Kudos to the MPA for top-notch content at yesterday’s technology summit. Here are my 5 unanswered questions about digital magazines:
- Is the Workflow Sustainable?
Engagement is the key to compelling content for edit and ads. I am encouraged that magazines like Wired are using their print staffs to do the tablet edition (per Creative Director Scott Dadich), but question whether the workflow is sustainable (they’ve said they partnered with Adobe and it took them 6 months to design). Bill Trippe from the Gilbane Group cited Ad Age’s article on Time‘s 8-step print-to-ipad process, where compiling is the only automated step. You need a creative staff who understand the “new form of storytelling” that the tablets demand, per David Link from The Wonderfactory. And you need a sustainable, efficient production process to make it repeatable.
- Is this Process Device-Independent?
The speakers said there would be 50 competitors to the ipad launching before the end of this year. How will publishers easily adapt their content to multiple devices with different flavors of Adroid? NextPub, the IdeAlliance initiative, is a step in the right direction.
- Who Has an Easy, Cheap XML Workflow?
Gary Cosimini from Adobe said that at a tablet conference the other day “everyone agreed they didn’t know what they were doing, but wanted to do it right away.” We know that XML has to be at the core of a multi-channel workflow, but the tools need to be cheap and the workflow has to be easy.
- Is There a Risk When You Blur Ad-Edit Lines?
Esquire‘s app. has a Buy-it-Now feature on their Fashion story. How does this impact the Chinese Wall that traditionally is supposed to separate ad from edit? Do readers care or just the MPA? Or will that become irrelevant, since magazines are fighting for survival?
- Can We Make Money?
How to monetize content is the question on everyone’s lips. Dadich says Wired‘s first iPad issue circulation is matching traditional newsstand circulation, but won’t it cannibalize print? Is there sustainable revenue past the novelty of the first issue? Will consumers renew their subscriptions? Will advertisers pay to be in your tablet edition? And will the advertisers be able to sustain the creation of engaging content beyond the banner and ad networks?
Stay tuned…the future is bright, but we need good tools and processes to get there efficiently. And we need to keep an eye on the ROI.
– Kathy Sandler
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- Creating Digital Magazines (blogs.adobe.com)