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Advertising on Tablets/e-Readers

A few days ago, I attended and spoke at the “Dimensional to Digital: Managing from Augmented Reality to Tablets” meeting, organized by the Magazine Publishers of America. At the event, John Squires (former Time, Inc. executive) announced that he was ceding his current role as interim managing director of Next Issue Media to Morgan Guenther (former president of TiVo), who was named permanent CEO.

Many of you may be familiar with Next Issue Media — if not by name, then perhaps through their work bringing GQ and Esquire apps, among others, to your smartphones. The company is formed primarily of some of the largest publishing brands, and via its website characterizes its mission as: “… explore and shape the boundless opportunities for publishers, advertisers and consumers in...digital publishing and e-reading devices.”

What’s interesting is that Guenther, the new CEO, comes from a digital background, a clear difference from Squires, who hailed from publishing. It seems telling that an organization tasking itself with ushering in the new age of digital publishing has selected a leader that helped drive a revolution for digital television. For me, this is a great case study in the rapidly changing field of digital publishing and the up and coming leaders who will move the industry forward.

Make no mistake, the added dynamic of how books, newspapers, and magazines are adapting to e-readers is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s a much larger ecosystem in play, however, with many business models in flux. Both publishing and technology executives are feeling the uncertainty these changing business models bring.

At Qualcomm, we have a unique position right in the middle of many different technology conversations, especially as it relates to content creation, delivery, hardware, software and mobile formats. This positioning gives us an opportunity to perhaps offer a few insights into a number of the publishing industry’s key technology issues. I want to focus on a number of those over the coming days, weeks and months. First up: advertising on tablets/e-readers.

Advertising has long been king in the publishing industry, but the transition from full-page display ad to online conversions hasn’t been a smooth one. However, a recent report from The Associated Press stated that newspapers and magazines were commanding up to five times the price for ads in their iPad apps than on their websites. For an industry that’s been in an ugly battle for the last several years to monetize access to content via a digital equivalent, this could be a significant breakthrough.

Why, and for how long, this price “bubble” will continue is something publishers are not questioning closely enough. I work for a player in the display industry, who develops products that provide a viewing experience allowing for longer and more varied use. As such, I’m very interested in all the variables that play into increasing what those in our world call available revenue time (ART). At the end of the day, the app or device that engages a user is the longest provides the most opportunity for revenue extraction/exposure to ads, and therefore the biggest revenue draw for the publisher.

I’ll be back in New York next week at the Digital Publishing and Advertising Conference (DPAC) to discuss this and other topics in my session titled: The Digital Publishing Wondertwins: Devices and Design. Look for an update on that next week.

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