@ pcAds: Flipboard’s McCue: Interactive Ads Have Drawbacks

There is no scrolling on Flipboard — that’s rule number one, said Mike McCue, the social reader’s CEO, in a conversation with paidContentUK’s Robert Andrews at the paidContent Advertising conference.

Over the past few months, the company has introduced ads through deals with publishers like Condé Nast. Flipboard runs content from links via companies’ RSS and Twitter feeds — not publishers’ websites. McCue, who professed a great love of print magazines, made the distinction between interactive ads and digital ones and why Flipboard tends to avoid typical online formats.

“Interactive ads have drawbacks — you don’t want to wait for the long download time if you’re reading feeds in real time,” he said. “When we came up with our ads, we thought, ‘Let’s do a blend — we’ll take an image of a print ad that will be repurposed for RSS feeds. Now, you can also go to a full HTML5 website ad, which opens within the app. And if you’re a digitized magazine replica sold in Apple’s iTunes Store, you can have interactive ads downloading in the background within the iTunes Store. But we believe we have the best of both worlds.”

So how effective have Flipboard’s ads been? The evidence is mostly anecdotal and internal, so far, McCue told Andrews.

“When I talk to people, so far, no one has complained about a terrible experience,” McCue said. “Just the opposite. People go out of their way to tell us they like it. We did a study where we found that people are having the same brand lift as print or 30 percent better.”

In terms of product rollouts, don’t expect Flipboard to be on a lot of different devices anytime soon. The company concentrates on one particular item at a time. And lately, it’s been consumed by creating an iPhone version (finally). He declined to offer a time frame in terms of when the iPhone app would be ready, saying only that he believes it will be soon.

“It’s all hands on board to create the iPhone app,” McCue said. One of the reasons it’s taken so long to build is that the company doesn’t just want a shrunken version of its iPad-only app. “People use our app in the morning and before bed; those are our heaviest times,” he said. “People use their iPhones while standing in line at *Starbucks*. So it’s a different experience and the product has to account for that.”

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