Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Macfadden releases a new iPad edition of its trade industry magazine Beverage World, built using Mag+

In April of last year the B2B media company Macfadden Communications published a tablet edition for its title Pizza Today. That iPad app (original post here), built using the Mag+ platform, was a first for the digital team headed by Michael Davis, Director of Digital Services.

Now a new tablet edition has released into the Apple Newsstand, Beverage World HD, and this app, too, uses the Mag+ platform.

The release of the app by the Apple review team most likely caught the publishing team by surprise, as only the sample issue from October is currently in the app's library. But the app description contains screenshots of the most recent issues so they will probably become available inside the app very soon.

The sample issue weighs in at 88.8 MB and is designed to be read in portrait mode as the app takes a hybrid approach. That means that the issue contains the print ads just as you would see them in the printed magazine, but the editorial pages have been reformatted for the iPad. This approach works best when there are mostly full page ads, few if any two-page spreads, and few modular (less than full page) display ads. As the added circulation is a bonus for most print advertisers, dropping ads that are not full page is size is the standard practice.

Beverage World is a BPA-audited trade magazine of 34,010 print circulation in its last audit. The magazine is also auditing its web and Twitter audience, so the latest BPA shows a total six-month average of 53,903. (This brings the audited audience up over one of its competitors who is printing 50,000 issues, but not auditing its web traffic.)

When I spoke to the editor of Pizza Today, Jeremy White, he told me the plan at Macfadden was to have the art directors at Macrfadden go to NYC to receive training with the Mag+ platform. In the case of Pizza Today that was Josh Keown. "Josh is very savvy in this department," White told me at the time.

I don't know if the company is continuing that practice, if so the art director for Beverage Today is Michelle Villas.
The big issue with B2B magazines remains qualified circulation. Whereas the print magazine is mailed to only those who are qualified to receive the issues – with each magazine making up its own qualification criteria based on the target audience it wants to present to advertisers – a tablet edition released into the Apple Newsstand is open to everyone.

Because of this, publishers have to decide whether they want to simply offer free subscriptions to anyone interested, or if they want to make everyone pay for a subscription. The third option would be to have the app only accessible to those already subscribing to the print edition. It's all very tricky, and not a very good system for B2B publishers. After all, what the publisher really wants is information on the reader, not revenue.

It has been an open question for a while about whether a publisher could charge new readers inside a Newsstand supported app, while letting existing print subscribers log into their accounts for free access. Since the print magazine is free for qualified readers, this would violate the general rule of charging for a product within the Apple system that is free outside it. My own interpretation would be that this would be OK because there is no free version of the tablet edition – and if the tablet edition is not a replica, then there is even more differentiation between the products.

In any case, Macfadden has opted to use the open-to-everyone solution here. Once the reader has downloaded and installed the iPad app they can then subscribe for free so that future issues will download automatically. If they aren't sure they want to receive the digital magazine they can access the sample issue to check it out.

Note: I was expecting to hear back from both the publisher and the head of digital at Macfadden, but that didn't happen – so it is on to other things.

Here is a short walk-through of the sample issue inside the new Beverage World HD iPad app: