Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Planning for Multiplatform Publishing: With Smartphone Platforms Added to an Already Crowded Field, Publishers Are Planning Their Content Production Development Strategy with Care

Magazine article Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

Planning for Multiplatform Publishing: With Smartphone Platforms Added to an Already Crowded Field, Publishers Are Planning Their Content Production Development Strategy with Care

Article excerpt

With so much at stake, and so much potential labor cost involved in maintaining multiple channels, many publishers are being cautious in planning their long-term content strategies. (Some publishers we spoke to interpret the phrase "long-term" to mean about two years.) To many publishers, tablet and smartphone output are both facets of their overall mobile strategy, especially as smaller tablets and phone-tablet hybrids proliferate. To others, tablets and phones are entirely separate.

With so many different devices and screens in subscribers' hands, the days of simply re-purposing print content workflows for a single device--the 1024 x 768 pixel iPad--appear to be over.

Not So Fast ...

Before delving into the "create once, output for multiple channels" approach, it should be noted that many publishers--particularly smaller ones--are still perfectly content to re-purpose their print content PDFs as enhanced digital replicas. There are many service providers that, for a modest fee, will convert PDFs, add interactive elements--or provide Web tools for clients to do so--and manage delivery to the major tablet platforms. One developer asserted that many publishers are choosing to support only three major tablet platforms (Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Kindle Fire)--at least for now. While not all tablet screens have aspect ratios comparable to that of printed editions, many of them come close enough to keep the enhanced facsimile alive for the near term.

Native apps are not the only "containers" for enhanced tablet editions. Publishing service providers like Nxtbook Media, BlueToad and Uberflip (formerly Mygazines) have introduced HTML5-based Web apps that solve many of the OS- and device-related problems of native apps--making magazine content more practical on a wider range of tablets and smartphones.

Given the labor and subscription costs of hosted publishing management systems, there is clearly a tier of publishers that will choose this type of solution for enhanced facsimiles for the foreseeable future.

Managed Content

Of course, not all publishers are satisfied with the gradual, evolutionary approach. Anthony Astarita, senior vice president at Rodale, described the publisher's technology development aspirations when it came to multiplatform publishing. The self-described "health and wellness content company" is about more than its consumer magazines--with extensive book publishing, social media and e-commerce ventures and over 27 million active customers in its database. So it came as no surprise when Astarita highlighted the company's technology investments, including big data analysis, cloud services, content delivery networks, DAM, Digital Rights Management (DRM) and security. "The key drivers in content [are] knowing what you have and being able to get it," he says. "Secondary to that is introducing intelligent systems that can begin to learn the data and the consumer, always trying to make the experience for them more relevant."

Protecting content is also high on Astarita's priority list. "Integrating DRM and licensing metadata into the content [allows Rodale to] more aggressively go after syndication opportunities to drive new revenue streams."

Driving Development

Although Rodale is immersed in sophisticated data management, Astarita emphasized that their publications' multiplatform content delivery was still based on a "design first" and "product-centric" approach, necessitating long-term investment in people with user experience and cross channel expertise. …

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