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Book App Discoverability Demystified: It begins with a good product and understanding your target audience

Depending on reviews and web buzz is not a recipe for success

December 3, 2012 By James Sturdivant
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Experts in book app development and marketing gathered today at the Media App Summit in New York to talk tools for discoverability and profitability.

Panelists stressed that discoverability begins with a quality product and understanding your target market.

"I know first-hand how painful discovery can be in the app marketplace," Matt Cavnar, VP of business development at Vook, told the audience. Publishers, he pointed out, often still have trouble getting traction for a good product in an environment where app creation has gotten easier and cheaper.

Relying solely on reviews and web buzz for a new app is unlikely to lead to success, Cavnar said. "You have to have an audience and a base. You have to have that beginning of something to alert them when you get this done."

Daisy Kline, VP of marketing and branding at Scholastic Media, also noted the importance of working through existing audiences. "Play to your strengths," she said. For Scholastic, "the foundation of our business is the school-to-home connection—parent to teacher to child … [the question is] how does that thing work?" Understanding customer needs and dynamics and where app products should fit in is critical to success, she said.

Several panelists stressed the importance of good relationships with merchandisers (such as Apple). "You have to think about your entire program" across all existing app marketplaces, Kline said, in order to take a long view of your app's performance across over time.

Cavnar said having someone work exclusively on the business side has been important for promotion. Vook hired an individual specifically to manage distribution relationships as well as track data on downloads and user activity.

Submitting good descriptions to distributors are critical, said Claudia Romanini, director of developer relations at Barnes & Noble Digital. In a children's app, for instance, say what age is targeted, speak to parents on the app's qualities and provide useful, illustrative screenshots. "You'd be surprised how many app screenshots out there are just login screens," she said.

On the content side, Lyle Underkoffler, VP of digital media at Disney Publishing Worldwide, said it is important to tailor levels of interactivity to the age and type of target reader. "We found there is not a secret recipe … it varies by demographic," he said, though he cautioned that too much interactivity, especially in the children's market, "meets with diminished returns."

 

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