Can The Apple iPad Save Real Estate Newspaper Advertising

8 minute read

Newspapers are on the decline! A very fast decline. Readership and revenues are down and profits seem very hard to find anymore. Because of that decline agents appear to be dropping their support of print media a little bit more every year.

Even the prestigious New York Times has fallen on hard times and in the same year as picking up 5 Pullitzer Prizes last year for journalism, the second highest yearly haul by one paper in history, they also received a cash injection by Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim Helu of $250 million dollars just to keep it afloat.

Now the New York Times is probably no different than the vast majority of newspapers out there. They were simply overrun by the internet in the early days and their attempts to play catch up have in general been far from successful.   Leading newspapers have all invested very heavily in slick websites that in many cases generate huge traffic,  but they have failed to capture enough online advertising revenue to support the massive expense of running a newspaper.

So when advertising does not cover the running costs the next revenue source to consider is the readers themselves. But here is where the problem lies as consumers are loathe to pay for something on the internet at the best of times. There are many things that are working against  the newspapers charging for content. There seems like an  endless amount of  other sites that offer the same news for free so the perceived value for news content is very very low. The rise of blogging has increased the amount of opinion based content on the web and there is only so much time a consumer can spend reading.

But the biggest hindrance to digital newspapers has been that readers are bound to their computer. You can’t take your computer out by the pool, or during morning relief visits, at least not without some significant discomfort and space issues.

This is where the Apple iPad kicks in. Now all you Apple fans better skip to the next paragraph because firstly I have to say that nothing that the iPad brings to the table is revolutionary. In fact they are tackling a market place that others have literally failed at capturing for years as there have been full blown tablet pc’s for quite awhile and even lesser powered internet tablets in recent years. So if the iPad brings very little over others before it then what has caused all this fuss. It’s the Apple flavour…. the brand….. the user interface!  Apple can make it look cool and just the apple name will get it into people’s hands and once there they will love it. All in all I reckon they will have a massive success on their hands!

Tablets to date have seen very little takeup by consumers and have been very limited to niche business markets. In fact one of those niche markets for tablet pc’s in the US is real estate agents for the very reasons that Greg mentioned in his article on how the iPad could be used for the real estate industry.  Agents in the US have been using tablets successfully for years and according to recent tech surveys in the US tablet pc use amongst agents is increasing rapidly.  But to date, Microsoft and the hardware companies have failed to capture the consumers interest in tablets. At the CES Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas recently Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer failed to get much interest in the HP tablet he showed the crowd. In contrast, Steve Jobs from Apple has had the world talking about the iPad since it was announced last month.

Overnight we have consumers around the world salivating over a tablet pc.  Apple can do what everyone else has struggled with and make it look cool and trendy.  When it launches you can bet the system will be slick and super fast. Like the iPhone Apple may cripple some more advanced functions to ensure the general usability remains  very high. The iPhone cannot  do true multi tasking, applications widgets can’t be placed on the home screen and the security is a nightmare for developers such as an applications cannot change system settings based up on gps input.  The hardware and software can do it but all quite easily but at the risk of stability and speed.  As an example if the iPhone was allowed to multitask a user may open 10 programs which could slow their iPhone to a crawl but they won’t blame themselves for pushing it beyond its limit, they will blame the iPhone for poor performance.  So Apple just does not allow it and whilst a few will complain of being constrained by Apples limitations placed on its products the vast majority will love the speed and usability.

The iPad has eReader software built. Because it operates on backlit screen technology like a computer screen I can’t see it taking over from the likes of dedicated digital e-ink screen readers for novels. An e-ink reader such as the Amazon Kindle has no backlight which eliminates the eye strain allowing you to read for long periods at a time and is why Amazon and other dedicated ereader manufacturers chose the e-ink technology. Backlights also suck battery power so whilst an iPad’s battery life is measured in hours an e-ink based reader is measured in weeks  Last year there was over 3 million eReaders sold and that is expected to at least double this year.  Our household now has two e-readers and I know of 8 that were purchased by friends after viewing having a play with one of ours.

Novels could really only be consumed in comfort on the iPad over short reading periods which is fine for those on a bus, or a flight this is not going to work for most readers. But unlike reading a novel, newspapers and magazines are normally only read over a short period and the iPad appears to be the perfect marriage for digital newspapers.   E-ink technology is only just moving in to colour but because of the limitations of the technology itself the pages will only ever be static. In contrast the screen of a tablet pc is just like a computer screen and you can view and zoom in on high resolution pictures and video embedded into the articles. So the eReader software on the iPad is great and would make an excellent platform for reading a digital newspaper but even better are custom applications purpose built for the iPad such as the one released by the New York Times to provide an ultimate newspaper experience. The best of both worlds!

