Mobile navigation


T3: learning through doing

Last Thursday, T3 published the 10th consecutive issue of its iPad edition. Nial Ferguson, T3’s Group Publishing Director, says the experience has been illuminating.

By Nial Ferguson

As has been the case since its launch in October 2010, T3 once again found itself in the Top Five Highest Grossing iPad Apps and consolidated its position as the UK's Top Grossing Lifestyle App.

Selecting T3 as an iPad vehicle was straightforward. It provides the perfect collision of content, audience and platform, while attracting the right commercial connections within agencies and at client level.

And for Future, it has proved the right brand to do-and-learn with.

The success of T3: iPad edition has been a very welcome bi-product of our desire to explore this new publishing platform. We certainly didn’t set out to be the UK’s biggest selling iPad magazine, and we have learnt an incredible amount during the past 18 months. But for a title that isn't listed in the Top 100 magazines on the UK newsstand, it's an undeniable achievement.

Clearly T3 has had first mover advantage. But a critical factor was developing and maintaining a positive relationship with Apple – which led to T3 being chosen as the only UK title to launch Apple's subscriptions offer.

There have been endless industry debates on Apple's revenue share model and customer data restrictions. But continuing with our do-and-learn philosophy, we decided to engage and explore.

This was an opportunity too good to miss.

Within 48 hours of launch, T3 had acquired more subscribers than it had generated for the print edition over the previous 48 days. This wasn’t a launch day spike either. T3 has continued to acquire new subscribers at a phenomenal rate ever since.

The T3 app has been downloaded more than 115,000 times since launch, from which over 150,000 content items have been downloaded. T3 now sells more than 16,000 digital editions each month and rising. The majority of these sales are now locked into subscription, which have been sold through iTunes – though Zinio has also been equally successful for T3.

Reassuringly, we haven’t seen our print subscription base fall. And T3: iPad Edition will make a significant profit in its first year of trading and will see its monthly circulation enjoy a significant double digit percentage increase.

From a commercial point of view, we have worked hard to explain and showcase the opportunities for our advertisers. We have pioneered several new ad formats, the most recent being the world’s first iPad cover-wrap, which Renault had the foresight to work with us on.

It is clear that the advertising world is still getting to grips with the platform (and other emerging tablets), but the impact and interactivity of a well executed advertisement on the iPad simply cannot be matched on any other platform.

More importantly, however, we have experienced and improved the elements of our tablet publishing business by actually doing consistently over a period of time. It's impossible to underestimate the value of experience.

We know who is buying our iPad edition, where they come from and what they think. We know how many readers we are stealing from our competitors and we know how many are buying T3 more frequently. We know how many iTunes subscribers are willing to share their data with us and what their renewal rate is. We have been contacting our iTunes customers from Day One and we know how they like to be communicated with. We know what a promoted slot on the App Store delivers. We know how many sales you need to get to #1 on the Apps Chart. We know the value of that position. We know what the sales curve is like for a monthly iPad edition and we know how to spike that sale.

We know what our audience likes and doesn’t like about our product and we know how to adjust our offering to match this. We know the pros and cons between the various publishing platforms available. We know what the additional staff requirement is and we know how to manage the production workflow.

We also know what we don’t know.

Even more importantly, the rest of Future Publishing know all of this. It's this priceless insight that is helping us finesse plans for our next raft of launches.

In the next few weeks, we expect to launch T3 onto a new tablet platform - a process that is already allowing us to continue to do-and-learn. We are working with a new SDK and a new manufacturer with different contracts and requirements. We are also seeing how we manage the additional internal demands, however minimal.

From day one we were firm believers in the iPad and the wider potential for tablet publishing. After 18 months of working with the platform we haven’t changed our minds.