Media Pioneer: how Factory Media grew app revenues 26%

Many publishers are considering putting their magazine content into apps , to tap into the worldwide audience on Apple devices and increasingly android too.  But how to work out what to charge for and how to grow revenues?  Action Sports publisher Factory Media seems to have hit on a winning formula.  They are the latest Media Pioneer, for their impressive 26% growth in app revenues.  Here’s my take on the key reasons for their success:

1. Receptive readership

Surfers, windsurfers, boarders, bikers all tend to be young, tech-savvy, mobile and have high disposable income, so no surprise that they were early adopters of smarphones and tablets.  Factory started out with simple replica apps in 2010 and didn’t attempt to charge extra to advertisers.  They worked with Pixel Mags to create their apps.  Where their early adopter readeership goes, other specialist audiences may soon follow.

2. Sensible pricing

The app download costs just 59p and includes a full first issue free.  Subsequent issues can be bought for £1.79, well below the cost of a print issue.  6 month and 12 month subs are offered at an attractive rate, from 99p to £1.35 an issue.  This has really helped convert single issue buyers into subscribers.  Subs now make up 48% of digital circulation and 13% of total sales.  Readers expect a significant discount to print copies for app editions, so publishers must reflect this.

3. Introducing live content

The second generation app allows the editorial team to create alternative pages for the app, with live links, video content and even an automatically updated news feed or social media feed, so the edition changes continually.  This starts to turn the app edition into a completely new product.

4. Innovative ad opportunities

Advertisers are just waking up to the opportunities for live links, video and sponsorship.  Factory are also exploring selling additional ads across their network in current and in back issues, which are surprisingly well-read, for example by new subscribers to current issues.  Factory’s expectation is that commercial revenues will soon equal subscriptions for the app editions.

5. Testing Android and new formats

All of Factory’s apps will be available on Android, further expanding their reach especially overseas.  They are also exploring complementary, free apps, such as galleries.

This is a really impressive story and one worth watching closely by other niche publishers.  If you have experiences with specialist apps to share, please comment below or join the Specialist Media Network on Linked in and share your thoughts with 500 other specialist media people.

The Media Pioneer Awards were established by the organisers of the Specialist Media Show.  Read more about Factory’s story here, or learn how to enter the awards.  Winners will be announced at the show on 25 May 2011.

For more about the options for iPad and tablet publishing, read our FAQs on the Show website, or register for your free copy of the Specialist Media Magazine which has a full feature on iPad and tablets for specialist publishers.

About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs the Specialist Media Show, and also Penmaen Media, a consultancy creating practical digital media and marketing strategies for niche publishers.  Please contact us if you’d like a discussion about how to develop your own digital publishing strategy.