Mobile Publishing on the Rise
With more than 1.6 million Internet-enabled cell phones in circulation in the U.S. alone, magazine publishers, even smaller ones, are throwing their money and their content into mobile platforms.
Star Media CEO Sandy Vasceannie this month launched her 150,000-circ, urban men’s magazine, Smooth, into the mobile arena with the hope of better appealing to the title’s Gen-X and Gen-Y audience. “With the new age of technology, there’s a need and a want for more content and being able to have your content at all times,” says Vasceannie. “It’s a way to meet the demands of our readers. This is just another way to get the product.”
For its mobile users, Smooth is offering “wallpaper” downloads at $1.99 a piece and, for $10 a month, subscribers will be allowed to download as many articles as they want from the magazine.
QMobile is handling the technology side of Smooth’s mobile venture and Vasceannie says the process requires no special training on the part of her staff. “It’s a smooth transition,” she says.
QMobile vice president Fred Francq says his company is a distribution channel, which partners with publishers and others to deliver their content through mobile, Web, television, radio and other channels. He says Smooth’s mobile model differs from traditional print in that it will offer multimedia content such as video and audio. “It’s a big piece of the publishing strategy of reaching that younger demographic,” he says.
While Star Media is charging a subscription fee for its mobile content, other publishers and magazines, such as Hachette Filipacchi and Runner’s World, are launching free-to-consumer, ad-supported content.
Daniel West, vice president of Nellymoser, which worked with Hachette on its mobile sites for Shock and Car and Driver, says there is no magic bullet to determining whether publishers should offer content for a fee or free of charge. “Certainly, the mass market publications are using ad-driven revenue strategies for their publications, but it really depends on the publishers.”
In addition to deciding whether content should be free or offered for a fee, publishers also need to give a lot of thought as to the type of content they wish to post on mobile platforms and whether they’re content is appropriate for a mobile platform at all, says Francq, who believes content directed to 18-34-year-olds works best, although publications such as Golf and Epicurious have found success in the mobile market targeting males over the age of 40 and housewives, respectively.
Look for more on mobile content in the Publishing Technology section of the November issue of Folio: magazine or click here.