While tablet editions of magazines have been growing quickly as a subscription and single copy source, they’re still, in general, a small percentage of a publisher’s readership. That’s been a major hang-up for advertisers—the platform has yet to catch on in a major way with marketers. Publishers are hoping that a certain level of scale will tip the balance and Adobe is providing a push with the release of integrated audience metrics in its Digital Publishing Suite.
While the integrated metrics won’t necessarily speed up subscriber rates or single copy sales, they do take a step closer to standardized reporting.
DPS now lets publishers track total number of tablet readers per issue, total number of sessions per issue, average amount of time spent per reader per issue and average number of sessions per reader per issue.
The tracking and reporting capabilities were launched in collaboration with the MPA and the American Association of Advertising Agencies in an effort to standardize metrics and engage marketers with a more consistent story.
"We have an established program, announced in May, to work with key technology providers, Adobe is the first," says Ethan Grey, MPA’s senior vice president of digital strategy and initiatives. "We have many other providers that are considering building these out and we expect to be in the market with some of them this year."
Further, the AAM has certified DPS as a verified platform for audience metrics reporting. "The impact here is that the certification for these metrics sets the stage at a couple of levels," says Eric John, AAM’s vice president of digital services. "Now we have a platform that is compliant with the guidelines that the MPA has set forward and that publishers seem to be embracing."
Yet the question of scale still remains. Adobe claims significant market penetration—70 percent of the top grossing magazine on iOS newsstand, two million publications delivered every week—a key factor in MPA’s push toward standardization, but there are many other service providers.
"The larger question is will there be a critical mass of publishers so that advertisers can leverage this information in a buy?" adds John.
"The ecosystem for the newsstands and the measurement and production tools are varied," says Grey. "Each is measured accurately, but use different methodologies."
In an attempt to smooth the way for more vendors and service providers to jump on board, Adobe has released the development methodology it used to integrate the measurement capabilities.
"We’re doing this because while lots of publishers use DPS to distribute magazines, there are other avenues of distribution," says Nick Bogaty, Adobe’ senior director of business development and marketing, digital publishing. "We’re publishing these so other vendors can implement the MPA recommendations the same way."
Going forward, Grey says that the MPA is asking its members to kick the tires and hopefully take steps to incorporate the DPS reporting structure. "Our expectation is that other software tools will adopt it in the near term," he says. "We would really like to strive to have these core metrics be an official industry standard by early next year."