Being smart with smartphones debated at FIPP Digital Newsstand Forum

A session at FIPP’s Digital Newsstand Forum today (15 May) in Bangkok, Thailand, debated how media owners are using smartphone apps to enhance their magazine brands. 
Alastair Lewis, international director, Haymarket Consumer Media, UK, spoke of the company’s relatively recent investment in mobile apps. Haymarket have specifically focussed on some of their motoring titles in order to do this, and took a phased approach. “We wanted to launch three initial apps in order to measure, analyse, learn and earn from,” he said. “We needed to form an understanding about mobile product development, and decided to work with an agency (Mubaloo) to do so.”
Two of the apps have already launched, and the third is due to be available next week. Lewis said that the apps generally use the huge archive of motoring content the company already has, and simply turn it into new and different products to “help serve audiences and clients.”
For example, Haymarket’s Car Newsfeed app uses content from the company’s Autocar website, which is simply reproduced in a different format and allows users to filter as they wish. 
In terms of measurement, Lewis said the company uses three benchmarks, which are key in order to map where the company’s app strategy should head in the future:
Acquisition (downloads, new users, active users, demographics)
Revenue (banner imps, sponsorship, app sales, in-app sales, data)
Engagement (loyalty, retention, crashes, bounce rates)
Early results from the apps are promising. Lewis said that Haymarket’s Car Name Game app received 15,000 downloads, and 100,000 games were played in-app. The apps are also generating revenue, including a £15,000 launch partnership deal for on and a £5,000 per month advertising deal for another.
“It’s early days,” said Lewis, “but we as a business are understanding how we can play in that space. It’s already creating new revenues and opportunities for us.”
Next up on stage was Rolf Rohwer, managing director, Audience Media, Spain, who spoke about mobile from a service provider’s point of view. “Publishers are seeing very little revenue coming from apps, which is a result of almost no native applications on mobile,” he said. “We don’t believe in PDF editions on mobile, because it’s not a consumable format.”
Rohwer said that although smartphones and tablets are leaders in engagement, they’re not in ad spend, and this needs to change. He suggests investing in format, in order to make a native app (not bespoke), which feeds XML into templates and gives the reader a ‘mobile’ experience. “We believe that within a native framework, we can translate magazines into the correct format, which will ultimately be perfect for creating revenues in mobile,” he concluded.

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