A Page-Turning Idea

"Many small details have been included for the sole purpose of creating a familiar reading experience," explains Zabrina Sen, media relations manager at iPagez.

Like iPagez, Zinio also lives in the peculiar space, this day and age, of online advertising. They each digitize content properties, like magazines, for example, and make them available to read while online (or on your computer). It's a PDF file, you think, no big deal, right? Well, there is something more intriguing going on here. The premise is not to feel like a Web site, but rather, mimic the intuitively familiar reading experience of a magazine--while online.

The pages literally flip forward as you click through the publication. Spread ads appear before your eyes, softly landing flat for you to read. Full-page ads open next to full pages of content. Fancy functions allow you to zoom in, and links to marketing or content destinations are naturally embedded. Sight and sound can easily be included in the experience as well, but there is no mistaking it, you are reading a magazine sans the blow-in cards falling at your feet.



This approach allows publishers to "push out" their packaged content. The major drawback is that--like a magazine, and unlike a Web site--content cannot be updated, so when the issue "closes," that is all she wrote (literally).

I am not sure I love this option for publishers who have both a printed property and a Web site. For one, it feels like a step backwards, and two, it can easily add to the erosion of your physical magazine readership. However, I am sure of what I like about this reading experience. Nothing pops up, pops over, or pops under the content. Nothing on the page streams or makes any sound without my consent. Ads are not strewn all over the page, screaming for attention like a five-year-old at an amusement park.

Reading a Web site is like listening to house music, while reading a magazine is like listening to Beethoven. Maybe the folks at iPagez and Zinio are onto something. b>What if content-centric Web sites maintained their dynamic abilities to update their site as often as they wish, but served their pages in a manner that mimics a magazine?

Some of you may think, no way, it is too late to go backwards. I am not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is that we look at what your online content publishing business looks like with all of its current strengths, delivered with a more soothing and familiar reading experience.

Only two things would really change. First, pages would "turn" and land flat, as opposed to loading, appearing, disappearing, or hanging out an "open window." Secondly, your standard ad offering would be full pages adjacent to content, and spreads that flip casually in front of your readers' eyes as they flip through your Web site. Video ads can run embedded inside these full-page ads or spreads if desired, but I am telling you, the visual of pages "turning" does something to the experience that online is missing now.

Before you click this column closed, hang in for one more minute. What ad units currently command the highest CPM on your site right now? Full-page interstitials (some content sites get between $35 and $55 for this unit). With this approach, the only ads you serve would be your most expensive ones. However, instead of "appearing" in front of annoyed readers, the full-page ad or spread would casually flip in front of them, and that innate sense of familiarity would cause readers to look at these ads instead of racing to click them closed the way the current Web experience has taught them to do.

Magazine ads work because they show up where the reader expects them. The same holds true for television, radio and newspaper ads. Consumers are comfortable with advertising when it shows up where they have grown to expect it, which is the direct opposite approach online advertising has taken so far.

Yes, this idea is crazy. Crazy is different, and different stands apart from the crowd. And the last time I looked, the online publishing business was as crowded as an open audition for "American Idol." Traditional brand marketers are pouring dollars online. A more traditional approach to how your content and advertising is displayed online could catch their attention and move you to the front of the line.

If this idea has caught your attention, I'd encourage you to explore these new publishing platforms yourself. And if not, feel free to simply turn the page.

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