Thursday, March 28, 2013

Canadian B2B 'Equipment Journal' faces and overcomes major challenges creating an attractive tablet edition for their oversized construction equipment magazine

All B2B publishers face interesting challenges when they decide to launch their first tablet editions: do they lock them down behind a paywall or registration process, do the simply launch a replica edition to make production easier, do they use the Newsstand or go stand-alone. There are other factors that can complicated things, as well. For instance, while most magazines are of a standard size, some product tabs still publish in oversized specs that do not translate very well to the smaller tablet display.

The Canadian construction equipment magazine Equipment Journal had to address these issues with their first tablet edition released yesterday into the Apple Newsstand and they seem to have made some good decisions. Equipment Journal has a qualified circulation of a bit over 20,000 according to their CCAB circulation statement, and as with most qualified circulation magazines that have launched a tablet edition, the publisher here has decided to launch their app with access free to all readers.

Equipment Journal, is a stand-alone app that appears under their own developer account.

The print edition is sized at 10.25" wide x 15.25" height for a full page, according to the magazine's website, so building the tablet edition as a replica would mean the magazine would have to be shrunk down even more than most magazines. So the publisher has gone with a bit of a hybrid approach: ads as seen in the print magazine, with the editorial pages reformatted for the app. The app is universal, so the solution appears to work for the iPad, but is not optimal for the iPhone.

Each editorial page has some navigation tools on the top which are helpful, while the ads are left alone. Many of the ads, though, appear in the app sideways. I have to guess these are two-page spreads that simply would not work if handled any other way. (I suppose it is possible that the ads were original this way, as some product tabloids do not have restrictions on ads designed in this way.)

There is a minimum of interactivity added to the digital edition – but it is there, either with the occasional slideshow, a video, and links. There is also an ad index that links directly to the ad, which is a nice way to handle this.

One feature that many B2Bs have dropped are their reader response (bingo) cards that used to serve the dual purpose of qualifying the reader and allowing them to request more information from an advertiser. Does tablet editions present a golden opportunity to reintroduce this feature? A "card" can be added to any digital edition that would send information directly to the publisher without the cost of printing, binding, inserting or postage – what's not to love?

All in all, I think Equipment Journal should be proud of their first effort here. Next, may I suggest a major redesign for their their website?