South Australia's Independent Weekly Newspaper has launched a new digital initiative by evolving it's popular Indaily HTML newsletter into a daily digital newspaper with rich, unified media using technology from digital publishing services provider, Realview.
Believed to be the first of its kind for independent daily news coverage in Australia, the initiative is helping the publisher win a strong digital voice for independent news coverage in the state.
Mr. Paul Hamra is the managing director of Solstice Media, publisher of the Independent Weekly and Indaily describes the challenges of delivering a stand alone digital publication to his 20,000 registered subscribers.
"As an independent publisher our challenge is to differentiate ourselves from the corporate publishing groups and find innovative ways to expand our market. We're invested in print and web channels which have been supported online through a daily HTML news update to subscribers. What we needed was a way to leverage all that content. We have achieved it by unifying our offerings through the Realview platform," confirms Mr. Hamra. "What subscribers now receive is aesthetically akin to the print addition, but with all the immediacy, interactivity and response provoking mechanisms that make web environments so powerful."
The Realview Unified Media platform has been used to converge the Independent Weekly's print, online and web content into a single, page-turning execution that can be readily marketed, sold, distributed, circulated and measured.
Unified media is new and exciting, but does it pay? According to Paul Hamra, relevant advertisers have been quick to take up the initiative, recognising the Realview Unified Media platform allows them to bring brand, product, service and information objectives together in a single environment. " The brands we work with realise they can develop campaign components that look like print but have the same direct response, click through functions as web advertising but is far less invasive. So far every edition for the next twelve months is secured with a major advertising sponsors so the investment is already producing a return."
The Realview Unified Media platform offers many of the same benefits as a fully flash animated website might. It allows for videos, audio, animated graphics, internal and external links to be incorporated but the end result differs for some powerful reasons, as Paul Hamra explains;
"Going through a service provider like Realview was infinitely more cost effective than contemplating an additional flash development and it offered the added bonus of being more accountable," says Mr. Hamra. "A URL to our website may circulate in a viral fashion but we can't really track this. On the other hand, we can distribute, monitor, measure and account for the circulation of the Indaily digital edition, much the same as we do for print."
The Indaily digital edition also gains the benefit of an automated audit process. Realview is the only digital publishing service provider with an online circulation solution that is approved by the CAB. "This, plus Google analytics adds another layer of credibility to our online statistics and automating the process through Realview means we don't have to apply any resource, which is more effective," says Hamra.
Digital publishing services providers like Realview are a fast emerging sector of the publishing industry. As the only Australian company with a decade in the game, the technology and services of Realview are finding favour amongst Australian publishers who know getting content online is not the same issue as making online channels profitable.
It is with this in mind that Realview chief, Mr. Richard Lindley today expressed his excitement about the way Solstice Media is utilising the Realview Unified Media platform.
"Paul Hamra and his team have the kind of vision that will ensure the future of print publishing in Australia is strong. They've realised they can add value to their print and web investment simply by being innovative about what they do online. It's a shining example of what a publisher with vision can achieve for his readers and his advertisers by using the power of unified media," said Mr. Lindley.
Both Lindley and Hamra agree that advertisers are critical to the success of Unified Media. They say major advertisers will set new benchmarks in the way the Realview converged digital media platform is used and this will pave the way for the rest of the market.
"Print publishers in particular need active examples of brands that are embracing unified media initiatives, as this will pave the way for discussion with their own advertisers," says Mr. Lindley, who also notes it is important to carefully consider accompanying business models if unified media initiatives are to be successful.
"It's not just about taking content online and making it look good. There has to be a clear, sustainable commercial strategy attached. Opportunities do not start and end with the advertising sales team. Marketing, circulation, subscriptions, editorial and production are all stakeholders in the success of unified media projects," observes Mr. Lindley.
Hamra agrees and says the road to success with the Unified Media format has been challenging but rewarding. "It's been a real awakening for me as a publisher and for our advertising clients to realise just how much can be achieved with the Realview Unified Media platform. I believe this is the future of publishing."
OPINION/FEEDBACK TO THE EDITOR