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Elle, Pop Sci among few magazines with in-app subscriptions

updated 04:15 pm EST, Thu February 17, 2011

Most magazines avoiding new scheme, says report

Only a relative handful of magazines are so far adopting Apple's in-app subscription scheme, an Advertising Age report claims. The major obstacle is said to be demographic data, which publishers normally use to sell advertising space. Because turning over the data is strictly voluntary in iOS apps, magazines are thought to be resistant. "Without the demographics, which iTunes [Apple] won't release, the print world is castrated," says Gary Armstrong, a consultant on branded content and a former Wenner Media executive.

Publishers are noted to be hoping that Apple will ameliorate its terms. "It seems like Apple is taking a step toward our position on subscription offerings, but the announcement also raises many questions around consumer data we would need to work through and agree on," says a Time Inc. spokesman. "This is a work in progress," says a Hachette Filipacchi Media US executive, Philippe Guelton. "I don't think this is something that is set in stone either for us or for Apple. I'd rather work with them to improve it over time than just sit on the sidelines."

Some of the few magazines now doing app subscriptions include Elle, Nylon and Popular Science. Nylon's editor-in-chief, Marvin Scott Jarrett, argues that enough readers will share data, and that the ones who won't are still paying for subscriptions. Guelton adds that his company -- which publishes Elle -- is not bothering with web portals that would make getting the subscriber data easier. "The cost of developing our own e-commerce platform right now would not be viable," he says. "So what they're offering us is a great turnkey tool with little to no financial risk."

Popular Science is simply taking a more patient approach to soliciting data. "We are able to ask them [subscribers] in the future if they would like to share their information, maybe after the second or third issue," according to Gregg Hano, a VP from Bonnier Technology Group, the magazine's publisher.

by MacNN Staff



  1. elroth

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Why can't I just subscribe to a magazine without the publisher needing to know my personal details? I don't want to see your targeted ads - I don't respond to any ads anyway. Why can't I just live my life without every publisher, advertising hack and shyster out there knowing all about me?

    Publishers - let it go. You will make money, even without knowing what I like to eat, wear or drive. For now, I subscribe to nothing.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969


    comment title

    "Why" asks: "Why can't I just subscribe to a magazine without the publisher needing to know my personal details?"

    The publisher doesn't need to know anything about you to stay in business. But to satisfy advertisers, it needs to be able to give them a profile of their typical subscribers. In most cases, it is the advertisers who pay most of the cost getting that magazine to you. The one who pays the fiddler....

    For those who value their privacy, it's debatable whether Apple or a publisher poses the greater threat. There are things about you that Apple probably doesn't care about and won't look for, but than a publisher eager to please advertisers might want to know (annual income for instance). On the other hand, a publisher only knows what your subscription tells him. Apple will know about the magazines you subscribe to, the iPhone/Mac apps you buy, and, if you use the iBookstore, the ebooks you're purchasing. That's likely to be a much larger picture.

    Either way, if you value your privacy you want an auto-opt-out policy to be in place unless you agree otherwise.

  1. charlituna

    Joined: Dec 1969


    just wait

    over the next few months more and more magazines will likely come on board. The issue isn't just demo details or Apple's new policies. There's tech also. Creating an effective UI and content worth subscribing too isn't a one day thing. Folks aren't going to be happy with a digital magazine that is merely a PDF of the paper version. The tech allows for interactivity, media etc and consumers will demand it. The best companies know this and will attempt to create it.

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