As more and more media companies create content for tablets, it’s exciting to see how publishers are pushing the boundaries of content creation and design. Case in point: this week Bonnier, the international publishing group, launched a new initiative to create newspaper applications, named News+, that are distinctly different from the company’s current print or web products.
Built using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, the Bonnier News+ apps seek to initiate a two-way dialogue with the user while staying on top of a 24-hour content cycle. Beginning with Swedish news daily Dagens Nyheter, Bonnier is making innovative use of the web view functionality in the Adobe Content Viewer to display HTML5 content and push breaking content to users as it happens throughout the day. In addition, the company has implemented a subscription payment system via Digital Publishing Suite that will allow customers to subscribe to the magazine and receive updates of content at regular intervals.
Last week, I spoke with Tore Fjärtoft, Head of IT Development at Bonnier Digital, about what they’ve created using Digital Publishing Suite and where they’re going from here. During my conversation, it was apparent that Bonnier is only at the beginning of what’s to come as they push the boundaries of journalistic content for their readers. Read my conversation with Fjärtoft below.
Adobe: Why did you choose this format to publish your newspapers?
Tore Fjärtoft, Head of IT Development at Bonnier Digital: Dagens Nyheter has been looking into the possibility of publishing a digital version for quite some time. When the iPad came along, it turned out to be the form factor that fit the ideas we had. What we’re trying to do is trying to take the best things from our web product, take the best things from the print product and package that into an entirely new product. It’s not the repackaged web. It’s not repackaging the print product. What were doing is creating an entirely new product.
A: So what exactly is this “new product”?
TF: The experience we want to give our readers is the depth of an editorial experience — but in a more immediate format. We don’t want it to feel like the flattened web, with no depth & analysis. We want to make users feel they are getting curated, high-value content that is distinguished from the web and from printed newspapers. We’re using different tools, different types of media to do this and include powerful visual storytelling.
A: How are you pushing the boundary of interactivity to tell these stories?
TF: At launch we’ll have slideshows, video, and what we call a “live layer” in the app. This live layer is a web view that has stories updated and added to it throughout the day. During the next 3-6 months we’ll be adding other new features that enable readers to communicate with selected editors. They can ask a question to our editors right within the app, then the editor can publish a subset of comments and reply to them. We’re also using HTML5 video content in the live layer, and CSS3 to render fonts as well. With this setup we’re no longer limited to just using system fonts.
A: What has been the response from your advertisers to this digital newspaper?
TF: The response has been quite amazing, with advertisers queuing up to take part of the first initial launch. Their motivation for creating ads for this digital format is to take advantage of the interactivity in the app, in addition to being part of this new product launch. Advertisers are doing interactive ads in one way or the other, with video embedded in the ad or with in-app purchase process via a web view.
A: What role does Adobe Digital Publishing Suite play in your production workflow?
TF: The great thing for us is that we can work with a very streamlined process building our publication by using InDesign CS5 and the Adobe tools. Adobe gives us the ability to leverage the technology in the viewer & production tools so we can produce features like the live layer, the commenting and reply feature, and a reading list where users can save their content for later. With all this we can produce features unique to Bonnier, which enables us to differentiate our product from our competitors. Readers are looking forward to what we’re doing. Together with our readers and our advertisers, we’re building a thriving business with this new digital product.
Bonnier will launch five titles (both business and general news dailies) in the coming months. The first one, Dagens Nyheter, will soon be available in Swedish.