Can you please provide a brief description of your company?
The company is called McMurry/TMG. We were formed two years ago when the magazine group, TMG Custom Media, was merged with McMurry in Phoenix, Ariz. We’ve become one of the biggest players in the content marketing space.
What is the name of your application and what is its main purpose?
When tablets came to the fore, I was looking for an avenue to publish all the amazing content that we had been creating for our print products. Eventually, I stumbled across Mag+, and the rest is history. For the last three and a half years or so, we’ve been using that platform to deliver interactive versions and apps of a lot of our magazine content.
Please describe your role in the initial app development process and your current engagement with app development or content updates?
Three and a half years ago, when we started with this, my experience was absolutely non-existent. I was familiar with all the IT [information technology] things involved in getting properly formatted files out the door to our print partners, but I had zero experience in anything to do with the Web or apps. One of the things that attracted us to Mag+ was the fact that no coding was required. The bulk of the program functions are in the form of plug-ins for InDesign. There is also a production tool and an online portal.
There was no coding required, but it was still a little technically daunting at first. I was unfamiliar with the back-end requirement of the Apple Store and Google Play store. But, thanks to their very robust support site and the wonderful people who work at Mag+, we were able to get up and moving very quickly. Our very first app was launched three or four months after getting involved with Mag+, so we went from zero to app in no time. It was for a very high-profile client, and it was amazing when we first launched it. It did gangbusters. It was a little crazy for me to launch with such a demanding and well-known brand, but the fidelity of the platform, and the ease of use of the platform, actually made it quite simple. I was scared to death at the time, I didn’t know what I was doing, but thanks to the tools that Mag+ provides, it was very easy to find my way.
How would you describe your app development skill level, such as beginner, some coding experience, expert, and so on?
What was the business challenge that McMurry/TMG was facing that incited the need for a mobile application and what was the business goal that you were hoping to accomplish?
In the press every other day, the demise of print is trumpeted. So, with that in mind, I was looking for longevity for some of the beautifully designed products that we’re currently doing on the print side. At that point, it seemed that the most viable way to go was with these publication-based apps. In time, we’ve found that publication apps haven’t got the traction that we thought that they would get when the tablet revolution came.
What app platforms did you want to build an app for and why?
iOS, Google Play, and Amazon Kindle. We don’t have anything on Windows at this point, but we do have people asking about it. If that platform gets enough traction, I’m sure Mag+ will add support for it. We wanted a platform that would allow us to take full advantage of the capabilities of tablets. We wanted something that would interface well with InDesign, and we wanted it to be intuitive.
Did McMurry/TMG have a formal selection process for deciding on a mobile app development software? Was McMurry/TMG considering other software or possibly a mobile app development service provider?
We did our due diligence, we were not interested in doing a PDF replica-type app because it seemed redundant and pointless. We were looking at the high-end type products that were out there, and that boiled down to Adobe DPS and Mag+. The deeper we got into it, it appeared to us that the most cost-effective way to move forward, and to move forward quickly, was with Mag+. They just seemed to be a better deal.
When all elements were considered, Mag+ was a far greater value for us from a financial standpoint. The three main reasons we ultimately chose Mag+ were cost effectiveness, ease of use, and the support they give us.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Can you share any success, metrics, or overall results of your application since publication?
We didn’t have much of a footprint as far as apps, so there wasn’t a pre-Mag+ from an app standpoint. In terms of all of the magazines that we ended up putting on the platform, it’s helped our clients broaden their footprint. It’s given them another distribution channel that’s relatively easily managed and easy to produce for, so it gives them that much more volume in the marketplace.
The first app we launched for one of our biggest clients went to the top of the free iPad Newsstand apps chart, and it moved into the top 100 of the overall App Store charts. It was great from a publicity standpoint, and that’s happened quite a bit. We’ve also won many awards with these apps because it turns out we have some very adept designers that have taken to it like a duck to water and produced some brilliant stuff. None of our clients are monetizing the apps by selling them, it’s all been advertising-based, so I can’t give any metrics as far as how it’s increased revenues. However, it’s definitely helped to broaden their distribution and the message of their brand. It’s given them a whole lot of publicity value, and the kudos for well-constructed apps.
Can you speak to the available development tools?
We have a whole staff of art directors here on the publication apps who also had to be brought up to speed very quickly, and Mag+ was, in our view, very easy to understand.
Can you speak to the content management system, how do you upload new data or make changes?
What we’re finding now is that Mag+, first of all, is a very versatile platform. It allows us to do far more than simple magazines, and we’re finding a greater market now for enterprise apps or B2B [business-to-business] kind of environment.
Have you found it necessary to consult any of Mag+’s available support resources? Was the support useful and accessible?
Their support pages have been wonderful and helpful to us. They have a huge video library to show how various functionalities are implemented. Also, the actual humans behind Mag+ have just been tremendous assets for us. They’ve just been wonderful to work with.
Were there any software features and tools that you were really impressed by, of which potential buyers should be aware?
We’re finding Mag+ useful for sharing internal documents, training materials, and videos. Another great use we found for Mag+ was as a presentation. We can build these great presentations and present them flawlessly on tablets. It’s slick and smooth, it makes us look good, and it’s a very great use for this sort of platform.
Looking back, were there any areas of the software that you felt were not intuitive or that you feel could be improved upon?
Mag+ is an image-based system and, because of this, the tool creates relatively large files. It does depend on the content of the files, but they can be really large. What I’m hoping for is a way around that, and Mag+ is working very hard to that end. They’ve got some great new tools that are scheduled for later this year, from what I hear to solve this problem. Also, because it’s an image-based system, sharing can be a little problematic. I’m hopeful that we’re going to have some great new sharing tools.
We have a few quick questions and, for each question, we ask you to rate the software on a scale of one to five, with five being the best. What would you give the software for quality of features available?
Four and a half. They’ve basically got feature parody with Adobe DPS, which is considered the heavyweight in this category. I think Mag+ does a lot of things better and easier than DPS.
What you give the software for ease of use in the development process?
Four and a half.
For support, as in responsiveness, communication, and resources available?
Five. These guys have been great to us.
For cost, as in value for your money and the time dedicated to development?
Five. That was the primary reason we started working with them.
Overall, for usability and satisfaction with the software?
Four and a half. We’re extremely pleased with Mag+.
How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague?
Five. I recommend them all the time. I’m pretty vocal in my support for them because I think it is a beautiful software. They’ve done a wonderful job with the whole package.