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Accenture Media & Entertainment Point of View

Tableta Rasa
Combining traditional reader experiences with innovative
digital channels to drive a new era of profitability for
the newspaper industry

A tabula rasa or “clean slate” suggests the ability to write a

new future on the foundation of the past. In this article, Accenture
thought leaders ask whether the iPad™ and similar products might
be a “tableta rasa” for the newspaper industry — the hope of a new
era of profitability. The authors explore the implications of tablet
computers on the reading experiences and business models needed
to generate sustainable revenues.
Executive Summary

A tabula rasa or “clean slate” suggests the ability to write a new

future on the foundation of the past. The iPad and similar technologies
could be a “tableta rasa” for the newspaper industry: a chance to bring
about a new era of profitability. Being a first mover in any industry is
never free from risk, of course. Yet, tablets represent a huge opportunity
for the newspaper industry, and the time to act is now.

Apple’s iPad has arrived on the market to retain the best aspects of the print refined over hundreds of years — while
to great acclaim, joining — but in many experience, while also using the unique also integrating innovative capabilities
ways surpassing — the functionality capabilities of digital and online to of the online world, captures the best of
and usability of other kinds of digital offer enhanced functionality and both worlds.
readers in the marketplace. Among deepen relationships with users.
To be appealing to consumers to the point
the industries that have embraced the
• How business models should be crafted where they will pay for the product, a
iPad with great enthusiasm have been
to capture multiple revenue streams — tablet newspaper must deliver a satisfying
publishers — specifically publishers
something that eluded the publishing experience to them. We believe that ideal
of newspapers and magazines. These
business during the initial move of experience is one based in large measure
companies have been hit hard by the
content to an online environment. on the print paradigm.
recession but, at a deeper level, by
The kind of product newspapers and
the great sea change of the digital
magazines should be seeking to create By bringing together the print experience
revolution, which has dramatically
needs to not only secure revenue from with online capabilities in a tablet
changed user behaviors as well as
readers (which no newspaper has yet edition, newspapers have the chance to
revenue streams.
successfully managed with digital increase revenue streams in three ways.
High-powered tablet computers — content) but also ensure that two other Online functionality delivered in the
offering full multimedia and online critical revenue streams are captured: context of a familiar reading paradigm
capabilities — represent a new advertising revenues as well as add-on can give consumers value beyond the
opportunity for newspaper publishers. products or embedded shops. free versions found online—value for
However, it’s an opportunity they could which they will pay. In addition, online
If they are to catch what may be the
miss unless they focus in particular and digital capabilities can increase
“last profitability train” represented
on two key aspects of the tablet trend revenue streams from advertising and
by the tablet phenomenon, newspapers
and adapt themselves and their add-on products. All three of these
need to bring together these two
channels accordingly: revenue streams are now critical for
considerations. Appealing to the
newspapers’ survival.
• How a newspaper or magazine on a successful print experience — successful
tablet should be ultimately designed design and experience philosophies

Many if not most traditional newspaper and magazine publishers were

trampled in the mad rush to the online world. The industry itself made
some bad decisions, to be sure, but it also was in many ways a victim
of circumstances beyond its control. Companies pushed to get content
online quickly. Only later did they ask the vital question of where the
money was going to come from to sustain the digital wave.
Newspapers and magazines now find The iPad and other kinds of digital If there is discontent among many
themselves bucking a very difficult readers therefore represent a compel- consumers of online content, it is that
psychological phenomenon: Once ling opportunity for newspaper it is too limitless and freeform. The
people get something for free for long publishers: Consumers are not likely iPad and other kinds of tablets present
enough, they’re not very supportive of to be content paying for the same old the possibility of creating an extremely
getting the same old thing but then daily newspaper or Sports Illustrated powerful user experience — one
having to pay for it. Publishers such as they’ve been getting for free online. combining the best of both worlds,
the venerable New York Times tried to But they might be willing to pay for traditional and digital.
charge readers for certain premium the different kind of experience of
Second, companies must avoid
content, but backed down after only an innovatively designed e-version
repeating the mistakes of the late
a few months. Human nature is a hard delivered to their tablets.
1990s when their business models
thing to change. Indeed, a recent
This means companies must plan were taken unawares by the online
Adweek Media/Harris poll found that
carefully along two related dimensions phenomenon. They must leverage the
only 23 percent of US Internet users
— one creative and the other economic. right business models to tap into all
are willing to pay anything for online
three revenue streams: from readers,
newspaper content.1 A similar poll by First, they must deeply understand
advertisers and partners. It’s an
Harris Interactive in the United the kind of unique user or reader
approach that could bring many
Kingdom found that 72 percent of experience that has long been associ-
newspapers back from
Internet users would not be willing to ated with their printed brand — and
the brink of disaster.
pay more than £10 for an annual then use that understanding to design
subscription to a news-paper website.2 the kind of tablet experience worth
paying for.

