AMC 2010 Coverage: From the Page to the iPad

Three magazine panelists share their company’s use of iPad apps

Moderator Abbey Klaassen, Editor, Advertising Age began the session asking panelists if technology is making their lives easier or harder and the answer seemed to be yes and yes. Men’s Health and Women’s Health brand editor Matt Bean, who’s been responsible for more than 20 mobile applications, noted that it’s been a challenge for them to figure out which opportunities to pursue first, as things are constantly changing, but noted that chasing every opportunity won’t necessarily make life easier.

Scott Dadich, Creative Director, WIRED and Executive Director, Digital Magazine Development at Conde Nast noted that their focus in this first year has been around replicating the full magazine experience on the iPad. They have spent a lot of time thinking about the reader and how they are likely to react and interact with a digital platform like the iPad.

As a counter-point to that, Bean noted that while the magazine experience is important for a brand to translate, it’s also important to realize that people use these devices as tools, so it’s critical to build something they can use on a daily basis, not necessarily just a “one and done” experience of reading a magazine.

Who’s doing all the work?

For Conde, they appear to be using a concurrent workflow where they assign for both mediums. Dadich noted that they’ve added freelance help in terms of video editing skills and make these decisions more on an assignment basis in assessing what the particular need might be for a specific story. Their goal is to capture all the work that goes into the monthly process and put it into a digital product. “It’s too early to say exactly how it’s all going to shake out,” said Dadich.

For Sports Illustrated Group Creative Director Chris Hercik the process is a bit different since they are a weekly publication. They now get 4 days to produce the print product and the 5th day is for the magazine’s iPad version. They do however design for print and digital at the same time. When George Steinbrenner passed away, it happened to be on a night where they had just closed the print issue. So the next day they were able to do an iPad exclusive where you could flip through the two covers, one highlighting Steinbrenner’s passing. So their iPad edition has given them an extra day for the news cycle.

At Rodale, Bean said there were a few guys who were geeks and thought it was great to work on apps. They also have designers that have come forth with ideas without even being prompted, so it’s the people internally who make it better without even asking. They do have a freelancer who works on reformatting. Bean noted that it’s important to have a simple, scalable platform to work in.

Dadich seconded that by saying there are certain folks internally who have a natural affinity for this medium, a natural skill set that filters out within the design department and that’s been great.

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What’s been successful in terms of iPad content?

Hercik said one of the cooler things SI has done was during the 2010 World Cup. They had photographers covering it all over the globe and created a “faces of the world cup” where the user could tap on 32 country icons and see photos and videos of fans in the streets from each country. These are the fun interactive pieces that SI truly enjoys.

Bean noted his workout applications as being very successful. When asked about cannibalization between online and apps, Bean says he’s not concerned at all. Rodale has been very successful in capturing email addresses through their free apps and has also introduced web interactivity through apps.

For SI, online has always been composed of mostly original content and noted that their print and iPad editions are more similar than print and online.

Dadich agreed and said that for Wired, 90% of online content is original. They view the 3 (print, iPad and online) as 3 legs of the stool and they each compliment and enable one another.

Biggest hurdle?

Hands down, it’s hours in the day. Dadich noted they have ambitions for what they’d like to do in the physical magazine as well as in their digital efforts, but it’s about taking all the energy and ideas and fitting them into a time period that is realistic. At some point they have to stop and say, “this will be great, let’s move on to the next issue.”

Hercik at SI noted the importance of making sure everyone is on the same page to help save time. They have a 4-hour window to create a story. Being a weekly, it’s critical everyone stay sane and on the same page in order to produce a great video.

For Rodale, Bean said they’ve simply learned by doing. “No one has a perfect idea of what will happen over the next few years but since we started early, we’ve been able to learn a lot.”

Dadich shared Conde’s greatest lesson. “We’re not going to move so quickly that we alienate the editorial staff. Speed is not everything. Being cautious will ultimately serve our brands and readers better.”

For more coverage of AMC 2010:

AMC 2010 Coverage: What Publishers can Learn from Facebook

AMC-IMAG 2010 Coverage: Lessons in Paid Content from Consumer Reports

AMC 2010 Coverage: Starbucks CEO on the Importance of Social Media

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