November 14, 2014 Last Updated 7:10 am

B2B app updates: MPA Media launches archive apps as they move to new publishing platform

By controlling their own developer account, the B2B publisher was able to name and rename apps, and have firmer control of the user experience

Nothing is forever, a fact that many publishers forget as they make their first moves into the Apple Newsstand. Eager to launch their first apps, many publishers do not consider what may happen if they decide on a new approach to digital publisher (replace versus native), or change digital publishing platforms, or pricing strategies. Maintaining your options may come in handy down the road.

DC-login-800For B2B magazine companies, many of whom are still to release their first tablet editions, there are some good examples of companies that have done things a little differently than the rest. One of those is MPA Media of Santa Ana, Calif. MPA Media launched a series of apps into the Apple App Store, but unlike many other B2Bs who launched their magazine apps so that they were free of charge to readers, they locked down their apps so that only their qualified readers could access the digital editions.

That this was, and is, so unique, even today, is odd. After all, for most B2B magazines, the key sales point they present to advertisers is that they reach a tightly defined audience, made up qualified readers. Quantity of readers only comes into play when comparing one B2B magazine against another inside the same industry. So for MPA Media, the goal was to offer their existing reader base another way to access the issues, not to attract new readers.

For B2Bs, this is the second of two options available to them: either open up their apps to everyone, or lock them down. The third option would be to create a qualification mechanism within the app that requires the reader to complete a reader survey form before they could access the digital issues. I have only seen a couple European B2Bs do this, and many publishers believe that Apple would reject any qualification efforts. I have talked to some Apple representatives about this issue and the response I got back was “try it and see if the app gets approved” – not a very good answer, but at least the door is open to trying that approach.

Now MPA Media is launching new apps for their magazines, apparently changing digital publishing platforms. This creates quite a problem, what to do with the old app and its issues. The answer for MPA is to have two apps per magazine: one that is for the new digital editions, the other for the archived issues. MPA is not alone in taking this approach, several consumer magazines have done this (though most eventually discontinue the archive issue app after a period of time).

So now there is an app called Dynamic Chiropractic, which is the new app, while the old app has been renamed Dynamic Chiropractic ARCHIVE and will house the older digital issues. A similar approach is being taken with three other magazines.

This change comes only 15 months after the original release of the apps, but was made easier by the fact that the publisher owns their Apple developer account and has a the freedom to name and rename apps. One publisher told me recently that they are fighting with a former vendor they used because they named their iPad app after the magazine and now they are having a difficult time getting that vendor to cooperate with them so that they only have one app for the same magazine inside the Apple Newsstand (right now they have two, the old replica edition, and the new native digital edition).

By the way, because I am not a chiropractor or massage therapist, I can not tell you what platforms MPA Media has been, and are now, using (I think the new one is Mag+) – after all, like you, I am locked out of the apps.

One B2B publisher that sort of incorporates a qualification mechanism into their Apple Newsstand app is North Coast Media. The reader, when they open the app, is required to use their customer number from the address label of their print magazine in order to sign into the account. The app does not make this very clear, but it works.

If the reader is not a subscriber they can tap and be sent to the magazine’s website where they can sign up for a digital subscription to access flipbooks. The system is not perfect as I found that the flip books never complete their downloads and so the reader never gets to the digital edition – at least this was my experience with Landscape Management.

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