Publishers making great gains on tablets, says panel at FIPP Congress

If there’s one signifier of disruption in the magazine industry, it’s the tablet. Nick Bogaty, senior director of business development and marketing at Adobe, USA, moderated a discussion today at the FIPP World Congress in Rome about the keys to tablet success of two digital editions in the marketplace that attract a significant readership.

“It seems like tablets have been around for a very, very long time,” said Bogaty, who first worked on a digital prototype for Wired three years ago, and he called the progress of the industry “highly encouraging.”

One metric for the industry is percentage of user time spent on media (print or digital) versus the percentage of advertising spent. According to Bogaty, time spent by users on print is very small compared to advertising spent. The whole idea is to transition the advertising spent from print to digital. That’s bad news for print, but very good news for the mobile side, and indicative of significant revenue opportunities for publishers.

The reality is that the future marketplace is online, one example being the iTunes newsstand. More than 80 per cent of digital magazines on iTunes are made with DPS (Adobe). “We’re delivering two million every week,” said Bogaty.

The numbers show that customers like the digital products they’re getting. Said Bogaty, money is no longer being spent on design and additional creative engineering. The work is in transitioning customers to digital properties as fast as possible.

Martha Stewart Living magazine was an early adapter, publishing its first digital edition in November 2011. The magazine’s iPad edition is currently the #1-ranking app by iMonitor.

Ruth Feldman, VP and international editorial director for Martha Stewart Living, USA (pictured), said, “Going back to our first issue in 1990, we’ve always been known for our power to draw people with our visuals… We wanted our digital version to captivate our readers, not as we’ve done before, but better.”
Feldman said that they wanted to build on the print magazine’s already strong and identifiable brand, and utilize the new landscape while still maintaining their high standards. “Beautiful images are at the heart of what we do,” said Feldman.

The magazine’s three guidelines in digital are captivate, animate, and connect. The emphasis is on the user experience, using interactivity, functionality, and an experience that looks and feels great to readers. Not only is typography in the digital edition specially adapted to make it easier to read by increasing space between lines, stories flow vertically rather than horizontally.

Feldman gave an example of a story on fishing in Alaska that contained embedded videos and how-tos, as well as the ability for readers to see a panoramic view of the landscape. The animation goes alongside with making it the experience “immersive on a whole new level.”

“Our strategy has not changed our mission, but it’s become a way to further our mission,” said Feldman. The magazine has seen changes in its audience with the inception of digital: the audience is seven years younger, more affluent, and renewing at a higher rate.

Another highly successful digital magazine is Immediate Media’s Top Gear, which has been the leading car magazine in the UK for 20 years. It published its first interactive edition in December 2012.

“The day we launched, we became the top motoring magazine in the UK and US app stores,” said Simon Carrington, publisher of Top Gear. It is now the sixth best-selling tablet magazine in the UK, across all markets.
To be successful digitally, said Carrington, you need the right audience. Top Gear’s audience is the “ tech savvy male customer.” Thirty per cent of this audience owns tablets, which is higher than the UK average.

Top Gear has designed its digital magazine to enhance what their readers, who are avid car fanatics, already love, such as photo detail with in-app pinch-and-zoom features, and full-screen photos. “We try to do four to five videos per edition,” said Carrington.

The result is high interactivity, with 50 per cent of readers spending over an hour with the app. Readers are interacting not just with editorial content but with ads as well, and Carrington said advertisers are seeing great click-through rates. Top Gear has found that 65 per cent of their readers agree that the advertising enhances their interaction with the magazine.

The success of digital magazines depends on keeping an ear to the ground—within the industry, and with customers and advertisers alike.

“It’s important to listen to your readers because they can offer you instant feedback. Work with your advertisers. Above all, maximise the use of technology that is available to you,” said Carrington.

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