Tuesday, June 5, 2012

UK B2B media firm EMAP Ltd. releases a tablet edition for Ground Engineering inside the Apple Newsstand

Like many B2B media companies, the UK's EMAP Ltd. has seen better days. Once a media giant with revenues exceeding £1 billion, the company has split off its consumer side, rebranded the B2B side, and has suffered cost cutting and the like. But in the B2B magazine side has started to experiment with the tablet platform and just today has launched a new tablet edition for its title Ground Engineering.

The iPad app, titled Ground Engineering (GE), does a lot right including appearing in the App Store under its own company name.
The problems in the tablet editions, by comparison, are fairly minor and can be corrected over time.

The magazine is part of the same group as New Civil Engineer, which had a tablet edition released for it earlier in April. Ground Engineering probably was launched later because the magazine does not have its own branded website due to being the official magazine of the British Geotechnical Association.

The tablet edition is free of charge and readers can choose to subscribe for free in order to get their issues automatically downloaded through the Newsstand app, or one can simply avoid this and download the issues one at a time. Here is, of course, the first issue with the app, and many other B2B media apps: there is no qualification process. The blame for this, in my own opinion, falls to the industry itself and its trade association leaders which have failed to successfully work with Apple to adjust to the demands of modern B2B publishing (I suppose Apple deserves some blame, as well).

In the absence of a qualification process, B2B publishers can choose to either close off their app to nonsubscribers or else make downloaders of the app edition pay for access. Neither solution is very attractive, though, so most publishers are choosing to open up their tablet editions to all readers.

Ultimately, the publishing team should be congratulated for not opting for a hard to read replica solution. The tablet edition is a simple and easily read digital publication.

Left: the table of contents; Middle: the editor's column which ends abruptly; Right: an ad from the single-sponsor with embedded video.

The new iPad app for Ground Engineering does show some rookie mistakes, however. The editor's note, for instance, abruptly ends. (If you had been watching me with the app you would have seen me foolishly trying to scroll and swipe to find the rest of the column – it's not there.)

Also, and more importantly, the app lacks a way to get back to the library page. With only one issue available this isn't much of a problem, but for now the only way to return to the library is by closing out the app completely. This will require an update when the second issue appears.

The May issue inside the app is single sponsored by ALLU UK, and they should be pleased with the digital magazine. The ads for the company inside have multimedia features like a slideshow or embedded video, showing the way for future B2B advertisers.