Tableta Rasa 1
The Paper Chase
Creating a uniquely compelling user experience

Print media of course have suffered significant decline over the past few
years. Yet millions of people still get their news on a typical day from
traditional or offline newspapers and magazines.
A March 2010 Pew Internet & A sense of completion movie. This sense of having the design
American Life Project and Pew Project The digital, online world, for all its reinforce points and direct readers to
for Excellence in Journalism report engaging qualities, is nevertheless what is critical is largely missing from
found, for example, that 38 percent daunting in its sense of total limitless- an online media experience.
of US adults get their news only ness. Its hyperlinked nature means
Better sense of control and
from offline resources, and that an that one is never really “done” reading
additional 59 percent leverage a something online. With a traditional
Newspapers are easy to use and handle
combination of offline and online newspaper, on the other hand, one has
and they provide a comfortable and
sources. Only 2 percent of adults get a sense of reading, as the New York
familiar format. Readers have a broader
their news solely online.3 That’s a Times slogan puts it, “all the news
understanding of how much they have
powerful argument in favor of a that’s fit to print” for that day. Being
read and how much material is left.
traditional newspaper reading able to say “I’ve read today’s newspa-
experience. per” provides a sense of completion. Interesting research has recently been
This is one reason people save piles of conducted by Anne Mangen, published
Since that is the case, newspapers
unread newspapers at home: they want in the Journal of Research in Reading.
designing a mobile or tablet experience
to complete that task. No one, on the Mangen — a reading specialist at the
must keep in mind what has made
other hand, is saving old Web pages. National Center for Reading Research
them successful from a usability
and Education at Stavanger University
perspective. Here are some aspects of More enticing layout
in Norway — explores what she calls
the traditional print experience that a Layout is an art, and the layout of
the “intangibility and volatility of the
tablet newspaper designer should keep a print piece is part of the aesthetic
digital text” as compared with an
in mind: experience as well as something that
experience of text on paper. Digital
enhances comprehension and emphasis
texts are intangible and detached
of key points. The unique mix of
from a physical referent.
pictures, text and ads in a paper tells
a story, just like a commercial or a

2 Tableta Rasa
And, she says, "materiality matters." More powerful advertising The point here is that the differentiating
The relationship a reader has with a experiences characteristics of a print experience
physical text will differ from that of Newspapers are often strong brands mean something — they speak to
a digital text. Turning the page of a with clear attributes to which something deep-seated in human
newspaper or magazine (or book) is advertisers want to connect. And beings and how they are disposed to
a literal touch of the thing you read. those attributes tend to be more firmly consume information. As newspapers
"The digital text,” on the other hand, embedded in the printed paper than design themselves for the tablet world,
“has no material substance." As a the online edition. A 2008 Yankelovich they need to appreciate the things
consequence, Mangen argues, the study argues provocatively that ads in that have made them great in the past.
digital text makes us read "in a traditional media such as newspapers They then have a better opportunity
shallower, less focused way." 4 and magazines are more likely to make to design a tablet experience that
a positive impression on the people is differentiated and that takes
reading or receiving them, compared advantage of the rich online world,
with ads running in digital media. and yet is still rooted in the familiar.
This combination could yield greater
The reason is because people consum-
reader loyalty and therefore greater
ing traditional media are more apt to
be in a positive mood. They are more
relaxed, and more likely to be receptive
to the diversion of a magazine and the
advertising it contains. 5

