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iPad Magazines Encourage 'Exploration,' May Be a Boon to Advertisers

Popular Science+
With print media on the decline, many publishers were counting on tablets like the iPad to usher in a new era of interactive media, which would potentially save magazines from obsolescence and extinction. But a new study by Bonnier (the home of publications such as Popular Science and Field & Stream) and advertising firm CP&B has discovered what some might consider a serious problem: iPad readers often leave the magazine to perform other tasks.

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.

Tags: bonnier, ipad, magazine, media, popular science, Popular Science+, PopularScience, PopularScience+, tablet pc, TabletPc, top, web