Apple adds Texture to content strategy with a little help from magazines

Apple's acquisition of Texture, the "Netflix for magazines," signals the positive trust effect magazines can have on brands, says Magnetic's CEO.

Yesterday it was announced that Apple has acquired Texture, the virtual newsstand or "Netflix for magazines", which gives subscribers unlimited access to a wide range of magazine titles for a monthly fee. 

The move is not the first by Apple to boost its content offering – the tech company bought music app Shazam in December 2017 – but it is a stake in the ground in terms of the quality of content Apple wants to be associated with. 

Apple’s senior vice-president of internet software and services, Eddy Cue, said in response to the sale, "We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users." 

Herein lies the two main selling points for an app like Texture, which is a joint venture between publishers Hearst, Meredith, Condé Nast, Rogers Media and private equity firm KKR, for a tech company like Apple – trusted sources and engaging stories.

We’ve all seen the likes of Facebook fight fake news fires over the past year, but the fact is the quality of content needs to be of a certain standard to merit people remaining within one particular tech ecosystem. Buying an app like Texture and giving Apple customers access to some of the world’s highest quality journalism is one way to do this. 

And if ever there was a time to take advantage of this, it’s now. Edelman’s most recent Trust Barometer insight found that as trust in social media has plummeted, public support and faith in established media has grown by 13 points, rising to 61%.

Late last year, we at Magnetic worked with MediaCom on research project A Matter of Trust, in order to better understand the drivers of trust and to quantify its effect. 

The research revealed a hunch we have had for a while – that magazines brands deliver a significant "rub effect" on the perceptions of trust for the brands advertising within their environments, regardless of whether in print or digital. When coupled with the finding that it is the magazine brand not the platform that impacts perceptions of trust, the positives for Apple become clearer still. 

By aligning itself with a medium famous for its trusted content, Apple will experience a positive association, becoming a trusted source of content for its users by virtue of its content platforms. 

Both trust and storytelling excellence come from the same source – the editor. The editors of magazines are equipped with the insight and the instinct to help shape and create content that works for their brand and engages their audience.

In addition, you just have to look at the range of titles that Texture has on offer to see what makes magazines so appealing to a brand like Apple. From cooking, cycling and travelling to farming and skiing, special interest magazines cater to a deeply engaged audience who welcome both the content and the advertising. It will be interesting to see how this partnership forges new connections between Apple users and magazine brands and titles.

We will continue to see magazine publishers look to diversify revenue streams as they find innovative and exciting new ways to appeal to advertisers. 

We have already seen publishers branch out into licensing, endorsement or accreditation opportunities, such as with Marie Claire’s online beauty brand Fable, and Very and interior media brand Ideal Home’s launch of a furniture and homeware range. Events are another area we will continue to see grow, signalled by Hearst expanding its events team by 30% in September 2017. 

While how we engage with magazine media channels is changing, what isn’t changing are the innate qualities these established brands provide. By allying themselves with magazine publishers, tech brands such as Apple can offer audiences trusted and engaging content that feels at home alongside its services and design. So watch this space. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as a possible new distribution channel. 

Sue Todd is the chief executive of Magnetic. 

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