Tableta Rasa 3
The Digital Boost
Enhancing the print experience with online technologies

By building on a foundation of the tried and true when it comes to

the tablet experience, newspapers have an opportunity to extend their
brand onto new devices by boosting the printed experience with online
technologies. This could be an offering that consumers might find worth
paying for. It could also increase revenue streams from advertisers and
from partners selling products thorough embedded shops.
The paradigm for design needs to be Advanced tracking Apps: Making it easy to pay
the experience readers have come to Marketing managers are under in- Mobile users are now paying for digital
expect from the print version of a creased pressure to validate their content, and this is a booming market.
newspaper or magazine. The content choice of media investments. Bringing The Yankee Group reports that U.S.
needs to be deep, the quality high and online tracking possibilities to the consumers will download almost
date numbering of each edition can traditional idea of a newspaper ad 1.6 billion apps in 2010, and that
provide the feeling of completion. makes possible pricing schemes based those numbers will swell to more than
on outcomes. This creates a win-win 6 billion by 2014. Even more impressive,
Tablet editions can continuously update
situation for the newspaper and the paid app revenue will swell from
news and information — an important
advertiser. (For more on this topic, see $1.6 billion this year to more than $11
value-add of the online world — yet
“How to energize your digital revenues,” billion in 2014. “Despite conventional
these updates to the daily version can
Accenture, Outlook Journal, February wisdom that says apps want to be free,”
still be made within the context of a
2010.)6 the report notes, app stores are training
stable layout and design on a tablet
consumers that they need to pay a few
version. In effect, a tablet delivering Embedded shops
bucks for quality phone apps.” Almost
a “digital print” product combines the Online technologies mean that
a third of downloaded apps are now
best of both worlds for consumers newspapers can offer partners the
paid apps, up significantly from the
(See Figure 1). opportunity to sell add-on products
18 percent level of a year ago.7
just one click away from the primary
Here are some of the additional
content being consumed. Because of Apps have initially focused on software
functions of online technologies that
the large numbers of readers drawn and programs, but the consumption
show how to provide a “digital boost”
to a newspaper or magazine with high of information apps is also growing.
to the traditional print experience,
brand value, embedded shops can be Apps can also create differentiated
creating a profitable tablet newspaper
a significant new revenue source. experiences for how to consume the
news content, enabling the same
look and feel of the traditional print

4 Tableta Rasa
Figure 1
An effective tablet newspaper will be one that combines the best of the print and
online worlds.

Printed Tablet
Newspaper (iPad) Online

Type of content: In-depth In-depth General

Feel: Quality Quality Cheap

Sense of completion: High High Low (endless info)

Price for reader: $$$ $–$$ Free

Frequency of updates: Once a day About 3 times a day Live

Unique selling proposition for ads: Brand Brand and actionable Actionable

Cost for material and distribution: High Low Low

Adaptable content and ads: Low High Mid to high

Access: Physical App Browser

experience. They then become not only Improved knowledge of readers The merging of media:
the most logical method for accessing Information about online readers’ Providing more effective
the content, but also for capitalizing habits, content likes and dislikes can and interactive advertising
on readers’ willingness to pay for the enable content providers and advertisers Online newspapers can go beyond
printed experience on a tablet device. to target their messages, which static news in one format (text) to a
increases relevance and value for multimedia experience that includes
These apps can also create better
money. The same applies when video and audio content. The enhanced
“stickiness”— holding a customer for
newspapers themselves advertise user experience for readers also
longer periods of time. As a recent
their add-on products. The improved enhances the power of advertising,
Enders report puts it, “People can easily
knowledge of readers is possible on as well, blurring the boundaries
abandon a desktop website that ‘goes
tablets but is slightly tricky to apply between TV, online and print.
pay’ — they will less readily abandon
in practice. Apple, for example, does
an iPhone or iPad app, once installed.” 8 The ability to deliver enhanced
not share customer information with
advertising makes the hybrid print/
Social media software providers. A way around that
digital tablet product especially
The online experience can link readers is to have a onetime registration
attractive to the publishing industry.
to each other via social networking when a consumer downloads the app.
The traditional print ad will be boosted
applications (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, This is an extra step, meaning that
with the new online technology of
etc.) bringing more people together in some readers may opt out; to counter
interactive media such as rotatable
a timelier way to discuss their views. that effect, companies may need to
products, links to advertisers’ sites,
Online editions of newspapers have offer readers some sort of reward or
embedded shops and more possibilities
become part of the social media compensation for completing that step.
to boost advertisers’ direct return on
revolution, and tablets can capitalize
their spend.
on this phenomenon. (See box,
“Getting the tablet experience right”
for one promising demonstration of
this capability.)

