If the iPad and its many cousins and relatives are Game Changers for the publishing industry, then the question one needs to ask is, “Who is playing the game and who is leading the changes?” The publishing industry, historically speaking, is not known for its quick moves when it comes to change, or the will to join a new game if not invented and created by the industry itself.
Well, times have changed. And more people from outside the publishing industry have been leading the innovation and change in our industry ( The name Steve Jobs comes to mind ). But that is the topic for another blog.
One innovation that has caught my attention this week is Mozines™. The company behind Mozines™ is Thumb Media Group (TMG). The company has developed Mozines™ a software for mobile publishing platform and advanced mobile on-device application technology for mutiple Smartphone handsets including iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm, and Symbian. Our Mozine™ mobile publishing platform allows clients to quickly and cost effectively build a mobile audience and reach customers.
The brain behind Mozines™ is Mike Cartabiano, CEO, TMG. Mr. Cartabiano’s intentions for Mozine™” is to be another media channel, the mobile media channel.” He added in this segment of the Mr. Magazine™ Interview, ” Mozines™ are a bridge to online viewership and advertising and user adoption. It’s also a bridge to print, so it facilitates exposure to the print offerings of publishers.” What follows is my interview with Mike Cartabiano, CEO of the Thumb Media Group and his take on the future of our industry:
Samir Husni: What was the rationale behind developing Mozine technology, and what do you expect to accomplish?
Mike Cartabiano: I come from a background where I am constantly engaged in bringing brands and their messages to target audiences. At Thumb Media Group, we have developed the technological and business methodology to do this, and believe that magazines — more than any brand-driven business — are in need of our solution.
SH: The web has proven to be very elusive when it comes to paid content and money making for publishers. Why do you think mobile and digital delivery is different?
MC: Consumers on mobile platforms are more accustomed to paying for goods and services than they are on websites. As long as our value propositions fall within mobile consumer expectations, we are able to monetize mobile content. We have also found mobile transactions are much more impulsive than online ones, as they are available to consumers anywhere and at anytime. In addition, consumers tend to trust mobile transactions because they have not been hit with too many scams or worthless products. Last, mobile consumers have advocates in the form of their wireless carriers and third party application storefronts that can solve problems for them and screen out undesirable products and services.
SH: Some believe the business model for mobile applications should be similar to that of print: making money from both distribution and advertising. What are your thoughts?
MC: This is absolutely true, BUT the business model must be integrated with the characteristics of the mobile media channel, which is vastly different from that of print. End user expectations, from the user experience to various transaction models across different operating systems, devices and distribution channels are all unique to mobile platforms.
SH: A lot of platforms are using replicas or replicas plus of print magazines. How are Mozines™ different and how can you help publishers?
MC: Mozines™ are never replicas of print, which sets them apart from other magazine apps. Instead, Mozines™ provide optimized brand communication to all smartphone users in the mobile landscape. Mozines™ can reach millions of targeted mobile consumers worldwide with the best possible brand message in the mobile space. In addition, Mozines™ do not replace print or online. Mozines™ complement these media channels and serve as a bridge to let consumers tap into a brand across a variety of media.
SH: What differentiates Mozine™ from similar applications? What makes Mozines™ more attractive?
MC: There are two plea points that stand out. The first is that we’re about promoting the publisher’s brand. They’ve invested in their intellectual property. They have an audience. I even call that audience a fan base because that audience wants to see that brand everywhere they go, whether they’re in a waiting room holding a magazine or they’re in line, or whether they’re online and they’re searching that brand out and experiencing that. Or whether they’re on mobile, where they’re 24/7, everywhere and anywhere with mobile. We push the publisher’s brand and then we push that brand across multiple platforms.
SH: How many clients do you have? Can you handle newspapers?
MC: We can handle newspapers. We can also handle product brands. We are at WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) working with their magazine group. But they’re also a product brand. We have a project with Miller/Coors in Puerto Rico and that’s a marketing configuration. It’s a mobile newsletter. We reach out to magazine publishers, newspapers and brands who have an audience and a message to deliver to that audience on smartphones and tablets.
SH: Who do you consider your biggest competitor in the marketplace?
MC: There are some good companies out there. Texterity is a real good company and they’re offering one solution. Pixel Mags has a good solution and bite-size candy. But those groups, what they provide for the publishers, is a digital replica. We don’t do that. A digital replica on a smartphone is not a very good user experience. We provide an optimized experience. We aggregate content from the publisher and put it in a new format. So we’ll take magazine articles and features and advertising and we have some proprietary technology where we format that, compress it, optimize it and distribute it to all the Mozines™ applications in distribution. We also take feeds from a publisher’s website, their blogs and their Twitter, we integrate those and offer those through the application. Then again, we have the storefront; the ability to pick subscriptions, so there’s the monetization. On top of that, we have the advertising. Our competitors don’t have the support systems to have that combination of features, nor the support systems to provide that to the publishers.
SH: At what cost? Are you free to discuss the cost per publisher? Do you work on a commission, on a partnership?
MC: Our basic business model is that we have a low-cost monthly fee. This is a services fee that covers hosting, actual development and quality control, submission through app stores across different platforms. We keep updated with the upgrades, new technology, new platforms, make those improvements. We handle all that distribution, we handle customer service and we also provide reporting.
