McPheters & Co. evaluated more than 9,000 apps from almost 8,000 media outlets for its just-released iMonitor report, “Best Consumer Publication & News-Related Apps for iPad.” There are some familiar names at the top of the list—Martha Stewart Living, Newsweek, Reader’s Digest, Fortune, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic, Men’s Health. So, what traits do these historically print-centric publications have in common that made them worthy of their high app rankings?

According to the report, “All are easy to use and offer a wide range of enhancements such as social media, audio, video, bonus content and transactional capabilities.” McPheters Founder Rebecca McPheters noted, “They are easy to navigate and appropriately leverage the iPad’s capabilities to both fully engage their users and to expand upon the service typically provided by more traditional media forms.”

Sounds simple enough, but if you’ve already started on that digital publishing journey yourself, you know that it’s easier said than done. At TFP, we’ve worked with clients of varying sizes and covering diverse subject matter, but there are some common threads that any publication needs to consider when it comes to making the move to digital—namely, knowing your audience and how it prefers to use technology, and having the technical expertise required to implement your strategy. Using the tools well and productively are essential to creating compelling content.

When it comes to technology, Adobe’s Digital Publishing System is the leader among digital publishing platforms used by the publications iMonitor tracks, with 13.5% having been developed using DPS. Others on the list include PocketMags, PixelMags, and WoodWing.

On the audience front, earlier this week the blog 10,000 Words broke out some of the most relevant stats for journalists from the latest Pew Internet Cell Phone Activities report. The primary takeaway: Keep your target demographics’ digital habits in mind, since different audiences access content via mobile devices in varying ways, and to varying degrees.

If you choose to produce a digital version of your publication, there’s one other important consideration that you can’t afford to ignore: whether and how you’ll see a financial return from your digital products. There is plenty of debate surrounding the merits of paywalls and the use of sponsored (aka “native”) content, but the industry is still in flux, and the details will continue to evolve in the months and years ahead. With that it mind, it will be interesting to see who makes iMonitor’s next list of the top consumer publication apps, and what innovations lie just around the corner. Stay tuned!


Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.