Tablets offer hope for traditional publishers: Time magazine case study

By Chris Lee

Tablet computer owners are proving successful target audiences for print media publishers. According to Ofcom, tablet ownership leapt from just two per cent of UK households in Q1 2011 to 11 per cent a year later, with 17 per cent intending to purchase a tablet this year.

NMK recently reported that the British Journal of Photography (BJP) had seen a dramatic turnaround in fortunes following its ventures into tablets, and now the prestigious US publication Time magazine is celebrating a successful foray into tablets. NMK caught up with Mark Boniface, project director at digital marketing agency Jellyfish, about how it helped Time with its tablet strategy.

Tablet demographics

Boniface told NMK that it was important to recognise that tablet users tend to come from a demographic with high disposable income.

“Consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to access the Internet and to make purchases. Higher end devices, such as iPads, are linked with users who have higher disposable incomes, therefore delivering a great user experience to users who have disposable funds and a higher propensity to buy or subscribe is an obvious step towards increasing conversion, especially for products or subscriptions that are targeting the mobile or tablet audience,” he said.

Time for a change

Time magazine, an existing paid search client of Jellyfish, approached the company in relation to its Time magazine “All Access” subscription which offers the iconic publication in digital format for iPad/tablet access, Boniface explained.

“Jellyfish built a digital strategy for this opportunity which was based around how best to optimise user experience and maximise conversion across multiple devices,” he explained. “We created an innovative, yet simple, campaign site which communicated the value and benefits of the product offering and delivered a great user experience.”

Boniface said this site gave users across differing devices a bespoke user interface to maximise conversion rate and was supported by banner campaigns on the Google display network to drive traffic. The banners were also used across the Time.com and Cnn.fortune properties to drive traffic from millions of impressions from visitors to these Web properties.

Defining the campaign

“The project offered us the creative opportunity to use the Time.com brand guidelines as a basis and to develop a style of campaign site that had real consistency in terms of ease of use and with the banner campaign,” Boniface explained.

The smartphone version included a tailored interface designed to facilitate the use of a small format touchscreen.  It facilitates conversion by using a vertical scrollable structure, all based on the standard website structure, reorganised with responsive style sheets with larger scale finger-friendly fields and interaction points, Boniface added.

“This campaign site also gave us visibility of the differing user experiences of the device variants. Our analytical data gave us the insight to review key drop off points as they became apparent and remove them to maximise conversion,” Boniface said.

Jellyfish found that the technical difficulties of the process were based mostly around the need to undertake significant testing across multiple devices with varying versions of operating system software and device firmware.

On-going enhancement was also essential to ensure that users on lower bandwidth mobile devices would have a good user experience by delivering higher compression or smaller form factor graphics to reduce load times on slower network connections, according to Boniface

“Marketeers need to exploit the opportunity of the modern array of mobile devices,” he concluded. “The number of mobile transactions and subscriptions is increasing exponentially, having the tools to take advantage of this and to maximise conversion and analyse results should be part of the armoury of any online marketing company.”

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