Vanity Fair’s new iPad app highlights the potential of video – used in both editorial and advertising – as a key element of publications moving to the Apple tablet and other large-screen e-reader devices.
The June issue of Vanity Fair, released last week for the iPad and iPhone, is priced at $4.99. In this initial iPad edition, five premium advertisers included video in their creative: American Express, Aveeno, Microsoft Bing, L’Oreal and Target. Advertisers had the option to run a single, 30-second spot or multiple videos at varying lengths, according to Jason Wagenheim, Vanity Fair’s associate publisher of advertising.
The videos are streamed, not embedded, so users need to be connected to the Internet to view them. “The idea was to lighten the initial download,” said Wagenheim.
The same goes for the behind-the-scenes videos used to enhance some of the editorial content in the June edition, including features on “Lost,” Emma Watson, Tiger Woods and the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament. The videos accompanying those features appear as a media option for each article but are accessible only if the user is online.
From an editorial standpoint, the videos are an extension of what Vanity Fair has been offering on its website – clips that are complementary to features but also provide entertaining content in their own right.
“I view video as a bonus for the audience, a chance for us to do things that we can’t do in text or photographs,” said Executive Online Editor Michael Hogan. “With few exceptions, people don’t want to watch a video that’s just about a photo shoot. There’s nothing more boring than a gratuitous video.”
Because the iPad preserves traditional magazine layouts, with integration of print, graphics and, now, videos, publishers creating iPad editions will want to put more emphasis on high-quality video over viral or other lower-production-value clips that populate YouTube and many publishers’ own websites.
“This device is really about curated, top-quality video,” said Hogan. “It forces us to think about whether video will look good enough on the device. It’s a priority for us to have great quality video that provides an intimate user experience.”
The iPad gives advertisers the opportunity to offer similar experiences. “We pitched existing advertisers on ways to create unique experiences, as a complement for what we do in the magazine,” said Wagenheim. American Express, for example, created a media gallery for its Members Project campaign that includes photos, videos, stories and links to additional Web content. Aveeno, a cosmetics division of Johnson & Johnson, took static creative and enhanced it with links to hair-care videos.
Wagenheim would not discuss specific pricing of the iPad programs but said they were “in line” with other digital products. “The reason the advertisers bought in wasn’t so much for the price, but to be an early adopter, to attach to the buzz,” he said.
Vanity Fair is in the midst of a six-month R&D phase to test new products and new ad models, said Wagenheim. It is looking at additional ways to package (and sell) videos, including pre-roll for editorial content, along with slide shows and 360-degree experiences.
“This is very much the wave of the future,” he said. “It’s a very natural connection between what advertisers are doing in print and online.”