Greg Clayman on the first year of publishing The Daily

February 24, 2012

It’s been a year of growing pains for The Daily, News Corp.’s stage dive into the nascent world of tablet publishing.

Now, the #1 grossing app for the past couple of days (and #3 for all of 2011) is starting to talk the talk of an established media player–with real numbers to crow about, a hard-earned list of tablet publishing do's and don’ts, and new projects to grow the brand further, according to Greg Clayman, its publisher.

Clayman spoke at Tablet Revolution; a conference presented by OMMA and held February 23 at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York. The MTV digital veteran was one of the first hires at The Daily when it was launched about a year ago.

“We now have about 100,000 subscribers and about 55 per cent of them pay annually,” he told attendees. “And a total of about 250,000 monthly readers.” He said the average reader spends between 20 and 30 minutes with the pub three or four times a week.

Although he didn’t offer up specific numbers, Clayman did say that about half of The Daily’s revenues come from advertising and half come from subscriptions.

And while it’s still likely not profitable (no mention of numbers in black from the stage, at any rate), The Daily has learned how to make itself better over the past year, he said, by doing things like:

-Paying attention to creating original video. The Daily brought over some video makers from ABC News, said Clayman, and shoots news once every day. “There’s about a 30% to 40% watch rate,” he said. “They have turned out to be popular.

-K.I.S.S.-ing. Or Keep It Simple, Shirley. Remember that ambitious table of contents carousel that allowed you to ride it until you got to the story you wanted? Gone. Turns out, said the publisher, that people prefer a good old fashioned linear Table of Contents, even on their iPad. “It was too complex,” he said.

-Not to be too subtle: “We tell them what to do” in big, clear letters. That means larger videos with larger play buttons. Buttons that instruct people to “Sound Off.” And clearly delineated signage that tells readers to tap here to make the photo larger.

The brand is also expanding into new areas. A custom division was created a couple of months ago that now has a couple of apps under its belt. Clayman seemed especially proud—he showed a video tease—of a product under development: an app manual for a new game called “Space” starring those megastars, “Angry Birds.”

Lastly, the publisher said he is working well with his advertisers. What he realizes they want most of all, he said, is transparency. “It’s key. Give them regular, solid data.”

The Daily works with the ad company Medialets. Clayman says his advertisers want, and he gives them, “standardization” so that after they create a tablet advertising program, they can use it elsewhere.

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