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.