Time Inc. joins Apple Pay

Time Inc. is about to integrate into Apple Pay.

The biggest U.S. magazine publisher will announce today that iPhone users visiting the mobile sites of People, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly and Real Simple can subscribe to them using Apple Pay; other titles in the portfolio are expected to follow. The move is meant to drive subscription sales for now, but is part of the company’s long-term plan to incorporate product sales in its digital properties.

Increased time spent on mobile devices hasn’t been good for magazine subscription sales, but the new system reduces the number of taps required to subscribe, which the publisher hopes will boost subs. While the company declined to provide specific numbers, Time Inc.’s president of digital, Jen Wong, said that the percentage of people who actually complete the subscription process on mobile devices is “a fraction” of the percentage that complete it on a desktop computer. “Taking the friction out of [the conversion process] is a big priority,” Wong said. “We’re hoping the conversion goes up.”

In addition to speeding up the process, Wong noted that this integration will allow subscriptions to automatically renew, a big plus for any magazine publisher.

Time Inc. joins a large collection of retailers using Apple Pay, which range from Nike and McDonalds to Fuddruckers and Shaws. The Apple Pay adoption shows just how much relations between Time Inc. and Apple have changed over the years: The publisher early on resisted the temptation to put its titles in Apple’s app store, because of the loss of user data and revenue caused by those subscriptions.

Wong declined to comment on the revenue and data arrangement between the two companies.

Joining Apple Pay also paves the way for marketers like Time Inc. to offer readers products through third parties, too. Those kinds of deals comprise just a small portion of Time Inc.’s overall revenues now, but the company is bullish on its long-term prospects. Having Apple Pay in place is “absolutely a core pillar” of that strategy, Wong said.

Wong wouldn’t specify how much Time Inc. expected to pay off in subscription sales, saying only, “It’s a very forward-thinking investment.”

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