Get Your Own “Playbook for Digital Success”
As we gear up for MPA's Swipe 2.0—the only digital conference devoted exclusively to Magazine Media—"The Read" sat down with Ethan Grey, VP Digital, MPA, to learn how members can take away their very own "Playbook for Digital Success" from the conference to leverage reader engagement across virtually every platform.
Ethan Grey has spent the past decade leading the development of digital and mobile strategies for some of the world's largest media and consumer brands, including The Economist, American Express, 20th Century Fox, Elsevier Publishing and SiriusXM. He was also part of bringing top tablet and smartphone news, media and entertainment applications to the market, ranging from truTV to CNN.
This is the second year of MPA's Swipe. Tell us how it all began.
Many years ago, MPA started a digital conference in response to the rise of the web, then the emergence of e-readers, smartphones and finally the iPad. Last year, MPA saw the need for a conference that focused primarily on tablets and thus, Swipe was created.
What are the most significant takeaways from last year's event?
Last year, we saw the development of an entirely new platform, the digital newsstand, and the industry needed to come together and figure out how to create content that could fill this space. At that point, there were no tech conferences that were dedicated entirely to magazines or this platform specifically. Swipe was built for the purpose of bringing the industry together to adapt to and distribute to digital newsstands.
How will Swipe 2.0 differ from last year?
Swipe 2.0 goes beyond tablets. Today, Magazine Media consists of the web, e-commerce, video, apps, and beyond. This year, we wanted to put a spotlight on who is developing the best content, and how magazines are building out their digital presence. We took the opportunity to approach 300-400 of MPA's members to find out what exactly they wanted to gain out of a digital conference and used the responses to form Swipe 2.0's agenda. Our slate of ;speakers addresseach one of their needs.
We also changed the conference from a typical panel format to one more similar to that of TED Talks. This year we are giving speakers a microphone, a projector and a stool. They have 10 minutes to convince us that what they are doing is cool.
Finally, Swipe 2.0 is expanding from a half-day to an incredibly full day, preceded by a VIP cocktail reception ;the night before, featuring one of New York's top bartenders, and a dinner sponsored by Digimarc to wrap it up.
Tell us a bit about the speakers.
This year we have 34 speakers from 27 companies big and small. 10 companies will be using the Swipe 2.0 platform to announce their latest and greatest developments.
What are the three things you hope attendees take away from the program?
- Come away with an action plan.
Swipe 2.0 is a playbook. Everything is meant to be actionable so take notes as if you are receiving a job description.
- Content is what matters.
At the core of Magazine Media's strength are the brands. Readers love our content, and we are getting better as sharing that content with them. Look at your brand as being extremely valuable and your app or web platform as being the channel to deliver that brand to your users.
- The Magazine Media industry is exceptionally innovative.
The industry is deeply steeped in research and user feedback, constantly adapting and improving based on reader response. This is unique to Magazine Media and we want people to realize that magazines are innovative.
Why does Swipe matter in today's Magazine Media industry?
This is the only tech conference dedicated to magazines specifically. Furthermore, while other conferences exist to celebrate the executive, it is the only platform that gives the technical people a chance to show off what they are contributing to the industry. It doesn't matter how big the company or what type of content is bring produced, it's about the design and development behind it.
Which digital development do you think has made the largest impact on Magazine Media?
The most significant development occurred when magazines came back to the web and saw it as a place where they actually wanted to put their content. From there, magazines had to design a responsive website and we saw TIME create the largest responsive site in the world. Now people are looking at the web for magazine content, and even more, they are willing to pay for it.
Beyond that, companies like August Home Publishing, Forbes, New York Magazine, Popular Science, The New Yorker, Foreign Affairs and Hearst are all looking at iPad and iPhone apps differently. These tools are become not just an "also" but their own platform that can be taken advantage of as a channel to reach consumers. Moreover, these apps are innovative and responsive to user testing. The truth is that some of the world's best web designers and developers are working at Magazine Media companies.
Any predictions for the year ahead? What will Swipe 3.0 look like?
The next year is sure to bring new devices, services and M&As. What we will have is an industry that is better prepared for all of it than ever before, more so than any other industry. Magazines will be able to take more advantage of these new services and be faster to do so. The largest tech companies are looking at Magazine Media in a whole new light, as some of the world's best producers of content, but also as technology players. Therefore, as we move forward, there will be increased collaboration, innovation, and revenue sources for all, across the board.
March 28, 2012
The Grand Hyatt Hotel – New York, NY
Learn more at swipe.magazine.org.
Contact MPA's Caitlin Cheney at (212) 872-3756.;