Taking Print Media Online

Most UK readers still prefer print magazines

According to a new study by Deloitte, 60% of people in the UK still prefer to read printed magazines rather than online content, the NMA reported. Is this surprising what with all the seemingly explosive demand for nice new gadgets such as iPad?

I’d say not really, because as Erick Schonfeld puts it in his article on TechCrunch, ‘print media companies are still feeling their way in this new medium’.

Taking a PDF version of your print magazine and dropping it into an iPad application whilst adding some interactivity through the use of videos and slideshows is not taking advantage of what the technology can really offer. If you really want to try a different reading experience then try out Flipboard, Apple’s iPad app of the year in 2010. It allows you to be your own editor and choose from multiple content sources to pull down realtime news and articles into your own customized magazine. Not only that but its social so you get to share content with your friends so you’re always in touch with trending issues that you and the people you trust find interesting. Personalised so to speak.

That is the experience media owners should be striving to achieve. For those who get it right will definitely reap the rewards. Here’s Erick’s views on what the optimal iPad news/content reader should be:

Social: It should show you what your friends and the people you trust are reading and passing around, both within that publication and elsewhere on the Web.

Realtime: News breaks every second, and publications need to be as realtime as possible to keep up. A “daily” already sounds too slow.

Local: The device knows where you are and should serve up news and information accordingly, including, weather, local news and reviews.

To be fair to publishers, there have been some industry issues that needed to be addressed, but now Apple have finally opened up their subscription service meaning readers no longer have to purchase each new version of a magazine or newspaper separately. The service will also address the issue of providing access to existing subscribers. If the publisher wishes, readers who already pay for the content on the publishers web site can have access to the publication’s mobile app for no extra charge.

It will be an interesting space to watch. Google have just launched One Pass, their own rival subscription payment service taking only a 10% cut as opposed to Apple’s 30%. Then there’s the recent news that Apple might soon be forced to make further changes to their service thanks to the possible violation of antitrust laws .

Mobile Site vs Mobile App?

I saw a good article recently that was looking to address that quandary faced by marketers looking to engage with their audience in the mobile channel: What do you build first?

Do you build the mobile website before or after building a mobile application, be it for Android, iPhone, Blackberry or whatever platform you want to reach? Or would you be better off starting with an app?

Technology.Inc provide a helpful resource for marketers struggling to answer that question – a checklist of six items that should help steer the decision making process:

1. Utility: To reach the broadest audience, you need a mobile website. If you go with an app, you’ll have to continue to develop apps for the most popular platforms.

2. Need: Local businesses (think restaurants, retail shops) do better with mobile websites because customers generally just need basic information like a phone number or address. When the product is a service, like finance or transportation, apps are better. Apps are also better when usage is heavy.

3. Traffic: Apps are better for situations when you want to push a lot of information to customers, or when repeated interaction is likely. Also, if your website is already seeing a lot of traffic from mobile devices, you should launch a mobile site promptly.

4. Content: Text-based content often does well on a mobile site, while media-rich content is generally better within an app.

5. Availability: If you rely on and see a lot of search engine referrals for discovery about your business, you should consider building a mobile website. Mobile searches will reveal your site, but would not point to your app.

6. Cost: If cost is an important factor, consider a mobile website, which costs 50%-80% of the cost of building your main website. The article also quoted Aaron Maxwell of Mobile Web Up, a mobile design firm for businesses, saying that a well-done mobile app can cost as much as $35,000-$50,000 on each platform. (There are low-cost alternatives, however).