countries.
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