The Financial Times is one of the few major print publishers that has succeeded in a big way with paid content. And while other print publishers who hoped that the iPad would help them revitalize their businesses struggle with the iPad, the FT looks like it has extended its existing success to the platform.
According to The Guardian, the FT's iPad app has now produced more than £1m in ad revenue since it was released to the public in May. What's more: of the 400,000 people who have downloaded the app, a decent number are subscribing; the iPad app now delivers 10% of the FT's new digital subscribers.
The FT's Ben Hughes told The Guardian that print advertising revenue, once the lifeblood of newspapers and magazines alike, now constitutes only 40% of the FT's revenue. "Print [advertising] isn't dead but media owners are just having to find new ways to put [different models] together," he stated at the MediaGuardian Changing Advertising Summit.
The FT, of course, is putting different models together. But that makes it sound a little bit too easy. The truth of the matter is that many print publishers have struggled to develop profitable new models. The FT, of course, along with dailies like the Wall Street Journal, occupies an enviable niche in the print world. While the perceived value of content has declined in many markets, financial content is still something many consumers and businesses are willing to pay for.
Other print publishers, of course, believe emerging platforms like the iPad can help them reestablish the value of their content. So what's the secret to the FT's early success on the iPad? Perhaps it is this: when you have developed a business model that works, the platform really doesn't matter. In other words, the business model comes before the platform, not the other way around. Unfortunately, that's probably not what other print publishing execs were hoping to hear.