The Mario Blog
Montreal’s La Presse+ says adieu to print!

La Presse+ is one of the most experimental media houses in the globe. Its tablet edition is perhaps the most interesting and successful anywhere. Their experimentation and innovation continues as La Presse+ becomes a digital only operation by the end of 2017.

It is a product we have admired since its inception. La Presse+, the French-language publication, shows all that a newspaper can do in a tablet format.  But it is also successful in terms of its monetization. While La Presse+ is free, it derives its revenue from advertising which is creative and very tailor-made for the tablet.

When La Presse+, the tablet edition, was introduced in 2011, its managers announced that it one day might replace the printed edition, which has existed for 133 years.  The daily print edition ceased to exist December 31, 2015, although a weekend print edition has continued to be published on Saturday.s

Last week, La Presse+ president, Pierre-Elliott Levasseur, announced that La Presse+ will be only digital as of January 1, 2018, completing a transformation that began

“As soon as we stopped daily publication of the print edition, the great majority of our readers did not take long to modify its reading habits, adopting La Presse+, not just for their daily reading, but also Saturdays. So, as of 2016, about 18.7% of the readership was in print, with more than 273,000 readers reading exclusively on their tablets. The same has happened with our advertisers, and today 90% of our advertising revenue comes from digital platforms.”

Levasseur is aware that stopping the weekend print edition may affect some of the readership:

We are aware that the end of the print edition published on Saturdays will affect the reading habits of some of our most loyal readers, some of whom are long time subscribers of La Presse. That is the reason why we are announcing the change months in advance, with our objective being that of creating a smooth and respectful transition. We are taking steps to guarantee that our proposal for this change is evolutionary to facilitate the transition of these readers to La Presse+

With this final step of transformation from print to digital, La Presse+ completes a period of great change at all levels: journalistic, technological, commercial.

I think that La Presse+ becomes a classic and successful case study of a company that opted for the ultimate disruption and has achieved success as a result.  These same changes are facing every newsroom that I visit. Not all are ready for dramatic transformation as we have seen with La Presse+, but I recommend that publishers and editors everywhere become familiar with La Presse+, not just its great tablet product, but also how they advanced internally to achieve such success.

Previously in TheMarioBlog about La Presse+

As a fan of everything La Presse+ does, I have profiled the specifics of La Presse’s approach to storytelling (very visual), technology (revolutionary and efficient) and advertising (innovative and creative). Some highlights:

–Storytelling and user experience

–Concern for storytelling and the user experience: Here is a newspaper that did not simply transfer the “print version” of stories to the tablet.  Storytelling raised to a new level here, more visual, more designed for touch, engaging the reader with multimedia elements. This was happening in 2011, long before our notions of visual storytelling for mobile platforms became as widespread as it is today.  I have always admired the editors work with engineers to guarantee that the user experience is as efficient as possible.






From the start, La Presse+’s advertising involved unique, tablet-driven ads that allowed for users to engage with the content of the products sold.  Talk about making the finger happy! The La Presse+ team created a series of ad formats that were anything but static.  The user could run her finger over an automobile and change the color, of swipe through a catalog of travel choices.

The team also knew that the advertising agencies were not ready to provide those type of ads.  They had to invent them themselves, and provide a catalog of such choices for their advertising clients.



The LaPresse+ technology team compared the traditional news website to a vending machine experience, with the users in and out in 3 minutes.

The team then entered into an 18-month period of creating, prototyping and testing.

First step was to determine how information was consumed on a typical news website: inventory of news story, selection, delivery, consumption and back button.



What we know about La Presse+

–It has gained 30% more readers since stopping its daily print edition at the end of 2015.

–It was developed over a two-year period at a cost of CAN$ 40 million. The result was a tablet edition unlike any other, and one that has continually sought to make the most of the tablet platform. It has routinely been cited by industry experts as one of the best tablet editions in the world.

–It ceased publication of the daily print edition Dec. 31, 2015, publishing only a Saturday weekend print edition.

–It created its own advertising/creative team internally to provide ads for its clients.

–It gathered a group of engineers to create the La Presse+ that exists today. Editors working together with technical types to come up with a product that is based on the best journalistic and storytelling practices from print, but adapted to the new mobile platforms and designed for touch.

–Starting Jan. 1, 2018, La Presse+ completes its transformation to a digital only publication.


What’s the French-language newspaper scene like in Montreal and Quebec province?


There are two  remaining French-language dailies in Montreal — the tabloid Le journal de Montréal and broadsheet Le Devoir — plus one English-language daily, the Montreal Gazette.
Then there are two French-language freebies that are given away mostly at subway entrances, plus smaller community papers serving suburbs.

Here’s the Montreal Gazette’s announcement of La Presse+’s news

Speaking Engagements Coming Up

SIPConnect 2017, to be held in Miami June 21-23, is a program of the Inter American Press Association, IAPA, or SIP (Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa).  The venue will be the Hilton Miami Downtown Hotel.


Join us at the SIPConnect Hemispheric Conference 2017. Organized by the IAPA, SIPConnect is a gathering of media and digital businesses to encourage more audiences and higher revenues. It’s a laboratory for new ideas and successful experiences for the digital transformation. As in the 2016 successful meeting that was attended by media from the US, Latin America and the Caribbean, experts in digital businesses and representatives of innovative companies will participate in this event.

For more information

 TheMarioBlog post #2644




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