We have a very detailed weekly report. Soon we’ll be able to provide hourly reports so that a publisher will be able to log in to a dashboard and they can see on a hourly basis how many Android, how many Blackberry, how many iPhone downloads were done in different territories worldwide and on different phones. In that reporting we’ll also have a unique user account, so we’re able to provide a publisher with a database with user profiles.
But we also provide integrated advertising through a number of mobile media networks like Millennial, Ad Mob, iAd, and we also provide the ability for the publishers to offer campaigns for their advertisers so that their ad sales group can go to a advertising client and say, “We can offer you a bundle, here’s print, here’s online, now here’s mobile and iPad advertising package.” What we’ll do is create and deploy campaigns and track those campaigns for publishers.
We also offer revenue solutions that are integrated with the program. We have subscriptions on a month-to-month basis, or six months, or a per-download basis and through National Publisher Services and Fry Communications, we also offer mobile optimizing in storefronts.
There’s the ability to sell goods and services. After a short period of time, the publisher can actually cover their monthly service fee and start seeing positive revenue flow. Once it gets to that point, we move from a monthly service fee to a revenue-funded program. So there is no fee commitment.
SH: How are publishers charging for Mozines™?
MC: With Nylon, they’re giving it away. You were asking about the end user, it’s free with advertising in that. With WWE, a subscription of $2.99 a month and a user gets four weekly issues and they also get daily updates through blogs, Twitter and RSS feeds.
SH: Will the Mozine™ application work on any device?
MC: The Mozine™ is a single app that is distributed simultaneously and seamlessly across all platforms. We are currently deployed on iPhone/iPod Touch, over a dozen Blackberry devices and over 40 Android smartphones. All of these are available globally.
We are developing on WinMo, Palm and Symbian, and have Mozines™ for Feature phones. We are also developing for iPad so can offer our clients incredible consumer reach very economically and efficiently with a very high quality, consistent user experience.
SH: Part of what we do at the Magazine Innovation Center is try to help amplify the future of print. Where do you see the future of print going, and what role do you see Mozines™ taking in the future of print?
MC: Print will always have a huge audience but must evolve as media-savvy readers use their mobile devices and tablets to access information that is important to them. The role of publishers will be as creative sources of great IP targeted at their audiences. Distribution solutions will be the responsibility of firms like Thumb Media Group.
Mozines™ intention is to be another media channel, the mobile media channel. And by the way, tablets are somewhere between online and mobile. They exhibit characteristics of both and provide new and unique characteristics. But Mozines™ are a bridge to online viewership and advertising and user adoption. It’s also a bridge to print, so it facilitates exposure to the print offerings of publishers.
We sell subscriptions in Mozines™ to print. And we’re working with publishers to bring the promotion they have in a print magazine, like the blow-ins, we’re bundling subscription offers with Mozines. Though, if you subscribe to the print by Mozines™, for example, you would get a promotional discount on a print subscription.
We also cross promote, so, in the Mozines™, we promote the print. So there’s promotion in the print, an online presence of publishers that talk about Mozines™ and what they’re about and where to get them.
SH: One of the things that grabbed my attention when I found out about Mozines™, is that somebody is finally doing something different than the norm. It’s not saying, “Let’s grab you another replica, or replica-plus or replica-plus-plus.” I’ve been telling people no matter how many pluses you add, you’re still staring with a replica.
MC: Exactly. The thing is, for example, when online has really developed into a media channel of its own. You don’t have digital replicas necessarily there. When there is a digital replica, there isn’t a great following to that. Publishers have a hard time getting the subscription revenue in digital online versions of their products. So they have to think of the media channel, “What’s the difference about it? What are the end users’ expectations about that media channel?”
We have to tailor their intellectual property and their brand and their revenue models to that media channel. So, mobile is an entirely different media channel. We’re a little bit unique in that we bring really deep wireless experience to consumer application and development and distribution.
SH: What are your expectations for Mozines™ a year from now?
MC: We provide a great end-to-end, seamless, mobile media publishing solution with more revenue models and three times the distribution than our closet competitors. In a year, we will have significantly grown our client base, and because of our association with Fry Communications and National Publisher Services, we will be able to offer our services as a true cross-media, one-stop publishing solution integrating mobile, print, online digital and all popular tablets.
SH: Anything else you’d like to add?
MC: What we’re doing also on the iPad, let me talk about. That is a digital replica, but the foundation is our Mozine platform, which supports Android and Blackberry and iPhone. Consequently, when the new tablets from, let’s say, a Google or Blackberry come out, we already have a foundation in place to support those tablets. We have an iPad solution right now, and we’re working on a couple of projects for our clients, so we’re offering our clients a bundle. There’s efficiency to working with them to take that content, their content, and we deploy it across the different platforms. We’re supporting the iPad now and we’ll be supporting the other platforms as they come out.
We’re not a developer. We’re a solution. We’re an end-to-end service solution. We know the problems that publishers face with resources and financial challenges, especially today. We do not want to go in there and tax their limited resources. We have a very seamless process. We’ve had great feedback from Nylon magazine and WWE. They’ve confirmed that it’s seamless and it works very smoothly for them. They don’t have to worry about it.
SH: Thank you.
Truth in Reporting: During my interview with Mr. Cartabiano I learned that one of his partners in this venture is Fry Communications, who are in turn the sponsors of the Mr. Magazine™ website and blog. Needless to say that this information changed anything in the interview and in my views regarding Mozines™ and whatever future role it may play in the future of our industry.