Next Issue Media rebrands as Texture, updated app with disaggregated content released
“The move from Next Issue to Texture is really the move from a classic digital newsstand to what I consider the best premium content platform” – Jim Bobowski, VP, Head of Marketing at Next Issue Media
The digital magazine platform owned and launched by a group of six leading magazine publishers, Next Issue Media, today announced the relaunch of its digital newsstand – renamed and redesigned as Texture. The Texture app, like its predecessor, is available in the Apple App Store, Google Play and the Windows Store.
The Texture experience is a dramatic, and effective, rethinking of the company’s digital newsstand experience. With Texture, the reader is presented with new features such as New & Noteworthy Stories and Collections: A Daily Roundup, while continuing the ability to download whole issues from the portfolio of 160 magazine titles.
“The move from Next Issue to Texture is really the move from a classic digital newsstand to what I consider the best premium content platform,” Jim Bobowski, VP, Head of Marketing at Next Issue Media, told TNM.
“The reason we’ve been able to make this bridge is two-fold,” Bobowski said. “First, advancing the technology so it is far more user friendly allows our readers to get into the best content much more quickly, provides a level of curation that I think is new and fresh, and provides our readers the ability to discover (content) much more broadly from our catalog; and at the same time builds a nice balance between curation and user control, we don’t want to just curate and take away user’s control.”
Texture offers four app areas: Highlights, where the reader is presented with three content options; My Library, where the reader can collect individual stories or entire magazine issues; Categories, where the app offers the magazine titles themselves organized by subject; and Settings.
At the top of Highlights, which the app opens to, the reader is presented with individual stories from Next Issue magazines. As I write this, Texture presents me with stories from Vogue, New York Magazine, Wired, Money and others. Each is featured with a graphic which is taken from the first page of the article. Tapping the image takes you directly to the article, but not the entire digital magazine issue. The reader, though, can access the entire issue from within this article by tapping an image of the magazine cover that is presented.
(To see this in action, tap/click the GIF image at left to play the animation. The articles are taken directly from the digital editions, so they can be designed natively for digital devices, as the Vogue article at left is, or are seen as a replica edition, as the article currently be featured from New York Magazine is.
“Disaggregation changes the nature of the game for the consumer,” Bobowski said. “You’ll see two layers of it immediately: New and Noteworthy Stories and Collections. Both of these provide a level of human curation that cuts across the various publications in order to get consumers to high quality reading much faster.”
Doing the human curation for these new sections of the Texture reading experience is Maggie Murphy and her team. Murphy was formerly the Editorial Director and Content Strategist at Parade Magazine, and before that was Executive Editor at PEOPLE Magazine.
“Auto-populated recommendations from data driven engines are valuable, and we make use of them,” said Murphy in the announcement for Texture, “but we also think there’s an element of trust that happens when your best friend shares their latest favorite article or recipe with you. We want to be that best friend to the reader.”
(One of the “Collections” now featured in Texture is The Donald, seen below-left. There are eight Donald Trump related articles from New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, TIME, The Hollywood Reporter, Golf Magazine (really?), The New Yorker and Maclean’s.)
“I think the disaggregation of content is all about getting consumers better quality content more frequently through their day,” Bobowski said.
“We still provide that full issue, front, middle, back experience for people when they want it, for people who just want to consume in that way, but we are also getting into disaggregated content.”
Many digital magazine apps offer issue previews, but these previews don’t really provide complete articles or work to inform you of what you can expect to see in the issue. This solution, on the other hand, is all about allowing readers to fully access the content, and encourages readers to use the app throughout the day.
Some of the new apps being created using the new Adobe Digital Publishing Solution are more like news apps, pulling the content from the issues – or disaggregating the content, as Bobowski likes to say – in order to present the reader with magazine content more in keeping with the way the modern reader likes to access the content.
But in doing so, some of these apps can no longer be considered digital editions, and certainly are not “Digital Issues” in the way that the audit bureaus will accept (likely they will have to be audited as “Digital Nonreplica”).
But Texture is an interesting cross between a magazine news app and a magazine digital edition app: presenting individual articles and collections of articles on one topic, while still offering the entire digital issue to the reader, and should still be audited as before.
“For now we do not see any changes to our standards, although that could change in the future,” said Neal Lulofs, EVP, Marketing and Strategy for the Alliance for Audited Media. “I expect the AAM board to revisit the topic at its next meeting in a few months.”
While Texture offers new ways to deliver magazine content to readers, we shouldn’t overlook its app features.
For instance, the Texture app recognizes that readers need to manage their downloads and storage, so Texture’s Settings offer plenty of tools that can be customized. These include the ability to toggle on and off downloads using cellular data; email and push notifications; and auto downloading.
Texture also allows the reader to manage the amount of storage that the app will use up from digital editions. There are four storage settings from Use less space to Use maximum space – though the settings themselves are a little vague as to how much each level will allow the app to use. You can also delete all the issues inside the app from Settings (to delete individual issues one long presses the magazine cover on the iPad, or swipes to delete on an iPhone).
The Settings area is also where you hook up your Facebook and Evernote accounts.
Of course, there are useful features in the articles area, as well. The Share button lets readers add the content to Mail, Notes and save a PDF to iBooks (within the iOS version, of course). One can also save an image, print or save to Evernote, as well. I didn’t hook up my Facebook account (which I rarely use, in any case) to the app, so I don’t know if articles can be shared outside the app in this way.
Next Issue Media hopes publishers involved in Texture get excited about the possibilities of the new platform. One thing they believe they will see is magazines publishing some of their content early to Texture, offering exclusives.
“One of the things we are most excited about is getting early access, and exclusive access to a number of articles,” Bobowski said. “So I think you will see over the course of Q4 a healthy number of articles that are truly early access, before the print publication, often before it reaches the publisher’s digital property. This will allow us to bring a new level of exclusivity to our customers. What we’re hoping is that this really does encourage the rest of the publishers to bring their highest quality material out to our customers first. It’s an experiment, we’re excited by it.”
The new Texture brand will be supported by a national ad campaign, with a national ad campaign across print, digital and out of home, Next Issue Media said.
“Texture is bridging the divide between analog and digital, and creating a rich and dynamic premium content experience for readers; it is, in fact, redefining the magazine experience. The strong consumer demand for subscription-based media experiences, such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Spotify Premium, speaks to the opportunity awaiting Texture,” said David Carey, President, Hearst Magazines. “We couldn’t be more excited about what this means for the future of our business.”
Hearst Magazines is one of the original publishing partners in Next Issue Media, the others being Condé Nast, Meredith, News Corp, and Time Inc. Rogers Media joined at the time NIM expanded into Canada. The other big investor is Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).
NIM received $50 million in new funding from KKR late last year and said at the time that the money would be used to “support further development of Next Issue’s innovative digital magazine platform and will help deliver Next Issue’s exclusive all-you-can-eat content to a broader audience.” The development and future marketing of Texture by Next Issue was likely the outcome of this new funding round.
Prices for the all-you-can-read service remain the same as before: $9.99 per month for access to all monthly magazines, $14.99 for access to all monthly and weekly titles.
Every rebranding needs a video, right? Here is what was posted to promote Texture in Canada: