Navigating the floodgates of the app marketplace was at the center of the Media App Summit, presented by Mediabistro and held in New York this week.
During a morning panel, Lyle Underkoffler, v-p, digital media for Disney Publishing Worldwide, stressed a direct-to-consumer approach for app developers, encompassing marketing, as well as customer feedback. Underkoffler’s point tied in with one of the major themes of the “Maximizing Discoverability” panel: the human aspect is key. Matthew Cavnar, v-p of business development at Vook, said that the #1 most important relationship is with the merchandiser at your distributor. In many cases, the promotion spots are still selected by people and not automated, Cavnar said, and, to that point, he said to make sure to keep in constant contact with the appropriate person at your various distributors.
Claudia Romanini, director, developer relations at Barnes & Noble Digital Products, agreed and extended the personal touch to metadata. All panelists agreed that your metadata should be as strong as your content—even down to the screenshots: Romanini said that apps are given four screenshot slots and often apps just include a log-in screen as one of them, which tells consumers little about what the app is actually like.
But what makes a great app? The question received different answers from the panelists. Deborah Forte, president of Scholastic Media, stated the question her team asks themselves every time is: how can we make a child into a reader with our products? Rafiq Ahmed, founder and president of Demibooks, cautioned against getting caught up in interactivity, and, in a point that his fellow panelists all agreed with, said the strength of the story comes first and foremost. If you’re confident in your content, getting discovered in a still-developing marketplace will be more likely.
Speaking about the uncertainty still facing the app world, keynote speaker Jason Hirschhorn, CEO of the ReDEF Group, compared apps to TV shows, calling attention to the huge number of TV pilots that never get made into successful shows. He called the ability to browse and discover apps “horrible,” and said “the filter is the audience.” In an age when we have more data and analytics than ever before, however, Hirschhorn said instincts are more important than ever. “Data is to infer, not follow blindly,” he said.