Cover Story: Four Publishers Reveal Their App Strategies
Not too long ago, just making an app made news—especially in the book world, where the utility (and desirability) of book apps was a subject of some debate. As publishers have come to see books as multimedia brands, however, the terms of the debate have shifted, from whether book apps have a place to when. Apps can accomplish many things when executed right—from content enhancement to marketing to fun and games, helping publishers meet audiences where they are and build loyalty to books, brands and authors. Realizing this, a few companies have gotten pretty sophisticated in their, ahem, app-roach, as the following examples show.
Spy vs. Spy: The Scholastic approach
Scholastic is a good example of a publisher that believes doing it right is more important than doing it first. "We never jumped on the [initial] app bandwagon," says Deborah Forte, president of Scholastic Media. Given the company's long experience in cross-channel publishing and marketing (producing console games, TV shows and events, for starters), it was important for Scholastic to know the purpose an app would serve.
"The apps we have done to date have been for specific reasons rather than just to throw something out there to see how it works," Forte says. "Largely, we have looked at apps to date as complementing our brand strategy."
For Scholastic, this means understanding which brands are well suited to particular platforms. Brands that promise or promote interactivity, for instance, are natural candidates for apps. "Among the most successful apps in our portfolio are the I Spy apps," she says, referring to the popular picture-riddle book and game franchise. "And that makes total sense because I Spy is an interactive concept … so it works beautifully in an app format. Apps really allow us to utilize mobile platforms to deliver that experience for that brand."