Consume + Purchase

We have noted in these pages that Amazon’s big bet with the Kindle Fire is a device that links consumers directly to the purchase experience. A cynical characterization calls it a contemporary Sears catalog. Now comes research indicating that at least one segment of device owners are willing to take that idea one step further.

As proof, the Association of Magazine Media (MPA) just released a study examining the attitudes and behaviors of a select group of consumers: tablet and e-reader owners who read app-based magazines on those devices. It’s in part a testimony to how fast things are happening in this space: a year ago, they lacked the critical mass to even conduct such a study. There are a number of interesting findings, but the data on purchase behavior was striking:

Significant to both publishers and advertisers, mobile commerce is a key point of interest to digital magazine consumers:  59% want the ability to buy directly from ads, while 70% stated that they want to be able to purchase products and services directly from editorial features.  At this point, most of the respondents (73%) typically engage with digital magazine ads.

The Kindle Fire paradigm is direct purchase: search a product listing and then purchase an item. For the study participants, at least, the indirect purchase experience is also meaningful. Here they may be reading a magazine article and either want to purchase something mentioned there — or see an associated ad that drives them to a purchase decision.

If the now vexing customer data issue can be resolved, some electronic publishing models appear to have a clear path forward. After all, customers who actually buy things are the most valuable to advertisers. The MPA survey even points to some implementation details: Most respondents want more electronic newsstands (76%) as well as the ability to easily find specific titles to download (79%).

Seems straightforward. Some caution is warranted. The MPA study is focused on early adopters; their behaviors don’t always illuminate what occurs at mass-adoption. But the signs pointing to new revenue models are encouraging. I’ll state the obvious: this isn’t your grandmother’s Sears catalog. But, then, neither is the Sears catalog.

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