There’s no doubt that Flipboard, the iPad app that displays content from Facebook (FB), Twitter, magazines, and newspapers in a consolidated interface, made a huge splash two years ago. Its design became a techie and fan favorite. For one thing, just like reading a magazine, you could turn pages with the swipe of a finger. Apple named it the best iPad app of 2010. As of July, 20 million users had signed up.
Now comes the next hurdle for the company. Just like Facebook, Flipboard cannot live on investor funds alone. It has to figure out how to make money through advertising. Co-founder and CEO Mike McCue has been pitching to major brands that ads on Flipboard generate more revenue for advertisers than the tired old banner ads on websites and mobile apps. Flipboard’s design requires readers to engage with an ad as they swipe to turn pages. McCue’s position is that people are ignoring the ads running down the right panel on a website. A Flipboard ad is more like a full-page print ad. In order to get to a magazine's stories, you have to flip through the pages.
Flipboard is targeting their efforts on magazines like Vogue and Elle whose readers prefer the glossy, full-screen ads typical of those magazines. To encourage companies to advertise through Flipboard and get in front of the readers of these publications, ads of similar quality to those in the print versions are showing up in the Flipboard portfolio. Ads from companies like Verizon, Levi’s, and Universal Pictures are appearing within articles of publications like Vanity Fair and tech websites like Engadget and GigaOM. “They have figured out a way to make print ads look beautiful in a digital environment,” says Alan Cohen, OMD USA’s CEO.
What do you think? Is Flipboard on the right track with their advertising strategy? The bottom line is whether the print ad format will cause people to buy their advertisers’ products. Would these kinds of ads make you want to go out and spend money any more than a banner ad would? Let us know!