New Yorker’s Bare Bones iPad App a Success

A story in today’s New York Times explains how the New Yorker’s simple iPad App, built for reading and not much else, is leading in subscriptions amongst Conde Nast publications.

I’ve always wondered why publishers want to build ridiculous Apps where there’s too much navigation and flash, and the turn of a page makes an annoying “swishing sound.” It’s good news that the bare-bones aesthetics of the Kindle work just as well for publishers on the iPad.

I do wonder how much these numbers are skewed by the combined demographics of the New Yorker’s audience and the average iPad owner. The publication has a pretty serious audience —  very different from a typical glossy ad-packed magazine. Does anyone read the New Yorker just for the cartoons? The iPad owners are also likely older, wealthier and more educated than most audiences.

The article does address the issue of demographics:

One apparent reason for The New Yorker’s success with the iPad is that the magazine has the right demographics. iPad users tend to inhabit households with annual income of more than $100,000, much like readers of The New Yorker. Research from comScore shows that all iPad users read news on the device more than they seek out entertainment like videos and games.

The article also discusses how the subscription revenue is great, but figuring out behavioral statistics and how to advertise to this audience is still an unanswered question.

Robin Steinberg, executive vice president of investment and activation for MediaVest, a media buyer, said that The New Yorker’s 20,000 iPad subscribers and the 75,000 more who had activated through their print accounts were a big first step. But she said use patterns needed further study.

“The question we now face is of those 75,000, how many are engaging with the magazine and the app or one exclusively?” she asked. “Understanding these behaviors will provide a stronger opportunity for advertisers to appropriately connect and create the right experiences by channel without misapplying dollars.”

Nevertheless this is an interesting trend to watch for in the space of digital publishing models. Long live content!

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