Martin Belam has been looking at how the free sheets use new technology in a series of posts on his blog.
In one post he looked at:
how the free newspapers given to commuters in London use interactivity and content from the web and their users in their print editions for things like voting, TXTing in and music reviews. The focus of today’s post is on how they use video content.
He picks up on the way that freesheets in London have hit in using (another free product) You tube to push content which he says has three benefits:
Firstly, the stories are highly visual, and are perfect page 3 fodder, with eye-catching colour images that can be spotted over someone’s shoulder and get someone inclined to pick their own copy up off the dirty floor of the London Underground.
Secondly, they are cheap, since, effectively, they write themselves. All you need to do is let YouTube worry about the heavy-lifting of measuring the popularity of a video – all the papers need to do is get a few screen captures and then describe what they see.
Thirdly, it engages the audience. If people haven’t seen the clip before, it provides an interesting glimpse into the myriad of entertaining micro-content on the web. And if readers have seen the clip before, they can go about their daily commute smugly feeling more in touch with the zeitgeist than the unfortunate journalist who cobbled the story together.
Given the audience for the freesheets I think that last point is the most important and perhaps suggst that freesheets, whether they know it or not, have a better grasp of their audience than most publications.
Interesting insight from the ever interesting Martin