Sports Illustrated mobilizes Swimsuit issue via interactive features for tablets, smartphones
By Chantal Tode
February 13, 2013
Mobile plays a key role in Sports Illustrated’s strategy to promote its annual Swimsuit issue, including launching a mobile trivia game enabling users to unlock additional photos by guessing the right model.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit multiplatform effort includes a tablet edition, which features all of the magazine content plus 360-degree body painting and numerous videos. Additionally, the Sports Illustrated mobile application has been updated for the Swimsuit issue to include new functionality such as pinch and zoom for all photos, 360-degree body painting, a trivia game and the ability to stream content to a television via AirPlay.
“The majority of consumers are not just crawling but running away from print copy and expect these publishers to have the news on their mobile devices,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta, GA.
“The annual swimsuit issue is a highly trafficked issue for Sports Illustrated, and having this available on mobile devices, tablets, apps and mobile Web will ensure reader retention," she said.
“Print, with the ever-rising cost, is just not the wave of the future. Why carry around several heavy paper magazines or newspapers when you can get the desired news from one device that also holds a very large percentage of the consumers’ attention for a very large chunk of every day?”
Ms. Troutman is not affiliated with Sports Illustrated and spoke based on her experience in mobile.
Sports Illustrated was unable to respond by the deadline.
Print publishers are facing declining readership levels for their traditional print publications and need to understand the mobile space much better in order to drive engagement, per Ms. Troutman.
However, publishers are struggling with figuring how to get consumers to pay to access content via mobile.
“As print publishers work through this, I believe that the realization will hit them – loyal readers of a specific news source will not go away because of a monthly fee for an app or access to the news via the mobile Web,” Ms. Troutman said.
Sports Illustrated is addressing this issue by offering a premium version of its mobile app for a one-time fee of $6.99, enabling users to unlock all of the pictures and videos from the 2013 swimsuit issue.
Both the free version and premium one can be downloaded for free from Apple's App Store.
The updated version of the Sports Illustrated app also features the SwimIQ game that enables users to earn points and unlock videos and photos by guessing the swimsuit model.
The tablet edition of the Swimsuit issue is available to download on major tablets and free to current Sports Illustrated subscribers. It features more than 75 videos, including three up-close videos of the models and features from all the photo shoot locations.
The social side
The digital strategy for the Swimsuit issue also includes a newly rebuilt Web site – si.com/swimsuit – where users can vote for their favorite rookie model and have a chance to win a trip to an upcoming Swimsuit photo shoot.
When users go the Web site from a mobile device, they first see a takeover screen encouraging them to download the mobile app.
Sports Illustrated has also launched a new Web site, SwimDaily.com, designed to be a daily online destination for news, photos, interviews and videos throughout the year. It will include an Instagram feed powered by the models.
Social media plays its part in the strategy with tie-ins for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google+.
“The role that should be considered and very seriously is the social and mobile engagement that can ramp readership with targeted content, monetization through mobile marketing and viral campaigns and how the engagement with consumers should be using each of the digital prongs to their benefit," Ms. Troutman said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York
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