The Atlantic Publisher Wants Apple To Share Customer Data

The Atlantic Publisher Wants Apple To Share Customer Data

Summary: Apple's iTunes online store has become an important distribution channel for magazines as well as music and movies. But customer data is not shared.

TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

Jay Lauf is publisher of The Atlantic and he is frustrated by the lack of customer data Apple is willing to share with publishers on the iPad.

Writing on Minonline:

...with the recent confirmation that Apple is getting ready to launch the iTunes of newsstands, we could be on the verge of ceding our content and customers to them.

...What happens if an “iStand” supplants the newsstand in the way iTunes has supplanted the record store and it supplants our traditional means of driving subscriptions?

Currently it means the characteristics and locations of readers we’ve long had a direct relationship with, whom we know so much about—which allows us to provide them better content and more meaningful ways to engage while also allowing us to better service our advertisers—will be in the hands of Apple, not us.

He makes a very good point.

Moving to a digital business model is incredibly challenging for publishers of print publications. One of the advantages is that there is a tremendous amount of reader data that can be gathered, such as which sections are read the most; which ads are viewed; demographic data on readers, and much more, without needing to use expensive focus groups and surveys.

This type of customer data can be easily collected through publisher web sites but not when Apple is the publisher and hosts the content as an "app" on iTunes. Apple stands in the way of collecting that data.

This also means problems for online advertisers that try to target ads to readers. They can't follow readers across all of their reading content, as they can on the Internet. This is probably why Apple has been acquiring advertising companies since it will be the only game in town with that capability.

Mr Lauf adds:

There is a world in which the digitization of the magazine experience yields even more and better data and mechanisms for us to improve all these elements of our business—CRM, tailored offerings, circ metrics, more targeted advertising. That’s an inevitable world, really.

But if we need to pay or beg Apple for the privilege, it’s a world in which we’ll be wondering once again (think giving away content or erosion of the rate card): How’d we let that happen?

He says the industry needs "to act quickly."

If Apple won't share customer data then it must take an active role in marketing the publications to potential customers based on all the data that it has collected.

Potentially, this would be a greater service than providing small silos of customer data to publishers because Apple has the benefit of a global view of all its users.

Apple will still get its 30% cut and publishers will benefit from improved sales into targeted markets.

If not, then Apple needs to open up its iTunes customer data to all publishers: magazine, newspaper and apps so they can improve their marketing.

- -
Hat tip: Paul Eric Davis (@pweck)

Please see:

Analysis: Apple iPad Is The Newspaper...

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

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  • Easy way around this

    Calculate the amount of lost revenue due to Apple's withholding of this data and simply add it to the cost of the subscription. When a subscription for your magazine costs $200/year on the iPad and $50/year on other tablets, the market will get to decide how much their privacy is worth. Easy.
    • Even easier!


      Don't make your publication available to Apple's customers. It's not like they actually represent a desirable demographic to sell stuff to?
      • I wasn't making any judgement call about Apple's decision

        Nowhere in my post did I say Apple was right or wrong in their decision. Apple can do what Apple wants to do with their platform until the point they are declared to be a monopoly at which point the DoJ and the EC get to tell Apple what they are allowed to do with that platform, right?

        My point is that if the magazine feels that they are losing revenue based on Apple's decision to withhold this data (and Apple [b]is[/b] withholding data, that is an undeniable fact) then one way to compensate is to raise the price to make up for that lost revenue. Then you let the markets decide.

        Apple does the [b]exact[/b] same thing with their Mac product line. While Dell adds crapware to their PCs, Apple takes no payments from other vendors, installs no crapware, and makes up for that lost revenue by charging more for the same hardware. The consumer then gets to decide how much crapware is worth to them. There is nothing wrong with that.

        Of course, to an Apple zealot, everything Apple does is right and everything everyone else does is wrong but the more rational people out there can see the shades of gray. Apple has taken a stance on their platform and it is now up to others to react to that stance. One way of reacting to Apple's stance is to raise the cost of a subscription on Apple's platform. Then you let the markets decide. How you can be against this is beyond me.
      • You mistake my intention


        I am not against publishers setting their own prices. I really couldn't care less what they charge. They have identified Apple's customers as a desirable group to sell their wares to, vending through Apple makes them money. If it didn't make them money they wouldn't do it it's as simple as that. Apple's 30% cut takes care of the DRM, distribution, storage, etc. and that's it. It does not entitle them to my personal information. If they want that, then they have to do it the old fashioned way, through surveys and advertiser feedback, or offer me their wares for free or extremely discounted in exchange for me allowing them access to some of my data or delivery of targeted advertising, you know like a lot of app vendors currently do.

        If I want to do business with a company that's going to sift through my personal information for data nuggets to deliver to any available bidder I know exactly who to go with, which is why I no longer use said company for any of it's supposedly "free" crud. I EXPECT Apple to withhold this data from them, that's why I pay Apple more than the usual crapware vendors, my personal "market" decision. If Apple is going to go into the business of collecting and selling my data I EXPECT to know about it so I can make future purchasing decisions accordingly. Certainly if I know that Apple's devices are being used to farm personal data to deliver ultra-targeted advertising then my "perceived" value of such devices, services and apps found on them, and willingness to pay the "Apple premium", is going to drop precipitously.

        You say let the market decide, well it is deciding.
      • As far as right or wrong


        There is no right or wrong here. Google is not "wrong" for farming data in exchange for free products and services any more than Apple is "right" for withholding the data in exchange for its more "costly" products and services. Apple must earn my continuing patronage, I vote with my money, and I just "agree" with Apple here because it's meeting my expectation as a consumer of its products. The publishers here think they are entitled to something beyond an opportunity to sell me their wares at a price we both find agreeable. I may give them my information, IF the price is right, but that's MY decision to make.
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  • RE: The Atlantic Publisher Wants Apple To Share Customer Data

    Quit crying,If you don't like apples policy's then use something else. Think of it for a moment,apple is telling you you cant have any data about YOUR customers.Your the problem not apple
  • Apple's Way or the Highway

    This should be no surprise to anyone. Apple has always been closed, proprietary and aloof. I can understand the publisher's dilemma here, but good luck getting Apple to partner up. Unless you want to line their pockets with even more money.
  • I wonder how this article would be different...

    If Apple were currently freely sharing it's customers data with the publishers?
  • And the obvious conclusion is that...

    The usual Microsoft shills (NonZealot etc) think it's a good thing to share your customer data. Oh wait, these same idiots are pillorying Google for doing this. Lame.