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EW Digital: In the News

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How Entertainment Weekly Embraces the Digital Age

By Sarah Perez / August 25, 2010 7:51 AM

YouTube Channels, Mobile Apps and Barcoded Pages

In partnership with Entertainment Weekly, YouTube just announced the launch of a specialized site for getting a sneak peek at the new television season which includes “bite-sized previews of programs, reality TV, comedies, dramas and more.”

The site, which is essentially just an EW-branded YouTube channel, isn’t all that notable in and of itself . But it’s just one of EW’s many digital initiatives as of late. This print-mag-turned-media-company has also launched a number of other digital offerings over the past months, including a popular “Must List” app for the iPad and now iPhone, the integration of 2D barcodes into its print pages and experiments with video-in-print ads.

EW’s YouTube TV Preview Channel

Entertainment Weekly, which also runs the successful digital property at EW.com, has never been one to shy away from embracing the digital age, and this YouTube channel is only a small part of that.
In a post on the YouTube blog, EW’s editor, Jess Cagle, introduces the new YouTube channel, which arrives ahead of the magazine’s Fall TV print issue, one of its most popular of year. Cagle says that, in addition to the previews of the new and returning shows, the channel will also offer exclusive interviews with both producers and actors from the hottest shows.


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EW’s Mobile Platform (click here for additional info on this topic)

Earlier this year, EW also launched its first iPad app called the “Must List,” a weekly top 10 featuring the best in film, books, TV and music, where each item is linked to associated media like song clips or movie trailers. Not exactly a digital magazine own its own, the app hits a sweet spot for iPad users, taking advantage of the device’s Internet connectivity to deliver streaming music and video, while also understanding how iPad owners want consume content – that is, interactively.

With the iPad app’s success in hand, the company redesigned its content for the smaller screen and introduced the Must List app for the iPhone and iPod Touch last month. The magazine is now officially introducing the new iPhone app to its print readers via the Editor’s Letter in the August issue.

What’s more interesting, perhaps, about EW’s mobile operation, is how it generates revenue for the company. As iPad and iPhone users peruse EW’s content recommendations, they’re offered the opportunity to purchase items immediately within iTunes. Although the purchases take place outside the app itself, Apple splits the profits from those purchases with EW in a revenue-sharing deal. In addition, the ads shown within the mobile apps are often a part of a multiplatform ad buy which also includes print and the EW.com website.

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Experiments with Video-in-Print (click here for additional info on this topic)

Last year, EW experimented with technology that introduced video advertising in its printed pages, using wafer-thin screens that were used to promote CBS TV shows and Pepsi products. The small screens, about the size of a mobile phone’s screen, each held their own chip that stored the ads. Only select issues of the magazine mailed to subscribers in New York and L.A. included these digital advertisements, however, and the video-print ads have not been seen since.

The ads were likely more of a marketing stunt than a realistic venture for magazine ads, but they were intriguing nonetheless. How many other magazines are willing to experiment like this? Very few. Outside of Esquire’s 2008 anniversary issue which featured an e-ink cover, there aren’t many other digital experiments like this of note.

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2D Barcode Integration in Print Mag (click here for additional info on this topic)

More recently, though, the magazine released its Summer Movie Preview issue which came to life thanks to its inclusion of 2D barcodes. The barcodes could be snapped using the cross-platform Microsoft Tag mobile application which links a barcode to Web content. In EW’s case, the barcodes linked to YouTube videos of sixteen official movie trailers. Also barcoded were ads from five big name brands including Absolut, HBO, History Channel, Honda and CTAM/Movies on Demand. In the latest (August 2010) issue, the Fall Movie Preview, EW has again included barcodes into its pages, but this time only eleven films are digitally linked. However, the advertiser lineup has expanded, with seventeen advertisers offering barcoded ads, some across multiple pages.

The digital initiatives EW experiments with have a lot to do with the EW audience, made up of “entertainment enthusiasts,” explains Barrie Gordon, senior manager of public relations at Entertainment Weekly, New York. This sort of person “likes to be the first to try things and talk about it with their network of friends.” In other words, EW caters to the entertainment-focused “early adopter.” Given our own obsession with technology around here, we’re calling EW one to watch for an example of a print company that’s successfully navigating the waters of the digital age. In fact, we’ll added it to our own “Must List.”

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