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Social Magazine Apps Grapple With Advertising

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Now that Forbes has 460,000 subscribers on Flipboard and 900,000 across properties on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Currents, the brand is close to advertising deals with both social magazine platforms, Forbes Media’s Bruce Upbin says.

On a panel at the MPA Digital: Swipe conference Tuesday morning, Upbin said that reader engagement with Forbes through Flipboard is “off the charts,” with over twenty “flips,” or page views, per average reading session.

Reading sessions on Flipboard are “eight to ten times” longer than those on the web, said Flipboard editorial director Josh Quittner.

So far Forbes has only run house ads on Flipboard and they convert “okay,” Upbin said, adding that the company will have ads on Google Currents sooner because Google has already developed an ad platform and analytics. The only analytics that Flipboard offers now are the number of subscribers, number of users, number of page flips and whether users are using the iPad or iPhone app.

“We don’t sell on CPM and we encourage our publishers not to sell on CPM but to sell based on their rate base,” Quittner said. “At this preliminary juncture that seems to be working pretty well.” He said anecdotal evidence points to publishers finding success selling referrals to their native apps; USA Today, for instance, took out a full-page ad referring Flipboard users to download its app. He said in the first few months publishers typically see “a 30 to 40 percent increase in downloads of those apps,” though Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) doesn’t tell them where the users are coming from.

One Response to “Social Magazine Apps Grapple With Advertising”

  1. Reykjavik

    Someone needs to draw a big circle around this transaction and understand how value flows between the various parties. At the end of the day, how has Forbes benefited by permitting another entity to gain audience through using its content, even though there are promotional effects? As Flipboard continues to build a gorgeous reading experience, there will be decreasing incentive for readers to travel to Forbes’ products to get their content (and Flipboard’s market power will continue to increase). I’m fine with experimentation, as we don’t know which business model will ultimately prevail, but there seems to be a lot of hand-waving regarding the benefits to traditional publishers. I suspect that Flipboard is the bigger winner here.