Lebhar-Friedman plans to launch Residential Building Products and Technology as a digital-only title this month—first unveiling a preview of the website, then releasing a full February issue for Apple and Android tablets. A weekly newsletter will also be part of the lineup.
The apps will be the stars of the offering, giving readers the chance to explore products and technologies via embedded infographics, videos, slideshows and other interactive elements.
“Our approach is to go beyond blurbs,” said Nigel Maynard, a former Hanley Wood journalist who is now editor in chief of Residential Building Products and Technology. “[Our audience] wants to know how something is installed. They want to see it work and understand how it can affect them. The tablet allows us to go deeper.”
The company is also working with manufacturers to create a searchable product database. “We are developing the ability for a contractor to come to our site instead of going to Google for search,” Maynard said.
The digital-only format fits a highly mobile audience of builders, contractors, remodelers, architects and designers, said Jack Brannigan, VP-group publisher of Residential Products Group. It also fits the strategic direction of Lebhar-Friedman. “The company is focused on opportunities to convert to more digital products,” he said. “When do you release yourself from a print product?”
Residential Building Products and Technology will launch with a controlled circulation of more than 80,000 professionals, Brannigan said. Lead-generation services company HomeSphere Inc. will deliver the title to builders in its database, and the magazine will become the official publication of the PCBC homebuilding trade show. Donald A. Gardner Architects will distribute the magazine as a supplement to its newsletter, and the publication is working to establish ties to home building associations.
“Anyone can buy a list,” Brannigan said. “We are working with affiliates. The magazines going to their members have pages that are unique only to that organization; it's being personalized for these different groups.”
Lebhar-Friedman has signaled faith in the resurrection of the residential construction market. The company recently rebranded Home Channel News as HCN and is actively looking to grow its portfolio in the vertical. “We see opportunity,” Brannigan said. “The market is coming back;. it's coming back strong. Manufacturers are starting to invest in new products and technology, so we think the time is right. We're picking segments of the marketplace that we believe we can serve well.”