Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cygnus Business Media continues modest tablet experiments with app for Sustainable Construction

Not many B2B publishers have begun experimenting with tablet publishing, or even mobile media for that matter. One that is experimenting a bit is Cygnus Business Media.

The B2B media firm today released a modest tablet edition for one of its titles, Sustainable Construction Magazine.
I call it a modest edition because the issue available within the app contains only one actual article, despite the fact that the cover promises at least two more – they are not there.

The free app is single sponsored: in this case Caterpillar, which has an ad that opens up the issue with a bit of animation. Unfortunately, the ad was only designed for landscape so it looks a little odd in portrait. But the app description shows only landscape screenshots so maybe the publisher is giving us a clue to the way the want readers to use the app.

As a former B2B publisher, I can almost feel what is going on here. I assume the company is trying to get employees, editors and art director in particular, comfortable with the platform and so this app has been released with very limited content. But the publication is only quarterly so I would think waiting to release this with the other stories would have made sense.

In any case, here it is, far more than most B2B publishers, but only scratching the surface of what is possible.


One of the dilemmas B2B face when launching tablet editions is the issue of "qualified readers". Usually B2B publications are only available to readers who demonstrate that they are within the industry of concern to the publication, and then that reader receives the publication free of charge.

But with an app, anyone can download and install the tablet edition. What to do?

One approach would be to make the app a "reader", as some newspaper publishers are doing. In this scenario, anyone can download and install the app, but to access the content the reader has to sign into their account – an account that can only be obtained if the reader already subscribes to the print edition, or if the reader has registered with the publication's website.

In the case of this particular app, the content is open to everyone probably because the publisher is still experimenting – and besides, it is a single sponsored issue so why not keep it open.

Cygnus is moving in the right direction with this app, modest though it is. The key going forward for both Cygnus and the B2B media industry, in general, is to work through the issue involved with "qualifying" readers, as well as selling new digital ad space. The temptation of many B2Bs will be to go with replica editions provided by their flipbook vendors. These tablet editions will, no doubt, be as successful as those useless website flipbooks, though they may stand a chance getting better readership on a tablet.