Roularta Media Group taps Twixl media for publishing its tablet editions
Roularta entered the tablet world as early as December, 2010, releasing a proprietary Knack iPhone application, followed by an iPad version in April, 2011. "At first, we used a web feed," says Erwin Danis, Roularta Media Group's PreMedia Director. "We primarily wanted to get a foot in the door, getting familiar with this new method of publishing from up close."
In July, 2011, Roularta teamed up with Twixl media for developing their special editions. Using their Twixl Publisher product made it easy for Roularta to publish their special editions of Knack on the iPad platform. This was also their first experience in the area of enriching content and giving advertisers the ability to use interactive ads. Although working with Twixl Publisher went quite smoothly, it remained limited to the special editions.
When Roularta started their search for a production-integrated solution for tablet publishing in mid-2012, they looked at a number of different providers, finding no solution that was fully integratable. Roularta wanted to change as little as possible about their existing workflow, while gradually making it suitable for tablet publishing. The content was available, and would have to be convertible to a tablet layout automatically. Finally, they ended up back at Twixl media to see if they could open up their technology to a source other than InDesign and/or next convert the content and layout supplied digitally to tablet format equally smoothly using their technology.
"That is how our first SDK came about," says Twixl media’s Product Manager Luk Dhondt. "We found each other almost immediately. We had been toying with the idea of developing a Software Development Kit for a while, and Roularta's request came at just the right time." In order to be able to integrate with Twixl Publisher, Roularta defined its TOL (Tablet Optimised Layout). This would be the automated layout that would come in from Roularta’s workflow for conversion to tablet format by Twixl's technology. Roularta has two content formats: text and pictures. These are automaticly imported in the TOL templates, in InDesign, which are different per type of article. This content is then converted by Twixl Publisher in a tablet readable format. This operation is performed almost entirely automatically with the required parameters being added at every stage, telling the system which templates are to be used for both print and tablet editions.
3 Hours of dedicated production time
The first Knack prepared with this technology appeared in late November, 2012. While it was quite an improvement for the reader, it barely changed anything on the production front. A fully tablet-optimized version of the weekly edition of Knack now requires 3 hours of production time. By comparison, it takes more than 20 working days to layout and build the tablet edition of a wellknowed international magazine. Roularta has managed to enter the new tablet platform without significantly increasing its production cost.
The next step is offering enriched content: besides mere technological considerations, we must think of the product itself as well. Tablet users expect more than readers of our print magazines do. They count on more images, interactivity, video, whenever possible, and (of course!) links to more information. For our reporters, this means shifting gears. This is the major change we currently face: our workflow is designed to handle this type of content. Now, our reporters must learn to follow suit. The results were not bad for our first edition, but we can do better. I am convinced that the tablet Knack of a year from now will look quite different from the current version, if for no other reason than content. And, ultimately, that’s what it's all about! (Erwin Danis)
An extra advantage of working with Twixl media is their ‘independent’ approach. When screening the market all valid alternatives were offering a platform-based solution where we were obliged to publish via their platform and pay higher than market average download fees per issue. With Twixl media we were free to use their platform or to organise the storage by ourself. And that is exactly what we did. Today we are fully in control of our digital distribution cost and that makes a huge difference.
Play time is over, you might say. Now, we are fully operational in the tablet medium with Knack/Le Vif L’Express and Trends/Trends-Tendances, to be followed in the coming months by Sport-Voetbal/Foot Magazine and Datanews.
65% of the tablet readers adopted the Tablet optimised layout since its introduction. In 3 months time, the magazine layout droped to 35% which confirmes the fact that tablet readers expect interactivity and a tablet optimised layout to the only comfort of having a digital magazine. Currently, we are only available on iPad. By March, we will be Android compatible as well; after that, we will start development for Windows 8/RT.
Roularta offers advertisers the possibility to advertise in both digital editions, as well in the Tablet optimized layout as the magazine layout. Advertisers are excited and are already working on extra-attractive ads specifically geared to this medium.
Although, generally speaking, publishers have fallen on hard times, we consider ourselves fully prepared for tablet publishing and realize that cross-platform publishing is the wave of the future. While income will be lower than before per platform, it will be higher in the aggregate, provided we can keep costs where they are now, or, at least, keep them from rising proportionately. (Erwin Danis)
Partnership with Roularta
"In Twixl media, we have found a partner who thinks right along with us, and who has proposed a solution that is budget-friendly in terms of both integration and use," says Erwin Danis. "Roularta is a strategic partner for us. They are known in the industry as demanding, but that makes them all the more appealing to us, because they help us to better understand the needs of the publisher segment, which enables us to make our products even better," adds Luk Dhondt.