Metro claims to be “the most trusted guide to eating in Auckland”. And the title is playing to its strengths and moving to where its audience is increasingly looking with the launch of Metro Eats, a new mobile app that was developed by Satellite Media and combines content from the magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants, Top 100 Cheap Eats and Top 50 Bars.
While ACP has largely been focusing on its core business of creating great content that people will actually pay for in the Paul Dykzeul era, it has dabbled in digital publishing, with the launch of North & South, Metro and Kia Ora iPad apps. Despite plenty of enthusiasm for the opportunities presented by the platform at the outset, there doesn’t seem to have been a huge uptake (only Kia Ora could be found on iTunes, so that strategy appears to have been abandoned). But Metro publisher Lisa Ralph says the mobile app has been in the title’s strategy for a while now. It was just a matter of trying to find the right partner to help fund it and that partner ended up being Steinlager Pure (like Heineken’s Rugby World Cup mobile app, Metro Eats points out where Steinlager Pure is being served on its new Jamie McLellan-designed tap).
She says the now defunct Metrolive.co.nz, “which we ceased for various reasons”, always had the best traffic when it focused on restaurants and reviews. And the magazine also sees a massive spike in sales when the Top 50 Restaurants issue is released, so she sees mobile as “just another opportunity” and the app is in line with its thinking about the brand being at the centre and different spokes like events, apps or printed magazines all adding to the broth and creating an engaged community.
While it is giving the content away for free, something Dykzeul has criticised the newspaper industry for in the past, there is no doubt it’s more useful than a magazine, with searchable listings, maps and reviews to help users make a decision. She says there were enough international examples of this type of extension being popular with users and viable for publishers to invest in it (private equity owners generally strip things out rather than put back in, but with Germand behemoth Bauer now onboard—and soon to be on the letterheads as the rebranding from ACP gets underway—no doubt everyone will be hoping that might change) and along with corporate sponsorships, she says there are plenty of ways to monetise it, for example, offering users parking services or selling mobile advertising.
As 80 percent of Metro readers have a smartphone and 80 percent of those smartphones are made by Apple, Ralph says it made sense to kick off with the iPhone app. And, if there’s enough demand, Android could be next. It’s only been available for a week or so, but so far she’s “very, very happy” with the uptake, which is “in the thousands”. She is aiming for a total of 10,000 downloads, which, in a sign of the times, would actually be more than the average net paid circulation of 8,740 for the print version.