Digital magazines for tablets: 10 Tips For Creating Better Ads

Oftentimes when reading digital magazines for tablets I get disappointed. I expect more than PDF replicas of the print edition. It’s sort of like having a full HD TV and only getting sound. One magazine that surprised me in a good way is Esquire (which isn’t made with our tools). Easy, user friendly navigation, interactive features like quizzes and checklists and content adapted specifically for the iPad made the whole experience pleasant. One thing that struck me was that all the ads were basically replicas of traditional print ads. Most had web links, but there was little call to action. That’s a loss for the advertisers, as I’m sitting with a device, I’ve already tapped their ad – and now what?

As the Tablet Deep Dive II presentation (PDF link) states in several places: ads in tablet magazines are tolerated, and if contextually right even embraced by consumers. But there are expectations around interactivity. Here’s one diagram from the report that summarizes advertising in tablet apps and magazines, or “tabvertising”:

Venn diagram explaining advertising in tablet magazines and apps

Tablet magazine ads aren’t the same as web ads, but they’re not print ads either. They’re both, and neither. To make good tablet ads, you need good ideas but it’s hard to come up with a great idea without any input. So here’s some inspiration on how to think and what to do when advertising in a tablet magazine:

1. Make sure the landing page is tablet friendly and has a clear call to action

You don’t have to create a special iPad version of your site (although having a mobile and tablet friendly version is a good idea, considering the large volumes of mobile traffic). The Air Display ad has a high chance of being relevant for the user (they are reading the magazine on an iPad) and here it’s enough that the page looks good on the iPad.  An ad for a Mac program on the other hand, requires something more. The user isn’t likely to get up and go to their Macbook because they saw your ad. The solution is simple: have the tap lead to a page where the user can get a free trial, let them enter their e-mail address and they get an e-mail with a download link to their computer.

2. If you don’t sell your products, promote those who do

If you’re manufacturing products and sell through retailers, it doesn’t make much sense to have the tap lead to your homepage. Sure, maybe the user wants to find out more – but they can do that at one of your retailers. Linking to several of your retailers allows the reader to choose their favorite store, and you won’t get in trouble for having favorites. However, links to your social media accounts, like your Twitter page or your Facebook page, make a lot of sense. The user can follow you directly from the iPad, without even leaving the magazine.

3. Don’t cram all your products in on one page

Digital magazines truly made for tablets allow both vertical and horizontal scrolling. If your ad catches the reader’s interest, and you have a lot to show, it’s a good idea to have a long vertical page. Less clutter on the screen makes for clearer communication, and a possibility to show off each product by itself.

4. Pick the low hanging fruit

In the example above, you saw an example of taking advantage of the iPad’s built in functionality: using the GPS allows you to show the nearest reseller of your products no matter where the reader is. Some things are easier to sell through ads in tablet magazines than others. Like iPhone and iPad apps: you can link directly to the app store, and the user is only two taps away from having your awesome app or magazine. This works well for publishers who have multiple titles as well: market your other magazines!

5. Make use of the cool features in the magazine platform

There’s more than swiping to a well made tablet magazine. And if the reader sees something that intrigues them, they’re likely to interact with it. You can have one single page with a lot of information using features like pop-ups, and you can even make it fun for the user to discover the information.

6. Design for both horizontal and vertical orientation

A truly well made digital magazine works in both horizontal and vertical orientation (and to make a shameless plug: our platform makes it easy for you to design both layouts at once). And if the magazine looks good in both orientations, your ad should too. If the user is reading the magazine in horizontal orientation, forcing them to turn the iPad to view your ad is like asking someone to change position in the couch to see your TV ad. Hooking seamlessly into the user’s experience makes it more likely that they will be open to your message.

7. Make use of your existing material

Tablets are multimedia devices, but it’s easy to think “magazine advertising = print advertising”. If you’ve got a campaign with a TV commercial ready, it’s a waste of resources to run a static print-replica ad with a link to your site in a tablet magazine. Embedding a video is easy and makes the ad richer and more fun for the potential customer.

8. Do something unexpected

Tablets allow for an endless possibility of creative ways of getting a users attention. Once you’ve piqued the reader’s interest, it’s easy to get them to act. Here’s an example of creative use of an animated background.

9. Think outside print

Tablets aren’t print, they’re not web – they’re something in between. If you’re going to choose either or, sometimes it’s more effective to go for the web approach. This approach requires the user to be connected and anyone reading the magazine off-line will miss it, but a button with a super clear call to action makes for higher conversions.

10. Tune in to the reader’s frequency

When you think about advertising your product in a magazine, you’re careful to choose the right magazine. Marketing a high tech bike makes more sense in Popular Science than in British Journal of Photography, where as marketing a new professional camera makes more sense in the latter. We should be as good at making the ad speak the reader’s language. Like this ad, in TWN Magazine that contains a lot of graphic design.

If you liked this, make sure you read all our articles about digital magazines for tablets.