Luxury automakers increasingly rely on iPad’s large canvas for engagement- Here is Why

Posted on July 20, 2011

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Luxury Daily– Relevancy key

Developing interactive magazines for the iPad could yield rewards for high-end automakers by fostering deep brand engagement.

However, developers need to keep the applications up to date and provide a consistent stream of content, or else risk being irrelevant.

“The consumer engagement [of magazines on the iPad] is phenomenal,” said Steve Timpson, president of Siteminis, Atlanta. “You can do so much more with a digital product.”

“The ability to read, watch and interact with the magazine’s content, and experience luxury in an all-digital platform, is a new standard that is expected by savvy consumers,” he said. “The only thing that would be half-baked is to not develop of digital strategy for these form factors or produce content that is poor.”

Several high-end automakers have flocked to the iPad recently with interactive versions of their branded magazines.

Jaguar is the third upscale car company to bring its branded magazine to the iPad this year, following in the footsteps of BMW and Bentley. Each application uses the broad canvas of the iPad’s screen to create an interactive experience with rich-media content out of what were originally static pages of print.

“Automotive brands have historically launched magazines to maintain and build on the enthusiasm of customers who have bought their cars,” said Oren Michels, CEO of Mashery, San Francisco. “While it’s great to maintain engagement with existing customers, it’s also great to engage with legitimate prospects who are making buying decisions as well as enthusiasts whose interest is more aspirational, but are still great ambassadors of the brand.

“It’s very expensive to produce printed magazines for all of these groups, but they are definitely interested in the content and worth trying to reach,” he said. “Increasingly, people are using the iPad as their primary reading device, especially when on the go, and digital distribution costs substantially less than print.

“So why apps? They provide the opportunity to engage the user with a rich and interactive experience, they allow for absolute control over brand and presentation, and they can be used offline, so a commuter on a train or a traveler on an airplane can enjoy the app even when the Internet isn’t available.”

Jag Mag marks trend
BMW released its BMW Magazine iPad application this past spring (see story), while Bentley extended its Pure Bentley branded journal to Apple’s tablet PC last week (see story).

Jaguar also threw its hat into the ring last week with the release of an iPad application for its own branded magazine, called Jaguar Magazine.

“The iPad has resonated with higher-income individuals, which makes sense because it’s a luxury item at this point,” said Mark Beccue, Tampa, FL-based senior analyst of consumer mobility for ABI Research. “So, it’s a good match for those looking to market high-end products.

“It also makes sense for these automakers because they’re not looking to throw a really wide net, but they’re looking for a particular demographic and this matches up with the demographic,” he said.

The applications offer varying degrees and types of reader engagement.

Each application lets readers flip through pages by dragging their fingers horizontally or vertically across the screen.

Additionally, all of the mobile offerings include navigation bars that let users quickly browse through all the publications’ pages.

However, beyond these basic features, the applications take different approaches to interactivity.

Certain words and headlines in the BMW pop out when readers tap the screen. By tapping again on the highlighted words, users can launch multimedia content such as videos, Web content and interactive maps.

Here is a screen grab of BMW’s application:

bmwcoverreal

Meanwhile, the Bentley application denotes rich-media content with tabs in the top corners of the screen.

Readers can access videos and download or email many of the high quality photographs featured in the publication.

Here is a screen grab of Bentley’s application:

bentley3

The Jaguar Magazine application boasts an interface that differs in many regards from that of a traditional print magazine.

For example, one article about Jaguar’s 75th anniversary includes a collage of photographs that readers can click on to pop up information bubbles with trivia about the brand’s history.

Another article, this one about Jaguar’s history of success in auto racing, has a persistent headline that takes up the top half of the page, while users can slide horizontally through a timeline that sits below.

Double-circle icons on several pages denote “hot spots” that users can click on to launch videos and slideshows and information blurbs.

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