How to take on the iPad – go for kids and creatives :


If you are LG/Samsung/Nokia/ASUS how do you take on the iPad? Is it all about knocking out seven inch Android tablets for less than £200?

I think tablet PCs for kids is the obvious money spinner…

One might be to produce a tablet PC aimed squarely at kids. As anyone who shares an iPad and a house with children can testify the iPad is a genius gadget for the under 10s. So what could prove to be a massive seller would be a touch screen tablet with a brightly coloured very durable frame that is packed with all sorts of creative and gaming software. Sell it for less than £250 and ToysRUs would be shifting them by the bucket load (and adult iPad owners might get their gadget back).

The rest of the article is here

Did the web kill off the lads mag?

I imagine that media commentators will be all over this story very soon, but if you haven’t heard Media Week is claiming that IPC is trying to sell iconic lads mag Loaded. The full story is here

The key bit is

‘Loaded started 2000 with average six-monthly circulations of 350,000, but within two years and in the face of the digital revolution, this had been eroded by nearly 20% and by 2005, it had slipped 35% to 230,000.

A series of revamps and digital brand extensions followed, but IPC has been unable to stem the gradual erosion of the print title, which fell below 100,000 copies for the first time at the start of 2008.

Loaded’s circulation hit a new low in last week’s ABCs for the first six months of 2010, down 26.3% year on year and 24.8% during the period, to just 53,591 copies’

Apparently the title is likely to be bought by an outfit called Vitality Publishing which owns the gay mag Attitude. The company was having problems of its own a few months back but I guess it must have found some investment since then.

Although sales of magazines have been plummeting since 2005 – see above chart which shows actively purchased mags – some sectors have fared worse than others.… The real disaster has been for lad’s mags – see the figures here… which have suffered what looks like an irreversible decline.

So why have lads mags sales dropped while other sectors (fashion, high-end mags) held their own?

I suspect that commentators will talk of a shift away from the lad cutlure of the 90s and I guess this is partially true. The real reason though for the decline of lad’s mags is simply because the web serves young male readers so well.

Loaded and its rivals always majored on pictures of scantily clad women. Why buy a mag when the web is awash with them, not least on lads mag websites? The more gruesome/gratuitous tales the mags specialised in can be found on Fark, Gawker and Anorak and mainstream newspapers, and sites like Whoateallthepies, Caught Offside and The Spoiler, are taking care of the quirkier side of sports coverage.

There really is no point in buying a monthly magazine when all that content is available elsewhere for free.

Perhaps men have once again gravitated back to reading primarily about their core interests. The web boasts music sites in every niche possible, thousands of gadget blogs and some innovative car and sports sites. And for all the talk of the death of the web those sites and those passionate readers aren’t going anywhere.

So enjoy all those articles about how men have changed in the last decade. Personally I don’t think they have changed that much. IMO they are still reading the same type of content, it is just that it is online.

Update IPC selling off 28 titles…

Has Gawker signalled the death knell for blogging?


There’s a bit of a media kerfuffle this morning about whether Gawker Media has killed blogging. The story, which you can read here, focuses on the way that the network’s new designs for their websites look much more like old school destination sites than they do traditional blogs.

It kind of begs the question what actually is a blog anyway? Much of blogging’s distinctive design features went a long time ago when classy WordPress themes like Revolution Theme became popular.

Personally I think the distinction between blog and website is not around design. Rather it is around money. Media companies, both new-ish ones like Gawker and old-ish ones like AOL are producing websites that have a heritage that stems from the great blog explosion of 2003/4, but have long since left notions of traditional blogging behind. By that I mean they are written by multiple users, are commercially driven and increasingly focus on producing long tail content.

At Shiny we stopped using the words blog to describe what the websites we are producing over a year ago. Our current designs still have a blog like element, but they too have many features that are culled from more established websites.

So what has prompted the Gawker (and indeed Shiny) move?

1 More page impressions (and therefore more ad money) – traditional blogs gave too much content away and had a low yield of page impressions per user. Interestingly Nick Denton says its metric for success is about users rather than page views, but with a wobbly economy publishers are still very much focussed on page views for now.

