A Quick Critique of Huffington.
Is there a market here? Or a product for product's sake?
Did you see the new Apple Newsstand magazine called Huffington.? Arianna (I donâ€™t know her but that is how she signed the introductory editorâ€™s letter so I guess we are on a first name basis) tells us that â€śHuffingtonâ€™s content will emphasize the richâ€”and richly rewardingâ€”interactions that come from uninterrupted time spent in the company of creative minds.â€ť Oh, dear. That grand statement comes after a 2-page ad for Prius V that, because as in true print magazine format, Huffington. must be read vertically (no turning of your iPad, please), we canâ€™t read the copy that goes across the gutter. Follow me? That's because there is no gutter on an app that canâ€™t be turned.
Anyway, it is really pretty. There are great photos and some snappy graphics to highlight data and charts. But then it has these annoying little headlines that say, â€śEnter,â€ť which, because I assume that it is beckoning me to do so I push and push and push and all that happens is I get the table of contents (again and again and again). And then there are the similar â€śVoices,â€ť where I keep thinking Iâ€™ll find audio (love my New Yorker app issues that have poets reading their works). Nope, no voices here. There is some clever use of reader comments and a good article or two including the cover piece called, â€śObamaâ€™s perilous relationship with young voters.â€ť Â
I guess the ad snafu aside, I am not appalled to be spending yet another 20 bucks for an annual subscription to something. But what is this something? Who is it for? I canâ€™t find that demo that should be so evident in a magazine.
And why in a world where legacy publishers are trying to find life after print would a successful digital-first entity imitate print in the most sophisticated digital medium, the tablet? What am I missing? Are they going to sell a ton of print-like ads (note to sales team: 86 the spreads from the rate card)? Have they modeled that one percent of their supposed 80 million unique users per month will spend $20 per year? That would be a $16 million revenue stream. Hmmm. Or is this just one of those, â€śI did it because I could?â€ť
Warren Bimblick is senior vice president, strategy and business development, at Penton Media. Follow him on Twitter @wbimblick.
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