Renewed Commitment to Tablet Content Driving Successful Publishing Strategy

La Presse is putting many of its eggs in the tablet content basket – how’s it working out for them? Plus, app publishing, Facebook Instant Articles, and Google AMP

We still believe strongly in tablet content. Like any other part of a multiplatform publishing strategy, it’s not something you should invest your entire portfolio in, but tablet usage statistics and sales are steady with some indications of improvement in the coming years, especially internationally.

Having apps people want along with well-designed digital magazines that read clearly, stylishly, and effectively with tablet content is a must for any modern media company. Don’t heed the haters – tablet publishing isn’t going anywhere. In fact, its best days may be ahead.

But, to paraphrase LeVar Burton, don’t take our word for it. Digiday has the scoop on a publisher embracing tablet content and seeing results.


La Presse Goes All in on Tablet Content

While some have erroneously dismissed the platform as old news, tablet content is slowly and steadily reestablishing itself as a reliable source of revenue for digital publishers. Case in point, La Presse, the Canadian publication that has gone not only all digital for week days, but all app unique daily openings are at 255,000, Digiday reports,

“While other publishers are obsessed with capturing smartphone readers, La Presse put a big bet on tablets, figuring it’s where the time and money are. Tablet penetration in Canada has increased to 55.6 percent from 42.8 percent the year the app launched in 2013, according to eMarketer. While smartphones are conducive to quick, on-the-run news catchups, tablets support a rich editorial experience designed for longer reading sessions (La Presse+ users average a print magazine-like 40 minutes per weekday and 60 minutes on Saturday),” Lucia Moses writes.

“Tablets also can command higher ad rates than the typical phone app and desktop site can. La Presse+ claims to charge a $51 CPM, practically unheard of on phone app and desktop site; the app now supplies 75 percent of the paper’s total ad revenue. La Presse has a website and smartphone app, too ( has 2.5 million monthly unique visitors) but they serve to breaking news and push people to the app. …  Levasseur said key to the app’s success was to treat it as one that would replace the print product, and not just another platform. Designing the app, which was three years in the making, was an exercise in technology. There was particular attention to speed; to reduce the app’s load time, it developed tech that lets ads load in stages and loads sections based on the reader’s browsing behavior.”

Meanwhile, Independent App Audience Surging

The Independent is seeing success with its recently released app, as well, Digiday reports.

“According to Zach Leonard, managing director, digital at ESI Media, The Independent now has twice as many subscribers to the app as paid subscribers to the paper, thanks in part to a six-figure sum spent on marketing the app. To be sure, it was a small base to start with. The ABC puts the Independent print circulation at around 55,000, but this is for print and bulk subscriptions too. For print subscribers it is thought to be much lower at around 7,500,” Lucinda Southern writes.


“This is The Independent’s first foray into the subscription model. The app is free to download, but then people must subscribe for single issue for £1.49 ($2.16), a week for £2.99 ($4.34) or a year for £149.99 ($218). It features around 100 stories a day, across sections that had previously run in the paper like news, comments, business, sport and interactive puzzles. Subscribers can customize the layout so, for example, the sports section always appears first for them. Leonard told Digiday that it’s seeing app readers spend on average 40 minutes in the app across two sessions a day. In each session, readers view, on average, half of the 100 pages.”

Google AMP Gets Mixed Reviews From Digital Publishers

Have you tried Google Accelerated Mobile Pages? For those who have, editorial content has definitely accelerated, but ads are still slow to load, Digiday reports. “Facebook is able to load articles and videos more quickly because it hosts the content on its own servers, and hosts the ads just like articles, giving them speedy load times, too. Google does what’s known as cache the content, storing it temporarily, and it serves ads into AMP articles through its DoubleClick platform. The process means they load more slowly than the rest of the content,” Garrett Sloane writes.

“The Washington Post’s Jarrod Dicker, head of ad products and technology, said AMP improves click-through rates by up to 50 percent, but there is the issue of slow ads. ‘Ads aren’t as fast as content right now, but it’s something they’re working on,’ Dicker said. Talk to many publishers and you’ll hear a similar story: Google says it’s working on it. Of course, the awkward fact is, slow loading ads are often the result of advertisers delivering heavy creative with too much tracking. But naturally, Google doesn’t want to be the one to break the news to advertisers, who happen to pour billions in its coffers every year.”

Facebook Instant Articles Gets Hopes Up for Content Monetization

Facebook Instant Articles opened to all digital publishers recently, and the service is now offering tips to participants, according to Digiday.

“For publishers wanting to create a good, fast reading experience, publishing directly to Facebook via Instant Articles offers both audience reach and page-load speed. But investing in creating content for off-site environments they can’t control, either commercially or editorially, comes with its own set of risks,” Jessica Davies writes.

“Facebook has responded by opening up more commercial opportunities for publishers within Instant Articles. There’s now the option to run branded content via Instant Articles, a development publishers like the Guardian have been wanting for some time. The Guardian is among those to have gone all-in on Instant Articles and has been running ads via its pages for some time, though it hasn’t opened up on the results. Branded content will open yet another revenue stream for the publisher.”

How’s your tablet content performing these days? Tell us about your triumphs and troubles in the comments.

To read more about tablet content and other industry trends, visit Digiday.


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