Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Keep taking the tablets

In the guise of a ‘proper journalist’, Greg Grimmer, partner, Hurrell Moseley Dawson & Grimmer, talks tablets with GQ’s Dylan Jones, The Guardian’s Chris Pelekanou and Wired’s David Rowan…

As the latest Apple fanfare surrounding the iPad2 hits full volume I thought it was an apposite time to look at the effect that the rise of the tablet is having on the much maligned print sector.

‘Digital media is killing newspapers and magazines’ has been a drum beaten loud and hard (ironically the loudest by print journalists) – so is the tablet the saviour of every press baron or are they fooling themselves by investing into a technology and ecosystem that they don’t control or understand?

I was a sceptic of the iPad when it launched. I saw it as superfluous digital device that would have to be viewed as an addition to my current gadget portfolio, not a replacement for my iPhone, MacBook , or iPod… (I am ‘Apple Maxed’ according to the Urban Dictionary).

However, one year on I am a convert – the iPad has found a place in my screen-based time schedule and not really at the expense of any paper-based products.

I use it primarily (as do other family members) in a multi-screen environment, when the crucial power struggle of the television remote has been lost. I find myself either using Wiki or IMDb to add bon mots to my family’s proletarian viewing habits (for example, did you know Chloe Madley was an underwear model?). Or more likely I can be found gently stroking my way through beautifully designed pages of a magazine app.

Condé Nast were early pioneers of the magazine brand online and therefore it was no surprise to see them also pioneering in the iPad stakes . The group’s New Yorker edition is a thing of beauty and one of the highest rated apps.

Condé Nast’s British-based colleagues were not far behind and Vogue, GQ and Wired have all produced stunning versions over the past year. Even as I write this another iconic print brand Wallpaper has announced it is joining the fray.

Taking a step back from my normal stream of consciousness, I thought I would pretend to be a proper journalist and go and ask some experts from the print field why they are producing tablet editions and what they make of them…

Dylan Jones at GQ, one of the most respected print editors in the UK, takes a very enthusiastic view of app design strategy: “The whole process of putting together our iPad edition has totally re-energised the team, and we have all been invigorated by it. Not only has it caused us to look at the whole process of magazine production in intense detail, it has also made us look differently at the entire way we commission and fill the magazine. In all, it’s been thoroughly instructive, and our print title will be all the better for it.”

So, it is not only viewed as an additional channel for content but influencing the content itself. A view which is supported by the leading newspaper on iTunes and articulated by the commercial director of The Guardian Chris Pelekanou: “The browser is an incredibly powerful tool in informing the world 24/7, therefore a far more effective platform to break news on.

“Due to their ‘lean back’ nature, the iPad and other tablet devices, enable content providers to publish news in an edited finite package, that can reflect and analyse what’s going on in the world.

“This gives strong brands, through design, functionality and compelling content, an opportunity to demonstrate their uniqueness once again and ultimately this scarcity enables you to charge for that content.”

This latter point is a crucial one in the way that the smart print owners are approaching the tablet arena. It is especially interesting from the organisation who’s editor has openly championed the free internet in response to News Corporation’s paywall strategy. Is it not news that people will pay for in future but editing and design?

This is a topic picked up on by David Rowan, editor of the unrivalled influencer of the future Wired. “If a magazine company is to add any value to consumers, and have a reason to exist, it has to do what the internet doesn’t do well,” he said.

“Where we can beat the open internet is in curating carefully the stories, people and ideas that we are genuinely excited by each month – and in creating a design and interaction experience that it pretty tough to replicate on a computer browser.”

You would expect Wired to be active in this arena but what struck me with David’s response (as with Chris and Dylan) was the unbridled zeal for this development – a far cry from the doomsayers of the past decade, where press owners tip-toed with intrepidation around the monetisation of their web-based products.

David returned to this theme: “Suddenly the iPad gives us the chance to achieve both in creative and experimental new ways. We curate a monthly package of stories and multimedia in a coherent whole; and we do so using video, design, panoramic photography and interactive design tools that re-imagine the user experience. We’re still learning, but we’re pretty excited by the creative possibilities of re-imagining what Wired magazine can be in this multimedia, real-time digital format.”

With iPad2 sales already forecast to be five times those of the launch version and other tablet manufacturers trumpeting better experiences, the opportunity for magazine brands will continue apace.

However, I am struck that of course in amongst the 800,000 apps on iTunes, Android and Ovi, the reader themselves remain a powerful editor and it is the iconic consumer brands fuelled by both print history and modern day innovation that are most likely to succeed.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Ancestry targets Royal Wedding fans with TV push

Ancestry.co.uk is capitalising on the upcoming Royal Wedding by launching a TV campaign targeting viewers with questions about weddings in their own family history.

Ancestry, one of the world’s largest online collections of historical records, encourages viewers to visit the website to find out more information about their own family.

The ad, which launched on Friday, questions where viewers’ parents met and asking where their grandparents tied the knot.

Created by HMDG, the 30-second ad shows a montage of vintage photographs and film, accompanied by light-hearted captions and statements such as, “we married in secret”.

John Messum directed the ad, while Big Buoy produced the spot. Peter Crothers was the writer on the ad, and Trupesh Gajjar was the art director.

Initiative handled the campaign’s offline activity, while Essence handled online activity.