Håkan Helander is a Senior Process sand Strategy Consultant at Media720. He was previously a Senior Consultant for WAN-IFRA.

Focus on product development instead of digital transformation

partner insights

Being local is one of the key success factors for our partners, though their industry expertise is also relevant for an inter­national audience.

In the Partner Insights series we share their stories.

It is interesting that Aftonbladet is losing digital revenues and continues to generate more revenues from print than digital. Aftonbladet is the most successful digital daily newspaper in Sweden, possibly in the world. It currently reaches half of Sweden’s adult population every day! That’s perhaps three times the number of readers it had 15 years ago and as many as Facebook has today and it can be said more or less to have nationwide reach across Sweden. Yet it is still struggling to deliver on digital! So how should local daily newspapers that have already had total reach in their area in printed form achieve a successful digital transformation? It is quite simply impossible to maintain sales levels and profitability by switching from publishing a laid-out and customised product with a beginning and end, to which the reader devotes about 20 to 30 minutes a day, to a site or an app with a continuous flow of news and virtually unlimited content that the reader peruses for maybe a couple of minutes a day. Newspapers sometimes compare their digital journey with Netflix, but they have made a completely different digital journey. Netflix used to rent out DVDs and now provides a digital video streaming service. It has made this journey without compromising on customer experience in any way. Films and series are watched on the same (better) TV screens as before, but the customers now have a much wider choice, the service is easier to use and the price is lower in relation to the amount of time they spend with the product. 

Notwithstanding, the financial situation of Aftonbladet and some newspapers in Sweden is rather good. The reason being that, thanks to the digital revolution, they have developed the products in their business. Today, they have satisfied print-version readers, some think it is better and more environmentally-friendly to read an online newspaper, and some readers prefer websites, apps or newsletters. Quite simply, they are able to cover their costs to produce high-quality journalism by offering differentiated products that are tailored to suit different customer groups. So the conclusion is to use the digital revolution to deliver an enhanced service and product offering to your customers instead of implementing a digital transformation at any price.