Dennis Publishing Ramps Up App Production
Plans to release 20 apps using new turnkey production platform.
The Week publisher Dennis Publishing has teamed up with app developer Toura to begin plugging content from its magazines into a wider array of apps. The first, called How To Add Value To Your Car, is a 99-cent spin-off of the publisher’s Auto Express brand.
Dennis plans to prime the channel with 20 more apps in the coming weeks from its lifestyle and fitness brands—a significant jump. Prior to the Toura partnership, the UK publisher had about 6 apps available. Toura, however, offers a web-based CMS through which the publisher can ramp up production much more quickly.
According to Dennis UK’s head of app development, Alex Watson, the publisher formed an in-house team early this year to begin formal production of magazine apps, but quickly realized speed to market was an issue, and some of the brand teams were still shaky on the investment risk. "At the start of this year, we built a mobile development team in house," he says. "We can custom build something in native code from the ground up. The problem is the time to market is relatively slow and the cost is quite high. It takes weeks and weeks of effort. And for a lot of the brands we have, they weren’t as confident—it’s quite a big risk to take, especially for the niche brands."
Yet the publisher still wanted to move forward, quickly, with an app strategy. The Toura system will be used to produce one-shot apps in parallel with the production of the bigger magazine brand apps. The one-shots, says Watson, will have the added benefit of helping Dennis determine what kinds of content and services its audience is looking for in an app. "It means we can put the good stuff out to the audience and we as a business can see what the audience wants and resond to that," he says.
According to Toura co-founder Sayoko Teitelbaum, costs—for the full-bore magazine apps, not the one-offs—run, as an industry average, $25,000 to $40,000 per app. Toura’s platform, she says, operates similarly to a SaaS with a monthly license fee, allowing publishers to produce apps more quickly and cheaply.
Teitelbaum adds that the platform is ideally set up for the one-off apps, but a more feature-rich version is currently in apha. In producing the one-offs, the first app is built and then a native "wrapper" is applied to distribute it into the various app stores—Android, iOS and so on. Content is delivered to the app via HTML5.
The faster production time and preset layout selection through the CMS will enable Dennis to divert more content from its brands into spin-off guides and other, more service-oriented products. The strategy is akin to what other publishers like Rodale and Hearst have been doing with their own branded app spin-offs, e.g. Country Living Holiday Cookies ($2.99) or Men’s Health Workouts ($1.99).