It still astounds me how trailblazing a company Archie Comics is turning out to be. I could go on and on about the things they've done in recent years, we at BSR have reported on a good amount of it, after all. This week's announcement though? It has the potential to be the greatest thing to happen to digital comics since the advent of tablets. On the other hand, it has the potential to be a disaster of epic proportions as well. Archie Comics/iVerse has teamed with mobile ad firm TapJoy to offer free comics in exchange for the consumer watching/interacting with ads. Here's the press release, and I'll elaborate on my thoughts afterward.
ARCHIE COMICS TEAMS WITH TAPJOY TO BECOME FIRST COMIC BOOK PUBLISHER TO OFFER ADVERTISING SPONSORED DIGITAL COMICS
Archie Comics furthers expansion into digital content, offering fans new ways to acquire their favorite comics
Archie Comics, one of the leading mass-market comic book publishers, iVerse, a leading digital content distributor, and Tapjoy, a leading mobile advertising and monetization platform, today announced a partnership that will offer fans a new way to acquire their favorite digital comics for free. Beginning July 18, the Archie Comics App, available in both iTunes and Google Play stores, will integrate the Tapjoy Mobile Value Exchange® model where consumers engage with advertisements to earn virtual rewards to spend on more than 2,000 Archie Comics.
The new digital offering from Archie Comics and iVerse marks a significant shift in how publishers are making their premium content more widely available to consumers. Archie Comics will be the world’s first digital comic publisher to utilize virtual rewards and the mobile value exchange model to enable consumers to buy their digital comics.
“The teams at Archie Comics and iVerse are pioneers when it comes to digital distribution of some of the most beloved comics ever created,” said Steve Wadsworth, President and CEO, Tapjoy. “Enabling consumers to simply watch a video or engage with an ad to obtain their favorite comics is an industry-first, and makes Archie and the town of Riverdale more accessible to consumers across the globe.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with Tapjoy and embrace a new way for our consumers to get the comics they love,” said Jon Goldwater, Archie Comics Publisher and co-CEO. “Making our great content catalog available through a new free-to-own model establishes a new opportunity for how people read comics and will bring even more fans to the Archie universe.”
By simply watching a video, taking a survey or engaging with an ad, users will be able to earn credits to unlock Archie Comics via the Archie Comics app. This will give fans an opportunity to add to their digital comics library without going over budget. Archie previously broke new ground by becoming the first comic book publisher to release digital comics the same day as the print edition and continues to blaze trails in unique and innovative steps towards maintaining its status as a leader in the digital marketplace.
Tapjoy is a global leader in helping app developers and publishers monetize many different types of mobile apps including games, movies, books, videos, and text messaging apps. This partnership further expands Tapjoy’s developer network in the publishing space and opens the door for all types of premium content publishers to offer their content to more fans globally.
At first glance, this is amazing. I mean, who doesn't want free digital comics? I'll gladly sit through some advertisements to get the latest issue of Jughead or Mega Man. If it's successful, this initiative could drastically change the current digital comics model. If it catches on, how long will it be until other publishers follow suit? Free is obviously a better entry point for new readers that 3 or 4 dollars. So, I hope beyond hope that this works out for everyone involved.
Looking at this a bit deeper though? I just don't know. TapJoy has been surrounded by controversy almost before its inception. Apple themselves have cracked down on TapJoy and their incentiveized app download model. Causing TapJoy to migrate heavily to the Android platform. While that in and of itself doesn't affect Archie, since it seems that they'll be exclusively using just the advertising side of things. People who are concerned for their privacy should be a bit wary, however. TapJoy requires access to your unique device ID, to better get a read on what you use, and therefore recommend more apps based on your likes/dislikes. On iOS, it even requires you to install a provisioning profile to do just that, something that Apple themselves may not be too happy with.
Again, it's too early to tell how things are going to play out, especially since it doesn't go live until July 18th. I for one will be extremely curious for what this means for digital comics as a whole. As someone once said, time will tell.