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5 Mistakes that Publishers Stumble Upon with Their App Magazines


(This blog article was updated on 2 January 2018.)

„For publishers, the tablet magazine opportunity is game-changing, but the last thing they should do is simply shovel their printed titles on to tablets. Consumers demand more, and the rich new interaction paradigm means amazing engagement and storytelling opportunities for editors and marketers alike.“

The Guardian

The past years in the digital publishing business have taught me a lot and I could make some valuable experiences for my clients and myself. In this blog article I will write about some core facts about app magazines that are offered in addition to print magazines. And about five mistakes publishers stumble upon too often. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Background: In August 2011, the e-magazine for my client "Blickpunkt LKW & BUS" went online – first only for iPhone and iPad, a few years later also for smart phones and tablets with Android. The topic of the magazine (commercial vehicles in Austria) targets quite a narrow niche. By December 2016 the app counted over 10,000 unique (!) downloads. A big success that is linked to avoiding these five mistakes:

MISTAKE # 1: Print content = app content

Imagine this scenario: A magazine lies in front of you, you like reading it. You know that this magazine is also available digitally as an app for the iPad – with the exact same content. Would you download the app and maybe even pay extra for it? Most probably not.

Hence: Offering the exact same content in the e-magazine like in print, does not offer any (obvious) additional value to the reader.

A smart content concept is needed here: Which topics are better suited for digital publishing, which ones are better suited for the print magazine? Which topics offer additional content that can be offered in the app and doesn’t have enough space in the print magazine? Is it maybe worth having specific magazine categories for the app version only? And so on. The editorial team is in demand here. – And if that seems difficult at first glance: Just think – how many times does the editor say "we have so much great material, especially photos, that will never fit on a double page". You see where I’m getting to? ;-)

Apart from content, there can also be a totally different additional value: Time. The e-magazine can be published a day before the print magazine, for example. Weekly newspapers would definitely benefit from that.

Bottom line: The reader needs a clearly visible additional value why he/she needs to download the app.

MISTAKE # 2: Not promoting the app

Just because you’re o