On Wednesday I posted about how the UK’s major newspapers refer, or rather don’t, to their journalism on the web, tablet and mobile
. I suggested that better signposting of content on other platforms would, over time, lessen the impact of a decline in newspaper sales and help drive online users.

With that in mind, I decided to do a bit of an experiment to see which of nine newspapers flagged up digital content best in their Diamond Jubilee editions on Tuesday. This blog forms part two of that experiment (part one can be read here)

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1. The Guardian

Some effective signposting from the Guardian, as you’d expect, what with their digital offering so prominent. At the top of pages given over to their Jubilee coverage, there is a prod to the picture galleries and dotted throughout there are mini skyscrapers featuring references to their global security blog and architecture blogs as well as their iPad edition. There’s also a large visual ad for the iPhone app (see pic) though how many people will dwell on it at the start of the Sport section on page 38 is debatable. G2 has no mention of anything online but sport have a well positioned push to read more expert football content at the end of a piece on Euro 2012.

2.The Times

The Times (for whom I work for, remember) do a good job at alerting print readers to what goes on elsewhere. The top ten most read stories on the website from the day before is a nice idea although whether people can remember what stories emerged 24 hours ago or care what they’re fellow subscribers clicked on is another matter. There’s a substantial space on page 22 that promotes the Jubilee videos on the website even if it sits above, and therefore looks a bit like, an ad. Sport do a good job of pushing the iPad both in a small landscape puff on the backpage and their digital column (see pic) but if you don’t read the sport pages you miss out on any iPad sell. Like G2, T2 doesn’t have anything in the way of digital signposts.

3. Daily Mail

Astonishingly, there is no mention whatsoever of anything digital in the Mail – website, mobile app or tablet (although there is an ad for Mail Travel). This could well be a conscious decision, owing the hugely different readerships of the Mail Online website and its print readership. However, you’d think there was still an opportunity to market apps to them, especially as Mail readers buy more Mail Order products than any other newspaper, demonstrating a loyalty to the brand the could tap into, and the fact the paper has a tech savvy and higher than average ABC1 readership. Frankly baffling.

4. The Daily Telegraph

The Telegraph have the obligatory Jubilee puff and a mention of the exclusive online blogs puff on the Letters page. Interestingly they have a ‘Have your say’ puff and link at the end of Derek Scott’s Personal finance piece in the Business section, the first comment-orientated signpost in any of the papers I’ve looked at. There’s a Telegraph for Kindle ad on the Court and Social page (see pic) and, like The Times, The Telegraph’s Sport section ups the anti with a note to follow the rugby union live, a comment and blogs skyscraper and, at the top of every page, a link to some form of additional online content whether it be video highlights from tennis and the form guide to the day’s horse racing. However, it’s only when I get to the final page that I spot it (meaning others may miss it too).

Conclusions

So overall, it’s fair to say that few papers, perhaps only The Guardian and The Times, promote digital content offline very well. But even they I think could be smarter in the way they do it.

1.The paper should be the start of a process of exploration into a topic or story

The web has, amongst others, one benefit over print; unlimited space. That space comes in handy when trying to tell a story. A lot of content (data, video, audio, reader comments) that informs a story and elaborates on it is already being produced for the web so why not join the dots together and offer print readers the chance to continue their reading. We shouldn’t presume that print readers will do that themselves. In my mind, the print puffs should be a compelling editorial recommendation, a bit like that big second click on the web or like Amazon and eBay when they say ‘you looked at this, you might like this’.

2. Don’t make it heard for readers to find extra content

Only a few of the puffs in the nine papers I looked at were placed in the middle or at the end of an article,acting as the next step in exploring the story. Many were secreted near ads or away in a special ‘online’ part on the paper which, if you don’t see, you miss completely. Very few led on from the end of the article and acted as a starting point for the exploration of a topic in more detail either through a blog (see the Guardian’s Euro 2012 puff, left), a video (see picture from Times Opinion at the top of the blog), a note about the daily email bulletins you could receive or a live chat later that day. This should be done on an article by article basis so it’s in the reader’s eyeline.

3. Commissioning for the platform that make you most money

If you’re making the cash from tablet editions, as many news orgs are, both in subscriptions and ads, you want that be to be really attractive and you want everyone to know about it. Part of that comes down to commissioning and forcing people to subscribe to (or at least think about subscribing) for exclusive digital content, for example George Monbiot’s exclusive to Kindle 3,000 word thesis or Michael Atherton’s tablet-only video interview with Kevin Pietersen. Some may say that’s cannibalising print but I think it’s essential to make people start to think differently about what it is they want and how much they’re prepared to pay for it.