Test our rivals' tablet claims, says Future as it publishes T3 data

Future is encouraging media agencies to probe the numbers its magazine publishing rivals are claiming for their tablet editions, as part of an "educational" initiative to grow the tablet advertising market.

T3 tablet edition: publisher Future promotes platform's ad potential
T3 tablet edition: publisher Future promotes platform's ad potential

At the same time as sharing details of its tablet successes with agencies, Future's sales team advised them to pin rivals down on metrics such as circulation breakdowns, ad views and ad interactions.

Agency buyers attending the publisher's briefing last Thursday (along with Media Week) readily complained of having experienced issues around transparency, metrics and creative costs, and being quoted "astronomical" rates by some publishers.

Future claims it is holding the briefings primarily to educate buyers about the potential of ads in tablet content, especially in genuinely interactive content such as its T3 magazine app for iPad and Android, as opposed to magazine replica apps.

It is pitching interactive apps as a separate medium, to the extent that it has engaged an independent auditor, Bright Graeme Murray, to produce a certificate for the T3 iPad app based on 12 months of trading.

Jim Ranson, technology ad director, told his agency audience: "We don't want this massive opportunity to slip through our fingers."

The point was reiterated by his boss, advertising director Malcolm Stoodley, when MediaCom's Chris Priest pointed out that until all publishers were audited, it would be "impossible for us to compare them". 

"That's why we're doing this," Stoodley said, implying that Future is aiming to hustle its bigger rivals into developing their offering in the full knowledge they will overtake it.

He added: "Some of the big boys and girls will get in and they will do very well."

As part of the session, some illuminating numbers on the performance of the flagship app for its gadget-focused T3 magazine were disclosed.

The number of downloads of the T3 "container app" on Newsstand totalled 269,713 for a year.

The free-to-download container apps were an "opportunity to sell", rather than a sale, Future stressed.

Actual paid-for downloads of the December 2011 issue, from within the container app, were 16,180.

Readers were 98% male, average age 39, with average income of £53,000.

Ranson said: "We've creamed off the top of the T3 magazine audience."

A reader survey produced the stat that their average dwell time was 100 minutes.

In addition, a Renault video cover-wrap got 11,800 unique views, an average dwell time of four minutes, and more than 4,000 click-throughs.

After discussing other interactive ads for the likes of Audi and Ford, Ransom said: "The T3 user has been trained to expect interactivity and fun. Flat ads get overlooked."

The independent certificate for the T3 iPad app stems partly from necessity, as ABC rules mean it cannot be included within T3's ABC magazine certificate (the next set of magazine ABCs will be published this Thursday, 16 February).

What can – and will, according to Future – be included in this week's T3 magazine ABC certificate are digital issues on the Zinio platform, which are a "flat", non-interactive replications of the print magazine.

The rule preventing the interactive T3 app from inclusion is that less than 80% of its content (including ads) is the same as the print magazine.

While acknowledging the ABC was working hard to come up with a way of measuring app circulation, Stoodley claimed the independent certificate was necessary as the ABC "isn't keeping up with our pace".

Follow Daniel Farey-Jones on Twitter @danfareyjones

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