2 Changing ideas about design – Websites are increasingly using big, powerful images on their sites, the old blog format didn’t cater for these very well.

3 The need to showcase big stories – To underline to new readers that the website has has lots of great posts – again the old blogging templates didn’t do this especially well

4 The need to highlight evergreen/commercial content – Websites need somewhere that longer stories can be housed. Also brands are looking more closely at integration within websites. The option of having branded content that looks attractive and is in a prominent position within a website is something that appeals to both brands and publishers.

Finally the class of 2003-2005 (Gawker, Weblogs, Mashable, TechCrunch etc) are becoming the new mainstream media. Unlike others within the publishing industry they have developed business plans that actually work, while older media brands wither and die, they will continue to go from strength to strength.

Cosmo – they run blog awards, but do they link to bloggers?

Very intersting article by Cate Sevilla over at BitchBuzz about the Cosmo blogger awards which if you haven’t read you really must.

Personally I hate those media companies who do blog awards. They smack of the worst kind of dad on the dancefloor type cynicism.

The shocking part though is that Cosmo don’t even link to the blogs that have been nominated

How poor is that? Is it beacuse they are too worried that you might find a blogger’s content more interesting than their own?

Well that’s what I believe until I hear differently. Big FAIL guys

Why print might make a comeback in 2011 – magazines as the new vinyl records?


It is really intersting looking at the magazine ABCs which were published yesterday. There’s a very good round up of them here…

They show that overall magazines sales and revenue are dipping – they have been on a downaward curve since 2005 – but also that some sectors are struggling more than others. So while Lad’s mags are heading for oblivion and music titles are losing readers, women’s titles are doing ok.

Quite how many mags survive, and indeed prosper, in the next few years is largely down to publishers being able to keep costs down and reinvent business models (maybe getting used to lower profit margins). Jeff Jarvis has a few tips on the latter here

I do think though that as time goes by magazines will become oddly fashionable again. You can see it already with the explosion of new indie mags – this is a great place to track them – Although the web will march on as the ultimate receptacle for content, maybe people will hanker for the good old days of print and keep buying magazines. There might also be a market too for magazines that are more like annuals with very long features. There are some more thoughts on this here

It isn’t just me who thinks this way too. Joe Pulizzi at Junta 24 has just written a feature called 7 reasons why print will make a comeback in 2011…

To be fair Joe doesn’t see a lot of good news for mainstream media (he is writing from a US perspective and I think things are easier in the UK) but he does say that print will be a real opportunity for branded content companies.

The two most striking things he says are

Less traditional publishers are printing magazines today, which leaves opportunities for content marketers.


Social media, online content and iPad applications are all part of the marketing mix today. Still, what excites marketers and media buyers is what IS NOT being done. They want to do something different…something new. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve heard many marketers talk about leveraging print as something new in their marketing mix. Unbelievable.

Anyhow it is a fascinating read and I think what he says makes a lot of sense (I will admit to a little bias as I work for branded content companies).

He also cites the trend of people unplugging from social media. Not using Twitter, keeping up with Facebook etc. For all the recent talk of burnt out bloggers etc I think he is stretching the point here. Even is five million people unplug from Facebook in the UK that still leaves a good 25 million checking their updates.

The one big question for publishers is just how bad will this double dip recession be (if we have one at all). It might not end up being the web, print costs or the reinvention of advertising that kills magazines, it might simply be that punters can no longer afford them.

Do men and women use Twitter in different ways?


Laura, who is guest posting on Shiny Shiny this week, has come up with a very interesting article about whether men and women use Twitter in different ways? She has analysed her friends’ tweets and spotted a few trends, namely that men are more likely to post tweets with links in and they are more comfortable plugging their own content.

The story is here

Will technology mean that publishers will struggle to monetise tablet magazines?


I have been having an interesting chinwag with a few people on Twitter this morning about how publishers can make money from tablet magazines. While there are some clear savings (no paper or distribution costs) there are still some additonal costs like the % paid via iTunes to Apple. I don’t know exactly what these figures for VAT and iTunes are, but according to people who know more about publishing costs than me they are around 40% of magazine costs, the same as paper, printing and distribution for paper products.

However, even if publishers can keep costs down they face a much bigger problem and that’s technology. The most important thing about print publishing was its high barrier to entry. If you wanted to produce a magazine in the 90s you needed plenty to money to pay printers and paper merchants, and that’s before you even approached a distributor who could make or break your mag by getting it into the stores.

In the early days of online content the barriers to entry were still high, it was just that brands didn’t want to advertise online. Ironically by the time brands recognised the opportunity of online publishing blogging had arrived and the barrier to entry was gone. Publishers, with their existing high cost business models, simply couldn’t make enough money from online content – not that too many bloggers in the UK have made money either…

Now magazine publishers are pinning their hopes on tablet magazines. They’ll offer the same magazines, with added interactive features, in tablet forms, invariably charging the same price for them. The one big issue they face is that while the barrier for entry for producing a tablet magazine is high at the moment, when the WordPress for tablets arrives, as I am sure it will shortly, people (bloggers, enthusiasts and indie media companies) will produce their own tablet magazines, and they will be delivered more frequently and have more content than those from traditional publishers. They will be free too, funded solely by ad revenue. And as smaller companies do deals with image agencies, as the most successful bloggers have done (see so they will have the images people are searching for and want to see well before the weekly or monthly tablet mags appear.

The same is true for apps? Pretty soon anyone will be able to produce an editorially driven app, or one that harnesses UGC, and it will be very tricky for publishers to monetise content apps.

The main problem mainstream publishers face is that each time technology creates a new opportunity, they only have short window to monetise that content before the barriers to entry are lowered. This then leads to an explosion of content (which is invariably free) that inevitably drives advertising revenue down.

Ultimately I think that Jeff Jarvis has got it bang on. Publishers are good at creating communities. They should look to focus on these. They should also look again at their business models, reduce costs and get used to the fact that, for now at least, profit margins are going to be a lot lower than they used to be.

The Jarvis article is here

Why is Plymouth’s Tinside Lido not more popular?


It is quite possibly the most perfect Art Deco Lido in the country. It is an architectural jewel in a city that was largely destroyed during the war. It affords the swimmer amazing views of the sea and five years ago it had a multi million pound overhaul, yet it appears that Plymouth’s Tinside Lido still isn’t pulling in the punters.

According to a report in… the pool has only had 10,000 visitors this year, 20,000 short of break even point.

So why is it that Tinside is not rammed each day throughout the summer? Well locals on the website have some interesting views.

It is clear that the poor weather this summer has kept causal bathers away, but others blame limited opening hours (it shuts in the evening), high admission costs and an early season closing – it shuts on September 5th.

It seems even more bizarre when London lidos are reporting excellent figures this year.

It sounds to me that the local council need to be a little bit more imaginative in their marketing. People still have a fear of what they perceive to be cold water, the council needs to counter that mis-conception while pushing the numerous health benefits of swimming outdoors.

I’d be interested to hear from any locals why they don’t use the pool.

Btw if you love Lidos join outr Facebook group here.

The rebirth of Uxbridge Lido

… which has now been re-christened Hillingdon Leisure Centre.

This is one of the capital’s most stunning Art Deco Lidos which is
famed for its unique cross-shaped pool. It closed over a decade ago
and was in a right state when I vistited it (sneaked through the
fence) in 2003 (see pic)

It reopened in Spring with the original lido supplemented by a well
equipped leisure centre and an indoor pool and it seems that the
council have done a pretty sound job.

The main outdoor pool itself is not heated so I suspect will only be
open for the summer, which is a shame. I wonder how much more it would
cost to install a solar heater as they have at London Fields Lido.
This would mean the pool could be opened all year round. Nevertheless
I loved my swim at Uxbridge. The council have done a pretty good job
of restoring the lido and kept most of its Art Deco trimmings, though
they have lost the trademark blue stripe on the main buildings.

The only other minor moan I have is that the outdoor showers are cold.
Surely after 20 lengths at 17 degrees C you are entitled to a hot

More pics here