It's coming up for six years since Apple's market-shifting iPhone was released into the wild, and three since the iPad ushered in the promise of widespread tablet computing. A good many voices on its release asserted that the iPad would prove the saviour of publishing, yet new research shows that, generally, magazine publishing has not capitalised on the opportunities that the modern 'cross-platform' reader presents.
Despite taking a hit from the global crash of 2008, print publications were offered a lifeline by increasing online audiences and, more recently, the mobile web. When you consider the the ever-expanding use of smartphones and tablets, magazines now have more ways to connect with their audience than ever before, and this makes an attractive proposition for brands wishing looking to woo customers.
The research mentioned above, outlined in new report from Brand Perfect, reveals an untapped opportunity available to brand advertisers who want access to mobile audiences. The study focuses on the current, fragmented state of online consumer publishing across 100 leading titles in the UK, US and Germany, and finds that 93 per cent of them have yet to offer brands a holistic digital experience. Of the 78 consumer-facing English language publications surveryed in the report, 83 per cent have publish some kind of app.
However, only a quarter have sites optimised for any form of tablet display, with most publishers relying on scaled-down versions of their desktop sites for tablet users. Yet, according to IDC predictions, sales of tablets and smartphones will outstrip desktop sales by two to one, with tablets alone on target to do so in 2013.
Despite the emergence of responsive web design, which provides for optimal viewing across a range of screen sizes, the report shows that publishers are not supporting its use in online advertising. Where device-ready sites are not available, ads are served scaled down, often resulting in illegible typography and distorted imagery.
Today's readers, with all their devices, tablets and smartphones, expect a cross-platform experience. It will be the publishers that bring this experience to them who will attract and engage with a greater audience. And publishers be warned, where the readers go, the big brands will follow.