In 2012 digital content creation certainly captured marketer’s attention – and their budgets. A recent study from the Custom Content Council and ContentWise found that branded content nabbed 39% of marketing budgets last year – a 12% increase on 2011. But for brand advertisers the opportunity to deliver compelling content is only just opening up.

Between ‘Cyber Monday’ and Christmas 2012, a tablet device was sold roughly every second in the UK. The introduction of more iPads and its cheaper alternatives means many households now have multiple tablets, often in addition to their smartphones. The digital audience is expanding rapidly and unavoidably. But the coming year brings fresh challenges for marketers and agencies wanting to fully use these new platforms.

Although marketers have already made strides in responding to consumers’ digital behaviour, in 2013 attention they’ll want to capture more of the opportunities available in interactive advertising. In contrast to the often annoying online ads consumers are bombarded with, pervasive digital platforms like tablets and smartphones give brands the chance to revive truly great bespoke advertising – making it as engaging as any memorable TV programme or magazine article. Ads on these new platforms can invite interaction and reaction from readers – allowing the audience to control the way they consume branded content. This is so much more than simply importing the pdf of a print ad.

At Mag+, we’re seeing advertising content that points to what can be achieved. Leading the way in our space – digital magazines – are interactive examples from Canon in The British Journal of Photography and Popular Science’s recent digital ‘bellyband’ created in HTML, to an engaging and fun Avis rent a car ad that urges the user to ‘Shake Me!’ These companies are re-inventing ads for a new borderless magazine canvas, to blend seamlessly and convincingly with editorial.

Dwell times and interactions are high for digital magazines. More importantly, more than two-thirds of readers say they want to be able to purchase products and services directly through their electronic magazines – with 73 percent reading or tapping on adverts appearing in digital publications. Readers want to engage, and they want to purchase on these platforms.

Advanced digital publishing platforms – Mag+ is one – also offer unique tracking capabilities. They can deliver integration with Flurry, Localytics and Omniture – making it possible for agencies and in-house teams to prove just how engaging the new content and advertising really is.

So why haven’t we seen more brands following suit in breaking down the barriers between beautiful content and effective advertising? The main hurdle is the lack of standard metrics for the new digital publishing model.

In order to make this transition to more and better advertising, consistent metrics must be delivered to our agency partners and their clients. Yes, it is complicated. Not least because different device manufacturers and different platforms deliver varying degrees of metric depth. But at Mag+ we believe deeply that the buyers want this process and are positioned to move along quickly. They have a great interest in supporting tablet products, testing creative executions and measuring audience engagement. They are, however, getting very reasonable questions from their clients about who sees the ads, how many eyeballs they reach and how engagement leads to increased brand awareness and purchase intent. A ‘good faith’ effort is currently being made by many publishers to find common metrics to share. But advertising in digital magazines still lacks basic definitions, like what counts as an ad view – a swipe, a click through, a pause? Until standard metrics are established many in the creative digital advertising industry will find their hands and budgets tied and their imagination stifled.

It’s time for brands, publishers and agencies to work together to come up with mutually acceptable metrics. In 2013, digital advertising will come of age.

Gregg Hano

Gregg Hano


Gregg Hano is CEO of Mag+.