In the Wild West environment of the early years of the World Wide Web, up and coming, tech-savvy 20 - and 30 - somethings became accustomed to getting their content online, anywhere, anytime, for free.
As a result, many print magazines went out of business, not so much because subscription bases went down, but because advertisers jumped ship, in search of eyeballs on the Internet.
Then came e-readers and pay walls, indicating people were ready to pay for quality content (or rather that quality content providers could not survive without subscriber revenue).
Then the iPad was born. Our very own Cape Cod Life magazine may just be among the very few forward-thinking beacons that see the promise of this new medium. (Despite the raging popularity of the iPad, it’s still ahead of its time; Google “iPad, what’s the point” and you get 3,120,000 page hits linking to skeptics).
At the beginning of this month, Cape Cod Life became the first Cape and Islands lifestyle magazine with an iPad app and the first Cape and Islands publication with a magazine app to deliver content. Cape Cod Life and Cape Cod Home apps are now live on the Apple app store.
Cape Cod Life’s Expansion into the Ether
Fans of Cape Cod Life can now access the magazines in four ways: the more traditional, glossy magazine, via the web site, as a downloadable digital edition and with the iPad app.
“We hear a lot of stories about how people have saved every issue we’ve ever published,” says Susan Dewey, Associate Publisher of Cape Cod Life Publications, illustrating that people still like to hold, and hold on to, the magazine.
Readers can also access content via the web site, which after its redesign in November 2010 saw a dramatic growth in visitors. “There has been a humongous increase in readership” according to Anthony DiSpezio, Cape Cod Life’s Web & IT guru. “This was so telling on how people are engaging.”
Indeed, after creating a strictly online-based voting process for this year's highly anticipated “Best of the Cape & Islands Readers Choice” issue, voting numbers tripled.
While accessing web content is as interactive as the design team wants to make it, the web site content doesn’t mirror the design and layout of the print copy. Readers bothered by full-page print ads would do well on the web site.
But according to Mr. DiSpezio, “There is a considerable demographic that likes seeing the ads.”
That’s where the digital version comes in. Downloadable via the web site, the digital edition uses Adobe Flash to allow readers to view an identical – including advertisements - version of the print magazine. The digital edition offers an experience mimicking reading print (page turning) while providing the convenience of a web site (access to additional information, details, merchandise).
As a bonus, at $15 annually, the digital edition costs less than the newsstand subscription price of $25.
The down side? It's a highly static experience.
The iPad, which does not support Adobe Flash, offers a whole new interactive environment offering “shortcuts” that open doors to both the consumer and the advertiser. Advertisers may one day choose to optimize their content by embedding video into an advertisement, by linking directly to their web sites or by providing links that allow the viewer to purchase an item with one tap.
“We are enlightening our advertisers as to what they can do, and we can make it happen,” says DiSpezio enthusiastically.
For consumers, information on that garden trestle, recipe, art gallery or restaurant is just one tap away. “We are at such a level of convenience - the fact that you can just tap it and you’re there is huge,” states Dewey. “It enhances what we offer with the magazine by offering opportunities that weren’t available with other mediums.”
In short, consumers now have increasing options of personalizing the way they receive content, while advertisers have new tools that help them draw eyeballs to their products. It’s a win-win situation, not least of all for the publishing industry.
“We’re not here to replace our print content; we understand we have all of these new frontiers,” says DiSpezio. “Who knows where we’ll be going with this in a year from now.”