IMAG ’10 Coverage: PixelMags Shows the Importance and Potential Behind Apps

And how to benefit from them

Ryan Marquis of PixelMags spoke at the IMAG conference this week in DC and told publishers that the App Store is the publishing industry’s new newsstand. There are over 85 million people worldwide with an iPhone and an iPod Touch and that number will continue to grow. Add in the explosion of the iPad, “it’s a demographic we can not ignore,” said Marquis.

He did a quick comparison to music on the iPod. It took the iTunes store 7 years to hit the 10 billion download mark.

The App Store been live for 22 months and there have been more than 3 billion downloads. Marquis predicts the App Store will surpass iTunes in a very fast way.

How PixelMags works

PixelMags is an authorized Apple developer. They are working exclusively with the publishing industry (magazines, books, catalogs), taking publishers’ content and creating branded apps for that content. They then spearhead the approval process with Apple to get the application live.

PixelMags’ app process does not entail new workflow for the publisher. PixelMags works directly from PDFs. You upload a PDF document to their server and they take it from there. They have a suite of tools coming out in July that will allow publishers to add enhanced content, like interactive ads, embedded video and interactive polls.

The convenience of in-app purchasing for single issues and annual subscriptions

With PixelMags’ in-app purchasing mechanism, consumers can buy a current issue, a back issue, and subscribe to the magazine – right inside the app. No need to leave the app and get dropped into a browser to subscribe. In-app purchasing allows the user to easily subscribe. Marquis says that consumers are committing to a year subscription for iPad and iPhone magazines with their first purchase. And this of course, is where publishers can make a lot of money.

For in-app subscriptions, a timeframe is set for the length of the subscription, say 1 year, and PixelMags submits it to Apple. Consumers then receive a push notification from Apple that the new monthly issue is available.

For those unfamiliar with the term, push notifications are typically custom text alerts that are sent through a constantly open IP connection. These notifications are sent from the servers of third party applications directly to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Push notifications could be thought of as the new “mail box”.

Generating revenue with push notification

For publishers, push notifications are another potential source of revenue. In addition to notifying customers that they need to renew their digital subscription, push notifications can also be used to announce seminars and events by geographic location, or open houses for advertisers.

Apple has not set a limit to how many push notifications publishers can send.

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Plans for e-commerce ads within pages of apps

Plans for e-commerce advertisements within app magazine pages will change the way shopping is done in the world. It will allow for every magazine page to become an e-commerce store. So if you are flipping through a magazine or catalog, you can put a shopping cart icon near any product that will launch an in-app web browser. You can then add products to the cart and check out when ready.

Marquis said PixelMags also has a gift card agreement in place where publishers could sell subscriptions at over 82,00 retail locations. This completely changes the way magazines are distributed and bought. Imagine going to the grocery store and buying a subscription as a gift for a friend that’ll go straight to that person’s iPad.

Dwell case study

Marquis shared a case study on Dwell magazine. The digital version of Dwell had been on digital newsstands for 6 months and averaged 29 sales per week. PixelMags created a branded app for Dwell and launched it in the App Store. After 3 weeks Dwell was averaging 553 sales per week.

The current issue of Dwell is available for .99 cents, a back issue is $3.99 and an annual subscription is $19.99.

Advantages of branded apps

Marquis listed several advantages of what he refers to as “branded apps”.

Brand searches: a Dwell enthusiast might search directly by magazine title in the App Store, resulting in an immediate find of the app.

Keyword indexing: if someone searches the App Store for “modern home” or “pre-fab” they would also find the Dwell app.

Dedicated links: having a branded app gets you a dedicated link in iTunes that publishers can embed on their site and share virally via Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

For more coverage of IMAG ’10:

IMAG ’10 Coverage: A Solid Product Idea and Several Tips from Ogden Publications

IMAG ‘10 Coverage: Audience Development Best Practices

IMAG-MPA 2010 Conference Coverage

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