iPad and the Future

Posted on 10/22/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Richard Levine’s keynote address at the PACA International Conference, “The Impact of the iPad and the Future Use of Content,” raised a number of critical issues for the stock photo industry.

As vice president of editorial operations at Condé Nast, Levine is in charge of setting the policies for how content will be acquired and used as the world transitions from a total dependence on print media for information to an environment where electronic media is available as not just supplemental but quite possibly the dominant means of accessing information.

Digital magazines have all the beauty of print, the engagement of print, a paying audience, as well as digital distribution, so they save the cost of printing, paper and postage. They also have all the Web 2.0 features including sound, motion, interactivity and social and community aspects that print publications cannot offer.

Condé Nast has 18 very popular print publications. Twenty-four percent of American adults read at least one of their magazines. In the last couple of years, the company has put a lot of effort into building Web sites for each magazine. Many readers interact with the Web site before purchasing a print copy of the magazine. Condé Nast sites generate almost 2 million new magazine subscribers each year, and over $100 million in advertising revenue. The top three—Glamour, New Yorker and Vanity Fair—have a total of 3 to 5 million unique visitors each month.

However, there seem to be two disadvantages to online publishing. With print publications, readers tend to focus on the publication and follow the flow that is laid out for them. Online readers tend to follow different links and spend less time on the primary Web site. Levine calls this “distracted browsing.”

More importantly, advertising CPMs tend to be much lower on the Web than in print. According to Levine, “Some people think advertising CPMs are trending toward zero.”

Why is ABC certification important?

The Audit Bureau of Circulations is a forum of the world’s leading magazine and newspaper publishers, advertisers and advertising agencies. The organization provides credible, verified information essential to the media buying and selling process. ABC maintains the world’s foremost electronic database of audited-circulation information and an array of verified readership, subscriber demographics and online activity data.

In essence, ABC is a third-party auditor of print circulation, readership and Web site activity. Each audit is an in-depth examination of a publisher’s records. Much like a financial audit is designer to assure shareholders of the value of a company’s stock, an ABC audit assures advertising buyers that a publisher’s circulation claims are accurate and verifiable.

ABC was established in 1914, when advertisers balked against continuing to buy print space based on exaggerated circulation information. Advertisers, advertising agencies and publishers established an industry watchdog to independently verify circulation, with publishers volunteering to undergo audits to be made available to advertisers and agencies. Leading advertisers and agencies continue to use ABC reports and analyses as the basis of media buying decisions today.—Julia Dudnik Stern

With tablets, all that changes. The publisher is able to charge an additional fee for the app, and tablet circulation is certified by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. This means that app sales are included in the advertising base rate. When the Wired app launched in June, it sold 105,000 copies—25,000 more than the print issue of the magazine that month. Thus, the total circulation on which the advertising rate was calculated was more than double that of the print magazine.

Currently, five Condé Nast publications—GQ, Vanity Fair, Wired, Glamour, and New Yorker—have iPad apps. Probably the most innovative of them all is Wired, developed in a collaboration between Adobe Systems and Condé Nast. According to Levine, the kind of technological things that are being done at Wired are likely to be the forerunners of what they will do with tablet apps of most of their other magazines. However, it is important to recognize that even Wired is only beginning to scratch the surface of how information delivery can be enhanced with the addition of sound, motion and interactivity. Wired has also discovered that almost half the people who have purchased their app are not in the United States. This means that some magazines will be able to effortlessly expand their readership far beyond the traditional market for the printed version of their product.

Tablets also appear to engage the reader’s interest for much longer periods of time than is the case with print publications. Condé Nast has determined that GQ readers spend an average of 64 minutes a month with the publication. They only spend an average of 15 minutes a month on GQ.com and 75 minutes accessing the magazine through a smartphone. However, when it comes to the iPad app, readers are spending more than two hours on GQ and almost 3 hours on Vanity Fair. Part of this may be due to the fascination with a new product, but it seems clear that it is possible to offer a much greater depth of understanding to a story by adding video and sound to the printed word. Storytelling becomes an infinitely richer process.

iPad adds new dimension to publishing

Levine demonstrated several examples of the new ways content is being presented on the iPad. It is impossible to describe the experience in words. Anyone who hopes to be in the business of producing or licensing photographic content five years or more from now needs to buy an iPad (or one of the other electronic tablets that will be coming on the market soon, and buy several of the magazine apps in order to begin to understand how the reader experience can be enhanced and how much richer iPad offerings are in comparison to what is available in print publications. Image producers will have to create with this market in mind.

