November 22, 2013 Last Updated 10:01 am

Missing in action: tablet editions failing to attract new ad dollars

Some having better luck selling new branded tablet products

Three years on, tablet magazine publishers are finding it still difficult to get their ad agency customers to consider tablet-only ad campaigns, a number of publishers and ad people told TNM.

Wired-ad-iPad-lgFor obvious reasons, most publishes preferred to not publicly point the finger at their advertising customers, but several said that while awareness of digital editions has grown, few agencies are coming to them with campaigns specifically targeting their digital editions.

As a result, many Newsstand editions that are building native tablet layouts for editorial, continue to replicate their print ads pretty much unchanged. While some publishers have attempted to charge more for the combination of print and tablet, the norm is to consider both products as the same thing.

Even a magazine like Wired, which one might think would be filled with interactive advertising, usually contains only the replica of print ads (see Land Rover ad at right).

As a result, many ad teams and publishers are having better luck approaching the client the direct with an idea about branded products. An example of this would be the team at Bonnier’s Popular Photography and their collaboration with Sony Camera on Imaging Edge.

“Sony has been coming up with incredible technological advances within the photo industry, and they wanted to get the message out there,” Anthony Ruotolo, associate publisher of Popular Photography and American Photo said in an interview for Tablet Publishing. He, along with Mike Gallic, Associate Publisher, Marketing, sold the concept to Sony and lead its publishing efforts.

gallic-ruotolo-bonnierThe result is a branded magazine that has already appeared twice, with plans for a quarterly frequency for 2014.

While some publishers are concerned that print advertising has not seamlessly transitioned to the tablet platform, a few ad agencies have expressed concerns that they, too, are being pinched. Outside design firms are pitching mobile and tablet products to brands and those marketing dollars have to come from somewhere – and often they are not only coming out of print, but out of digital ad dollars, as well.

One agency person explained it this way: there are only so many dollars available for both print and digital and when a design firm pitches a new digital magazine or app product the dollars often come out of the brand’s digital ad budget – a net loss for the digital ad agency.

During 2010 and 2011 several start-ups announced plans to begin an effort to created an ad network for tablet magazines. Little has come from this, though new efforts are on the horizon. One digital publishing platform owner told me recently that if they have a large number of magazine publishers using their software solution the next logical step would be to aggregate the audience for those magazines and begin offering ad space to brands and agencies, with a portion of the dollars trickling down to the publisher. The idea, simply, would be to offer the platform for free to publishers in exchange for the opportunity to sell ad space into those magazine’s new digital editions.

  • Sean McKenna 3 years ago

    There is still a degree of misunderstanding as it relates to advertising in tablet or digital editions. Although, as stated, we are 3 years into the tablet insurgence we are not 3 years into adapting our mindset from ‘print’ advertising to ‘tablet or digital edition’ advertising. As we discovered in a recent conversation with an ad exec. at Rogers, in most cases agencies are still looking for optimal spend as opposed to optimal engagement. Designers are not being provided the tools or information to understand how to layout an ad for ‘interactivity’. And, unfortunately, publishers are not able to successfully convey the added benefit of anything beyond images and text on a page. There is definitely a communication gap that needs to be filled between all parties to understand the true value of a tablet or digital edition before successful ad spends will occur.

    • Nick Martin 3 years ago

      Thanks for the insights Sean!

  • […] This article from Talking New Media is circulating around, mostly because of its catchy title, "Missing in action: tablet editions failing to attract new ad dollars". It’s a good one: supporters of tablet editions would readily read in order to denounce the findings, while print supporters could get their "I told you so’s" ready. […]

  • […] This article from Talking New Media is circulating around, mostly because of its catchy title, "Missing in action: tablet editions failing to attract new ad dollars". It’s a good one: supporters of tablet editions would readily read in order to denounce the findings, while print supporters could get their "I told you so’s" ready. […]