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Editor's Note: This story originally appears on AD sister site, minonline.com.
When MensJournal.com unveils its new look tomorrow, the redesign will mark more than a cosmetic upgrade. This first major project launch completed under the leadership of new (as of January 2012) Wenner chief digital officer
David Kang emphasizes the importance of a versatile Web browser-based magazine presence in the age of countless devices. “We focused on a great browser experience,” says Kang. “We think we are in a moment where Apple did a fantastic job with the iPad and iPhone, and we see great Android and Nokia Windows devices. So rather than develop different iterations on different technology, from a technical and editorial workflow perspective we wanted to have one site that lives across different devices. We think it is much more cost effective and great for users,” he says.
While the re-engineered site is device agnostic, Kang says it also marks an approach that is faithful to the MJ brand within a multi-screen context. “We are taking a brand-centric approach,” he says. The new site brings the Web experience up to date with the recently relaunched print magazine, but MensJournal.com content emphasizes gear and product reviews aimed at the more research-oriented online readers.
Six content channels (Gear, Travel, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, Adventure and Style) organize the site contents. The channel structure is modular and helps the site translate well across devices. The touch screen visitor can drill easily into any of the content areas and experience swipe-able image galleries as well as comfortable experiences in portrait or landscape modes. When we tried the beta version of the site on our iPad the format reorganized itsle fnicely when we reoriented the device from portrait to landscape mode.
The browser-based approach also allows Kang and co. to circumvent the toil of app submissions to various device stores and to maintain direct relationships with consumers. Apple famously requires a 30 percent share of revenue off of apps sold in the App Store and does not typically share any consumer data with the publishers. Wenner Media’s outspoken leader Jann Wenner has been skeptical about the potential for tablet editions. He has argued that it will take at least a generation…or two, before we transition from a world of print to digital.
Although digital replicas of his titles are available on devices, the company’s US Weekly celebrity magazine only last week arrived in an Apple Newsstand edition with tablet enhancements. Kang says that the MJ brand could appear in the Newsstand as he explores how to leverage HTML5 code within the app experience. “I can imagine a Newsstand product that incorporates new cool things like a video strategy so that we can develop it once and then drop it into a paid Newsstand experience,” he says.
Kang also has big plans for enhancing the brand’s digital business models in a new directions. He says that MJ is exploring a number of unique ad units across browsers that will give sponsors full share of voice. On the e-commerce side he is preparing to introduce to partners an MJ “badge” for products. “We are looking at connecting readers with exclusive products and a better offer. We want to super-serve an audience by not only recommending the best things but by giving them the opportunity to buy them.”
MensJournal.com comes into its relaunch with about 800,000 monthly unique users. In addition to directing the content towards product-oriented digital surfers in this redo, Kang is hoping to expand the base with upcoming syndication and exclusive content distribution deals with large online partners.
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