It is estimated that by the end of 2011, there will be 25 million tablets in circulation in the U.S (up from 4 million today) and 90 million smartphones capable of accessing magazine content. At present, there are almost 190 million magazine readers in the U.S. who are 18 or older. This number is 85% of all U.S. adults, and 88% of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 34. U.S. readers pay $25 billion annually for magazines—more than they pay for books, spend on video games or on going to the movies. While magazine readership is not likely to disappear, electronic tablets are likely to command a much greater percentage of reader time in the near future. 



Downside for creators

As a result of these new capabilities, Condé Nast’s new goal is to “author once, publish anywhere.”  For the buyer, it is “buy once, read anywhere.” Condé Nast wants its editors to select material in a multi-channel fashion and then produce both paper and electronic versions. Management hopes that in a couple years, the company will be able to produce “smart content” that knows the kind of screen it is being displayed on and flows effortlessly anywhere onto multiple screens.

Device tailoring: the near future

The concept of content tailoring itself to a device is not far-fetched. In fact, it is already being done online.

Web sites of many large retailers and publishing brands are programmed to determine the browser type (Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox) and screen resolution. This takes place in nanoseconds as the user is logging on, so the content he or she sees is formatted precisely in the way best displayed on a particular computer monitor.

Though infinitely more complex, the ability to design a templated look-and-feel for print, online, smartphone and tablet-based content; enter all text and images into a back-end administrative interface; and flow each story into a medium-specific template exists today. Adding video, sound, music or any other multimedia element to the back-end database is as trivial as an extra caption and file upload. While nobody has yet to actually finance and deploy such an operation, Levine’s PACA presentation confirms its reality: Condé Nast may well be first.

For creators, this certainly presents opportunity. It is unquestionable that more media will be published year after year, so demand for creative and technical talent will continue to grow. However, it will be strongest in multimedia and video, not in print.

Furthermore, demand may be limited to full-time employment: centralized production operations tend to generate enough of a volume of work to hire their own design, photo, video and programming teams. And the art that is purchased… if one were to compare the pricing structures of print vs. Web, the long-term financial potential of newer media remains difficult to quantify. If it were to follow today’s paradigm, the only hope for stills is that volume will compensate for substantially lower single-image pricing.—Julia Dudnik Stern

This naturally leads to a new strategy for acquiring content, because it will be impossible to anticipate how imagery initially acquired primarily for print use might be repurposed. Condé Nast has instructed its picture researchers to make certain they have the digital rights for all content originally published in print. The company mandates that:

  • Contracts stipulate use in all media,
  • Vendors are informed that magazines are not limited to print distribution, and
  • Outtakes and other additional materials are available for use on the iPad without further negotiation.

Researchers must make certain that rights obtained are broad enough—even for uses that are only “possible”, not definite—so that:

  • Employees avoid going back to clear further rights, a time-consuming and difficult process,
  • Rights are not limited to a time period, since digital editions live forever, and
  • Uses of video and footage is added to agreements.

 Levine said, “Our contention is that the iPad version of a magazine is part of the rate base of that magazine.”


Copyright © Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

Comments

  • Ellen Boughn Posted Oct 22, 2010
    Last weekend I purchased a new MacBook Pro and an iPad. Why both? I'm tired of hauling my laptop on and off planes and worrying about leaving it behind somewhere. Thus the iPad.

    Within 20 minutes of opening the iPad for the first time, I was deep into the latest copy of Vanity Fair, a magazine I no longer subscribe to and pass by on the newstands daily. I read most of the entire issue and loved seeing the photos in the ads and the editorial sections. The iPad is bringing this person back to "reading" (or is it now'seeing'?) magazines again.

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