Monday, March 25, 2013

B2B publisher Penton Media moves away from replicas with its native tablet edition for 'Nation's Restaurant News'

The percentage of revenue that B2B publishers generate from digital media remains pretty low. But according to CDS Global, the percentage of that digital revenue that comes from tablet editions is only 2.4 percent. You don't need a calculator to figure out that this means that most U.S. B2B publishers simply aren't launching profitable tablet editions, if they are launching them at all.

One publisher that has had apps inside the Apple App Store for quite a while is Penton Media. Penton is one of the nation's oldest B2B publishing companies, having been founded in 1892 by John Penton. The media company has been in the hands of the private equity firm Wasserstein & Co. since late 2006.

Penton's earliest apps were for trade shows, created by Core-Apps, one of the leading developers of apps for events. Apps like Club Industry Show 2011 serve a very specific service then become somewhat irrelevant (thought the apps do contain information attendees might find valuable well after the show).

Apps, such as for Fleet Owner, are news apps that deliver to the iPhone or iPad reformatted version of the title's website. Still other apps are replica editions built by Texterity such as the universal app for SQL Server Pro.

But the app released in January, and just updated last week, for Nation's Restaurant News is something altogether different – a native iPad edition.

(Penton acquired the 60K circulation bi-weekly trade magazine late in 2010 from Lebhar-Friedman. The magazine has been an important fixture in the industry since its founding in 1967, which probably explains why Penton allowed the publisher to launch their own tablet edition in the fashion – that is, with a native tablet edition. One would hope that this will become a trend at the B2B publishing company)

"Just as launching an iPad app was an easy choice that came from listening to our customers, so too was deciding to create content specifically formatted for the iPad rather than just presenting a PDF of the print magazine," writes publisher Randall Friedman in the publisher's note inside the latest issue.

The app will be updated twice a month with what the publisher describes as "the best of the best – the most important stories from the past two weeks that ran in our magazine and on our website."

Access to the app will come with a paid subscription to the trade industry magazine. But for the first three months readers can access the issues inside the iPad app for free thanks to the single sponsorship of Mondelez.

As you will see in the walk-through video below, the digital magazine can be read in both portrait and landscape, but by keeping multimedia material out of the app, it allows for the file size to be a modest 111MB. By the way, the sometimes sticky navigation apparent in the video is more the result of the video recording software than the app. I found the navigation to be quite smooth, and bug free.

One decision that I found a bit odd, though, was to keep the app out of the Apple Newsstand and make it a stand-alone app. This will force readers to go into the app at intervals during the month to get their latest issues. Also, the app could use push notifications, a feature that could be great benefit to B2B publishers. Finally, there is no attempt to qualify readers through the app, something that European B2B publishers appear to be experimenting with in their tablet editions.