Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Media Research: Condé Nast brags up its apps; latest Gallup poll points to increasingly cynical American public

The media giant Condé Nast is bragging up some research it conducted that saying that its readers really love their iPad apps. “We’re very excited. We believe there’s a huge business on the horizon," said Lou Cona, chief marketing officer to Mediaweek.

paidContent's story concludes that the survey proves that most users don't see the device as a "mobile" device -- and I think this is right. The inclusion of WiFi and 3G is confusing some into thinking that simply having an Internet connection makes a device mobile. (We'll see, however, if new seven inch tablets are looked at the same way.)
A poor choice of words was used to convey the next finding: "But the big news is iPad and iPhone readers seem to spend more time with the digital replicas in comparison to the print versions," David Kaplan writes. In fact, Condé Nast is producing few "replica" editions, but instead many are native apps. One would guess that the writer is simply choosing his words poorly and is not using the term I prefer -- tablet editions.

In fact, replica editions consistently are viewed fairly negatively by iPad owners. Their reviews inside iTunes consistently show that readers want more from their tablet editions than mere electronic replicas of print editions. Although I know of no research so far on this subject, my guess would be that readers spend about the same amount of time reading a replica edition on their iPads as a print edition -- but that native apps, those with embedded video, animation and the like, are more engaging and therefore readers spend more time with these products. These are the products Condé Nast is producing and so I think their own research is pointing in that direction.

Condé Nast obviously surveyed those who downloaded, installed and used their apps. What about everyone else -- those that downloaded the app, but may have deleted it or otherwise rejected it? That is, what does iTunes reviewers say?

Using a scale that compared five-star reviews with one-star reviews, this is what users in iTunes say about Condé Nast apps: Glamour 29% positive; New Yorker 12% positive; Gourmet Live 32% positive; Wired 22% positive; Vanity Fair 35% positive; GQ 47% positive; Epicurious 62% positive. (As a comparison, MacLife has a 66% positive rating using this method.)

So what's the problem? Condé Nast says their readers love their apps, but iTunes says the opposite. The reason for this is that the number one complain about most magazine apps from the big publishers is pricing. Readers complaint that those with print subscriptions are getting shafted buy being forced to buy their magazines twice. They also complain about cover prices that are not discounted from print cover prices. Another common complaint is that issues must be bought one at a time due to problems with the buying model within iTunes.

In the end, none of this actually involves the application or its content.

There appears to be three factors determining iTunes reviews: 1) pricing; 2) replica versus native app; and 3) app stability. Interestingly, European reviewers seem to be more open to straight replica conversions of print editions than American iPad users (though I will admit that I have conducted no survey along these lines and am simply concluding this by looking within the various iTunes App Stores and comparing reviews of similar products by country).

You can read the full Condé Nast press release here. It includes some best practices for advertisers.

I received an e-mail this morning with the subject line: "EXIRATION ALERT!" Well done.

A new Gallup poll paints a very bleak picture, though consistent picture of American attitudes towards media and government.

According to the latest 2010 USA Today/Gallup Governance survey, American continue to believe that the media is too liberal, with 48 percent of Americans believing that the news media skews left. But these numbers are actually exactly the same as they were in 2004 and only one point different than they were in 2008, a year Democrats took back the White House.

But the trend towards trusting the media continues to be one direction. Only 43 percent of those surveyed trust the mainstream press a Great deal or a fair amount. This number has fallen consistently since its high in June 1976, shortly after Watergate.

Americans believe the media is too liberal for only one reason: the media tells them it is. It is a recurring theme on television cable broadcasts, on editorial pages, and on the radio. If the media says it is so it must be so. And what does the media say about itself: that it can't be trusted. Blasting the NYT, for instance, is a consistent message spewed out by Fox News, the WSJ and just about every outlet, save the NYT.

Gallup's main purpose of this poll is to judge American attitudes towards government. Here again the results were consistent with past results. Americans believe government is doing too much -- 58 percent say so. But the question is designed to get these results worded to suggest that "Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses" This question always results in a majority favoring limiting government (except, of course, right after 9/11 when suddenly folks thought the government was needed more).

The one number that has dramatically increased is the number of Americans who believe that government has too much power. In the poll conducted from September 13-16 this number has increased to 59 percent, reflection, I believe, in the fact that many liberals and progressives are disappointed that President Obama has increased executive power rather than following through on his promises to scale it back. Not surprisingly, 46 percent agree that "federal government poses an immediate threat to the rights and citizens" though this is still a minority position -- though just barely.

We are very close to reaching a point where a majority of Americans see their government as a direct threat to their liberty.