Double Standards - How are magazine apps on mobile performing?

campaignlive.co.uk, Thursday, 16 August 2012 08:00AM

Magazine mobile apps cannot replace the print form but, as a brand extension, they provide a different kind of experience and curated content, two experts think.

Amy King: head of press MPG Media Contacts

Amy King: head of press MPG Media Contacts

NEIL ROBINSON, DIGITAL DIRECTOR, IPC MEDIA

- Are mobile apps really paying dividends for publishers and advertisers, or are they simply throwaway products that don't have lasting traction with consumers?

As the majority of the most successful apps are games, no publishers are making Angry Birds level of revenues. However, mobile apps are highly valuable to publishers as they enable us to engage with consumers on new platforms and therefore extend our brand reach. We are seeing our most loyal consumers gravitate towards our branded apps and, in fact, our most successful executions have been those that have offered content bespoke to the audience and the platform. A great example of this is the InStyle Best Beauty Buys, which was sponsored by John Lewis and allowed consumers an integrated buying experience.

- Don't mobile apps go against the grain of what makes glossy magazines popular with consumers, ie. in-depth content that is consumed slowly as part of consumer 'me time'? As a result, should publishers be investing in them?

Mobile apps might not have the longevity that a glossy does, but they aren't designed to. They serve a completely different purpose - as, in fact, do our websites - so the consumption depends on the platform. Consumers value curated content and trust our editors to provide that on mobile. This is great for advertisers as the myriad of multiplatform publishing channels allow consumers to access content wherever and whenever they want it, which gives advertisiers multiple touchpoints through which to reach these consumers. So, yes, we definitely believe they deliver a valid return on investment.

- How are iPad apps working out for your brands or clients?

It is early days and more devices will need to be sold to build sufficient consumer penetration in the UK but, so far, we have been very encouraged. We have 30 brands on Apple Newsstand globally and expect the majority of our portfolio to be available before the year-end. The broad nature of our publishing portfolio is allowing us to test different product, marketing and commercial strategies and we expect this to continue for some time. Wallpaper* has been the most advanced in working with our high-end, luxury advertising partners to create a variety of bespoke commercial solutions. This is helping everyone explore and understand the value of tablet advertising solutions.

- What is the biggest lesson you have learnt in the past 12 months about magazine brands taking over different platforms?

First, don't underestimate the speed of consumer adoption of new platforms - it is real, is happening now and is getting faster year after year. The second lesson relates to understanding how to run your business alongside new media giants such as Apple, Google and Amazon. The strength and innovation that they have brought to the market and the new marketplaces they are creating are immense. It is crucial we work out how to work with them and also develop direct marketplaces alongside them to maximise revenue opportunities. Third, not to overestimate the capabilities of web technologies working on mobile platforms - a good example is the limited effectiveness of mobile ad-serving solutions verses web right now.

- Which areas should magazines be investing in now and going forward?

Now that tablets are established, the task for publishers is to invest in better understanding of the consumer experience and their engagement with both the devices and our digital magazines. We will be using this insight to make the consumption and advertiser experience even better.

AMY KING, HEAD OF PRESS, MPG MEDIA CONTACTS

- Are mobile apps really paying dividends for publishers and advertisers, or are they simply throwaway products that don't have lasting traction with consumers?

Apps should not be dismissed as "throwaway" - in the world of mobile and digital, magazines are no longer linear products but meaningful brands with numerous touchpoints that engage with readers at many stages. Publishers need to ensure they keep their brand values alive in all platforms, protecting their strong newsstand heritage with a loyal readership. Monetisation is definitely an issue. A very large majority of magazine revenue still comes from the print product, and the media cost attached to sponsoring or partnering with apps is not equivalent to the good old page yield. It's here that publishers will have to get that balance right and come up with a consistent pricing structure that agencies recognise.

- Don't mobile apps go against the grain of what makes glossy magazines popular with consumers, ie. in-depth content that is consumed slowly as part of consumer 'me time'? As a result, should publishers be investing in them?

Mobile apps should not be compared to a magazine, or even take the place of one. Apps are a brand extension, built with a different consumption in mind. This calls for publishers to have a deep understanding of consumers and when and where they access their brand. Glamour is aware of its mobile-savvy readers and has designed bespoke mobile apps to match their needs. With a beauty app sponsored by Lancome and a news app in the pipeline, it has homed in on key brand pillars and expanded these out to its mobile audience. Another example is the Cosmo shopping genie: a click-to-purchase app that allows readers to purchase direct from the fashion pages of the magazine, but is not a replica of the magazine.

- How are iPad apps working out for your brands or clients?

It's very much an education process at the moment. We have run successful campaigns for clients such as our partnership between Kia and The Telegraph, but by no means is the iPad appearing on every plan and neither should it be. Our belief in creating meaningful brands means we should not design or use an app just because we can - apps need to give something meaningful back to the consumer. We are ensuring our teams and clients are fully up to speed with all emerging platforms and, with our specialist mobile division, Mobext, we are in a very good place to embrace the new world.

- What is the biggest lesson you have learnt in the past 12 months about magazine brands taking over different platforms?

The importance of brand integrity and a solid set of numbers. Publishers are in the infancy of mobile apps and need to ensure apps are aligned to their parent brands and hold the same meaningful editorial values. Media owners also need to remain transparent on the numbers they can deliver and make sure they don't hide behind the Apple non-disclosure policy. We have seen a number of publications offer audited mobile and iPad numbers and this needs to happen across the board.

- Which areas should magazines be investing in now and going forward?

Magazines need to continue to develop in the digital arena, ensuring content is of a high standard and reflective of the parent brand. Consumer and user data is vital in order for publishers to gain support from agencies. Transparency is key.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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