Marketing Insights: The iPad as Business + Content Monetization Tool

0 Posted by - 04/21/2010 - Mobile

The iPad is the Web’s topic du jour; already there are  10,200,000 articles on the device and commentary on whether or not paid digital content will put the publishing industry back in the black.. The iPad offers digital publishers viable options for  monetizing content and adding additional revenue streams to their business strategies. Already, over 450,000 iPads have been sold, and users have downloaded more than one million apps from the App Store and 250,000 e-books (the very first day!) from the iBookstore.


While e-books are showing strong growth (as seen by the first day’s downloads), the water is murkier when it comes to newspapers and magazines. All three of the industries are facing formidable challenges in transitioning from print to digital mediums.

The Secret To Getting Consumers To Pay for Digital Content

According to a study by eMarketer, if the publication has content that the consumer believes is worth paying for, then the consumer will pay for it. For publishers (large and small) wanting to monetize their digital content, success is directly related to the quality of that content. If they have quality and an audience, then all you need to do is figure out how much that consumer is willing to spend and develop a fairly priced payment model.

The iPad as A Marketing & Business Tool

For the past three weeks, I’ve worked on a theory I’ve had about digital content delivery devices and their impact on the way that fashion, entertainment and publishing industries do business. It’s my belief that we need to look at the iPad as a marketing and business tool.

Digital distribution, content monetization and additional revenue streams are just one part of the equation that leads into a much larger conversation. There are other digital content delivery devices that fit into this equation, including the Kindle, Nook and the HP slate.

To explore my theory, I contacted early digital adopters who were working on putting theories about how digital delivery devices can work as marketing and business tools into action. Early morning phone calls led me a company called Pixel Mags, Dwell Magazine‘s CEO and Publisher Michela Abrams and Zem Joaquin, the founder of the sustainable living blog, Eco Fabulous.

Dwell Magazine’s Digital Content Strategy

Michela Abrams, Publisher and CEO of Dwell Magazine, believes that the iPad will allow Dwell and all its subsidiary companies to generate new revenue streams through paid subscriptions, digital advertising and online-to-offline events.  The publication has launched full-scale development of robust iPad apps that will incorporate Dwell advertisers and support cross platform ad integration on the Dwell Partner Network, Fine Living Channel and the Dwell On Design conference.


“The Web is about sharing experiences,” says Abrams. A huge believer in community, Abrams believes that in order to make digital content on the iPad effective, publishers have to integrate all aspects of their audience into the digital experience.

Abrams said, “When you serve a community, you should endeavor to know everything about that community no matter what your topic is. You need to know what kind of running shoes they wear and scotch they drink, what airline they like to fly, and cars they drive; then, and only then, could you really understand your audience’s whole psychographic profile”.

Abrams is taking her beliefs and developing digital monetization strategies that incorporate mobile websites, the iPad and mobile devices.  This strategy, she believes, increases the effectiveness of print advertisers’ campaigns and the ROI of their messaging.

Testing Online-To-Offline Revenue Streams

This summer, Dwell is testing Abram’s new online-to-offline marketing models with the Dwell on Design trade show and conference in Los Angeles, California. Utilizing the iPad, Dwell plans to use their iPad applications for preshow promotion. Dwell will pre-release 1000 copies of its design directory on the iPad before the show.

A vendor at the show, like that of Herman Miller, is able to have branded content within the digital edition, even if their book is 200 pages . An advertiser, such as Target, can publish their own mini magazine for customers within the pages of Dwell’s digital editions. This, of course, is incorporated into the exhibition and sponsorship for show vendors.

Green Strategy, Cause Marketing and Raising Community Awareness

What’s more, Dwell has partnered with Levi’s Brand Denim,  eBay, Electrolux (energy efficient appliances) and with sustainable living and design blog Eco Fabulous to offer real-time tours of a sustainable prefab home via iPad and iPhone apps.

Abrams and Joaquin describe the home as a “curated experience” of all things green. The exhibit shows that consumers don’t have to sacrifice things they love in life to be more green, they just have to make better choices in what they incorporate into their lives. The home (the interiors of which were designed by Joaquin) shows that beautiful, well-designed environments are attainable through eco-conscious living.

So where do Levi’s, Ebay and Electrolux come into this exhibit?

