Magazine Apps Rank Low on Consumers' Wish List for the IPad, Study Suggests

It's Early Days for the Format, Though, MediaVest Cautions

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NEW YORK ( -- Magazine apps aren't big among consumers' interests on the iPad, according to results of a study described to industry executives today by MediaVest, the big media-buying and -planning agency.

The most compelling functions were also basic enough that you might consider them prerequisites for any device, so their good showings aren't really knocks on app editions of magazines. Internet access led the list of interests for the 1,500 people MediaVest polled online early this summer, followed by e-mail and listening to music.

But magazine apps, which publishers deeply hope will attract new audiences and provide new revenue, also fell below all the other uses that MediaVest asked about: reading books, accessing maps, viewing personal photos, managing personal calendars, watching video, listening to the radio and using newspaper apps.

That's not the end of magazines' ambitions for the iPad. Keep in mind that these apps are still being developed and introduced to consumers, said David Shiffman, a senior VP of research at MediaVest. "We absolutely believe those are all going to rise in importance," he said.

But iPad screens are going to be the subject of relentless turf wars. "It's highly competitive for consumers' time when they're using these devices," Mr. Shiffman said.

MediaVest presented the results of its large online survey and a smaller but ongoing consumer panel to a group of magazine-industry executives Wednesday morning, including Kirk McDonald, president of digital at Time Inc.; Kevin O' Malley, VP and publisher at Hearst Magazines' Esquire; and Mary Murcko, exec VP-group publisher at Rodale.

Other findings included:

People in the market for an iPad aren't all consumer technophiles: 45% own four or more other devices such as a DVR, an HDTV, a smartphone or an MP3 player, but another 40% own just two or three and 15% own one or none. "It starts to indicate to us what the potential market is for these devices," Mr. Shiffman said.

People expect to get new experiences from the iPad. "There's an expectation that experiences will be different even with familiar media products and brands," said Kelly Andrews, senior VP-research at MediaVest.

But consumers will tolerate misfires from marketers and media companies better than usual. They want to experiment with these companies, Mr. Shiffman said.

Advertising needs to appear in the proper context on an iPad, even more so than in print. When people can be so selective about the types of content they consume, the importance of fitting advertising with the context ramps up, according to Mr. Shiffman.

The audience with the most interest in the iPad skews a little bit male and toward 18- to 34-year-olds, but not overwhelmingly so, and tends to live in the largest cities.

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