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How publishers can attract advertisers to the tablet

Part II

In a previous post, we explored ideas for optimizing the tablet experience for consumers. In this essay, we’ll look at how publishers can encourage advertisers to run “enhanced” ads on their magazine/newspaper applications.

As we previously noted, the iPad’s launch was one of the most highly anticipated launches of 2010 – at least in magazine and marketing circles. Indeed, many of the same attributes that make tablets an exciting proposition for editors and publishers also ring true for advertisers: crisp, brilliant resolution, the ability to offer enhanced video storytelling and new ways for consumers to interact with content.

While some early adopters have developed “enhanced” ads for tablets, the overwhelming majority of advertisers so far has taken a wait and see attitude, citing cost concerns, lack of metrics and limited scale. We think more advertisers should take more advantage of the benefits that tablets have to offer.  

Here are some suggestions on what publishers can do to attract advertisers:

- Show us “the beef.” The Association of Magazine Media (MPA) issued voluntary guidelines in April for “driving growth of advertising on tablets.” Since then, however, we can count on one hand the number of magazines that are actually providing any sort of post-buy metrics for our clients. We all know that the percentage of tablet owners who currently download print applications does not invite reach levels comparable to Parade or AARP. However, by not providing metrics in a timely manner, buyers are left to think that magazines are hiding something.  We need more transparency not less.

- More consistent pricing policies. Why do some media companies charge advertisers for links when the rest of the industry does not? Charging for links is right up there with bleed charges or charging advertisers for the 5-10 words of copy on magazines’ reader service pages. You get my feelings on this one. Further, ad rates should be based on a CPM which is tied to total tablet readership or other measures such as “actions taken.” The latter would provide invaluable learning for advertisers that are paying a premium to add interactive features to their static print ads. 

- Provide engagement metrics for all ads, but especially for those that are customized for the tablet space. This is critical so that advertisers can test and learn. Metrics should include time spent with enhanced ads such as video, slideshows, etc., and data on actions taken when readers engage with links and hot spots. This was just one of the recommendations proffered by the 4A’s Next Generation Publishing Committee, which I chair.

- Demonstrate more flexibility with advertising units and editorial integration. Take a cue from publishers such as the New York Times and The Week. Last September, Ralph Lauren was a sole sponsor of the New York Times’s application. Lauren ran beautifully styled, interactive ads and provided a live stream of its Fashion Week Runway Show. Rolex sponsored an iPad-only feature, “The Daily Briefing,” on The Week’s application. A ticking Rolex hovered over the top ten things readers needed to know on a particular day.  I doubt The Week or the New York Times got many (if any) complaints about their advertising compromising editorial integrity. 

- Work with us on ways to engage potential customers via e-commerce and “live chats.”  Shopping on tablets continues to rise, so we were encouraged by Hearst’s announcement that they will link Kindle Fire digital editions to Amazon. The ability to purchase product within a magazine’s application is a key selling point for magazine apps vs. other media. In addition, wouldn’t it be novel if readers could engage in a live chat with a customer service representative if they had a question about a drug ad? 

By trying some of the suggestions above, we think more advertisers will move from the side-lines to the front-lines of enhanced tablet advertising.