Promoting Literary Magazines at Literary Festivals

Exact Editions continues its ByPlace revolution with a demonstration of the power of free promotion. This summer six outstanding literary and current affairs magazines, will be freely available at prominent literary events across the United Kingdom.

Starting with the Oxford Literary Festival this weekend, six literary/ideas magazines of distinctive style and panache will be available for free to visitors at these festivals. For the next 10 days in Oxford, the magazines are free to download if you have an iPhone or an iPad and happen to be in the right vicinity:

ByPlace free access points in Oxford

ByPlace free access points in Oxford

These free zones were created with the new ByPlace tool which will soon be available to all Exact Editions publishing partners with apps on the iOS platform. The approximate coverage from each pin covers a circle of say 150 metres from the centre point, so the zone centred on the Christ Church pin will also cover most of Pembroke College. Apologies to Magdalen College and Nuffield for being out of zone!

The magazine apps that will be temporarily and ByPlace, freely available are:

Prospect Magazine – appstore.com/prospectbyplace

Literary Review – appstore.com/literaryreview

Standpoint – appstore.com/standpoint

Mslexia – appstore.com/mslexia

Slightly Foxed – appstore.com/slightlyfoxed

The London Magazine – appstore.com/thelondonmagazine

Total Politics – http://appstore.com/totalpolitics

The Literary Review now has a complete archive and all the back issues available within each app are accessible, so there is no shortage of free reading matter. Each of the apps has a comprehensive search function. To enjoy this experience, settle down in the Kings Arms, Blackwells Coffee shop or Wadham’s beautiful gardens, go to the iOS app store  (links as above), install the app on an iPhone or iPad, then page through till you get to some locked content, at that point the user is given the option to access free content ByPlace. Switch the button to ‘accept’. As if by mobile magic the content will then be freely available, possibly with a few seconds delay whilst the geolocation is registered.

This free resource will also be available at the Hay Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

This free resource is being sponsored by Exact Editions and the publishers concerned.

 

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Publisher iBeacons

Last week we showcased the way in which Exact Editions apps can be used to deliver small-scale site licenses to bars, cafes, hotels etc. Our first public installation was at Bar Kick in London’s Shoreditch. TechCrunch reported on this event, iBeacons used to deliver location-based access to iOS newsstand publications. Darell Etherington called this a “novel, intelligent use of iBeacons, and a perfect example of how we’ve only just begun to see the benefits of this new Apple tech”.

Ibeacon with walnut

A Publisher iBeacon smaller than a walnut

Exact Editions launched the first examples of iBeacon subscriptions a few days before Apple’s roll out of iBeacons in all its US stores. Again TechCrunch were quickly on top of the story: Apple Turns On iBeacons In All Its 254 U.S. Stores For In-Store Notifications And More. Apple’s deployment seems to be more in line with the expected use of iBeacons, as a means of enriching and achieving close impact in physical retail stores and locations. It seems as though the classic use of iBeacons (as currently envisaged) is for them to work as a kind of environmental net between a retail location and users moving through it with iOS devices. A kind of distributed Point of Promotion system to mesh with the Point of Sale services already in the store. A reasonably dense network of iBeacons then becomes a way of managing or coaxing foot-traffic within the store. Since Apple has some of the densest and most populous retail environments on the planet it is hardly a surprise that they are interested in how it may be feasible to energise and lubricate these consumers in a closed environment. Moving the customer to the appropriate spot where they are most likely to make their buying decision.

The Exact Editions use case is rather different, as we see iBeacons as a way of liberating or empowering the apps that are already in the iOS devices. Especially those that may be close to an iBeacon. So there is much to be said for arrangements whereby iBeacons can be installed in venues, relevant to the interests of the magazine readership.  Taking this one step further, if IBeacons could move around it would be practical to move the open hot-spot to the place where the customer, or potential customer, is. Since iBeacons are small and portable devices it clearly is feasible to take the iBeacon to the customer. The shopping challenge is to move the customer towards the point of sale, whereas the subscription challenge is to get the content to the potential subscriber. We demonstrated the relevance of this approach to the group of publishers that gathered at the Bar Kick event. Exact Editions can now offer the publishers with which we are working a fully portable promotional tool: Publisher iBeacons.

How does this work?

A Publisher iBeacon can be thought of as a mobile iBeacon, for example one programmed for Grand Designs, that a publisher might carry in her pocket, wallet or handbag. Wherever the iBeacon is taken the publisher carries an open access zone with them. Of course the publisher has to let the audience know that the iBeacon is in the room and that it will give complete free access to Grand Designs, but once users are aware of the cloud of free access, the following will happen:

  1. Users will download the magazine’s free app from iTunes and use the complete resources of the app without limit.
  2. They can sync issues and read as much as they like of the archive, whilst they remain in the zone of the Publisher iBeacon
  3. The Publisher iBeacon will carry some gentle additional branding with it. “You have free access to Grand Designs courtesy of Media 10”
  4. The iBeacon usage will be logged and will tell the publisher how much the app has been accessed, day by day, location by location

It is a key feature of magazine content that all magazines have unique audience profiles. Magazines tend to have strong appeal to clearly definable groups. Model railway magazines appeal to people who have or like model railways. Cricket magazines appeal to people  who play, watch or support cricket etc. Publishers usually understand the specificity and uniqueness of their audience much better than anyone else and the Publisher iBeacon is another way in which publishers working with Exact Editions can focus on their audience. It nicely complements the geo-coordinate promotion that we have been simultaneously developing. Publisher iBeacons will be a great resource for magazines where conferences, trade shows and events are important. These personal iBeacons will also be very useful to magazines where there is a resident champion. For the magazine Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud is a contributor, the editor at large, and to a considerable degree the principal promoter of the magazine. With an iBeacon he can now become the principal promoter of the magazines’ app.

GrandDwelcome

The welcome screen from a Publisher iBeacon

Exact Editions in the last year has hit upon a rich range of promotional and delivery technologies which we are collecting under our ByPlace™ banner. Although these methods have their primary expression in the iOS apps that we work with, they are obviously not limited to iOS. Apple just seems to have this infrastructure much better sorted than any of their competitors right now.

Promotion by location

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.

VaticanMap

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.