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Native vs. Non-native digital solutions

Native vs. Non-native digital solutions

The following is a blog post from our President and CEO, Paul DeHart, written for Talking New Media, a news, information, and commentary website for the digital publishing industry. Wednesday column: Which digital strategy is best for your title: native or non-native? by Paul DeHart Each Wednesday, Talking New Media invites digital publishing leaders to discuss industry topics, or explain and demonstrate the latest solutions involving digital media. This week’s columnist is Paul DeHart, CEO and President of BlueToad.  This is the conundrum confronting many publishers who offer digital versions of their content.  Offering both options to our customers and having handled thousands of publications on both platforms simultaneously, we at BlueToad have unique, nonpartisan perspective on the question. Within the publishing industry, there are just as many ambassadors of native-only solutions as there are of non-native and hybrid solutions. With so many conflicting opinions, publishers remain confused and uncertain. To help gain clarity on the question, publishers may want to look beyond the inherent advantages and short comings of each platform and focus their efforts on developing a digital strategy that takes into account the entire content consumption journey.   As a result of mobile technology, a consumer’s content consumption journey may begin on one device and end on another. Readers often use phones to browse and “taste” content.  Laptops and desktops are still used to engage more fully with content while working.  Tablets and print are great for consumption while traveling, on the couch, or in bed.  Over the course of this journey, many devices and platforms might play a role in the big-picture consumption of content. For example,...

Native Apps “Versus” HTML5 (Part 2)

What are the pros and cons of using either environment for tablet and smartphone publishing? By John Parsons In Part 1, I explored some of the strengths and weaknesses of using native apps for content publishing. The browser approach has a different impact, but neither “side” is categorically better or worse for publishing professionals. The HTML5 Approach HTML5 is not all that mysterious. It’s simply the latest version of the markup language for rendering human-readable content on the Web. Managed by a working group of the W3C (www.w3.org), the not-yet-official standard will address a host of functional and aesthetic issues common to Web sites using HTML 4.01 and XHTML. For publishers, it represents an improvement in visual layout quality over ordinary HTML. Combined with CSS 3 (another pending Web standard), JavaScript, and Web fonts, HTML5 will provide greater typographic flexibility and control. Like previous versions, HTML5 is highly flexible and can re-flow at multiple screen sizes. It is also central to the “responsive design” trend on the Web, allowing content to be designed once, and then dynamically re-sized and even reformatted using CSS 3, to display well on any device. Unlike its predecessor, HTML5 includes native support for audio, video, and other elements previously supported by plugins like Flash. There are video file format issues still under discussion, but these will be ironed out as the standard evolves. A very important strength of HTML5 is its ability to handle constantly changing, need-to-know information. While this can potentially be done in an app—using a browser-like window or as a transparent overlay—a browser environment is often better suited for publishing live, constantly...

Native Apps “Versus” HTML5 (Part 1)

What are the pros and cons of using either environment for tablet and smartphone publishing? By John Parsons Many pixels have been spilled (including a few by this writer) over the strategic pros and cons of native apps and browser-based, HTML5 content for publishing. In fact, there is no “war”—no clear either/or distinction—between these two approaches. However, there are basic advantages and disadvantages to each, which content publishers should consider as they plan their long term mobile strategy. When Apple introduced the iPad, a mere 36 months ago, publishers scrambled to put something on these “new” portable devices. App content ranged from enhanced digital facsimiles to complex (and often very expensive) multimedia projects. Eventually, digital edition providers and developers began to offer tools for creating native content apps. Meanwhile, since tablets and smartphones already have built-in browsers, many began to consider publishing their content outside the native app environment, using the emerging HTML5 and CSS 3 standards to create an attractive, interactive publication. In theory, both approaches can be handled by a publisher’s internal staff: by the print design team in the case of apps or the Web design team in the case of HTML5. Not many have the resources to do both. Clearly, we need a new type of service provider—one that can offer both approaches, and does them equally well, at a reasonable price. Native Apps Skip ahead if you are familiar with tablet or smartphone apps, which are simply programs, like Word for Windows or MacOS. App developers use a Software Development Kit (SDK) and a programming language to create a user interface and various functions...

