Feb 1, 2013 By Mario Garcia

Adweek’s New Tablet App: Start of the Third Generation Apps?

[Originally published November 10, 2012]

Adweek, that well-known and for many in the advertising business indispensable tool, now has a tablet app as well. It is one that has arrived two and a half years after the iPad made its grand entrance, allowing its creators the benefits of studying and analyzing what works, users’ habits and even the most recent research about information consumption via tablets.

Our friend and colleague Bob Newman has worked on it with Adweek creative director, Nick Mrozowski.  Bob heralds this app as perhaps the first of the “third generation” apps, the ones which arrive after seeing more of the potential of the tablet.

I have asked Bob for the challenges they faced when taking a well known industry publication with a niche audience, to the tablet.

Newman, who until recently worked as creative director for Reader’s Digest, and who got RD’s first tablet app off the ground, joined the Adweek team in late August as creative consultant.

“The project was done in DPS. The Adweek team decided right from the start to create it in just one orientation (portrait) in the interests of producing it quickly and efficiently,“ Newman told me.

It was great to work with the Adweek team. They were incredibly focused and excited about the project. Adweek has a wonderful design and very imaginative imagery, and the iPad app offered a chance to see both of those strengths expanded and enhanced. The Adweek team didn’t feel that it had to completely replicate the order and structure of the print magazine, which gave them the freedom to reimagine the basic architecture of the product. So in a way it felt like the launch of a completely new magazine, but with all the strengths of the print version’s content and design.

As for the challenges of taking an established print product to tablet:

 The biggest challenge was coming up with a format that could be done easily and quickly. It’s Adweek after all. Second was coming up with a smart and effective video interface. The Adweek folks knew right from the start that bonus video was going to be a huge part of the app. That makes sense; they could include the best and brightest TV and web commercials every week. They also knew that they wanted the app to be light and to download quickly, which meant the huge bulk of videos had to be linked out of the app. This was something we struggled with when I was working on the Reader’s Digest app. We just couldn’t get a video interface that we liked. Fortunately Adweek had a crack tech/production group that solved this problem quickly, and the videos on the app look and play great! I remember saying early on I thought this was going to be the number one problem/headache, and they came back a few weeks later with a perfectly elegant and effective solution.

What are readers likely to find in the new Adweek tablet edition?

From my point of view, they added enough interactivity and “pop-up moments” (to use a Mario Garcia phrase) to make the app feel engaging and “app-y,“ but not so much that the staff is going to get bogged down every week trying to get the job done.

As one would imagine, Bob reminds me that most of Adweek’s print readers do own an iPad.

“They are plugged and sophisticated,” says Bob, who tells a story the publisher mentioned in the briefing of going to a meeting with clients and at the start everyone took out an array of devices and set them out in front of themselves on the conference table: iPads, Blackberries, iPhones, etc.”

The role of videos

Adweek’s DNA is purely advertising and ad campaigns, so the tablet is a perfect fit to show the dozens of videos they get weekly. It is as if this publication should have been born right on a tablet.

Video is essential to the Adweek community, especially TV and web commercials. So from the beginning it felt like the app that we were creating was truly going to be the Adweek of the future. And I think that’s what Adweek creative director Nick Mrozowski and the rest of the team produced. In many ways I see this as a second (or third) generation app. It’s building on the experiences of what’s been done before, but feels much less fettered to the pre-existing print edition. And where the weekly schedule will help them is that they’re going to build and improve on this app exponentially, week after week. When the Adweek team started work in late August they had zero experience making apps. Now after just two months they’ve created a state-of-the-art weekly app publication. That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment!