Features of pricing for Russian periodical content

    The more services that legally sell content appear in Russia, the more often you hear consumer dissatisfaction with the prices of this content. And, perhaps, in most cases the seller is accused, that is, the most extreme participant in the chain, the one with whom the consumer directly interacts.


    For the past two and a half years, I have been working in the digital publishing industry, including managing a project selling content. Sometimes I personally communicate with copyright holders and publishers, every day I watch how my colleagues do it, in addition, I personally answer customer questions. We are talking about the Russian periodical, and specifically about the content that it presents to the world in digital format. Let's see what's inside.

    Consumer Complaints

    As far as I can trace, all consumer complaints come from a lack of understanding of the industry, ignorance of how everything works there. It is really difficult to arrange, but, you see, what does the buyer have to do with it? He just wants to receive the goods in the highest possible quality for a price that satisfies him. To know that under water is not his concern. Nevertheless, he has some ideas. It would be much easier if they were completely wrong, but they are half-truths, that is, the worst case, the most fertile ground for speculation and speculation. And then, based on his ideas, the consumer falls into the following misconceptions:

    1. The cost of the digital version of the magazine / newspaper should be lower than the paper version. The reasoning is approximately the following: “A journalist writes an article in Word anyway. The publisher printed an article on paper - recaptured the money. And if you beat it off, then it’s not good to take money for the digital version, this is greed and arrogance. But if you already take the money, then let it cost less, because the costs of its production are already covered. "
      Firstly, it’s not the fact that the publisher beat off the money. Increasingly, we hear that the digital, rather than the paper, version is making money .
      Secondly, the concept of a digital version is very vague. In 95% of cases, this is really the same text in Word that will be inserted on the newspaper’s website after editing, but there are fewer such cases. In 100% of cases in the Russian press, this text will be processed and put into a layout for printing, edited, photos, graphics, and something else will be added to it. And only a few percent of the Russian press, enough to count all such publishing houses, take the text, process it for each presentation option (for a site, for delivery to an aggregator, for an archive, for broadcasting in RSS, for publishing on an iPad, for god knows why), they will convert it to the appropriate format ... In general, this work will be done by specialists who need to be paid. And the result of their work has nothing to do with paper, that is, there are completely justified reasons for taking individual money for the digital version. And since such specialists are no cheaper than a journalist, then such a version cannot be cheaper.
      In the fall of 2010, at the GIPP conference, the most advanced representatives of Russian publishers enthusiastically demonstrated their own developments, digital versions of their magazines and newspapers for iPads. They made them themselves or outsourced, they spent money on it. However, now, two years later, you will not find these applications in the Apple AppStore. The production of these versions turned out to be a) expensive and b) unprofitable. (Believe me, there were absolutely gorgeous things among them! What did the “digital version” of the Gastronom magazine on ipad cost?) After such expenses, do you still think that it should be free or cheaper than paper? Why?
      So, the production of some types of digital versions of magazines and newspapers costs absolutely real money, therefore, the price of these versions has objective reasons to be above zero and even higher than the cost of the paper version. But the reality is that such digital versions produce, as mentioned above, only a few on the market. The vast majority of Russian magazines and newspapers cannot afford to produce such versions. The maximum that she can afford is a layout of the layout of the paper issue in PDF format. There are those that don’t even have a PDF file. The cost of producing such a version is not much different from zero. However, these publishers charge them well above zero.
    2. The archive should be given free of charge.
      The reasoning is approximately the following: “How much does it cost to store pdf files for 10 years? Yes, not at all! "I bought a flash drive for 16 gigs and uploaded everything there, there will still be a place!"
      First of all, an archive is not a collection of PDF files.
      Secondly, large publishers have a much more complex content storage system, backup systems, etc., at a cost significantly more expensive than a 16 gigabyte flash drive. They seek to compensate for the cost of these systems.
      Thirdly, the archive for that and the archive, so that it is stored, was structured, replenished, had the tools to work with it. All this costs money.
      Fourth, and most importantly, access to archives is always a paid service. You pay for access to what others no longer have. Drawing parallels with ordinary libraries is inappropriate here. Yes, in them you will get access to the binder of newspapers and magazines in a few years. But do not forget that these are public libraries, they are free for you only because the state has already paid them for you. In addition, try to get a regional newspaper from a Far East in a library in St. Petersburg. Nothing will come of it. You will have to look for it elsewhere, for example, in a company that spent money and resources to get this issue, classify, save, organize access to it. And for all this, she absolutely has the right to ask for money.
      Fifth, there are situations when the copyright holder himself is bound by obligations to other (primary) copyright holders and simply does not have the right to distribute the archive for free. This often happens with franchised magazines published in Russia. For example, Belissimazhurnalissima publishing house bought a franchise in the Western magazine Y. Each Russian issue contains two translated articles from the franchise owner, who allows them to be published on paper and in digital but does not allow them to be distributed free of charge. All. Arrived. No matter how much Belissimazhurnalissima is spinning, it will not be able to give out a single issue of Y with a transferable article, even ten years ago, for free. So, we, consumers, can’t see a free archive.
    3. the greedy seller does nothing, but breaks the price.
      First, sellers are different. They have different business models and working conditions. Hence the price difference for the same product. But even at the highest price, it makes no sense to suspect the seller’s greed. Remember, his job is to sell. What is the point of breaking the price? After all, then no one will buy.
      Secondly, the seller will always try to add value to the service provided to justify the asking price. Someone will make a convenient application for consuming content, someone will make it possible to consume content on rare devices, someone will get the rarest content, etc.
      Thirdly, as mentioned above, the vast majority of Russian publishers are not able to ensure the publication of a digital version of their content. All related tasks for them are often decided by the seller. Among the sellers there are those that perform only some functions, for example, collect files and send them by e-mail, there are those that provide a full cycle: content collection, storage, re-conversion, classification, distribution. Plus accompanying functions: billing, marketing, advertising, user support, interfaces, etc. The average consumer should not know this. But now you know that all sellers do at least something.
    4. greedy seller sets prices.
      Firstly, this is not entirely true. In most cases, the price of the content is dictated by the supplier (copyright holder).
      Secondly, amid the dictates of prices by the copyright holder, the margin of the seller’s business is greatly reduced. And then the sellers go to tricks - they switch to a simplified taxation system, take the business abroad, etc. This allows them to earn more at the same prices in the market, but the buyer has almost no positive effect. After all, the seller will have to keep the price as close as possible to that dictated by the copyright holder.
      Thirdly, some advanced publishing houses require unification of prices. For example, the publisher wants the digital version of their smartphone magazine everywhere to cost exactly one hundred rubles. On different conditions, it gives its content to different sellers, but it costs the same everywhere. At the same time, the publishing house itself is selling the same version of the magazine for ninety rubles.
      Fourth, the seller will use the services of a bank or other company to organize sales. The seller will pay from 3 to 10% of each payment for accepting payments using plastic cards. For electronic money - up to 5%. Do you trade through the application on the ipad? Apple will take 30% of the payment amount from you.