You can bet that with the consumers interest in tablet pc’s on the rise that other manufacturers will now jump on the bandwagon and be developing similar consumer orientated models. Because the iPad and its tablet predecessors and soon to follow clones offer an excellent mobile reading solution that seems perfect fit for the digital newspaper the media corporations might finally be able to instill a sense of value into subscription and paywall options and start generating some of that desperately need revenue.

The possibilities for real estate advertising over such as delivery method is absolutley mind blowing. High resolution images, audio and even video tours embedded into your ad and direct linking to your website as the reader sips on a drink poolside may soon be a reality. If they want to stay relevant, and some would say even stay alive, the likes of News Corp and Fairfax have to seize  on this opportunity and develop solutions that the public would be happy to pay for.  Finally old media could properly leverage the new media  they have been trying to tame for years and we as agents could jump on for the ride.

It’s a big step for them to take if they hope to convert from a print to a digital medium and only time will tell. The massive media corporations around the world might be behind in the fight but do they have the second wind and the will to battle to the bell? Media executives around the world will be watching the  New York Times like a hawk but the first stage of success will the public’s acceptance of the Tablet form factor.

Would you pay for a digital edition of your local newspaper if you could view it on something like the iPad? I know I would, its just the price that may be the issue! It stands to reason that if readership was again on the rise  and a new cost structure based on a digital delivery method then agents spending on newspaper advertising would return and the media executives would not have to feel so guilty taking those big bonuses.

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  • Glenn Batten
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm 0Likes

    Sorry guys, a little stuff up with the article when it was posted. I submitted the article last week and during proofing and spell checking somehow comments were turned off and the last couple of paragraphs were deleted. Thanks to a few emails I got within minutes of the post going live we got it sorted very quickly. We had to restore the article to how it was submitted so you even get the spelling mistakes till I get a chance to fix them 🙂

  • Brett Clements
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm 0Likes

    Informative as always Glenn. But what? No picture. 🙂
    We’re all looking forward to being able to stream great video on this little contraption. The iphone screen is just a little too small. The ipad, hooked into Apple movies, well, that’s another story. It might go somewhat of the way towards shoring up AppleTV.
    PS: Read a book at the weekend called The Man Who Owns The News. A small grab from it: When Rupert met the owners of Google, his burning question was ‘Why don’t you guys read newspapers?’ The book is an insight into the greatest media baron of our times, and the challenges News Corp and others face in the new world.
    Kind of ironic the ipad of the new world may save the paper of yesteryear.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 1:44 pm 0Likes


    It’s just a little hard right now to get my own photos of the iPad, even if I had a “Broadbeach Studio” and I know how you don’t like stock photos so I did not want to offend… although seeing it was was an apple product that probably would not have offended quite so much 🙂

    Seriously though, mine was more of a soapbox commentary. Greg had done an article on the benefits and had included a nice video so I thought I did not really need one..

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 2:06 pm 0Likes

    Glenn, a great insight. When I saw Steve Jobs first present the iPad, he pressed on favourites/bookmarks and the New York Times appeared.

    Interesting to see if News Corp etc will be paying Apple to have their newspaper sites pre-installed into favourites/bookmarks of the iPads? And, if so how much the deal would be?

  • Craig Thwaites
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm 0Likes

    Hi Glenn,

    Great article, it will be interesting to see where the pricing for data ends up.

    Unlike the US I haven’t seen a lot of penetration of Tablets PCs with agents here in Australia. Do you see the IPad changing that?


  • Greg Vincent
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm 0Likes

    Glenn, a great insight. When I saw Steve Jobs first present the iPad, he pressed on favourites/bookmarks and the New York Times appeared.

    Interesting to see if News Corp etc will be paying Apple to have their newspaper sites pre-installed into favourites/bookmarks of the iPads? And, if so how much the deal would be?

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 2:31 pm 0Likes

    Great post. Personally I see print dying (as we know it) given the argument for its longevity is not about effectiveness rather its cost when compared to other online alternatives. I would see consumers looking at websites as against flicking pages where newspapers are not alpha sorted so suburbs are scattered everywhere. iPads are more suited to websites and what is even more interesting is that when I caught up with Peter recently and I talk to Ryan daily they have never been busier with agencies moving their respective businesses to having a much greater online presence namely through their websites.

    Agents are now starting to acknowledge that this is the future. I can’t remember when I last saw the newspapers talking up the real estate markets as much as I have seen this year. There is yet another clue as when you talk it up more people sell which then increases their respective revenues.

