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Rebekah Billingsley on Immediate Media's iPad strategy

Gardeners World AppAs olive and Gardeners’ World launch their first iPad apps, we speak to Immediate Media’s Publishing Director for Mobile Devices Rebekah Billingsley about the Immediate approach to development, testing and the learnings so far from tablet apps: What platform were the apps built on, and how long was the development process? The apps were built on the PressRun platform, this is the platform we have used for the majority of our other magazine apps. Because the platform allows us to create off the shelf solutions, the production process involved only re-formatting our existing magazine pages into layered, interactive pages so a couple of weeks for each. What’s the thinking behind creating one-off themed apps rather than regular issues? We create both regular and one-offs in exactly the same way we do with physical issues. One-offs are more thematic and appeal to a broader audience as a result. One-offs also allow us to test brands on the Apple News Stand and they live for longer in the store so their appeal continues year after year. What’s the approach to user testing, and how do you know what your users will look for in an iPad app? The products come from the heart of the magazine teams and are based on content that has been tried and tested via our physical editions. We test internally amongst our brand advocates to ensure the products work and make sense to the brand consumer but also we test amongst our most iPad literate teams to ensure it delivers according to the expectations of the platform. We know what users want because we have full analytics across every product we create, we review that data and we hone our products the next time. What are the main learnings from Immediate’s iPad launches so far, and managing the ongoing product development process around it? Involve the magazine teams as much as possible; create the product via the editorial, marketing and publishing teams who know the brand and the subject matter best. Use templates and create efficient production processes. Play around with the designs, push interactivity as much as is relevant but keep things simple and clear. Monitor the product and hone as you go. What are your views so far around user experience on tablets vs. the web, and what features are proving particularly popular/effective on the iPad? Tablets are a much more lean-back platform than the web. People want to curl up on their sofas and be entertained as opposed to fast information gathering on the web. They are reacting much more to advertisements and ecommerce because they’re engrossed in their apps. Everything looks beautiful on the tablet and so the relationship between beautiful physical brands and their tablet counterpart is much more obvious than via websites. How far do you think it's possible for publishers to diversify out from purely advertising & what role do you think tablets will play in this area? Well, we already make money from selling print magazines so this was never an ad funded-only model by any means. Ecommerce is going to be really interesting and an area we’re just about to explore in more detail. Data and CRM will also become more important and allow us to help drive other areas of the business.

AOP ran an iPad/Tablets event in January - find out more. Immediate Media is an AOP member

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