    So, it became clear that the seller has very little room for maneuver, and that it is not the seller who is more responsible for the final price.

    But why does the copyright holder behave this way?

    The current relationship between the seller and the copyright holder in Russia must be recognized as amensitic . No matter how much they say about the crisis in the paper media, about the convergence of numbers and paper, about the impact of the economic crisis, all this means almost nothing to the Russian press. The consumption of digital content is large, and sales are small. And the Russian press itself does not contribute to these sales. What do you have to deal with at work? But with what.

    1. “You should pay us already for the fact that we will be sold at your place.”
      It's hard to believe, but some publications claim so. They are not interested in the scope of the seller’s efforts to promote their publications, the additional distribution channels, the presence of competitors in the window, or the platform’s capabilities, or nothing. They believe that their brand is so cool that you need to pay for just the presence in the window. I draw your attention, this argument comes from the largest publications, our flagships, those whom we are accustomed to consider an example of professionalism in the media industry.
    2. A publication often does not know how much its content costs.
      Call the editorial office of a medium-sized newspaper and ask how much their newspaper costs in retail. In 80% of cases, no one will be able to answer this question. How so? But the fact is that the editors themselves do not sell their content, this function is carried out by the sales department or even a separate company that sells it in different ways! For a large network of kiosks there is one price, for shelves in the federal grocery chain - another, for private distributors - the third, for subscription agencies - the fourth, for subscription through catalogs in the departments of the Russian Post - fifth, for the subscription of legal entities - sixth. Etc. The difference in price can vary by an order of magnitude! A merchant reigns, not an economist. Here comes the seller of the digital version: “Give us the right to sell your newspaper, please!” And the sales department sets a price. Need I say that this price is taken from the ceiling? If a publication does not know how much its paper version costs, how can it charge a price for a digital one?
    3. Sometimes events develop differently. The seller of the digital version comes: “Give us the right to sell the digital version of your newspaper, please!” The sales department rounds its eyes: "Chehhhhhh ...?" As I wrote above, no understanding of the digital product in the vast majority of Russian newspapers and magazines simply does not exist. How to set a price for something that does not exist?
    4. Even the most seemingly large and advanced federal publications with mobile applications, developed sites and representative offices on social networks often make the most serious mistakes in Internet marketing.
      What can we say about pricing? For example, the large newspaper K has an official Facebook page. She indicated the phone numbers, editorial office address, website address, leads a dialogue, but did not give a single link to how to subscribe to it. But let me! We all already surf the Internet, we consume everything in electronic format. Let me know how I can digitally subscribe to your newspaper! But no, only a few do it, they make small, narrowly specialized publications, anyone does it, but just not the proud federal newspaper K with millions of copies. You will ask why? Yes, because this newspaper believes that placing a link to a seller does not stimulate sales of its digital version, but is an advertisement for the seller!
      Meanwhile, a number of other publications posted links on their pages, and every day we receive traffic from them, which converts well into sales.
    5. A couple of interesting scenarios from life.
      Scenario One. We call the regional newspaper, published in the Russian outback, with a circulation of 500 copies per month. A newspaper in retail costs 5 rubles. Please set a price. Answer:
      - 300 rubles!
      - How so? Why? Who will buy a five-ruble newspaper for three hundred rubles?
      - Yes, God knows you, you have a lot of money there in Moscow, you will be selling 300 each.
      - ...

