What to worry over in the publishing game

Alan Mutter on why retail apps should worry publishers:

From Best Buy to CVS and from Kroger to Macy’s, the biggest buyers of newspaper advertising have launched sophisticated smartphone apps to establish increasingly direct and profitable relationships with individual customers.

These efforts should give publishers the shivers, because this new channel represents a major threat to the retail lineage that constitutes half of what’s left of the advertising sold by newspapers – an industry, lest we forget, whose collective print and digital ad sales are less than half the record $49.4 billion achieved in 2005.

Smartphone apps appeal to retailers, for starters, because they are far cheaper than buying full-page ads and preprint inserts in newspapers. Perhaps even more compelling to merchants is that apps enable them to precisely target offers to individuals, thus achieving not only happier customers but also fatter tickets at the checkout line.

Meanwhile Brian Morrissey writes for Digiday on
What worries publishers most?

Janet Balis, publisher, The Huffington Post
You have to be careful because you can often innovate in advance of the marketplace. The key thing is to keep lockstep. It’s about not leading too far in advance of what the market is ready to buy from a business model standpoint.

Execs from Rodale, Hearst, Forbes and The Awl all chime in. It seems as if there is a wide gulf in these differences of opinion.

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