As a passionate editorial designer for print and digital, I could collect important experiences in terms of advertisements in digital app magazines in the last years. If you want your advertisements, that you pay a lot of money for, to achieve higher conversion rates, read on.
ADAPTIONS FOR MOBILE DEVICES
Generally speaking, I recommend to take print advertisements out of your app altogether, unless your advertising clients pay extra for them. Otherwise, your advertising clients won’t have a feeling for the value of your app and will, most likely, never develop one.
If you do place digital advertisements, please adapt them in terms of size, mobile device and make them interactive! Don’t hesitate to actively approach your advertising clients and offer them different options and pricing models.
This is how a classic print advert looks like on the iPhone - not adapted in size and not interactive (apart from the web link). You can hardly read it and visiting the website doesn’t look very appealing:
The advert in the next example was adapted for the sizes of different mobile devices, the text was improved for app readers, it can be perfectly read and there is a clear call to action telling the reader to tap on the red button which automatically opens up the device’s email program. This advert was placed in issue 5/2018 of "Blickpunkt LKW & BUS" and reached a 24 % higher reading rate than all other "static" print adverts in the same issue.
You can see more amazing examples for interactions and animations in app advertisements in this video:
I’ve already written about the article-based approach in my blog article "The Future of Digital Magazines".
In article-based magazine apps, advertising banners on the starting page are a great thing - you can imagine this to look similar to a blog on a website. Of course, the banner should not look like a classic promo banner, but rather smoothly integrate into the entire page, designed in card design style. This makes the advertisement look more like a piece of actual content. (You can read up more on card design here, by the way.)
LARGE OR SMALL ADVERTISEMENT?
It’s worth contemplating to skip the classic print advertisement format altogether (1 advertisement = 1 full page between 2 articles). It can definitely make sense to cut down paid content into smaller, more appealing bits of paid content and include them in relevant articles here and there (i.e. with a banner or animated/interactive image). This makes the reader less "blind" for the advertisement.
Twixl Media’s Laurent Gerniers from Belgium wrote an excellent article about this interesting topic.
CAREFUL WITH "PDF APPS"
For the sake of completeness, I have to say that those "fancy" digital adverts are not executable very well in "PDF apps" - due to technical and layout reasons alike. In order to make your adverts really stand out and convert, you definitely need a native, professionally made app magazine.
In all those years of creating app magazines, I have seen many examples of unhappy readers of PDF apps which puts a negative light on the magazine and the publishing house. PDF apps cost important download and reading numbers and this is sad to see, as the initial intention was creating additional value for the reader and keeping up with digitization. Poor execution and saving money in the wrong place, makes publishers often pay a high price for it in the end. You can read more about this in my blog article "5 Mistakes that Publishers Stumble Upon with Their App Magazines".
Reader rating of a "PDF app" in the App Store:
Reader rating of a native magazine app I created for one of my clients:
Placing advertisements costs a lot of money (in print more than on digital platforms). As the reading flow in print is completely different than on digital, the print layout must be adapted to a digital layout (incl. interactions and subtle animations driving sales). I’m not talking about a website link, but about an advert that actually converts on a digital device.
Creating digital adverts is quite cheap, especially when the print design already exists. When spending money for advertisements, don’t save in the wrong place and save the little extra money in creating a stunning digital advert. You don’t buy a Lomborghini and drive around with cheap, adulterated fuel because you don’t have the money for good fuel, right?