Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Last afternoon odds & ends: Beware the Windows phone; the bootlegged magazine and its source; Hearst gets aggressive with merchandising, Esquire sends an email

There is nothing quite the afternoon trip to Best Buy to get you thinking about things – like 'how is it these sell anything since they seem to know so little about the products they sell?' Then there are the little surprises that get you thinking 'hey, I didn't know that.'

Playing around with a Windows phone I was impressed by how fast it felt. Then I opened up the browser and started to sug the web a bit. The speed was not as impressive, but that probably had more to do with Best Buy's WiFi than anything else. I even looked at this site on the phone. Pinch to zoom was fast, and the site looked pretty good, and... hey, wait a minute! I shouldn't be seeing my site, why aren't I seeing the mobile website?

I checked out several sites that I knew had mobile sites and each case the desktop version showed up.

So off to the Android phones to just check it everything looked right. The Best Buy guy took me over to some Samsung phones, then stumbled around as he tried to pull up the browser. Yep, everything looks as it should, I suppose. The display on the Samsung phones didn't seem as sharp and attractive as the Windows phone, but at least it was the right websites I was looking at.

In the early days of the web is was common to feel that your website would have to be tested on every OS and every computer you could find to make sure everything was right. Today we sometimes assume this is no longer necessary. With Windows phone sales rather modest this may still be true, but if they can actually start selling some of those things...

A TNM reader that recently launched a digital magazine using a platform usually associated with replicas because it involves uploading PDFs reports finding their magazine bootlegged already, and not on just one website but several.

I joked about this a bit, after all, I guess it is a sign that someone is interested in your title.

But it got me thinking that I seemed strange that it would show up in multiple locations. Are bootlegged magazines, downloadable in PDF form, being grabbed by these sites from each other, or are they targeting the digital newsstands known for digital magazines easily convertible into PDFs? (You really can't do this to an interactive or natively designed magazine because much of the material, and often the actual copy would be missing.)

Hearst Magazines have been busy trying to find new ways to monetize their brands, whether through merchandizing efforts, through retail partnerships, or brand extensions like the Esquire Network.

Some media observers have, showing their youth, written that this is all something new. In fact, many publishes, especially B2B publishers, initially thought the web would their way to start getting a bite out of every sale. I can't tell you how many publishers told me, back in the nineties, that their plan was to try and move products directly through their websites and break off one or two percent of the sale for themselves. It didn't happen, but it only goes to show that maybe we weren't thinking big enough (after all, Apple is now getting 30 percent of the sale on magazine subscriptions inside its Newsstand).

The GIF at right (click to enlarge) is an example of what Esquire is doing with one of its customers. The email promotion went out today and clicking on the link takes you directly to the retailers site – where, I might, add you are greeted as an Esquire reader (I'm not, but clearly they have my email address).

Hearst appears to be getting aggressive about their merchandizing and it makes perfect sense. I'd like to see them as aggressive in other areas such as creating new, interesting digital publications that are offshoots of their main titles. But this is a start.