May 20, 2014 Last Updated 8:00 am

Postmedia Network unveils new ‘four-platform strategy’ for the Ottawa Citizen

New afternoon tablet edition premiers today, built using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite

The Canadian media company Postmedia Network today unveiled what it is calling a “four-platform strategy” for its newspaper the Ottawa Citizen. Said to be two years in the making, the strategy includes a brand new tablet edition, released recently into the Apple Newsstand – Ottawa Citizen for iPad.

OC-intro“We’ve reinvented each one of our products from the ground up — from a completely blank canvas,” said Wayne Parrish, COO of Postmedia Network Canada Corp., and the person the newspaper’s story on the strategy said is in charge of the initiative.

At the heart of the strategy is a simple concept: that reader behavior changes during the course of the day, and to reach readers with their content, newspapers will have to create different products to satisfy these changing needs.

“You behavior changes as you move through the day,” states the introductory text from the new tablet edition. “Sometimes you have a few minutes to spare, other times you have a few hours. Sometimes you’re browsing on your mobile device, sometimes you’re in bed with a magazine. Sometimes both of those at the same time.”

“But what also changes depending on the hour are your expectations and relationships you have with the new media you consume.”

photo-illustration-all-4-new-ottawa-citizenIt all starts with the morning paper and moves through the day using the web and smartphones. The paper, as part of the new strategy, will have a new design.

“The newspaper has been redesigned to make reading easier and information more accessible. You’ll notice more graphics, information boxes, and fewer long blocks of type. The paper will put an emphasis on context and analysis in recognition of the fact that most people find breaking news online. It will focus intently on local events, which in Ottawa include the drama of Parliament Hill,” Andrew Duffy, senior wrote at the paper, wrote on the newspaper’s website.

As part of the change in direction, the paper launched a new mobile app – simply called Ottawa Citizen. It is available for the iPhone, but so far has not appeared in Google Play. All reference to the new app simply says “smartphone” rather than “iPhone”, so the assumption is that it will have an Android version.,

As for the tablet edition, that appears to be strictly an iPad thing. The app was created using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite and the app currently features a long introductory feature on the new publishing strategy. The first edition of the newspaper to appear inside the app will be published at 6pm EDT today. Then, every Monday through Friday a new afternoon edition will appear.

“We know you spend hours with your tablet in the evenings exploring, sharing, creating, consuming. So we’ve developed a new evening news experience, one that complements your desire to reflect, understand and be entertained at the end of the day,” the new Newsstand app explains.

It is a radically different vision of what a tablet edition should be, compared to what most newspaper are doing on tablets. But it is not unprecedented.

In April of 2011, the Orange County Register dumped its original iPad edition and launched a new app that was designed for evening reading which the paper eventually called The Peel.

OC-iPad-intro“People are using it (the iPad) a little in the morning, and really in the evening is when traffic spikes,” Claus Enevoldsen, then Freedom’s Director of Interactive of Marketing said. “In the old days, you’d sit with your laptop at night…But when you’re on your laptop it feels like work. There’s a sensation that there’s always something extra to look at, that the reading is infinite. Plus the laptop will get warm when you’re using it, and it becomes uncomfortable.”

“During the day you have the web, and 24/7 you have your phone, and the phone is really what you use for breaking news. We’re taking a magazine approach. We believe in this design, and the design drives the story. Whereas a lot of the RSS based apps out there are automatic,” Enevoldsen said in 2011.

Enevoldsen soon left Freedom Communications to become Senior Product Marketing Manager at Next Issue Media, and in the fall of 2012 the Register gave up on its afternoon tablet edition when new management, lead by Aaron Kushner, came in and cut the initiative.

But both the Register’s afternoon tab app, and the new one for the Ottawa Citizen, were the result of research into the reading habits of their subscribers.

In the case of Postmedia Network, the research was conducted by IPSOS Canada, which surveyed 17,000 readers. It found that its tablet readers had a mean age of 41 with an annual household income of $120,000 – and most importantly, that its highest engagement time with their tablets was in the evening. Smartphone readers skewed younger, while print readers had a mean age of 51.

Since the very first tablet edition will not appear in the new Ottawa Citizen for iPad until later this afternoon, the paper has made sure the app features a long feature on the new “four-platform strategy”. Here is a brief look at what readers will see:

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