The Dwell home’s isolation is made from Levi’s denim, which becomes part of Bonded Logic isolation when they’re recycled. Electrolux is incorporating energy efficient washer and dryers into the installation, while asking consumers to line dry items to save on energy costs and to make their denim last longer. The exhibit send the message, you can be sustainable without being “overly green.”


The kicker: if a viewer sees something they like, they can touch it and find out what company or person designed it and what the designer’s website address is. Also, the products that are featured in the Dwell home during the real-time tour will be available for sale on eBay. All proceeds of the sales will be going to Global Green, an organization that builds green communities and aims to build the first vertical farming community in Youngstown as a result of the funds raised on Ebay for this event.

Exploring More Digital Revenue Models

Abrams feels that the launch of the iPad democratizes publishing; this is similar to the way that style bloggers have democratized fashion.

Once e-commerce capabilities are enabled for the iPad, Abrams plans to fully integrate commerce into the digital edition of Dwell, as well as future editions of Dwell on Design conference app.

As consumers or show attendees go through the magazine, they will be able to find out what designer or manufacturer produced the tile, counter top or bedding that’s featured in an advertisement; what’s more, they can click through to purchase it. The same feature would be available with Dwell’s conference and live events apps.

Once the interface is more robust, Dwell plans on experimenting with user-generated content within the digital edition of the magazine, letting customers publish their own content. Community members/subscribers can brand their content and Dwell essentially becomes the reseller of the content, integrating adverting throughout the customer branded mini-mags.

Getting Consumers To Pay For Digital Content

So how does a magazine go about getting on the digital publishing bandwagon and monetize it’s content?

Building apps and advanced interfaces isn’t a budgetary luxury that all people have, so an emerging start-up known as PixelMags is leading the way for magazine publishers large and small.

About Pixel Mags Platform

Thirty-eight magazines launched via PixelMags iPad apps held top spots on the iTunes Top 50 Paid Book List over the first weekend nationally and internationally. Magazines published on the PixelMags platform include Dwell (and all it’s subsidiaries), iCreate, Eliza and MacUser.

For publishers, including niche digital magazines and bloggers, the platform offers additional digital revenue streams. Consumers can purchase new issues and back issues of a magazine; over 25% of them purchase 12-month subscription to the magazines they download. Magazines with international editions receive instant global distribution in up to 77 countries. A business publication or independent blogger can publish exclusive content, studies or reports that are available for download at an additional cost.

What sets the PixelMags platform apart from its competitors is that it offers branded apps, complete with custom titles, meta descriptions and keywords — all of which are used for advanced search purposes when an application is launched on iTunes. The platform is compatible across the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch; features include search, zoom, bookmarking options, headline alerts, a virtual library, social network sharing capabilities and in app purchasing.

For magazine publishers, the PixelMags platform allows consumers to  experience rich media content, including integrated, interactive advertising, games and platform-hosted video and vertical ad integration. Development costs vary by the scope of the project, but pricing starts at $1000.00 from creation to iTunes launch.  The platform handles all the heavy lifting, making content monetization easier for publishers; moreover, the platform offers a revenue share program for publication hosted on their platform.

PixelMags creators are excited about the opportunities their platform has to offer those who want to monetize their digital content. Founders Ryan Marquis (a former 3D Imaging specialist for Bugatti and Aston Martin) and Mark Stubbs (a digital marketing and e-commerce executive) wanted to take the experiences they used when creating photorealistic imagery for luxury car manufacturers and translate that into the digital experience for content on the iPad.

What Do You Think of The iPad as a Business Tool?

This story is much different than the one that I wrote for Mashable. I’ve outlined a magazine’s ad monetization strategy, online-to-offline marketing efforts as well as future social content strategies.

Do you think the iPad’s only use is going to be used for amusement? Or do you think the iPad will serve as a pivotal point for eBrochuring to become more commonplace?  Will we toss out all the print materials used at trade shows and will vendors start using USB drives, beaming applications and smart devices to show off their items?

If you have questions, please, leave them in the comments, share your insights, your disagreements or anything else. Let’s get this conversation moving!

Photos Courtesy of Dwell Magazine, Global Green and Pixel Mags. Photos may not be used without permission.