The first wave of app publishing was driven by fear, fear that publishers would miss out and not succeed by ignoring the opportunity at a very disruptive time for digital. Now we know that mobile has changed everything.As John Wilpers puts it in the eagerly anticipated annual FIPP/IMC Innovation in Media World Report “... the content wasn’t specifically designed or created for the mobile platform or mobile-need moment.”
In the past, publishers essentially had 2 options: either a ‘cheap’ PDF replica or a fully bespoke app with costs that could easily escalate and over complicated navigation due to unnecessary bells and whistles.
PDF Based Replica Apps
When the iPad launched, most content producers rushed into PDF replicas as the inevitable gold rush ensued. The replica platform providers (sensing an opportunity) overcharged for what was essentially a very basic offering. That basic experience was passed onto the reader and whilst it worked ok on an iPad and other tablets, it didn’t offer advertisers any additional value, so no real paths to monetisation were realised and the fate of publisher apps was sealed.
‘Enhanced for digital’ is not the same as ‘Optimised for digital’
Platforms tried to innovate in order to keep up and offered publishers the chance to layer interactive content (like HTML5) over the top of static pdf content as the platforms hastily added new features in an attempt to create better engagement. This ultimately failed and the result was a clunky experience, large file sizes, slow page loads which further alienated publishers.
Not long after that, mobile content consumption exploded and changed everything. Publishers were now delivering content in poor, non user-friendly formats. This lead to a poor reader experience across popular and new devices including the iPhone and Samsung’s Android units. What should have been a great opportunity was being ignored as Publishers had already invested heavily for little or no return.
Those with larger budgets who could afford a bespoke app solution, also over complicated the user experience and again prioritised the tablet experience over smartphones.
This all happened against the backdrop of declining print sales, as digital content consumption grew exponentially making publishers even more cautious.
As responsive and affordable publishing solutions became available, publishers had already lost interest, after investing in solutions that didn’t work, apps no longer sounded appealing.
Many publishers remain sceptical but it’s important to acknowledge what has changed and how those changes present a brand new opportunity for publishers to experiment affordably. Read here the 5 reasons why publishers choose to work with ePublish.
What should be the next steps for publishers?
Keep it simple:
Ultimately your app should deliver an intuitive reader experience with simple navigation that is easy to understand (nobody ever needed a ‘How to use this magazine’ page!).
Simplicity is key. Any solution needs to dovetail with existing workflows and utilise existing resources.
What do publishers need in order to achieve this?
The most important thing Publishers need to do (after creating amazing content) is to deliver it to wherever their audience is.
Yes - You should have a responsive website
Yes - You should continue to have a magazine
Yes - You should use distributed content and social channels to make content more discoverable
Yes - You should have an app*
*90% of all mobile time is spent in apps (Flurry, Comscore)
Once you have a simple workflow and can deliver a strong reader experience that deepens engagement with your audience, you can start to truly experiment with the mobile opportunity. Try using archive content to create special digital editions or offer sponsorship at various levels of your app. Continuous content feeds will also give users reason to open the app on a regular basis.
ePublish, the digital publishing platform from Rhapsody, can make your journey to mobile a simple one. Our full end-to-end solution converts existing content into responsive mobile ready content and publishes to your own branded apps available in the app stores.
Would you like to see how your own content will look with an ePublish app?
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