Tableta Rasa 5
6 Tableta Rasa
In the end, newspapers will end up with features like a video interview with What unique capabilities and function-
three interrelated products: traditional the author?” Electronic versions of ality of the iPad are really being
print, online and tablet versions. How publications, says Olson, “can be a leveraged if one is basically just putting
companies deal with and integrate much richer and deeper experience the online edition on the tablet? How
these formats is critically important. than anything we’ve seen before.”9 is the tablet channel being used in a
Even as publishers think about bun- unique way? Companies must carefully
One model suggested in a recent
dling products, they still need to worry consider their tablet strategy if they
Harvard Business School case study
about differentiating between them are to forge a sustainable business
— a model applied to the e-book
in terms of uniqueness and value. model.
market, but just as applicable to the
That will be crucial to avoiding the
newspaper business — is to bundle
mistakes the industry made in the first
the print and digital product together.
online wave. Here there is some cause
Harvard Business School professor
for concern. Several newspapers are
Peter Olson argues that digital and
simply emulating the design of their
print versions should not necessarily
online editions on the iPad. This is risky
be viewed as adversaries. “Why not
both in terms of a differentiated reader
offer both and see if you can make the
experience and in terms of generating
market more attractive, with additional
new revenue sources.

Getting the tablet experience right

What does an ideal tablet newspaper use our products and actually feel like but also to create more innovative
experience look and feel like in they’re touching them. That’s critical advertising. Such ads can draw a
practice? Numerous newspapers and for a magazine experience.”10 reader or viewer into a more engaging
magazines are rushing to deliver tablet experience and interaction with a
editions to their readers, and several The tablet magazine incorporates brand. Newspapers can then monetize
demos of these products can now be multi-touch gesture support, anima- such advertising more effectively by
viewed online. One especially promis- tion and an in-app purchase system, charging marketers a premium for
ing tablet magazine is Popular among other capabilities. Video is those extra ad features, and for more
Science+, developed by its publisher, embedded, as are interactive features. predictably delivering on targeted
Bonnier, in association with BERG, If an article or photo is particularly outcomes.
a London-based design firm. appealing, a user can call up the
built-in keyboard and send the item In the end, however, it’s the faith-
The tablet version is based on consid- to friends on Facebook or other social fulness to the traditional reading
erable research into how people networking programs. experience, while augmenting it with
consume traditional magazines. The the iPad functionality, that creates the
result is a product that delivers the As newspaper and magazine primary value proposition for a tablet
spirit of the print magazine with the companies experiment with this new newspaper or magazine. What you
advantages of the iPad. According to technology and art form, they must want is for a reader not to feel as if
Bonnier’s director of research and continue to push the envelope of they’re reading an iPad; what they
development Sara Öhrvall, “The beauty tablet capabilities and offerings. This should feel is that they’re reading a
of the iPad for a publisher is that, for includes the enhanced usage of video very high-tech magazine.11
the first time, readers and users can and audio, not only to deliver content

