Social, personalized magazine apps are the new black. Even Oprah, a tireless crusader for the iPad, is embracing the Flipboard experience. Seventeen publishers have already partnered with Flipboard. But the news that Flipboard has received a $50 million round of venture funding, putting the critically acclaimed iPad app company at $200 million, really is a game changer. After critical and public acclaim, venture funding is one of the most powerful forms of social endorsement. Flipboard has accomplished that trifecta.
So what does Flipboard's $200 million valuation mean for publishers and, more importantly, what does it say about social media consumption in the future?
Flipboard co-founder Evan Doll, a former Apple engineer, learned his lessons well about the irresistable allure of beauty and solid technology. Flipboard combines the best of social networking, photosharing and microblogging and it does so in a beautiful manner. "We’re obviously thrilled, because we think it confirms our focus that people want a beautifully designed way to interact with content and to share it," said McCue about the financing. "And there is a lot more to come – on a scale of one to 10, we’re just at a two or three."
Presentation as well as aggregation matter a great deal in how iPad users interact, consume and share content on that great digital newsstand that is the Web. And because presentation matters ...
To be effective on tablets, ads are going to have to be more beautiful. Flipboard co-founder and CEO Mike McCue believes that banner ads actually impede content monetization because they look -- and there is no other way to politely say it -- so darn bad. "Ask people who read Vogue magazine, for example: 'Hey would you like to pay for Vogue with the ads or maybe without the ads?' Almost everybody would say they wanted the ads, because the ads are so specific to that readership," McCue recently told Netmagazine. "And if the ads are done well - they're not making the content look bad like it usually does on the Web - then I think it's a great model and everybody wins."
After extolling the beauty of its presentation, we cannot fail to note the strong social component to Flipboard. Flipboard arranges updates, photos and articles in a beautiful and highly personalized context . Flipboard is great most of all because it's your own personal magazine, edited by your trusted social network.
Flipboard's $50 million endorsement strengthens the argument that the Web is growing increasingly personalized, an argument made forcefully by NewsCorp's Jorge Espinel in SpectatorBytes. "The push-nature, efficiency and personalization of social experiences have made (social products) popular with consumers," Espinel writes. "Their design enables users to consume easily and quickly vast amounts of highly relevant data, regardless of their type (articles, photos, videos, audio). This aspect of social products has become increasingly important as the growth of the Web data corpus continues to accelerate. """"
This was written the day before Flipboard's $50 million funding announcement.
Questions publishers should be asking themselves: How does your audience interact with your content? How does this inform your social strategy? How could that process be improved?
Which leads us to the point that ...
Flipboard's game change does not mean game over. A post-publishing platform is designed to give its audience the most effective interaction with content in a beautiful manner specific to the digital medium. But being by its very nature a "post-publishing platform," such a technology relies heavily upon previous publishing experiences.
Flipboard's gorgeous magazine-style layouts translated digitally are a vivid example of how much the company is influenced by legacy media. It also attests to how much publishers can learn about how to translate their accumulated wisdom digitally.