Tuesday, May 08, 2007

PCM's DAG launched

Wow. You cannot miss it between the other free newspapers, the new Dutch free daily DAG. It is colourful, it has an exciting lay-out, which changes on every page.

DAG was launched today and it is the fourth free daily in The Netherlands. In fact you can distinguish the free dailies in The Netherlands in two generations. Metro and Spits belong to the first generation. Metro, part of the worldwide franchise was the first to introduce free newspapers in 1999. It was financed by the NS, the Dutch railway company. Metro was a direct attack on the paid daily De Telegraaf, the largest newspaper in The Netherlands. De Telegraaf immediately reacted by publishing the free daily Spits. Metro and Spits form the first generation of the free dailies. Since this year the second generation has started. De Pers was the first one to appear on the market. This free daily is financed by the billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn. For a moment the Dutch national newspaper publisher PCM thought about stepping into this venture, but due to internal differences of opinion PCM left the negotiation table. Now PCM has come up with its own free paper DAG. De Pers and DAG form the second generation of free papers. And there is a difference between the generations. While Metro and Spits have become advertisement brochures for mainly mobile telephones with bullet articles and a few spreads, De Pers and DAG are more serious about the news. De Pers is almost academic, while DAG is more popular, mainly due to its lay out.

How does DAG distinguish itself? The lay-out of the newspaper is bold with colours. The articles are short with a few longer background articles. Photographs and infographics are abundant. But so far there is nothing new. But from the beginning the idea makers of DAG have stressed that it is not a paper, but a cross-media news service, of which the newspaper is one of its manifestations. The cross-media news service also serves the audience by internet and by mobile. Eventually DAG will also feed news into the narrow casting service used in the Dutch railways. A newspaper with an internet extension is no news any longer. All the free newspapers have their internet extensions as well as their digital counterparts to print. The distinguishing factor for the news eater will be the 24 hours news service.

The internet site of DAG has signs indicating that the editorial staff goes after a 24 hours continuous service. The headline sector has time indicators, while a ticker tape runs across the screen. The headline sector leads to short news items from the Dutch press agency ANP (as Dutch is the language the newspaper can not use feeds from Reuters or AP). The earliest time stamp I saw on the site was 12:00h. But I missed a page with the headlines of the last 24h.

How did realise the cross-media factor? As said DAG is a continuous news service with sub-services through print, internet, mobile and narrow-casting. The news is being spread through all these media, making use of the specific characteristics of the media. A printed newspaper has news in text, photographs and infographics. An internet news service has text, photographs, infographics, animations and movies. The same goes for mobile and narrow-casting. From what can be seen on the internet site, DAG uses all these characteristics. The movies are prominent on the home page. Two movies related to Dutch news items of the past 24 hours (celebration of Ajax winning a Cup, the long traffic jams due to the long awaited rain). As far as I can see, the principle of day-sharing (print in the morning, internet in the office, mobile during lunch has not been applied yet). So the cross-media concept still needs some fine-tuning.

Interesting is the co-operation of the newspaper with a high-tech news service Bright. This service first showed up on internet with a site and later on started a printed glossy magazine. Now the editors deliver a page on technology in DAG, which means quality for DAG and promotion for Bright as magazine and site. It looks like Quest a popular science magazine fits into the same formula.

Will DAG make it commercially? Before the launch, the management of DAG announced a deal with AH, a food retail store. Part of the deal is that the store chain will distribute the newspaper to some 700 stores. This is a smart move, as the other free dailies are fighting for their spot near the railway stations and bus platforms. Of course AH will also use the newspaper for advertising. But the deal will not stop here, as AH is experimenting with narrow-casting in its stores. DAG will eventually deliver content for narrow-casting broadcasts of AH. Leafing through the newspaper, there are a lot of advertisements; let us say that there are much more advertisements in DAG than there were in De Pers when that was launched. Of course DAG has a news paper company behind it. It would have been a shame if the advertisement had been scarce; still there was duplicate of Partners in perspective. But what was remarkable was the number of advertisements for mobile telephones and mobile telephone services. It looks like Metro and Spits will loose market share in this sector; even more as KPN is partner in the DAG venture.

Altogether, I guess that the competition in the free dailies world are studying now DAG. There is new competition, a new concept, a continuous news service with all media types ranging from text to movies and a newspaper with a bold lay-out which functions as a sign for the entire service.

DAG means in Dutch DAY and HELLO, but also GOODBYE. One of the free papers will have to say goodbye in this crowded market; I guess that it will not be DAG.

Blog Posting Number: 747

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