Tableta Rasa 7
Sustainable Business Models

Effectively designed, a tablet newspaper represents the best of both

the online and print worlds. It also gives newspaper companies the
opportunity to forge a business model that can sustain their business,
enabling three revenue streams: readers, advertisers and add-on products.
1. Readers likely will be more willing to advertising features of tablet editions. 3. The purchase of add-on products can
pay for the unique capabilities of a tablet Readers are accustomed to seeing be enabled through embedded shops
newspaper edition. As discussed, tablets advertisements in a magazine layout within a tablet newspaper—both white-
deliver a more compelling user experience and so do not find them as intrusive as label shops and B2B partnerships. Such
than online editions, with engaging pop-ups and banner ads in Web editions. shops represent a revenue sharing
layouts, a more tactile way of interacting With media capabilities that enable partnership for newspapers with third-
with content and a sense of completion interaction with products being adver- party vendors. These embedded shops
that cannot be achieved on the Web. tised, combined with the consumer can now be situated in a more optimal
targeting capabilities of digital editions, setting: placement in the trustworthy
2. Advertisers may be willing to pay tablet advertising presents a unique environment of a newspaper,
more for the engaging and interactive value proposition. offering the enhanced functionality of
an online store. (See Figure 2.)
Figure 2
Comparing revenue opportunities of print, online and tablet newspapers
Revenue Source Non-tradional readers
purchasing add-on products and
Readers Advertisers B2B advertising partnerships

Type of Product

8 Tableta Rasa
Does a Tablet Truly Deliver a Superior Experience?

If one moves beyond marketplace hype, especially over the release of

the iPad, does a tablet truly deliver a superior experience — one that
actually offers newspapers a ticket to profitability? We believe it does.
Current e-readers with e-ink technology, feel the screen of a mobile phone is Tablets also represent an opportunity
for example, offer a great reading simply too small to deliver on the for the book publishing industry
experience, but one that is still primarily central value proposition of an because they are more versatile and
black and white. They effectively mimic enhanced print experience. deliver a superior overall experience
the experience of reading a book, but than most current e-readers. A tablet
do not support the kinds of enhanced Compared to black-and-white version of a book could effectively
experiences just mentioned. At this e-readers, and to mobile smartphones, mimic the paper book reading experi-
point, at least, they also cannot support a more versatile tablet like the iPad ence, while also offering interactive,
the three revenue streams mentioned can open up a more creative experience multimedia, hyperlinked functionality.
above. Revenues are mostly restricted for the reader that more closely One can envision creative revenue
to readers’ purchase of books, with resembles the printed paper experience. streams through online books including
few possibilities for advertisers and The willingness of consumers to pay for the kinds of product placements now
partnerships with add-on products. apps can also increase revenue streams seen in most Hollywood movies. Tablet-
from readers, as well as other revenue based books, therefore, also offer
A mobile handheld or smartphone
sources including advertising and publishers the opportunity to tap into
constitutes another relevant device.
add-on products in embedded shops. the three primary revenue streams of
It can deliver much of the enhanced
the next generation of publishing.
functionality of a tablet newspaper But the iPad and other tablets repre-
and also offers the possibility of sent just the beginning of a boom in
capturing revenue streams from new products. When e-readers evolve
advertising and online shops. But a with super-thin color displays — such
question mark remains over whether as Qualcomm’s Mirasol screen which
they can capture the loyalty of the offers long battery power and visibility
readers themselves. Many observers even in bright sunlight — they too will
be able to deliver the hybrid print/
digital experience.

