Housing an internal mobile development team is not just a route large consumer brands are taking. Niche publisher Amos Publishing, which publishes Auto Enthusiast magazine, is using proprietary technology to jumpstart its mobile strategy.
“We're investing in building the technology ourselves because we see that as a long-term play,” said Jerry Osmus, senior director of digital, who recently joined Amos with the mission to transform the publisher's digital strategy. Since my first conversation with Osmus, Amos has launched Auto Enthusiast Weekly
, its first app for the iPad and iPhone (and soon Android) ― a weekly digital-only publication with repurposed content from the archives.
Starting with the auto sector, Osmus plans to leverage the mobile technology across its other brands (including publications such as Coin World and Crafts 'n Things). Osmus also pointed out that the technology could be licensed to other publishers (like Bonnier
Osmus said proprietary mobile technology keeps them in control of mobile development in the long term, rather than being tied to contracts and revenue-sharing with vendors — though he's not opposed to using outside technology once there is more standardization in the industry.
"We’re not tied into anybody’s distribution system so when they make a change we don’t have to make a change,” he said.
Repurposing content for mobile
Amos Publishing is also trying out a somewhat unique content strategy for a niche publisher ― many of which have stuck with straight digital replica editions
of their magazines via mobile apps or the mobile browser
. Auto Enthusiast, in contrast, uses repurposed content from past issues.
Publishers creating straight digital replicas of the print product are missing the mark, Osmus said. "They spent all of this time and money building this print publication and then what do they do — they turn it around and slap it up on tablet devices and expect that to work."
Auto Enthusiast the brand is only a year old ― a combination of several enthusiast automotive brands rolled into one. Osmus said this presented an opportunity to repurpose the archives and pour it into an app, alongside some original content from the editorial staff. “It’s a nice blend of that evergreen content,” he said.
The move to repurpose archives enables the company to avoid staffing up just yet in edit and creative; the company restructured staff in order to produce the new product. The most recent update added a news feed pulling in daily content from the website. Osmus would also like to make it more interactive like iPad-only publications such as The Daily. (Although AE Weekly is not a replica of the print product, the design has a replica feel.)
Monetizing evergreen content
While a year-long subscription to the app is practically free (99 cents to be exact), back issues are also 99 cents a pop. So far the app, now on its 12th issue, has had about 1,000 downloads.
Osmus hopes to grow the audience and bring in some subscription revenue from evergreen back issues, but the real meat and potatoes will come from advertisers. Because automotive is one of the strongest verticals in digital advertising, Auto Enthusiast made sense as a launch pad for Amos' mobile strategy.
The strategy, of course, is still in the works, like any other publisher you talk to. Osmus noted that publishers are all over the matrix with their mobile strategies. Next on the agenda for Amos is how to incorporate HTML5
into its strategy.
“It’s just kind of a hodgepodge for everyone right now,” he said. “But it’s fun; it keeps it interesting.”