Top 10 ways to monetize content for publishers

Publishers often ask us here at BlueToad for advise on how to monetize their apps or sell digital ads in their magazines. The real important factors here are not just where can you, but more importantly how do you? Or more specifically “How do you convince advertisers/agencies to spend dollars advertising with you AND to spend it in different ways? “ In my quest to provide some answers, I attended a Ad Sales Seminar hosted by the Florida Magazine Association. Ryan Dohrn, President of Brain Swell Media was the speaker.  Ryan had many ideas for publishers and here are what I consider to be the Top 10 list of tips I learned. This is certainly not a comprehensive list – the full day seminar detailed specific examples and exercises that publishers can do to make these concepts a reality.   These are simple (although not always easy) things that publishers and their ad sales team can do to grow ad sales and monetize the digital space. I hope you enjoy them! 1) You will need to work both harder and smarter to grow your ad sales, not just smarter. Traditional print ad buyers need to learn about the potential digital brings while online only ad buyers can be shown the value of paginated media. 2) The Direct Marketing Association tells us that you will need to touch a prospect 7-10 times before you get a sale. 3) Create data sheets for your advertisers with at most 10 data points that explain the size of both your print and digital audience. As 86% of people are visual learners, ensure that the content contains visual triggers...

Is Digital for Me? Helping niche publishers make good digital decisions

85% of magazines have an app, but what are the success stories? Three niche publishers shared their story via a webinar titled: Is Digital For me? – moderated by Lynn Rosen of Publishing Executive in November. This panel was assembled to reach a broad array of publishers: Business to Business and Business to Consumer titles Free and Paid Content Replica editions and content designed for digital This post includes links to each publisher’s take on digital publishing. Also included are follow-up answers to the questions posted during the webinar. (Due to time restrictions, we were unable to answer them all) These niche publishers shared their story: Jim Kushlan, Publisher, Editorial Director, and Co-Owner, 310 Publishing LLC  – This consumer title found new digital subscribers at a reasonable cost.  See details. Charity J. Delich, Marketing & Public Relations Manager, strategy+business, Booz & Company (N.A.) Inc. – This BtoB title moved from free to paid app to monetize content. See details. Justin Boling, Marketing Manager, Group Publishing – Engagement and customization will allow us to reach the largest audience. See details.  The full audio recording of the webinar is available here. We welcome feedback or requests for future webinars below. [contact-form][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’...

Niche magazine strategies to grow your audience

Focus on 310 Publishing LLC – AMERICA IN WWII Featured: Jim Kushlan AMERICA IN WWII is a popular history magazine that focuses on the American experience during the second World War. It is distributed traditionally to bookstore newsstands and is sold by subscription, reaching a circulation of approximately 20,000 subscribers. The never-ending lesson in history is that everything changes, eventually, believes publisher of AMERICA IN WWII, Jim Kushlan. He found out how much everything really does change in 2005 when he and his wife founded this title. Suddenly he was in a new territory – far from the days when direct mail was the most effective method of reaching an audience. Readers are no longer satisfied to only have print as an option. They demand good content and they want it in more than one format. He wondered if the up-and-coming world of digital publishing was his new avenue of choice. There were concerns – was this really necessary? A fleeting trend or here to stay? What will the costs be to produce? Initially Jim invested in a digital edition only to be read via computer screen but quickly added on apps for Nook, iPad, iPhone and Android. He chose a side-load app for Kindle (one that is downloaded to the device outside of the App Store). RELATED: Charity Delich, strategy+business, offers another strategy Jim found mobile apps to be a great way to find new subscribers. The AMERICA IN WWII app is a free app to download. Readers can access content via single issue or subscription. Production time and costs are minor as they upload one PDF that is used for all...