Flipboard iPad app tries to turn the page on digital advertising

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Forbes Media has started a partnership with Flipboard Inc., which offers a free iPad app that curates content from publishers' social feeds, then reformats the content into a magazinelike experience on the tablet. Flipboard users can customize their own content from their individual social networks, as well as from 21 sections, or “tiles,” offered by Flipboard. Flipboard sections can also be populated by publishers' content that is distributed on Facebook, Google Reader, Twitter and other social networks. Now, Forbes Media is looking to monetize its presence on Flipboard. In April the company signed up for Flipboard Pages, which delivers content in a paginated format designed for the iPad. “What you're going to get is a better looking page for your articles, a container for your content and the ability to insert interstitial, full-page iPad ads,” said Bruce Upbin, managing editor of Forbes. The brand's ad sales reps are now offering their customers possible sponsorships for the Forbes section on Flipboard, he said. An ad will appear every third “flip,” or swipe, when viewing articles in the Forbes section on Flipboard. If the articles only paginate at one or two pages, then no ads will appear. “That's something publishers need to realize,” Upbin said, referring to Flipboard Pages. “They're giving up their ability to bring over the same banner and rectangles that were sitting next to that content on the native Web page.” Ubpin said that revenue sharing with Flipboard from ad sales would favor Forbes. “They're taking a cut because it's their platform, but we're doing the selling and it's our content.” Forbes is currently running house ads in its section of Flipboard. Upbin said initial metrics from Flipboard would include the number of people who have chosen the Forbes section on Flipboard and the number of “flips” of individual articles, for example. “Our hunch is that [ad rates] will be higher than a banner or CPM, and more of a branding type of campaign,” Upbin said. “The value is either going to be as a value-add to an existing deal or, at some point, if the metrics are good, an advertiser might be interested in becoming an exclusive Flipboard feed sponsor.” Flipboard, which debuted in July 2010, continues to attract both a growing number of readers and media brands. Through April, the Flipboard iPad app had been downloaded more than 2 million times, said Marci McCue, VP-marketing of Flipboard. Flipboard, which will available for the Apple iPhone this summer, currently has partnerships with 22 media properties. These brands include AllThingsD, which is owned by News Corp.'s Dow Jones & Co., Salon, and the Washington Post Magazine, McCue said. McCue stressed that Flipboard's technology offers business publishers an alternate way to generate online revenue. “They need to take the brand advertising from print into the Flipboard, and monetize it more like print-ad economics than banner-ad economics,” she said.
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