Friday, May 10, 2013

Haymarket launches new interactive tablet edition for FourFourTwo and gets some promotional help from Apple

One of the big uncertainties in creating new interactive magazines is the question of whether it will find its audience. In the U.S. Apple has made it virtually impossible for readers to find new apps from new developers without either promotional help from Apple, or else outside marketing from the publisher via its website, advertising, and the like.

In Europe, the Apple App Store is somewhat more reader friendly, but it is still nice when Apple gives a new app some promotional boost.

Haymarket Media Group, a major U.K. publisher, earlier this week launched a new interactive Newsstand app for FourFourTwo, its soccer magazine. As the app description proudly announces, it is "completely redesigned of iPad" – though the magazine is very much designed as one sees it in print. While the magazine is exclusive to the Apple Newsstand now, and only for the iPad, iPhone and Android editions are promised for the future.

"We’re extremely proud of FourFourTwo on iPad. Our biggest challenge when creating the digital edition was to retain the vibe, humour and fun of the print edition. We think we’ve achieved that while playing to the strengths of the platform." editor David Hall said in Haymarket's own story on the new app.

"We’ve added a few bells and whistles, but we know from past experience that FourFourTwo is a magazine to be read, not flicked through. The reading experience, particularly of our long form features, was paramount. We’re very happy with what we’re releasing here."

The new app is really interesting in the way it opens up: the app immediately wants the reader to either sign into their print account for free access, or to subscribe. The third option is to go to the app's store page. When that happens the first page that opens invites the reader to fill out a form for special offers. This is sort of like a registration page, something B2B publishers would find particularly appropriate for their own efforts.

The new digital edition charges £2.99 ($4.99 US) for a single issue, or subscription options of 3 months for £7.99, 6 months for £13.99, or an annual subscription for £23.99. Although the publisher is seeking a worldwide audience, the app team failed to make the app description friendly for audiences outside the UK by listing prices in at least euros and dollars – a bit of a rookie mistake.

Inside the European Apple App Stores the new digital edition is getting some serious promotion from Apple, getting seen right at the top of the Newsstand carousel. Whether this is a reward for producing an interactive edition, or simply a reflection of the popularity of the magazine is hard to tell, but the promotion will certainly drive downloads and subscriptions. Something every magazine publisher can appreciate.