Adobe is holding it's annual developer conference in LA this week. It's interesting to see what they chose to lead off with at the keynote given by their CTO Kevin Lynch.
The major part of the keynote was taken up by demonstrations of what is being achieved using Adobe's InDesign tool in the area of magazines with great demos by Martha Stewart (of Martha Stewart Living) and Conde Nast's Joe Simon showcasing what Wired has been able to achieve.
So the next billion dollar market for Adobe is magazines.
Sorry, I mean that next billion dollar market for Adobe is Magazines on digital tablet devices.
Truly this was very strange. While it's clear that Adobe's InDesign customers are in pain (they have already had a decade of the web challenging their traditional print business model) does anyone believe that the emergence of tablet devices is set to revolutionise the magazine content type market, and create a significant new, multi-billion dollar opportunity?
Surely anyone with a significant opportunity in content has already had 10 years of experience on the web in building a great, engaged, monetized community around quality content - tablets are emerging as part of that ecosystem, but is this something that Adobe should be focussed on - or is it simply another example of how the shift to connected, digital content is continuing?
The challenge for magazines isn't in getting the right package of technologies to allow consumers to better consume their content - it's in the competition for individual's time, and the associated competition for advertisers's money to pay for the content creation that will capture and keep the audience's attention.
So what do I recommend for a magazine brand and content owner?
First - understand where consumers see the value in your content - is it an impulse purchase of a £3 magazine driven by the desire to see high quality glossy photos of lifestyle/homes/fashion? Is it the curiosity driven by the desire to peep into the lives of celebrities without having to read lots of text, alongside glossy paparazzi shots? Is it the desire to read thoughtful, editorial on major issues?
How do people consume this? How do they share the content? What do they keep of the content?
Now look at the technology that surrounds these audiences - and work out how to improve on the experiences and impulses that are driving them to consume the content in the first place - make it easy, rewarding and fun for them to consume the content. Help them to share the content with their friends. Remember that consumers see the whole experience - so make sure that the values that you are applying to your content also apply to the adverts alongside your content (yes, that means no garish, annoying, animated banner adverts on your web content)
Creating compelling content experiences is hard - but your opportunity to create new, long term revenue streams would be significantly enhanced by experimenting in depth with what engages the community around your content, how to help them connect, and discuss the content that you've provided them. Make sure that people feel that they are getting £3 of value from your content - just like they used to when they bought the glossy magazine from the newsagent.