Ettinger: App Development at Time Inc. Focused on Value, Function and Feasibility
Craig Ettinger, general manager at Time. Inc., offered a snapshot of the publisher's approach to mobile product development at the Publishing App Expo yesterday in New York.
"What we've done is we think about things through the lens of our overall digital strategy," Ettinger told attendees during a session at the two-day conference dedicated to app strategy, development and marketing.
The goal for Time Inc.'s websites and social media initiatives is to grow audience and traffic, he said. With smartphones and tablets, the challenge can be summed up as, "What does it mean to take our brand and put it in this space where our users are migrating?"
The answer is both to extend print products into the mobile space (mostly on tablets) and to create what Ettinger calls "utility apps"—essentially, a way to leverage existing content to provide new services to readers.
Ettinger cited two examples: an app for political junkies based on Mark Halperin's politics column, The Page, and an app called Time Populist, which draws from the many "best of" lists covering movies, books, music, TV and games that Time magazine has published over the years.
"The [Time Populist] app is designed to … offer people not only a fun experience but also a reference product," he said. "We designed it so people can browse this app if they are looking for something to read or listen to or watch … so it really delivered on what we thought it would be."
From the concept stage through execution, the approach to developing the app was guided by three principles: that it should be valuable to the consumer, easy to use and feasible from a budgeting and timeline standpoint.
"We had all these great ideas [for Time Populist] … [but] one thing we learned with [The Page] is we need to scale back the scope to get it out on time and on budget," he said.