iPad Ad Lag: Mag Apps Still Lack Advertising

By Steve Smith

For magazine veterans watching the magazine app space evolve on tablets there are no surprises in Kantar Media’s new survey of advertising on the platform. Magazine app publishers generally are relying on their current client base, tending to repurpose print ads without enhancement and running fewer ads in apps overall. But Kantar is offering a comprehensive overview of the state of the market across scores of titles.

As expected, more than 90% of ads appear in tablet magazine apps correspond with ads also in the print title. For now, at least, the tablet is not helping publishers expand their advertising base, the metric suggests. On average the apps ran only about 60% of the number of ads as their print counterparts, although Kantar says that average represents a wide range. In come cases the apps saw only 10% of the ads of the print version and in other cases the apps carried as high as 150% of the ad load.

Among the ad categories most notably absent from tablet editions in pharma. Very few ads for prescription drugs were found in tablet mags.

And generally, most ads that are in tablets across categories are merely recreating the print version without interactive enhancements. The more tech-savvy publications like Popular Science and Wired appeared to be the places where enhanced ads appeared most often. Generally, magazine publishers were devoting a fair amount of app space to ads that promoted some of their own line of apps. The auto segment appears to be the one category that is investing more consistently in enhanced ads.

Media buyers often argue they are reticent to invest client budgets in tablet advertising because the ecosystem simply is not mature enough to support anything more than one-off tests. The ad formats themselves are far from standard. Magazines have been slow to share basic metrics about their tablet reach. And there are no clear benchmarks for reporting ad effectiveness or even benchmarks for success. In recent weeks the magazine industry has been trying to address these worries. The MPA just issued guidelines for tablet metrics reporting among periodicals, and some publishers are committing to regular reports of their app performance.

For this study Kantar studies tablet editions in January and February 2012 from 52 publications. The full report is available from Kantar.