updated 03:50 am EST, Wed November 28, 2012
Ingenious use of space gives potential buyers visual cues
Apple has launched magazine ads on the back covers of current issues of Time and The New Yorker that cleverly promote the iPad mini -- by exactly reproducing the issues front cover as it would be seen on the device. Apart from a tiny copyright disclaimer and iPad mini logo, the rest of the back cover is left completely blank, allowing the reader to accurately judge how small the iPad mini is. The ad also features a subtle reminder that the publications can be read digitally through Apple's Newsstand.
Perhaps not intentionally, but printing the image of the iPad mini on the back of a magazine will also give readers an idea of the tablet's lightness, as a typical magazine is around 11 ounces or a touch over 300 grams, with the iPad mini being approximately the same weight (308 grams). This despite the iPad mini being made of metal and glass rather than paper -- a testament to the engineering that made it possible for the product to be significantly lighter than any comparable rival tablet. A Nexus 7, for example, is about 10 percent heavier despite being quite a bit smaller than the iPad mini.
The ads are likely to appear in a selection of similar magazines, including ones Apple has used in the past such as Rolling Stone and Fortune. It will be interesting to see if the campaign spreads to newspapers, where the page size is significantly larger -- a fact that might make the iPad mini "look" smaller than it really is in a sea of white space. Newspapers also tend (at least in Sunday editions) to be significantly heavier than magazines, that would again send a different subtle signal to potential buyers.
Apple has been featuring its Newsstand "app" more heavily with front-page placement on the iOS App Store and prominent placement throughout the iBookstore. The app mostly consists of a dedicated folder for magazines, keeping them separate from e-books, and allowing the user to visit a magazine-only section of the iBookstore, as well as manage their subscriptions. Apple has not released data on digital sales of magazines, but publishers -- after some initial reluctance to accept Apple's terms -- appear to be fully on board.