Magazines may not have the best track record when it comes to adopting the newest technologies, but when the iPad launched, it was hard to find a magazine chief who wasn't excited.
Print publishing is particularly tough these days, and the iPad represented hope. As a result, many magazine executives were eager to give the iPad a try. That was a good thing.
Unfortunately, businesses don't run on hope, and despite the fact that the iPad and tablet devices are still very nascent, magazines have thus far found that tablets aren't a panacea for their industry's ailments. Some are even cutting back on their iPad plans.
In the digital world, tracking ROI is supposed to be easy. After all, there are so many tools for analyzing traffic and conversions, and attributing them to particular sources.
But in reality, tracking ROI isn't always as simple as it would seem. Many marketers, for instance, still focus exclusively on the last click despite the increasingly sophisticated tools that are capable of going beyond the last click.
As a result many either misattribute conversions to the wrong source, or miss them altogether.
Copy has always been important to online retailers. For obvious reasons, a well-written product description, for instance, is likely to produce more sales than the standard manufacturer's version.
But there's a new trend: online retailers going beyond product descriptions and building content-rich properties run in large part by folks from the publishing world.
Times are tough for magazine publishers. From dramatic declines in subscribers to dramatic declines in ad pages, it seems that publishers just can't get a break. Until now.
On Tuesday, the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) announced that it's changing the requirements for qualifying U.S. and Canadian consumer magazine circulation figures.
Many print publishers hoped that the iPad would do more for them than it has done thus far, but that doesn't mean that the iPad, and tablet computing in general, doesn't have potential.
The challenge: figuring out a strategy that works. Trying to charge more for your newspaper on the iPad than it costs in print doesn't seem all that sensible, and creating tablet-only dailies doesn't exactly come off as a smart investment given the economics of the publishing business today.
However, Condé Nast might have stumbled upon a concept that might be a viable
part of a larger strategy: take old, existing content, repurpose it and
sell it as a new product.
Most traditional publishing executives have bought into the idea that digital is crucial to the success of their publications in the 21st century. But despite the fact that most of them are increasingly embracing and investing in digital, few are seeing the kind of results that would indicate good times are back again.
A new survey of 476 publishing industry professionals and 1,800 consumers conducted by Harrison Group sponsored by Zinio might just hint at why: publishers are simply blind to what consumers really want.
In the run-up to the launch of the iPad, there was a lot of talk about
the impact Apple's tablet computing device would have on traditional
publishers. For some, including publishing execs, the iPad was seen as
potential source of revitalization for newspapers and magazines.
While it remains to be seen whether or not the iPad will be as
beneficial to traditional publishers as many hoped, it has become clear
that finding success on the iPad isn't any easier than finding success
in the broader market.
Prior to the launch of the iPad, many magazine publishers hoped that the
iPad might do for them what the iPod and iTunes did for digital music:
provided a viable marketplace for them to sell their wares. Operative
Getting consumers to pay for content has, of course, proven challenging
for many magazine publishers. And despite the warm reception the iPad
has received from consumers, it hasn't exactly meant overnight success
for publishers that have rushed to develop iPad versions of their
Isobel McKenzie Price is Editorial Director of IPC Media's Homes Network, which includes print titles such as Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and their online counterparts, as well as decorating portal housetohome.co.uk.
I've been talking to Isobel about the cross-over between working on print and online titles, how magazines can use the internet, and the challenge of monetising content online.
Consumption is up, dollars are down. In traditional media channels it's the same lament time and time again: audiences are rising, but advertising continues to plummet.
Gourmet, Cookie, Modern Bride, Portfolio, I.D., Vibe, Blender, Domino, Metropolitan Home - the magazine body count is mounting. Over 400 magazines folded last year, despite the fact that a survey of 1,000 consumers just publised by the CMO Council in conjunction with InfoPrint Solutions finds 92 percent of consumers still read magazines in print, and 90 percent say they want to keep it that way, e-readers be damned.
Yet at the same time, 78 percent of these consumers say more relevant and personalized content, promotions and ads would "increase their advocacy and loyalty."
So it would seem all print publishers have to do to resuscitate a foundering business model is figure out how to personalize their (dwindling) print ad pages to the wants and needs of individual readers.
Easier said than done.