Tableta Rasa 9
Next Steps for Newspapers

For newspapers and magazines to catch this last train to profitability —

the richer revenue streams of hybrid print/digital products —
they should take the following steps.
Differentiate your product builds on the power of the print to be a necessary part of the bargain —
Creating a profitable tablet edition experience. Apple’s software developer something that telecommunications
means differentiating it clearly from kit (SDK) for the iPad is already available companies have done for many years
the free online product. This could be and SDKs for other platforms will soon with mobile phones. Leveraging that
achieved by reducing the depth of follow. business model offers a big advantage:
online content and restricting new consumers locked into multi-year
advertising formats. Because online Involve your readers in the evolution contracts.
is free, readers should get what they of tablet newspapers
pay for. It is likely that newspapers The kind of interactive, ongoing Move quickly
will need to discontinue their current relationships possible through tablet No revolutionary development like a
efforts to offer formatted pdf-type editions of newspapers offer companies tablet newspaper comes without risk.
editions and newspapers, as these will the opportunity to involve them in Many companies have legitimate
continue to be barriers to moving this exciting wave of publishing. Invite concerns about moving into this next
readers to the more profitable platform your readers to help develop innovative phase of newspaper publishing. What
of tablet editions. Newspapers must applications, new kinds of content and if newspapers bet big on tablets, only
beware of the “good enough” free additional features. This kind of closer to find that others don’t follow and
option. If consumers feel they’re getting involvement can lead to increased decide to continue to launch free apps?
most of what they need for free, they loyalty, willingness to pay and better We believe, however, that there is a
will not be incented to move to more product development. first-mover advantage right now in the
profitable platforms. (See Figure 3.) tablet space. The current financial state
Lower the device barrier to entry
of newspapers means that competitors
Tablets like the iPad are currently at
Develop innovative and engaging are likely to follow, as they cannot
a price point beyond many younger
applications afford not to. The mistakes made with
readers in particular. Although the price
Get involved in application develop- the first online wave are still fresh in
is likely to come down, subsidizing your
ment to create a new way of designing every newspaper’s memory.
readers’ purchase of a tablet is likely
and delivering digital content that

10 Tableta Rasa
Figure 3
The print and digital experiences: Creating a “best of both worlds” tablet newspaper

Books Close to printed

user experience,
however limited
revenue sources

Books & e-Ink

Pockets Reader

Print Digital

Newspapers Close to printed Close to online

user experience, experience with
but with three low reader willingness
revenue sources to pay = free

Best of
* iPad Risky

both worlds of online

product product

Print Digital

Tableta Rasa 11
A new era for newspapers

Tablet computers are a significant opportunity for the newspaper and

magazine industry.
By building on, but also enhancing, a Contact us For more information about Accenture’s
familiar user experience of print media, For more information on how Accenture Media & Entertainment industry
companies have a chance to catch can help your company achieve practice go to:
the last profitability train leaving the high performance by enhancing your mediaandentertainment
station. The competitive advantage of customers’ content experience and
a tablet-based newspaper is based not improving your publishing revenue
just on what to consume, but how it’s streams please contact:
consumed. If newspapers demonstrate
Fredrik Lindros
their ability to draw devoted and loyal
Accenture Strategy
readers, advertisers are sure to follow.
Media & Entertainment
But only time will tell.
Executing a tablet strategy is not +46 8 451 3599
without some risks. But the greater
Hans Skruvfors
risk is likely to be waiting too long to
Accenture Strategy
take advantage of what may be the
Media & Entertainment
last major opportunity for newspaper
and magazine publishers to transform
+46 8 451 3883
their prospects and achieve high
performance in the digital age. Niclas Poldahl
Accenture Media & Entertainment Lead
Nordic Region
+46 8 451 3564

12 Tableta Rasa
1. eMarketer, March 2010. “Paid 5. “When Advertising Works” Yankelovich, 10. Source:
E-Publishing Content: Books, Newspapers June 2008. apps-for-ipad/popular-science/
and Magazines,” by Paul Verna.
6. 11. To see an online demo of the Bonnier
2. Source: Harris Interactive commissioned Research_and_Insights/Outlook/Journal/ tablet design, go to:
by paidContent: UK, September 20, 2009. Feb2010/digitalrevenues.htm
3. “Understanding the Participatory News 7. Yankee Group, “Forecasting the U.S. iAZCr6canvw
Consumer: How Internet and Cell Phone Mobile App Gold Rush,” September 2009.
Another demonstration of the possibilities
Users Have Turned News into a Social
8. “Can mobile save print publishers?” of tablet editions comes from Wired
Experience,” March 1, 2010, Pew Internet
by Benedict Evans, Enders Analysis, magazine, in association with Adobe.
& American Life Project and Pew Project
February 2010. That demo can be seen at:
for Excellence in Journalism.
9. “HBS Cases: iPads, Kindles, and the
4. “Screen Reading and Print Reading,”
Close of a Chapter in Book Publishing,” by T0D4avXwMmM
by Mark Bauerlein <
Julia Hanna. Q&A with Peter Olson, April 5,
2010, Harvard Business School Working
Bauerlein/77/> , The Chronicle of Higher
Education, October 21, 2009.

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