Publishers of magazine apps now have a new way of promoting their product by venue. Exact Editions’ ByPlace™ function allows a publisher to shine a free magazine spotlight at any location or venue, simply by specifying the geo-coordinates, and the length of time for which free access would be available at a specific space. We think that this is revolutionary and that it will enable publishers to take a much more active role in promoting the sale of app subscriptions. For these initial demonstrations Exact Editions has set up the service for each title (clearly in consultation with the publisher) and then programmed the service so that full free access is available as shown a map.
The full map with all November’s sample locations is here. We are now rapidly developing a system which will allow publishers to set up bespoke free access zones for themselves on an “as needed” basis. For these early demonstration trials we did a certain amount of on the ground testing, tramping round the streets of London, but testing before setup is not going to be necessary on a regular basis.
This capability to promote apps directly ByPlace™ is meeting one of the complaints that one increasingly hears from magazine publishers. There is a concern that apps in iTunes go to the newsstand to be hidden, partly because Apple has been so successful at persuading developers to write close to 500,000 apps for the iOS platform. So it is hard to get noticed when there is so much stuff out there. The answer to this challenge is not to move away from iTunes newsstand — a pointless recommendation from Marko Karppinen — pointless because the app still needs to be ‘found’ whether it is in newsstand or in the full app store. The solution lies with the publisher or developer. They need to make sure that the customer has an occasion and a reason to use the app. Apps need to be promoted and the ByPlace™ functionality now in all Exact Editions apps now offers this potential.
We stress that this is an opportunity for the publisher, and although Exact Editions has pushed to implement this feature as standard in our iOS apps, we now need to step back and see how the publisher can use this new way of promotion. We are getting plenty of suggestions! It is most definitely a tool for publishers and a way of leveraging the geographical relevance of a magazine. The publisher has to be in charge because every magazine has a very different profile and a unique geographical potential. It makes every sense to promote an Opera magazine in the vicinity of Opera houses, or a Roman Catholic magazine nearby the Vatican or Westminster Cathedral; but there is probably no point in promoting cricket magazines at athletics stadiums or chess magazines at garden centres. Publishers will know which garden centres are likely to be most positive for a gardening magazine, clearly this is not something that Apple or a developer will understand. Obviously each and every magazine has a different need and potential for promotion by location and publishers are in the best position to understand this. Secondly, if publishers are to use this ByPlace™ technique as a promotion tool they will need and expect to have analytic tools which will allow them to assess the effectiveness of different promotions and Exact Editions is designing tools and metrics that make this practical. Finally, we stress that this is a tool for the publisher, and not initially a tool for venues. It is the publisher who is granting free access to content that they control. However there is also scope for institutional involvement by third parties and at Exact Editions we see this as a very exciting ‘next stage’ in the development of the platform.
Is this a really revolutionary tool for magazine apps? We will find out. One answer is that it will allow publishers to do digitally and economically something which has worked well as an analog exercise for publishers working with print editions. Magazine publishers know that getting customers to sample their content is the best way of winning subscriptions that will stick. Publishers are used to going to venues where the audience for the magazine is meeting, they sometimes hand out free issues. This system of promotion ByLocation™ will be a much less expensive way of providing a virtual presence at conferences and trade shows. One might even think of it as a system for having virtual dump bins.
The iOS apps and Exact Editions service are a lot more flexible than physical dump bins or display stands, but there is still an important role for creative promotion and even for ‘collateral’ material. Consumers will need to be alerted to the potential for gaining free access at a location. This will be one reason why publishers may be keen to collaborate with venues or institutions that can help with the promotion of a free service, eg through signs, information desks, recommendations to members etc.