Two Years Into Tablet Editions, Conde Nast Begins Regular Readership Reports

Additional Information for Premium Advertisers

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Vanity Fair on the iPad
Vanity Fair on the iPad

Almost two years after Conde Nast started putting its magazines on the Apple iPad, its advertisers are finally getting one of the promised benefits: regular information on each issue's tablet readership, down to its individual ads.

Conde Nast, the publisher of magazines such as Glamour and Wired, recently gave advertisers metrics concerning tablet editions of its January issues. It now plans to give advertisers data on each new issue about 10 weeks after it comes out.

The basic metrics that advertisers can expect will include:

  • the magazine's paid tablet subscriptions and single-copy sales during the reporting period

  • the number of readers that actually opened the issue's tablet edition, including print subscribers using their complimentary digital access

  • the total number of times that readers opened it

  • and the time that readers spent with it.

Each marketer that pays Conde Nast for a premium ad or at least a hotlink will get even more interesting information: how many readers accessed its individual ad, the total number of times that ad was displayed, the average time readers spent on it, and how all those results compare with the issue's advertising as a whole.

Conde Nast executives cautioned that everything about the tablet ecosystem continues to evolve, including the best ways to measure it. "This is still just a step on the way," said Scott McDonald, senior VP for research and insights.

The metrics so far include the iPad and the Kindle Fire, but will also count Barnes & Noble's Nook going forward.

It's taken this long to get this far largely because fixing bugs takes much longer on tablets than it does on a website. Every time Conde Nast realized its results didn't encompass offline reading or didn't easily distinguish ads from editorial, for example, it had to come up with a solution, wait for Apple's approval and wait again for enough readers to download the relevant update.

Providing regular metrics will be a big step forward in the eyes of advertisers. "It's been a very long two years without a trace," said Robin Steinberg, exec VP and director of publishing investment and activism at MediaVest. "There is no doubt this is not only a good move but the right move."

It's not ideal, however, to restrict the most interesting results to premium advertisers, Ms. Steinberg said. "This type of information should not be held back at outset," she said. "They should be sharing the good and the bad so we can develop the right experiences for our clients and consumers."

The growing body of overall information on tablet readership is reinforcing some early impressions that are promising for magazines on tablets, according to Conde Nast.

Readers typically swipe through tablet editions from front to back, for example, the same way they work their way through print editions. They browse -- taking in ads as they go -- instead of jumping directly to specific articles the way web surfers do.

"Consumer behavior with digital editions of magazines is very much like their behavior with print editions of magazines, and very much unlike their behavior with websites," Mr. McDonald said.

Digital-edition readers are also still younger but more affluent than magazines' print readers, Conde Nast said, although the disparity has narrowed as tablet ownership has grown and Amazon and Barnes & Noble have introduced devices that are cheaper than the iPad.

And ads with some level of interactivity -- a hotlink at a minimum -- continue to usually hold readers' attention longer than static ads.

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