iPad Magazines Encourage 'Exploration,' May Be a Boon to Advertisers
Digital magazines are not a passive medium like their dead-tree ancestors. Instead, they serve as "exploration springboards." Readers will bounce around between apps and the Web, researching topics or checking prices of featured products on Amazon. But the important thing is that users stay within the realm of the magazine's content. "They weren't leaving the magazine to aimlessly surf, but to go to sites specifically relevant to what they'd just been reading," says Megan Miller, the R&D program director at Bonnier, in a e-mail. Some participants in the study even suggested that the activity demanded a new term -- "iPadding" -- to describe it. Clumsy attempts to verbify "iPad" aside, it's clear that what these consumers are doing is not just "reading."
The number one ancillary activity is shopping. Miller told us that readers "are very aware that they're connected to the Web, so they expect to be able to click on something and purchase it." This is an area for digital magazines to offer extended functionality that "advertisers would obviously love," but that would also create a more compelling and seamless experience for users.
The next step is applying this research to real-world publications. Popular Science+ will feature new ads created by Bonnier and CP&B in late spring that will offer a deeper browsing and information-finding experience. Miller also envisions a "rich, multimedia version of footnotes" as a way of adding supplementary information to articles. Ultimately, the goal for publishers is not to discourage distraction, but to facilitate exploration in a way that doesn't require readers to leave the magazine experience.