Bonnier Teaming With CP+B On Tablet Ads
Bonnier made a splash last April when it unveiled an iPad edition of Popular Science, built with its Mag+ digital magazine platform. Since then the publisher has turned out iPad versions of 10 other titles including Popular Photography, Flying and Babytalk.
Now Bonnier is turning its attention to advertising on the iPad and rival devices -- teaming with storied creative agency CP+B to develop new ad formats for tablet magazines. "In developing Mag+, we were first focusing on the needs of editors and designers and did a lot of work to make the reading experience terrific for users," said Megan Miller, Bonnier's R&D program director, who is leading the tablet ad project. "The next natural phase is to focus on advertising."
With nearly 100 new tablets launching earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, she noted that the category is poised to expand rapidly in 2011 with new Android-based and other devices. "The tablet market is about to explode and when many more consumers have devices in their hands it's important that we're dialed in on the monetization side as well as on the editorial side," she said.
Technology research firm IDC projects the tablet market will nearly triple to 44.6 million units shipped this year, with the U.S. representing nearly 40% of the total. By next year, worldwide shipments are expected to grow to 70.8 million. While Motorola, Research in Motion, Samsung and other manufacturers are launching new tablets, as of the third quarter 2010 the iPad was still dominant, with 90% market share, according to IDC.
The initial stage of Bonnier's ad effort, already underway, involves research focused on how consumers use print and iPad versions of magazines as well as getting feedback from advertisers and individual publishers within the media corporation. By mid-February, the company expects to have research results to publish, followed by a series of ad concepts created by CP+B for the Mag+ platform across Bonnier titles, starting with Popular Science in late spring.
Until now, the publisher has created customized iPad ads using Mag+ for advertisers including American Express, Sprint, and GE. The two features that marketers have been most focused on in iPad ads are video and embedded links back to their sites or for information on products, according to Miller. "But we don't think just adding a TV spot is going to be as good as adding features native to the platform," she said. That means creating units that take full advantage of digital interactivity, social media and APIs for online services from Google or other companies.
Bonnier selected CP+B to partner with on the tablet project because of its track record for innovative digital work. That includes its Whopper Sacrifice campaign on Facebook for Burger King, its crowd sourcing of another client's logo and redesigning its own home page to be fully socially integrated. "[CP+B] always seems to push the boundaries with their campaigns. For every client they work with, they really go outside the box for new solutions," said Miller. Bonnier is hoping the agency does the same in inventing tablet ad formats.
"Tablets have enabled publishers to re-imagine the magazine, and over the last year there have been newsworthy advancements in the space, but advertising has not kept up," says Winston Binch, partner/ managing director at CP+B, in a statement.
Bonnier and other publishers including Conde Nast and Hearst are still trying to figure out pricing for iPad versions of magazines and how to balance up-front charges with advertising. A Knowledge Networks study released this week showed that 86% of iPad users preferred receiving magazine and other content free in exchange for viewing advertising. Only 13% said they were willing to pay.
Bonnier's flagship Popular Science app for the iPad has averaged about 10,000 to 15,000 downloads a month -- only a fraction of its print circulation. After initially charging $4.99 per issue, the company in December lowered the price to $2.99 as part of its experimentation with publishing on the Apple tablet.
Bonnier is also looking forward to when Apple will allow publishers to offer subscriptions more widely on the iPad instead of having to sell each issue separately -- a limitation that has frustrated magazine publishers for whom subscriptions are a crucial part of their business. "The subscription model, pricing and figuring out how best to serve ads is all part of the strategy," said Miller.