In this week’s episode of Media Voices, Readly MD Ranj Begley takes us through how the magazine app approaches its publisher partnerships, how reader data informs everything from cover choice to exclusive content, and whether Ready sees Apple News+ as friend, foe, or frenemy.

In the news roundup this week, the team discusses the launch of a new news subscription service from Apple, whether Google can or should fix the local news ecosystem, and try to figure out what’s happening with The Correspondent’s plans to launch an English language news outlet.

View the transcript here.

In our own words: Chris Sutcliffe

It’s hardly been a smooth launch for AppleNews+. A high-profile Vanity Fair exposé demonstrated that Apple tried and failed to get the NYT and Washington Post on board, and at launch the only high-profile newspapers on the platform were the Wall Street Journal and LA Times. While Joshua Benton argued that “AppleNews+ seems to be a good catch-up opportunity for the news industry’s Avises battling its Hertzes’, a cost and revenue breakdownfrom Frederic Filloux argued that it is is in fact a bad deal for any publisher who values their continued existence

So it seems that publishers have wised up and realised that tech platforms’ priorities very rarely intersect with that of the publications. At the same time, digital magazine platform Readly has over 3000 titles on the service and is signing new deals with news publishers and magazine companies alike, at the same price point at AppleNews+. So it was interesting to hear from Readly’s Managing Director Ranj Begley state that, due to her background in publishing, Readly considers its publishers their core product, that it takes pains not to undervalue them:

“[When we launched] there was a lot of talk about you know being disruptive and cannibalization and ‘you’re going to destroy the industry’. But I think now the client base, as in the publisher base, are very confident in our ability and they understand the numbers that they totally get the fact that we’re reaching out to a new audience. The bottom line is is that we’re not content curators. We know our business is in essence the publishers. Without them we wouldn’t have any content to put on our platform so we’re there to bring new audiences bring new eyeballs to to to their brands.”

Publishers are only ever going to become more aware of the context in which their content is presented. Any loss of control risks potential damage to the brand, so it was also interesting to hear how readily Readly is sharing data with its publisher partners, allowing them to experiment with front covers in the app. Begley explains:

“When you actually look at a heat map and you can see that you know Weight Watchers readers stop reading on a Thursday afternoon because the diet goes out the window, and then they start again on a Monday you can literally see the behavioural patterns through the heat map.”

So during the week that publishers almost unanimously decided that Apple got its pitch to publishers so wrong, it was great to hear that Readly is working on getting it right.


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