iPad Publishers Still Boning Up Magazines And Ads

iPad Publishers Still Boning Up Magazines And Ads

Few iPad publications include interactive or immersive ads

It’s pretty clear that digital distribution is going to play a large role in the future of magazines and newspapers. That doesn’t mean, however, that print editions are going away any time soon. For the foreseeable future, we’re likely to see print/digital hybrids while consumers and publishers test the waters of both digital products and distribution channels.

The road to digital hasn’t been a smooth ride for many publications. Part of the reason is the lack of resources being devoted to creating engaging and immersive digital content that doesn’t feel as if you’re simply reading a PDF of the print edition.

One big area where publisher are still failing is advertising – despite excellent interactive ad systems like Apple iAd, publishers are still stuck in a print mentality when it comes to ads. In fact, according to a new study, publications often simply toss the exact same print-formatted ads into digital editions that run in their print counterparts.

The study, by Kantar Media, looked at tablet editions (iPad plus other tablets) of several major publications and highlighted 10 major points about publishers are handling digital ads – and most of those points aren’t positive.

  • Tablet advertisers are existing print advertisers and not a new advertising market
  • Tablet editions tended to have fewer ads (about 60% of print editions on average) than print versions
  • Despite being ubiquitous in print publications, pharmaceutical companies are almost completely absent from digital editions – likely due to industry regulations
  • Tablet ads are overwhelmingly print ads plopped into digital publications with no interactive features, links to company or product information, or connection to social media campaigns
  • Ads that broke from the print mold were usually promoting app downloads
  • Less than half of tablet ads respond to changes between portrait and landscape orientations
  • A handful of ads that support changes in device orientation deliver additional or different content when switching between portrait and landscape
  • A handful of ads that did support interactive features allowed users to browse additional product details
  • The few ads that did feature interactive content did so in a way that was user-initiated (a nice plus for video ads) and were primarily in tech publications
  • Car companies were the most common advertisers to include interactive content and rich media

Overall, the news shows that the vast majority of publishers are still mired in a print mindset when it comes to advertising. It also seems to indicate that ad agencies themselves may still be stuck in that same mindset. This highlights how much the publishing industry is still set on its traditional closed ad system and that they’re unwilling to consider ad models of the types common in web and in-app advertising where apps are layered in form real-time sources as opposed to being static collections of ads associated with specific issues or publication dates.

One big point of this study is that publishers need to think more like app developers when it comes to their tablet editions. This notion is also supported by the negative comments and reviews of many magazine apps in the App Store.

Advertisers and ad agencies also need to to think about interactive content of the type that Apple makes easy to integrate into apps via its iAd system. In an ideal world, this perspective should also extended to creating platform/device specific ad campaigns with systems like iAds used in iPad app editions but other ad types being used in a Nook Touch edition. The companies (publishers, advertisers, and ad agencies) that get their first, will probably reap some pretty significant rewards.

  • Source Kantar Media
  • Architecture_Blog

    Not only are digital magazines a simple PDF and static copy of the print edition, but the price is no different to the more expensive-to-produce hardcopies. There is no cost-savings transfer to the reader.

  • mainvision

    I subscribe to or access a number of magazines and newspapers on the iPad. The Economist is a sober application, centered on providing access to the text of the magazine, with the added feature of the audio edition. The only downside is that, unlike the web edition, the iPad version is not updated during the week. On the whole, a good experience.
    At the other end, Popular Photography is much richer, with pictures and text in layers, sliding and moving all over the place. Content not bad, but the experience is confusing at times, with things sliding where you don’t expect them to or remembering how many taps it takes to get rid of text overlays to see a picture.

    Let’s not confuse ebooks, magazines and newspapers with video games and apps: the idea is to READ, not jump all over the screen and chase links and content. And I certainly don’t want advertisements jumping all over my screen, burning up often expensive 3G bandwidth I am paying for, using up tons of storage space on my iPad and getting in the way! If I am paying good money for a magazine, I expect the publisher to keep the advertisements in context and, above all, LIGHT and unobtrusive, then I may even want to find out more about the product, if I so choose.

    We have an easy way of sending a message to the publishers about price and features: we can choose to buy an issue or a subscription – or not to buy it, send a comment or complaint to the developer or publisher and, the ultimate weapon: leave a review in the app shop – that scares them witless, as it directly influences purchase decisions.

  • mainvision

    I subscribe to or access a number of magazines and newspapers on the iPad. The Economist is a sober application, centered on providing access to the text of the magazine, with the added feature of the audio edition. The only downside is that, unlike the web edition, the iPad version is not updated during the week. On the whole, a good experience.
    At the other end, Popular Photography is much richer, with pictures and text in layers, sliding and moving all over the place. Content not bad, but the experience is confusing at times, with things sliding where you don’t expect them to or remembering how many taps it takes to get rid of text overlays to see a picture.

    Let’s not confuse ebooks, magazines and newspapers with video games and apps: the idea is to READ, not jump all over the screen and chase links and content. And I certainly don’t want advertisements jumping all over my screen, burning up often expensive 3G bandwidth I am paying for, using up tons of storage space on my iPad and getting in the way! If I am paying good money for a magazine, I expect the publisher to keep the advertisements in context and, above all, LIGHT and unobtrusive, then I may even want to find out more about the product, if I so choose.

    We have an easy way of sending a message to the publishers about price and features: we can choose to buy an issue or a subscription – or not to buy it, send a comment or complaint to the developer or publisher and, the ultimate weapon: leave a review in the app shop – that scares them witless, as it directly influences purchase decisions.

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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