March 29th, 2011 | 3 MIN READ

How Publishers Can Embrace Multiple Platforms

Written by Amanda Dhalla

As head of consumer research with Elastic Path’s Research and Strategy division, Amanda Dhalla helps global enterprises like Google better understand consumer behavior in order to optimize their digital offerings. Amanda’s research has been cited by CNN, Econsultancy, Smart Money, and Internet Retailer. A seasoned ecommerce professional with more than 14 years in the field, Amanda has hands-on experience marketing, merchandising and managing multimillion dollar online stores. Her areas of specialization range from market research, conversion optimization and analytics to traffic generation tactics such as social media, search engine optimization, and content marketing.

Newspapers and magazines continue to face a tough financial outlook due to dwindling readership and ad revenues. At the same time, new technologies are having a major impact on consumer behavior, fragmenting the media landscape.

How can traditional publishers better meet the needs of readers?

One suggestion: extend and synchronize access across multiple platforms, according to a recent study by Elastic Path on consumer attitudes towards print and digital media. Download a free copy of the full research report, The Future of Magazines and Newspapers in the Digital Era.

Rise of the small screens

The phenomenal popularity of smart phones, iPads, and eReaders has led to a rapid increase in reading across multiple devices. Although about half of magazine and newspaper consumers read on personal computers, over 10% now read on smartphones too. Tablet reading is also taking off, fueled by steadily rising iPad adoption.

Magazines, newspapers and other publishers must find ways of serving up content to an ever-growing number of screens. Successful content offerings will follow the Netflix example and show customers the same company through every channel or device they own, but also optimize for each platform to deliver the best possible experience.

But where’s a publisher on a tight budget to begin?

Start with browser-based website optimization

With so many devices on the market, companies must plan investments carefully, starting with browser-based website optimization. As Damon Kiesow of Poynter Institute points out in this helpful blog post, using the open web and HTML5 can help publishers maintain their independence from dominant players like Apple and Google. And those like Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated looking to create ‘all access’ subscriptions bundling print, web, smartphone, and tablet access may find sites linked to developer-friendly ecommerce systems more flexible than in-app payment systems anyway.

Continue to iOS but don’t overspend on apps

Still, app stores can help users find your content, particularly those on iOS devices. With the iPad expected to take 80% of the market this year iOS is therefore definitely a priority, but publishers should be cautious not to over-invest. With apps costing upwards of $60,000 to $100,000 and more, publishers must be certain expected benefits will outweigh build costs. Any app, whether free or paid, must offer consumers an incredibly high value proposition to inspire usage; even popular apps only reach hundreds of thousands of users rather than millions. Consider Newscorp which spent an estimated $30 million building The Daily and will need a million paid subscribers to break even. Building re-usable content elements to feed both the mobile web and multiple apps is a smart way to go.

Not only should publishers be cautious about build costs, but they should also be aware of in-app subscription terms that vary in regard to customer data ownership, revenue share, and licensing restrictions. Because they differ so much, publishers should take care to examine each service independently.

Interested in more publishing content?

Watch our on-demand webinar, Winning With Subscribers: Top Trends and Best Practices for Selling and Managing Subscriptions Online, where we analyze the risks and rewards of pursuing the subscription model.

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