      Scenario two. The conditions are the same.
      - 10,000 rubles!
      - How so? Why?
      - Yes, we know this, once they buy an issue and then put it on the Internet for free. And so we get at least 10,000 from you.
      - ...

    So it turns out that the price is dictated by the copyright holder, dictated by an illiterate.
    A similar thing is happening in the west .

    What do we have in the end?

    Now we will conduct a small marketing research and find out how much you really have to pay for this or that content. Since we are interested in the most ordinary customer, we went down to the underground passages of Moscow, looked at the Rospechat kiosks and all sorts of other kiosks that most of us come across every day. The sample turned out to be variegated, heterogeneous, not all publications can be found in all kiosks, but most importantly - it is real. Of course, one can argue that prices differ outside the capital, but we don’t have such data, and if someone is not too lazy to send them, we will be happy to add them for comparison.

    With sellers of digital versions of the same content, things get more complicated. I wrote about the reasons above. Therefore, we decided to select a couple of the largest, using different business models, but selling at least some kind of close product and having a fairly wide list of matches in the list of products. Accordingly, the stores of individual publishers, thematic portals, players known, but with a small list of goods (ie Zinio), etc. did not get here. The popularity of the publications sold, the convenience of shop windows and other factors were not taken into account. These are important factors that can influence the choice of the buyer, but now we are only interested in the prices of digital content. Bold select the lowest of them.

    Price comparison chart for digital and paper versions of Russian press content as of July-August 2012
    EditionDigital version of the Seller 1 ( * ), rubDigital version of the Seller 2 ( * ), rubPaper version on the street, rub
    Coach magazine8370220
    Cosmopolitan shopping767275
    Cosmopolitan Psychology57.015469
    Harper's bazaar135120145
    Mamas & papas8168fifty
    Men's Health100.0110590
    National geographic9086106
    National Geographic Traveler9489100
    Yoga journal160.01160190
    Arguments and Facts192020
    In the world of plants18.882375
    Bulletin of the Mayor and the Government of Moscow23.623.635
    Waiting for baby323845
    Izvestia - All-Russian Issue115fifteen16
    Life stories710.1522
    Love stories710.1522
    Caravan of stories70.8thirty85
    Caravan of stories collection70.8thirty46
    Kommersant - Power595940
    Kommersant - Money595955
    Komsomolskaya Pravda - Fatty7.86thirteen18
    Literary newspaper2718.5922
    Mom, it's me!323845
    World news91224
    PC world186.44130185
    Moscow's comsomolets203.7510
    Independent newspaper252420
    Independent Military Review60,996033
    First-Class Parents. Grades 1-4646485
    Popular mechanics8590105
    Russian Hunting Newspaper9.4412.5fifteen
    Company's secret5959fifty
    Soviet sport19thirteen19
    Soviet sport - Football201725
    Your day11510thirteen
    Labor 713,991716

    As you can see, even now for the end customer, not everything is so bad. Firstly, not always the digital version costs more than the paper one. Secondly, even among the prices for the digital version, it is possible to choose a lower one. But this is only the outside.

    The table also shows the most inappropriate copyright holders. They give content to two different sellers at prices differing by an order of magnitude (sic!). After all, it is obvious that Seller 1 will never set such a price - other prices are comparable with competitive ones. The irony also lies in the fact that most of the list of products of Seller 2 is made up of free publications, the functionality of the storefront is less developed, however, the copyright holder gives him content at a low price. In other words, such copyright holders do not support those who invest in the development of a sales service and, ultimately, the entire market. Cream is removed by the most "primitive" sellers. And this means that we, as consumers, are not expecting anything good here.

    So when you buy content, do not shoot the pianist, do not rush to scold the seller.

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