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The Evolution of Format

Digital publications and the volume of magazine apps have certainly increased exponentially in the last year. The Alliance for Audited Media recently announced that consumer magazine publishers distributed 10.2 million digital replica editions in the first six months of 2013, nearly doubling the comparable 2012 total.

Even with these encouraging numbers, not enough publishers seem to be taking up the challenge to completely re-imagine what a tablet or smartphone publication should be. There is a learning curve at play, and as the tools mature and publishers develop a better understanding of what users really want in an app from a media brand, the tide should turn.

The tablet and smartphone’s incredible growth has raised expectations for digital magazines. The app publishing process, including the tools, the distribution channels and the apps themselves – is still forming. Publishers and pundits alike need to give it a chance.

Many publishers are now focused on enhancing their traditional magazine model with interactive features along with social and web integration. Others are using the tablet and smartphone as a springboard for new business models, including interactive editorial and shopping services. Some apps are also emerging as a new way to package old content, and subscription models are evolving as well, with newsstand vendors experimenting with ways to deliver more customer-friendly solutions.

Standardized metrics are critical to growing the advertising base in digital editions as publishers devote more resources to driving tablet and smartphone subscriptions, and should be given the attention necessary to offer a comprehensive product.

In a global world dominated by the internet, tablets and smartphones, the importance of mobile apps can’t be dismissed by the naysayers. In time, they should become equally as important (if not more so) as websites, and publishers must be prepared to make that happen. The industry is still in flux, and opportunities abound to create a dynamic, profitable model that will stand the test of time. The explosion of smart devices essentially dictates the need for mobile apps today.
Mobile devices have become the focal point of the modern experience. Nearly everyone in the developed world has one, and they have become a person’s connection to the world around them. If a business doesn’t have a presence in that world, it doesn’t exist. Mobile access to a web site isn’t enough.

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