Get to Know Your Mobile Reader: The 2011 Mobile App Readership Survey

Oct 17, 2011

Article ImageWho is the mobile magazine reader? Texterity -- a Southborough, MA-based company that provides digital and mobile publishing solutions --  sought to answer that question in its annual readership survey. The 2011 Mobile App Readership Survey (with results certified by BPA Worldwide) was designed to specifically study magazine app users while on their mobile devices.

"The results of the Texterity survey make it clear that mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous in the marketplace as communications platforms," says Glenn Schutz, manager of communications, BPA Worldwide. According to Texterity, the new research reveals a high degree of audience engagement, significant time spent within apps, multi-location and day-part use, an acceptance of in-app advertising, and a sophisticated level of cross-media participation.

The survey received 5,136 responses from a mix of magazine apps across market segments and was conducted over a three-month period (May-July) earlier this year.

"This research confirms that readers are using, acting on, and returning to content that is published on mobile devices," says Kim Kett, Texterity's VP of sales and marketing.  "That increases its relevance and shelf life. The response also indicates that digital and mobile readership is becoming a way of life. And to reach these readers where they live, publishers will have to embrace evolving means of delivery."

Twenty five magazine titles-including 10 business to business publications, 11 consumer, and four association titles-participated by running survey promotions in their app that linked off to the 22-question survey, according to Texterity.  Participating publications included Wooden Boat, Coral Magazine and MIT Sloan Management Review.

The ads readers see on their apps seem to influence future spending-66% of those surveyed say they take action on advertising and 40% report making a purchase either directly through the app, at a store, via a website or through a catalogue. 

Texterity founder Martin Hensel says that by taking their business to magazine apps, advertisers can solve two problems. "They end up appealing to a younger readership and advertisers want younger readerships, where they can establish habits early in someone's life," he points out. According to the survey, one-third of the respondents were under the age of 35.

Advertisers also acquire an "an accountable medium," says Hensel. "The conversation changes with an advertiser and you can say, ‘Look, there were 100,000 people that saw your ad and there were 3,000 people that clicked through to your URL.' That's a very different conversation than saying-‘Our research shows that 100,000 people read this magazine and read your ad,'" adds Hensel.

Hensel says advertisers are "under tremendous pressure for ROI." He continues, "And print magazines have no way to have a credible ROI story-they can have a research based ROI story but it's not as believable as actual pictures."

According to Texterity, 18% of respondents were new readers, meaning they were completely new to the brand; in addition, 81% report sharing content, mostly by e-mail and word of mouth but also by social media.

The survey also determined that speed, ease, and access are the leading motivators in mobile readership; almost half of the respondents spend 20 minutes or more in their magazine app; and mobile readers typically visit their app five times per month but also use other channels.

"The engagement levels-they're averaging five visits a month back to the app-there's something powerful in that," says Hensel.

Apps have certainly changed the way people think about magazines. "Most [traditional] magazine experiences are, at best, a one time in-depth read; and so the magazine has a moment of high importance and then it goes away," observes Hensel. "So the fact that they're, on average, revisiting the app five times a month says that we are changing the character of the relationship they have with the magazine brand. I don't know exactly where that goes but it starts to be more of a habit than a typical magazine is."

(Image provided by Yagan Kiely, Flickr Creative Commons.)