Location, Location, Location: The Success of Apple Newsstand
My grandfather Robert Garretson was a marketer for Carling Black Label beer in the Midwest. While no stranger to the three-martini lunch, he also took his job very seriously. At his grandson's wedding, while others polkaed to live Wichita, KS music, he was instilling in his granddaughter, a Soviet Studies liberal arts major from UC Berkeley, the number one rule for marketing: "location, location, location."
Apple Newsstand has once again proven the "location" adage to be true. Apple.com is ranked #18 among most visited sites in the US. While we can't see the statistics for where Apple Newsstand may show up in the app store, we can guess it's pretty high. Magazine apps have been part of the Apple app store for almost as long as there have been apps. But not until Apple pulled out the magazine and newspaper category, and set them into an "aisle" in the app store and named the "aisle" Apple Newsstand, did sales take off.
Witness the sales: Conde Nast subscription sales are up 248% over pre-Apple Newsstand sales, while Conde Nast single copy sales are up 142% over the prior 8 week period. Future Publishing digital sales were up 750% once the Apple Newsstand launched, with sales in four days bettering those of an average month. Future CEO Mark Wood said Future publications were downloaded two million times in three days—not too shabby.
Hearst Magazine's GM John McLoughlin, one of my favorite people in the business because of his down-to-earth data-crunching and cautiously optimistic orientation, warms the cockles of any consumer marketer's heart, saying in paidcontent.org that tablets are "...(now) a consumer-driven business... not an advertising business, though there is clear interest and incremental revenue that's growing consistently." This is a win-win for all of us; given enough people downloading single copy and digital subscriptions, advertisers will follow. Advertisers go where the audience is.
There are exciting things about the Apple Newsstand, especially for multiple title publishers. There's a way to get to the "more from..." button with graphic images of covers from all the publishers' magazines. That's cool. If you get your magazine app on the newsstand, you'll be competing against 310 other titles, not the usual 4,000 on the print newsstand. You can sell both subscriptions and single copy in the same place. Also cool.
There are a few obvious improvements, too. It could, like a real newsstand, have categories rather than random titles next to each other. It could be easier to find-for now, go to the app store, and it's currently featured in the center of the iPad page; who knows if that will stick around.
We give the concept of the Apple Newsstand a huge thumbs up. People are buying digital magazines. Make it easier to find them, and they will buy more. It's a good week.
P.S. For those of you following the Zinio-meter, they are the #1 top grossing app today. Go magazines!
M. Thea Selby is a Principal in Next Steps Marketing, a San Francisco boutique firm that solves audience-building challenges in creative, customized way using practical "call-to-action" marketing techniques where the return is clearly measurable by clicks, online sign-ups, responses to direct mail, orders from partners, or sales at newsstand.
She was the 2010 Women's Leadership Conference Chair, is a co-founder and board member of Exceptional Women in Publishing—a national organization dedicated to supporting women in and through the power of online and print media—and is the former CEO and Publisher of Light Green Media, a digital publishing company.