In the first two quarters of the iPad's existence, 7.46 million were sold—marking the start of a collective eyeball shift to a variety of tablet readers. And where the eyeballs go, audience developers must follow.
However, the infancy of the marketplace has many audience developers moving forward only cautiously with iPad apps. “How our audience-development team approaches iPads/tablet readers is an evolving process,” said Rita M. Foumia, corporate strategy director at BNP Media. “This is a new medium for everyone, and our team will need to determine how it fits with the overall goals of each of our brands.”
Foumia said one way to build audiences with an iPad is to engage that audience and push it to interact. “Our goal is to provide our audience with an experience they've never had before by using the capabilities of the iPad or [other] e-readers to deliver more interactive content,” she said. She suggested, when consumers are excited about brands, they tend to return. “It's also an opportunity to find new audience members or an opportunity to upsell other products or services we offer.”
The challenge for Foumia is that BNP may be more ready than the target audience. “As we make the investment in these new platforms, some of our markets are not as technologically savvy,” she said. “We may not see the results of our investment until much later.”
That information, though, is crucial from a business standpoint. Because mobile apps in the b-to-b publishing world are still rare, Brandon Friesen, VP-group publisher at UBM TechWeb, said consumers' interaction with InformationWeek's mobile apps demonstrates fierce brand loyalty. “Advertisers and media buyers know they are getting the créme de la créme of the IT audience,” he said.
Friesen advises audience developers to forget the initial hoopla over the iPad, particularly as some publications' iPad numbers have fallen dramatically from where they started.
“We are redesigning our digital issues to be even more iPad- and tablet-friendly and these provide users an excellent experience on these mediums,” he said. “The full-blown website experience is fantastic on the iPad and other tablets. We will evaluate other platforms as they emerge, but we are also focused on providing an HTML 5 version of our content, which will work across any device.”
Meanwhile, BPA Worldwide is trying to figure out e-reader metrics. “Understanding how important these are and will become in the media landscape, we are currently working with media publishers, digital magazine enablers and advertisers in an effort to gather data and determine what metrics are most valuable to the marketplace,” said Glenn Schutz, manager of communications at BPA. “We should have some solid data and clear direction some time early in the new year.”