  • Simon Cashman
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm 0Likes

    Interest and implementation of online services are definitely up. We have seen huge interest just over the last 6 months in our website development service plus micro sites agetn sites etc…
    Social media is not getting the interest I think it deserves. Lack of understanding for one. But just put that down to time to get into it. ( Just go ask your 15 yr old daughters how cool Facebook is) What we are gettgin a sustained flow of interest in is our eMagazines.
    But just to turn it around on you all we are still seeing huge numbers of pages in all publications Across AUS and NZ.
    The ‘paper’ is far from in its death throes.
    The R.E. companies seeing value in anything online will be the future – and not too far away. BUT it will not replace pubs. for a long while. I see major limitations in the ipad but If I was selling a house and had a presentation pitched to me from a slick agent with a cool ipad – he’d probably get my house!

  • Simon Cashman
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 3:53 pm 0Likes

    BTW I like the forum – interesting its taken me a while to join in!

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm 0Likes

    Robert, I see that the physical distribution numbers of newspapers will ultimately reduce but if the newspapers can show a vastly increased CTR from their newspaper sites (via the iPad or other readers) through to the advertisers websites, I think we could see Print Media packaging up a more relevant option for real estate agents than we currently have.

    Integrating their offline media more effectively with the web may also open up some different options for their current pricing model for advertisers.

    But, relying only on the success of the iPad isn’t what they should hang their hat on. I see that the use of QR Codes will be the next transition that should help print media to remain relevant for quite a while yet.

  • RH
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 4:02 pm 0Likes

    I assume the ipad will be working on much the same lines as the iphone (apps etc.). For example The TIME app is free and the articles are plentiful.
    With most apps coming in between $5 and Free, Im not sure how much revenue they will be able to get? Being that once you have the app, they cant make you buy it again and again. And, will the slow pokes be able to play catch up again if they miss the boat in the beginning?

  • cc
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 5:38 pm 0Likes

    “The iPad has eReader software built. Because it operates on backlit screen technology like a computer screen I can

  • Brett Clements
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 8:35 pm 0Likes

    I’ll swipe one from the Apple site and send it to you Glenn. 🙂
    Just as an aside, I’m not getting copied in on any responses to this thread. Normally, they come through pretty regularly. I just got the latest NY Times post (funny, given the topic) so I don’t think is our mail server.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 6:07 am 0Likes

    To be honest, I am a little underwhelmed by this offering. It’s pretty cool, but not overwhelmingly and Apple needs to keep the cool factor high. Apple also needs to start playing like Google and giving the user what they want instead of cow towing to phone companies who truly think that their revenue future lies in data costs.

    I just got back from a few weeks in Oz and I had to watch every megabyte of download from my iPhone as ATT wanted to charge me $5.50 per megabyte whilst traveling.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 6:08 am 0Likes

    CC Good to see you, good to also see the use of the word ‘dude’ on B2.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 6:09 am 0Likes

    Glenn, you didn’t blame me for article stuff up. Even though it probably was my fault, Sorry about that.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 8:13 am 0Likes


    Backlit e-readers have been around for quite awhile now and failed because serious readers could not use them for long periods. There are already colour e-ink screens on the market so genuine e-readers will be able to offer both colour and a great reading experience. So e-ink will handle your colour illustrations any more and I dont see that many videos and dynamic content in your typical novel.

    There are already hundreds of millions of small and backlit screens that you can read books on from iphones to tablets and pc’s. Whilst they all have been used to read novels they have never gained wide acceptance unlike the e-ink technology. The tablet/slate form factor has been around for around for about a decade so I doubt that Apple and the iPad could change everyones mind.

    It’s a matter of horses for courses. Reading of dynamic content with embedded audio, video will be ideal for the iPad and others in the same format. Its for this reason why the mobile web has become so popular even on tiny mobile phone screens.

    Reading a novel or other primarily text document like a manuscript, text book, biograhy etc that requires long reading periods will be better suited to e-ink devices.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 8:14 am 0Likes


    Thats cool.. besides it was about time you stuffed up… I have done more than my fair share over the years 😉

  • Tablet PC Screen Protector
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 4:36 am 0Likes

    The Apple’s iPad is to become the superlight computing device, it has a feature to support a full-featured browser, and that means supporting Flash.Those ads are almost 100% rendered in Adobe’s Flash. So when people use the iPad’s web browser to visit their favorite newspaper they won’t see the ads at all.Media planners are going to have to get up to speed with a whole new platform. And creatives are going to have to learn to build in formats that take advantage of multitouch gesturing, video and a whole slew of other new possibilities without using Flash.

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