In an online world, publishers need to become retailers, and brands should think about becoming publishers

Here are three tools or platforms and some case studies which brands can use, for your enjoyment.

Aggregate, curate and showcase with Storystream

Storystream is an easy to use platform for content marketing and storytelling. It can be used to aggregate content automatically (from hashtags or handles on Twitter and Instagram) or to curate content a little more carefully, or to push your own content to.

We’ve used it at Econsultancy for one our event FUNNEL event last year, but the platform has improved quite a bit since then.

Looking at this stream from Goodwood shows its power as a tool to enhance live events and marketing campaigns, but also to keep a digital archive of events and content in an easy to scan form (something I believe will become more and more important).

For sales, it’s a much more subtle alternative to the showreel, and the fact that it includes crowdsourcing is obviously attractive. 

Build a cost-effective app with Mag+

A SAAS based on an InDesign plug-in, Mag+ is doing well in the market of app publishing platforms because of its transparency. The tools are free to download and use up until the point of publishing.

The pricing is even on the website (knock me down with a feather) and the costing doesn’t depend on downloads of the app you produce.

But before this sounds like a sponsored piece, on to the case studies.

A lot of the apps have been created by publishers, but Toyota (see screenshot below) and a few others not traditionally known as publishers are on-board, and I see this as an area brands will expand into, not just with interactive ads, but with their own content and apps.

The V&A in particular have done great things with Mag+.

It created a free calendar app first (knowing that pricing would be tricky with a first product in an emerging market). It has been downloaded c. 20,000 times and helped to solve an information architecture problem, neatly displaying the many things happening each day at the V&A.

It was successfully used internally within the Museum by visitor teams and the app now feeds into displays in the museum, highlighting events. It looks great, and obviously this is a prerequisite of anything going on at the V&A.

The app is released each month, which means there’s a handy back-catalogue of events and content for internal use.

From here, V&A has gone on to create ‘Played in Britain’. In a change to traditional publishing models, a book was produced from the iPad app content. The app is priced at £7.99 for iPad. This represents good value when you consider it has three times the content of the book, which costs £25, but consumer belief in apps is still not off the ground despite 45 billion app downloads globally since 2011.

Work is ongoing to make Mag+ publish more reliably to a wide variety of android devices, but it’s an undeniable drawback of apps that at the moment only iOS offers true predictability. UX is less mature a discipline on tablets, even on iOS, and features such as double-clicking to remove a top layer need to be considered carefully. User testing on apps is a must.

A quick extra case study from Mag+ – New York Magazine is using the software in a unique way. An app version of their latest addition can be rolled down to show the live website, meaning there’s a reason to revisit an app, as it also contains up-to-date information, and effectively gives two screens in one. 

Pinterest

An important start I think to help brands get in the right mindset – getting stuff collated on a page, albeit away from the site, but start collecting things and thinking about ‘stock’. Of course, youtube and flickr are already places where this happens, but to a certain extent, Pinterest is more visual and is the first step, however small, to that designer/publisher mindset. 

David Moth, our senior reporter has summed up tons of brands using Pinterest. Here’s a post detailing the use of the network by some charities. And you can check out our Best Practice Guide, too.

What do you think? Should brands spend time and effort on apps, curated streams and image archiving?