Adobe and Newspapers: App Publishing and the Impact of Engagement

Mark Wasserman scrolls through a recent article by the Ottawa Citizen about the Empress of Ireland ship sinking in 1914. The content on his tablet captivates his audience of editors, publishers and advertisers at the INK+BEYOND newspaper conference last month, but not because of its subject matter. What’s new is the highly interactive experience for the user.

Wasserman highlights some of the features in the long form article, noting the narrated audio track to boost storytelling which continues to play as you scroll through the article, and the use of captions, statistics and image galleries of those who perished, to accompany the text.

It’s too early to tell how this creative content is going to be received by consumers and advertisers, given that it has only been a few days since Postmedia unveiled the Ottawa Citizen’s new evening edition for mobile and tablets. But Wasserman, who works with a variety of North American publications as Senior Enterprise Account Executive with Adobe, knows these interactive capabilities have been made possible by Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS).

Newspapers, whether international or more local in focus, are facing fierce competition to deliver compelling content that will boost brand loyalty. But there are tools to create apps such as Adobe’s DPS that can increase a publication’s value and the readers’ willingness to pay for premium quality content, says Wasserman. The mobile content on DPS is meant to reshape what the audience is looking at by providing additional content to hook readers and even attract new subscribers for increased revenue. And all of this digital real-time data is measurable by Adobe Analytics or other external applications, says Wasserman.

“It’s not a replica and it doesn’t pretend to be a replica,” says Wasserman, showing his audience some of the components unique to DPS such as targeted push notifications, panoramic views that lend itself well to sports coverage, pan and zoom features and welcome screens that will make the content more interactive. Scrubbing capabilities and overlays are easy to create using HTML 5, says Wasserman.

None of this seems easy for the editors and publishers in the room, who wonder how their teams would manage this kind of workflow. Wasserman says newsrooms should be working with their staff that has experience using Adobe InDesign, which is what the Ottawa Citizen is doing.

The advertisers in the room might also be scratching their heads. Wasserman acknowledges it’s tough for advertisers to pay for slots within these mobile apps when they are still in the early stages. But he reassures advertisers that their ads will always be a part of the interactive experience even if they aren’t native ads. Just look at Martha Stewart Living mobile apps, which have been able to generate up to 200% ad revenue increase, he says. What’s more t-commerce, or people purchasing products from tablets, is predicted to reach $77 billion by 2017.

Wasserman believes the best approach for newspapers hoping to build up their brands is using a storefront, which shows the other apps, ebooks and other content related to the brand available for purchase as soon as a reader opens up the app. DPS, which is available for iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows and even desktops, supports paywalls and free previews.

Since all major brands are using tablets and mobile applications to deliver quality content to consumers, Wasserman says it’s time for newspapers to get on board. Gone are the days when consumers are only using one platform to get their news.