Is this what the future of mobile marketing looks like?

It’s all here. Just flip through…

It’s all here. Just flip through…

Full disclosure: I never heard of Flipboard until a couple of weeks ago. If you haven’t either, you have my “I’m-so-five-minutes-ago” sympathies. Apparently, this mobile newsreader app just passed the 90-million user mark. (We’ve officially blown by the “early adopter” stage, I believe.) It’s the reason the fledgling company just got a cool $50 million in funding.

What is Flipboard? It bills itself as “your social magazine,” collecting the content you want from social media and assorted websites, then presenting it in a mini magazine format. You simply “flip” though the pages.

Those website feeds include The New York Times and Esquire, among others on the publishing side; and such powerhouse brands as Samsung, Gucci, Target and Levis. And the list is growing every day. Flipboard puts all of a brand or publisher’s content into a single, beautiful format designed specifically for small screens.

The app is extremely versatile, too—offering “staff picks” content on everything from arts and culture, to technology, food and lots more. Readers can also create their own personalized Flipboards—incorporating Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—and share with others. The program’s search feature automatically formats content in a way that’s very easy on the eyes.

Clever enough, but on a deeper level, Flipboard’s demographics are enough to make most marketers drool…

  • Users are basically split between men and women
  • It’s a diverse audience, too—appealing to those ranging from 18 years old right up to 55+
  • More than 80% of users are college educated, about a third of them have post-graduate degrees
  • More than half of Flipboarders earn $100,000 a year or more
  • It’s really, really sticky! Readers are flipping more than 7 billion pages a month (that’s up a billion page views from six months ago). Visitors will flip up to 40 pages in a single sitting—so you’ve got their attention for a nice while.

So far, about half of advertisers find Flipboard worth renewing. All seems good.

Does Flipboard reveal anything new about marketing in the digital age? To me, not a whole lot. It just seems to shore up many of the trends that are already structurally in place, namely:

Consumers are in control. When you offer people what they want to see, you heighten their engagement and interest, and they stay. Since a lot of them seek out brands and their content on their own, they’re more receptive to messaging from the gate. As always, opt-in makes all the difference in the world.

Brands are becoming publishers. This is a biggie, right now. People love great content, but I wonder: there’s so much of it now, will we reach a saturation point?

It’s all about smaller, on-the-go devices. By that, I mean smartphones and tablets. Our reliance is growing daily, hence everyone’s nose pressed against teeny screens. All the marketing gurus talk about the importance of content, but design is critical here, too. One of the biggest complaints about mobile is how hard it is to read content that’s not designed for it. Part of Flipboard’s exponential appeal is its design aesthetic. That’s an important lesson.

Mixing social and marketing in the same place. This is one of the more interesting developments to me. Facebook can sit right alongside Fast Company, McDonalds and The Washington Post in a single app. It’s business and pleasure, commerce and leisure, information and entertainment all playing in the same sandbox, all nicey nice.

Flipboard brings all of these trends together in one app, which is why it’s taken off like it has.

What about Flipboard for smaller or mid-sized brands, and what about B2B? In most marketing trends of the last 20 years, big brands have led the way. Back in the last century, they created the first websites, and later were the first to tweet or have a Facebook page. A growing number of big brands are turning to Flipboard now. So, like all its digital ancestors before it, Flipboard will eventually make its way down river into smaller and smaller marketing streams. Probably sooner than you think.

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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