Popular Science’s Gregg Hano on the CMR: Just Do It.
Gregg Hano, vice president, publisher of Bonnier Corp.’s Technology Group, helps develop the brands of Popular Science, Popular Photography, American Photography, Sound + Vision and Science Illustrated. Hano recently sat down with ABC to talk about the CMR’s role in media accountability.
ABC: What’s your digital strategy?
Gregg Hano: In a way, I don’t consider myself a magazine publisher anymore. I really consider myself a brand manager. I have a brand called Popular Science, which has extensions in print, digital, social, mobile, television, radio and events. Our goal is to produce credible, compelling content that’s easily discoverable for consumers across any platform or any product that they might be reading, viewing or using.
ABC: Popular Science+ was one of the first magazines on the iPad. What was your strategy and experience in creating an app for the iPad?
GH: In late 2008 and early 2009, tablets were the future. And that’s whatPopular Science does—we show our readers the future now. So around that time, we began to see the development of tablets within the tech community and started to test cross-platform content. Working with Zinio, we came out with three different digital products that were designed specifically for access through desktop and laptop computers. We thought the mix of video, text, images, service and feature stories was a good combination. And we said we wanted to prepare for the day when we would migrate our content to the tablet. We were fortunate that in Stockholm, Bonnier had an R&D department that was working on a platform to take content from InDesign files and move it to tablets. We became the beta for that project. In December ’09, when Apple released the software development kit for the iPad, we began feverishly putting together the April issue so we could be there on April 3, 2010, when the iPad hit the consumer market. And we were extremely excited to be there.
ABC: How has your digital strategy evolved since the first release?
GH: We were not only among the first on the tablet in April 2010, we were also among the first to sell a subscription in February 2011. We want Popular Science to be available on every platform that has some significant market penetration. We don’t have any interest in being the arbiters of what the center of one’s digital universe should be. There are individuals who want the Nook or Kindle or iPad or Android platform, and we want Popular Science and our other brands to be on those platforms.
ABC: You mentioned you were among the first to sell subscriptions. How did you decide on that strategy?
We believe we have an opportunity to help reset the pay model in the subscription and single-copy sides of our business. We need to make sure that the digital editions have value in the eyes of the consumer and that consumers pay a reasonable amount for the digital copies. Soon, we’ll also bundle the print and digital subscription for a higher price. We believe that the digital copies are going to continue evolving to the point where they have more content than we would ever be able to put into the print products.
ABC: What was your reaction to ABC’s Consolidated Media Report?
GH: I think this is such a strong move in the right direction for brands. We—and our agency partners—have to migrate away from viewing brands as print products. The CMR gives us the opportunity to do that in a measurable way. It’s a natural iteration of the audit process and it makes total sense. The agencies have shown support for it, and I think they will use it and continue to show support. It was absolutely the right thing to do.
ABC: Why is it important to have the content on the CMR audited by ABC?
GH: This goes back to confidence and transparency. There are elements within traditional ABC statements that our sales staff uses regularly to tout the benefits of our brand and printed magazine over competitors. I think the same thing will be true with the CMR. We will be able to speak to the wide range of platforms that we’re on and say that the ABC has verified everything. By giving the agencies this transparency and openness, we think it will put us in a better position than the brands that aren’t choosing to do this. The CMR will be a key tool in the toolbox of selling advertising around a brand.
ABC: How do you think the industry will report various platforms in the future?
GH: I think the CMR will evolve as brands evolve and as outlets for the content and advertising are realized. One example is device types. Not only should we be thinking of replica and nonreplica digital magazines themselves, but also we should be thinking about how many are on iPads, Kindles, Nooks. That’s going to be extremely important to advertisers as they look to build and place ads on different device types to resonate with the users of the device. The elements of the CMR will change as brands evolve their platforms, delete things that aren’t successful and add new things that are coming on line.
ABC: What advice do you have for publishers readying their magazines for tablets?
GH: Just do it. Get in there and begin to understand how your brand can be represented on tablets, how consumers want to consume your content and ads on tablets, and how to truly engage that audience. It’s not easy. But it’s the future. It is not going to slow down. As other manufacturers enter the market, this market will expand for years to come. Brands that want to grow and thrive in this new market will need to be in these spaces. And if not, others will fill that void. We saw that with websites in the late ’90s. Today is not the time to repeat the mistakes that many of us made in the late ’90s. It’s a time to move forward and own the vertical spaces we should own on tablets.
ABC: One last question to wrap things up. You’ve helped create some successful apps—so what’s your personal favorite?
GH: Functionally, I love the Weather Channel’s app. I use it all the time both as I travel and make plans for the weekend. I like the New York Times’ app and The Scoop, which is a separate app about what to do in the city. I think the Facebook app is pretty good, and I love Pandora. At American Photo, we did an app called 9.11.01 that followed the work of five photographers around that tragic day. I was blown away by the work that they did on it. I think that the app really represents the work of the photographers beautifully and gives a historical perspective 10 years later that is worth viewing. It’s one that I passed around to my family and friends, and it’s universally come back in a positive way.
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