Wednesday, October 01, 2008

BPN 1237 Dag DAG, Bye BYE

When the Dutch free newspaper DAG was introduced on May 8, 2008, I noted the ambiguous title. Dag in Dutch means Hello, but also goodbye. After last Monday’s announcement by the PCM Board, today's printed edition of DAG will be the last one, as the masthead of the frontpage says: LAATSTE DAG (Last day). Only the digital channels will be maintained. After the disappearance of DAG, there will be three national free newspapers left on the Dutch market: Metro, Spits and De Pers.

DAG has been on the market for one and a half years. It was the last one to come on the market. And it was the first new product in the post-Apax era. So it was a product to show that the newspaper holding PCM was able to put a product in the market with the help of the telecom company KPN. The free newspaper was pushed by the former PCM CEO. He started talks with Mr Boekhoorn, who was starting up the free newspaper De Pers, but in the usual PCM style these talks ended in Oh yes, Oh no; thus no. But by May 8, 2008 PCM was ready to launch DAG. Did it make any impression? Not really. It was a rag and a bloody shame for a newspaper company.

The newspaper had used the slogan of a crossmedia newspaper. But in practice this meant: a printed edition with a lot of photographs and a digital extensions on internet and mobile. No surprise. Although the first edition was hopeful, the lay-out of the free newspaper turned out to be abominable: more than 50 percent of the space was dedicated to photographs and the headline were all highlighted, as if bold letter could not grab the attention. Also the level of the articles was suited more for a highschool paper. But by the beginning of the year some real newspaper doctors came in. They started to borrow articles from the sister publication De Volkskrant and they cleaned up the design. It was a real step forwards. But crossmedia remained just a slogan and was not filled in by other concepts like day-parting.

As a medium DAG had troubles to bind advertisers to its publication. For a national newspaper company, this is surprising. Of course the printed edition was not exactly an advertisement in itself. Besides the printed edition had to compete with three other free newspapers, which were mainly distributed at railway station and public transport points. The management of DAG made a smart move when it got into a distribution deal with a supermarket chain. However, the addition of this was not enough to attract advertisers. According to the press release, PCM and KPN eventually believed that it was impossible to make DAG profitable in the future.

PCM and KPN have announced that DAG will cease its printed edition. KPN will step out as shareholder. But PCM has announced that it will continue with its digital channels. That means that the DAG management will have to select the whizkids from the 50 people staff. They will run the internet sites and the mobile service. They have already one customer: KPN. The digital team will deliver content to KPN Vandaag, as KPN had abolished the editorial staff of its Planet Internet service. The team will also deliver content for KPN’s mobile service and feed content to the producers of KPN’s narrowcasting services. Of course the team will have to get more clients; otherwise the PCM Board will end the exercise and say Dag DAG.

Blog Posting Number: 1237

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