A New Publishing Frontier

For advertisers and marketers, e-readers — which captivate with their convenience, portability and access to a huge library of content — represent an exciting new avenue to connect with consumers. Already, owners of devices such as the Kindle, Sony Reader and Barnes & Noble’s Nook say e-readers are prompting them to read and access an increased amount of text. Apple’s iPad continues the devices’ evolution.

But what do consumers want and expect from e-readers? Our research reveals insights into both this and how businesses can tap into this growing market. Here, our key findings:

New ad models, sponsorships and incentives to drive advertising acceptance should be considered: Consumer receptivity to advertising on e-readers often depends on the content around it. Many consumers see reading a book as a personal, immersive experience and don’t want to be interrupted; advertising (unless delivered in small, controlled measures) is not readily accepted.

However, consumers are relatively open to advertising within a newspaper or magazine because they’re used to seeing ads in their print and online versions.

The challenge, then, is to find ways to drive advertising acceptance in other content, including books. One way is to explore alternative ad models, including sponsorships or incentives such as reduced prices or access to additional content.

Meanwhile, new mobile ad platforms may also provide opportunities for marketers. Developers at numerous companies are working to create embedded, interactive, video-enabled platforms for mobile devices, including Apple’s new iAd for the iPhone. (It will likely be embedded in new generations of the iPad as well.) Similar platforms won’t be far behind.

Most consumers are receptive to advertising as a way to regulate costs: Consumers were receptive to considering some form of advertising, such as sponsorships, as a way to regulate book costs. With more publishers now setting their own prices on e-books, such receptivity may increase.
 
Still, consumers desire options that allow them a choice in accepting or not a potential interruption, and feel strongly that advertising should only have limited or no direct intrusion on the experience of reading or on the content of the book (such as turning a page and seeing an ad).

Promote existing functionality and features as well as new capabilities: Consumers believe efforts to market e-readers focus too much on the volume of books that can be stored and carried. They’re hungry for information on content options, technological functions and enhancements to the reading experience. Advertisers may benefit by better promoting such features as audio and the ability to highlight.

Consumers also express a strong desire for increased functionality, including the ability to access the Internet, view graphics or interact with other readers. If such features are added to new generations of e-readers, businesses can benefit by promoting specific upgrades or features.

Market to target groups: Our focus groups revealed three unique markets for the e-reader. Tailoring your marketing approach for each group may drive advertising acceptance and monetization of content.

The purist: These consumers read a lot of content and are looking for an isolated, indulgent, uninterrupted reading experience. The purist would accept advertising as a way to reduce the cost of content, but it must be seamless and controllable by them.

Feedback from consumers suggest they’d be interested in discounts based on volume purchases; that they would be most receptive to creative ad models; and that they want their advertising or price reductions to be meaningful, such as personalized and/or addressable. This group would likely appreciate less intrusive advertising, so consider sponsorships instead of direct advertising.

The pragmatist: This group includes busy commuters, business execs and students. They’re looking for convenience, news worthiness and the ability to share and take notes. They’re comfortable with subscriptions and ads in magazines and newspapers, and would not object to advertising-sponsored ways to reduce costs (even on the device itself) and provide more widely accessible content.
 
Marketing ideas for this group include employing the cell phone model, where a monthly fee is paid for unlimited downloads; article-only subscription packages; subscription blended with advertising models; and content sharing as a payable upgrade.

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