National Geographic Launches Magazine on the iPhone
Full issue to be priced at $4.99 for single copy.
National Geographicâ€™s brandâ€”which already reaches over 400 million worldwideâ€”is about to grow a little bigger with the introduction of its magazine on Appleâ€™s iPhone.
National Geographic magazineâ€™s iPhone edition will launch with the November 2012 issue. The app will provide daily updates, including video, photography, audio recordings, maps, graphic timelines, daily feeds of news, Instagram photographs from the brandâ€™s photographers and photos from the National Geographic online community of fan photographers. Unique content will be offered each time a user opens the app.
â€śYouâ€™d think that the size is the first hurdle,â€ť says Bill Marr, National Geographic magazine creative director. â€śWhat we found was that the real challenge was organizing content. We had to re-think what we were doing on the iPad for this smaller format. We wanted it to be much easier to navigate and organize things simplyâ€”the table of contents is basically the guidepost to the whole app.â€ť
No matter where a reader is in the app they can click on National Geographicâ€™s yellow box icon and be brought directly back to the table of contents, which makes for easy navigation. Initially Marr said he and his team, who worked with New Jersey-based Joe Zeff Design to create the application, were considering organizing content by media typeâ€”siloing photos, video and articles in to separate categories. Ultimately, the creators thought it best to organize the app by departmentsâ€”features, reader feedback, newsfeed, editorâ€™s letter, etc.
â€śWe went back and forth for several weeks on this,â€ť says Marr. â€śBy organizing by media, we werenâ€™t really allowing the story to become apparent to what people were getting into. If you click directly into a photo gallery and you donâ€™t know what the story was about, then the photographs have less meaning.â€ť
This lesson learned, adds Marr, is something the team will apply in its other digital spaces from now onâ€”if the brand redesigns its website, it will work to keep its content together and â€śsee each of the elements as a narrative tool to tell the story,â€ť he says.
The application will also be updated with not just monthly magazine content but news items on a regular basis. The application functions in both landscape and portrait modeâ€”swiping horizontally to go from article to article, and vertically, when directed, for more pages.
â€śThereâ€™s so many people that have mobile devices in their pockets or their purses,â€ť says Marr. â€śWe need to follow the market and follow where our potential is.â€ť
Though National Geographic is still testing pricing, right now the single-copy price for the magazine on the iPhone is $4.99, with an annual subscription coming in at $19.99. Existing subscribers on other platforms will also have access on their iPhonesâ€”and possibly other mobile phones in the future.
â€śWeâ€™ll of course need to expand into the Android marketplace,â€ť says Declan Moore, president of publishing and digital media for National Geographic. â€śWe have so many readers outside of the United States and that platform, particularly on the phone, has greater market share. Thatâ€™s loud and clearâ€”weâ€™re hearing the necessity to prioritize an Android solution on our roadmap going forward.â€ť
When it comes to mobile advertising, Moore says this is also an area like pricing that is still being worked out internally for a variety of reasons, namely the wait-and-see attitudes of the marketplace.
â€śIn the late 90s and early 00s we had our nice print CPMs migrate to digital at a much slower level,â€ť he says. â€śNow weâ€™re seeing digital CPMs go to mobile CPMs at a much slower level. Weâ€™ve been through this kind of transition beforeâ€”I really think going forward weâ€™re going to be developing more partnerships with clients that go beyond media impressions. Thatâ€™s a function of just how marketing is evolving and how consumers are interacting and behaving with content on these devices.â€ť
Moore adds that given the â€śsmall real estateâ€ť available on mobile devices publishers need to be carefulâ€”when consumers are paying for a product like a magazine on their mobile device having many ads can become intrusive.
â€śGetting that right is an opportunity and a challenge for everyone in this industry,â€ť he adds.