ABC audit bureau dives into digital head first

ipad2For those – and there are many – who say the iPad won’t save publishing, here is evidence that the Little Tablet that Could might be more powerful than they expected.

ABC, the leading auditor of consumer and paid periodical circulation, has built a service that allows media to count readership across  multiple electronic platforms: apps, e-readers and mobile browsers.

Ordinarily slower than honey from the fridge, the audit bureau’s speed to provide meaningful data across the fast-emerging new-media platforms speaks to the urgency of its customers. The data means media will be able to sell advertising for new online formats almost as fast as they develop. That alone will hasten the already hurried development of unique offerings for smart phones, mobile websites and the iPad (as well as the fleet of act-alike products that others will inevitably produce).

It’s important because it’s a stay of execution for the advertising-based business model on which virtually all media rely but which has so far resisted the digital transition.

Why give the iPad credit for this? Since its introduction just a month ago, the conversation about mobile media has changed dramatically – as have reader habits.  Powered by the app, consumers are suddenly willing to buy subscriptions for online content,  Google has been declared a declining power in big media’s pursuit of traffic, and at least one of the major audit bureaus has been shaken to innovate. All because iPad provides a different user experience than any previous device.

I’m not ready to declare that the iPad is going to save publishing-as-we-know-it. But I’m pretty sure it will be right in the middle of publishing-as-it-comes-to-be.

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