TheMediaBriefing has an article on why Geolocation is a Huge Opportunity for Publishers… Its worth a read.
But its missing the biggest opportunity, which is that geolocation is the best way for publishers to promote their apps in a new way and it may be as important to magazine publishers as the ‘metered pay walls’ are to newspaper publishers. The fact that magazine publishers need to sell subscriptions to their magazines as apps is a source of the opportunity. Almost all magazines have an audience particularly associated with particular venues, retail sites, or locations. Magazine publishers should be targeting those locations with promotional offers.
Geolocation for magazines is all about subscriptions.
Magazines have realised that tablets and phones are a good way of selling and distributing digital subscriptions. Apple, Amazon and Google, provide a mechanism whereby an app branded for the magazine can be distributed for free, to be ‘switched on’ via a subscription once the user has tried some free content. Sometimes the free taster is a matter of a few free pages, or a free trial issue, or sometimes a grace period before the credit card is charged. This works reasonably well but the process is heavily dependent on the user having the initiative and the commitment to go to an app store and confirm his/her details.
The great potential for geolocation is that publishers can set up free access ByPlace, and this gives the audience the chance to sample the periodical for free whilst they are in the location. It takes the customer a level beyond the step that he/she has reached in the app store. When they walk away from the location they have the app on their device (and — we hope — a good memory to go with it). In fact with the Exact Editions system they will probably walk away with the latest issue synced to their device, and a reminder to buy a subscription when the next issue appears. This ‘free window’ is a great way of pulling customers through to a subscription.
TheMediaBriefing reports on an experiment through which Time Inc (as used to be IPC) has run experiments with Tesco, through which customers instore are offered vouchers or special offers to buy a subscription. Tesco is (still is) one of the biggest retail brands in the UK and its a great plan to ally the strength of the Tesco brand to the Time Inc titles. But the next step should be to offer free access to the magazine apps to customers whilst they are in the range of the Tesco WiFi service. And the step after that should be to offer a Tesco branded app that collects together some of the Time Inc titles which will be free whilst you are in the Tesco store. Will Tesco (or Marks and Spencer, or Sports Direct) pay for that? They well might with the very strong brands that a publisher like Time Inc can offer. Free access to an issue of Decanter is a powerful incentive to a customer who is interested in the top end of the Tesco wine range.
Magazine publishers need to find ways of exposing their magazine apps in the broadest possible way. Locking them up with a freemium distribution model in the iTunes app store is not the only way to get them in front of a digital audience.