Berkowski tells Futurebook: 'entertainment providers are your competitors'

Berkowski tells Futurebook: 'entertainment providers are your competitors'

Publishers have "got to figure out who their competitors are" and "putting your head in the sand is not an option" author George Berkowski has told the Futurebook Conference.

In a challenging start to the day, Berkowski, the first speaker up at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Hall in London and author of How To Build A Billion Dollar App (Little, Brown), said publishers needed to focus on other entertainment companies as their main rivals, not other publishing houses.

He used the example of the Daily Mail app in the UK, which has generated 180m users a month, and £60m in revenue a year and BuzzFeed, whose app has generated £76m in revenue and 150m users a month. However, Candy Crush beats them all with 100m users, 10m who pay to use it and make it $2bn in annual revenue.

"You are not in the same industry, but the people who are reading Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games are the same people sat on the tube reading Buzzfeed and every day. You have got to figure out who your competitors are. They are not the big five. They are not the independent publishers. They are the people trying to get people's attention and doing it in a flashy way, with whizzbang and candy floating over your screen."

Berkowski said publishers should use real time analytics to see what people are buying and reading and they should concentrate more on mobile, with time spent on mobile more than doubling in the last year. "People are spending 11 hours a day consuming electronic media," Berkowski said. "Going head to head is your only option. Putting your head in the sand is not an option."

"With Little, Brown, my publisher, I was amazed to find there was no real analytics in your industry, you guys find out once a week or once a quarter. Imagine if you could see what people are reading and buying now." 

Berkowski also said publishers should work on how to "seduce" readers better with "free models" and he also recommended they employ more smart creatives because "a  bunch of English majors sitting in a room are never going to build a great app."