Do your readers want a mobile digital edition? • Nxtbook Media

Do your readers want a mobile digital edition?

Written by Nxtbook Media

Bill Mickey asked us to chime in with some mobile usage rates, and I was only glad to do so, because when a publisher spreads the idea that people are going to spend 83 minutes staring at a magazine on an iPhone, someone has to speak up.

(My guess is that readers were surveyed about those 83 minutes, which closely mirrors that 71 they say they spend in print. If I’m wrong, please somebody correct me.)

At any rate, Bill’s question got me digging into our statistics, and I realized something critical: The main reason less than 1% of Nxtbooks are read on mobile devices is because our clients haven’t asked their Account Manager how to get their mobile version turned on, so let’s get on it folks!

Then that got me to wondering what’s happening among those publishers who have enabled their mobile versions. This, then, is the e-mail I sent to Bill:

Thanks for asking about our mobile stats. While we are very much in the infancy of all of us, I agree: now’s really the time for publishers to be exploring, experimenting and testing a market that’s rapidly evolving.

A couple disclaimers:

1) It’s important to keep context in mind. A recent Quantcast study says that 1.26% of all web pages viewed in the US came from mobile devices. While this isn’t the same as app. traffic, it’s an interesting place to put a flag in the ground. In the case of Nxtbook, since we use web apps at this point, it’s a very relevant number. The study is a terrific read and can be viewed here.

2) The Quantcast study is good, but it doesn’t examine reader engagement. I point this out, because the idea of eighty-three minutes of reader engagement for the GQ app is somewhat odd. I wonder if those results were measured or if readers said they spent that long in the publication. It’s curious to note that it’s very close to how much time they "say" they spend inside the print edition.

If I’m right, this is a classic example of a publisher not realizing that advertisers are weary of survey metrics, particularly when the real data is close at hand.

3) At Nxtbook, we introduced our iPhone version last September. Our BlackBerry versions have been out for over a year. While we don’t currently have an Android specific version, our other versions run fairly well on Android devices. Moreover, the rapid adoption of Android devices has us racing to fine tune our product for them.

Here are some metrics:
1) Engagement time. The average engagement time for all Nxtbook readers over the past 30 days was just under seven minutes. Unlike survey data, this is an actual average, so the person who stays inside the book for 1 page gets averaged with the person who stays in for an hour (or more).

2) Our iPhone readers stayed the longest of all mobile devices – more than three and a half minutes. BlackBerry readers were next, at just over two and a half minutes. Android readers were only a tiny bit less, at 2:23. We attribute this to the fact that – as mentioned – the experience hasn’t been optimized for Android devices, yet.

3) According to Quantcast, 1.26% of all web pages were viewed on mobile devices. Among the Nxtbook clients who have enabled either the iPhone or BlackBerry versions of their digital magazines, the percentage of pages viewed from mobile devices varies widely, very much depending on how much the publisher publicizes it and what % of their audience is on the devices. The single best performing title I found was one that has received 7% of their page views from mobile devices since November of last year. This is a publisher who receives about 3-5000 digital magazine readers per issue. We would expect this number to grow quite a bit in the common months.

UPDATED: Conde Naste has responded to my question, writing to Bill Mickey:

"It comes from the analytics package built into the app.  In other words it is a metric that comes from real-world app use and our measurement of it."

Considering the average iPhone app has an engagement time of nine minutes, is Conde on to something?