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.