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Who Are Your Subscribers? Who Are Your Newsstand Buyers? And Who is Using Your App?

What is the best way to optimize an app for a publication’s audience?  Should the created app be a reproduction of the written product—which is what the reader has grown to know and learned to love?  Some publishers have surveyed their audiences and found that this is what their readers are looking for.  Should the app be something completely different, leveraging the specific strengths of the platform?  There are publishers whose position is that anything less is a complete waste of time and resources?  Or should it be a cross between the two, carrying over the best of the content and offering rich media value?


In the process, the question does come up:  who is using these apps?


So far of course the audience comprises many fewer people than read the print product.  But that’s bound to change.  As more people acquire mobile devices and shift their reading to them it becomes more important to identify who they are and what they are looking for.


While it varies category to category and publication to publication, years of research have taught us that there is s fairly consistent difference between a publication’s subscribers and its newsstand audience.  The subscribers tend to be a little bit older, a little bit more well-to-do, and, in some cases, a little bit gender-skewed.  Newsstand readers are often found to be younger, with a little less money, and (as we newsstand people like to assert) very responsive to each individual, and individually-acquired, issue.


That being the case, what do app readers look like?


As of today, according to GfK MRI, ( ) the subset of the magazine and newspaper audience that use an app to view the content comprises about 4% of the total audience in the United States.  The majority of these people share the following characteristics:


1)     They are millennial (that is, in the 17-34 age group)

2)     They are male (60%)

3)     They are well-off (household income over $100K)


What does this tell us?  Quite a lot in terms of how to position to advertisers, how to pitch to readers, and how to approach list segmentation in this regard.  It ties back, to some degree, to the question of what kind of content to develop; as we learn more about our audience we also learn more about how they are using their mobile devices, how interacting with the content provided, and what specifically they are looking for.


This market knowledge might also be a good indication to publishers as to which publications should be the focus for app development in the near term.  Eventually we’ll have mobile content for everything, but for now the reality is that prioritization is playing a huge role in publishers’ app development timelines.  With an understanding of the audience reading magazines and newspapers on their apps, a publisher might choose, for example, to develop one for a snowboarding publication first, and move to its quilting title’s app later on.


But of course the day is not long coming when there will be more of a demand for that quilting app.  With only four percent of the print audience to survey, these statistics are preliminary indeed.  How quickly the audience will evolve, and in what sequence, is the question that must interest every publisher t

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