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Skiff Gives E-Reader Market Viable Ad Strategy

Another e-reader device - this time from a major magazine publisher - will hit the market sometime this year. Hearst previewed its new Skiff Reader at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show along with the announcement that Sprint is providing 3G connectivity for the e-reader and will sell it at Sprint retail outlets and (via MediaBuyerPlanner).

Unlike its counterparts already on the market - namely the Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook and the Sony Digital Reader - the Skiff will be providing online advertisers opportunities to reach readers. Skiff is collaborating with publishers, advertisers and agencies to establish standards, formats and metrics for e-reading, and to validate them through consumer research.

To that end, it is partnering with Nielsen and comScore to provide publishers and marketers the necessary analytics to measure the effectiveness of e-reading advertising.

If We Build It, Will They Come?

The question is, whether there is enough content to attract readers in numbers similar to Amazon's Kindle, which is inarguable the market leader right now. Hearst will make a variety of newspapers, magazines and books available on the Skiff, the company says, though it did not yet detail which of its own publications will be offered. Later it will branch out into other areas such as newspapers, comic books and blogs.

For that reason it won't be easy for the Skiff - or any new-to-market device and platform - to take on the Kindle, said Richard Laermer, author of Punk Marketing and 2011: Trendspotting, according to TechNewsWorld.  "Aside from what the consortium publishers are offering, where is the content?" he asked. "Right now, they are asking consumers to buy a high-end device but to wait for the rest of the content. I am not sure that is enough."

Still the King

Betting against the Kindle - even lacking an advertising platform - for that reason is not a smart move. Also, the industry widely expects some sort of marketing strategy to develop around e-readers in general - a mix of sponsorship, content extensions and apps, for instance.

For instance, a consumer buying a book about vintage German cars, would be a ripe prospect for Mercedes or BMW to offer a free app. "One would have to assume that the device manufacturers will look for opportunities … to differentiate their devices with interesting content, and potentially there are opportunities for them to sell sponsorships on these devices," said Bill Predmore, founder and president of Seattle-based interactive agency POP. (via Ad Age)

Whatever form it takes, advertising will clearly be part of the e-reader ecosystem at some point. The Audit Bureau of Circulations is preparing for that day, having noted an increase in publisher inquiries about auditing and reporting requirements for e-readers and smartphones.


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