Monday, February 11, 2013

B2B publisher GIE Media releases new, native tablet editions for Golf Course Industry and Lawn & Landscape

Native tablet editions from B2B to publishing companies from the U.S. are a rarity (Cygnus Business Information and Macfadden have a few), but a native tablet edition where the ad team has made a solid effort to attract some interactive advertising is even rarer – consumer or B2B. That is why the new stand-alone apps from GIE Media for the industry publications Golf Course Industry and Lawn & Landscape deserve to be recognized.

Lawn & Landscape is a 70,000 circulation BPA-audited magazine that also audits its digital edition, raising the circulation of the magazine to over 74K. The title also includes its e-newsletters inside its BPA audit statement, giving it a total reach of over 256,000. In other words, the GIE Media team is well ahead of where many other B2Bs are today. (Golf Course Industry is a trade magazine with 25,289 in circulation and a more traditional looking BPA audit.)
 photo Lawn-cover-sm_zpsbf3abd09.jpg
An older app for the horticultural group exists in the App Store, but these newly released apps are miles ahead of that early effort.

Pat Jones is the publisher of both titles and my hope is that I will be able to speak to him and members of his team later today or later this week to discuss these apps more. But the important thing to repeat is just how different, and better these tablet editions are than most other B2B digital magazines. Indeed, while GIE Media has other magazine titles inside the App Store, the ones I have seen, such as for Nursery Management and Greenhouse Management, are little more than app shells that give the reader access to a digital flipbook built by 3D Issue. The only purpose for those digital flipbooks, I've found, is to make it easier for publishers of competitive magazines to keep track of who is advertising with GIE Media. Readers, on the other hand, will find them impossible to read.

These apps, officially GCI-Golf Course Industry and Lawn & Landscape magazine, do not use Apple's Newsstand so readers will have to download the issues manually. This allows the apps to have their own stand-alone icons, but the trade off is that a reader will have to allow for push notifications to guarantee the new issue gets downloaded.

Like many other B2Bs who have entered the App Store, GIE Media has decided to allow anyone to download these issues for free. This is a tough call for qualified circulation magazines. In the print world, a reader would have to fill out a bingo card in order to prove they are part of the industry being covered by the magazine. That qualifies the reader to receive the magazine free of charge. All others would be forced to pay for their subscription. In the late nineties many B2B publishers made a push for paid circulation to supplement their qualified circulation, but that idea seems to have died.

With tablet editions, most B2B publishers have opted to simply open up their magazine to anyone. The problem with this is that one does not know how many of these new digital edition readers would be considered qualified readers to advertisers. For now, however, most publishers feel it is enough that their issues are available in digital form and their first apps are, in any case, seen as early experiments with the platform.

While I've downloaded and looked at all the GIE Media apps, I've created a walk-through video of the new app for Lawn & Landscape. The January issue inside the app weighs in at 223 MB, which is pretty modest considering the app appears to have been created using the Adobe DPS.

The tablet edition seen in the video above makes for an interesting comparison to the magazine's competitor, Landscape Management, published by North Coast Media. That app was created by RR Donnelley and is little more than a digital flipbook. Whatever advantage that B2B title had by entering App Store early was mitigated by the ill-advised decision to go with a replica edition built by their printer.

There are even more B2B magazines in the landscape industry category, believe it or not. Randall-Reilly has Total Landscape Care, though that company has not produced any tablet editions to date. There is also Landscape & Irrigation, a title that, in the interest of full disclose, I once served as publisher on.