John Sheehy

Advantage Integrates with Apple App Store for the AMA

From discussions with our clients during account management sessions or through our user group conferences, they (or the organizations they serve) are looking to develop new products to compensate for the shrinking content subscription market. One part of that product development strategy is branching out to exist where their customers already are. And where are they? If they are among the 99.9% of users, then that would be on platforms by Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

This can be a controversial decision as it is well-documented how much publishers give up when “partnering” with these platforms—in revenue and in customer data. Why give up so much?

  • Brand recognition. Customers are likely on these platforms and already familiar with them and there are no complicated on-boarding procedures. The buzzword “frictionless acquisition” applies here.
  • These platforms have all the necessary infrastructure ready to go from day one: content delivery, payment, mobile, etc.
  • These platforms are sales channels that just cannot be ignored.

There is a flip side, however, to these great benefits… publishers receive very little (if any) useful data about who the customers are on these platforms.

Is it possible to have both? Yes!

In early 2018, we were approached by the American Medical Association to develop an integration with the Apple App Store. The AMA were due to launch the JAMA Network Listen app, which provides free podcasts on JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) articles with the option of a paid subscription to earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. A lot of time and effort was being put into the launch of the app, from a technical and product marketing perspective, but the AMA needed to ensure these new app subscriptions could exist alongside a customer’s other subscriptions (JAMA print, JAMA digital, etc.). Fortunately, Advantage housed the other subscriptions and AdvantageCS has a long history of integrating systems.

From a high-level, the flow is straightforward. In the JAMA Network Listen app, a customer logs on to AMA’s Single Sign-On (SSO). The SSO platform knows about the customer in Advantage and establishes the key link between platforms. When a customer makes an in-app purchase to a subscription, a middleware system sends that request to Advantage to process as a digital subscription. Advantage can then receive events from the App Store (e.g., cancellation) or it can periodically poll the App Store for any updates to a given subscription. All the transaction handling is initiated in the App Store and is then replicated in Advantage to keep a copy of it along with the rest of Advantage’s rich data set.

Key Benefits of the Integration

This integration provides AMA with three key benefits:

  • Financial reporting – The digital subscriptions can be combined with the rest of the key financial reports for accurate earned and deferred revenue numbers.
  • Customer service – Customer service operators have a full picture of a customer’s activity right within Advantage.
  • Marketing opportunities – The full set of subscriber data provides marketers a more dynamic set of inputs to campaigns for promotion or further product development.

For the JAMA Network Listen product, the AMA accomplished key business and architectural goals. It launched a world-class product for the JAMA Network utilizing one of the world’s largest delivery platforms, while maintaining key data ownership. AdvantageCS was delighted to work with our partner on this highly successful project.

“This new integration between Advantage and the Apple store is an exciting step JAMA Network was happy to take in order to meet our audience where they live---on apps and on their smaller devices. This also lays the groundwork for a future integration with Google Play.  We are happy that a solution could be provided to streamline the sales and automate the financial reporting,” said Paul Gee, VP Digital Product Management and Development at the AMA.

Contact us if you need a partner to help you develop innovative solutions that provide additional revenue without sacrificing data.

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