Epicurious remade its mobile app to show more ‘food porn’ video

Epicurious thinks video will be the secret ingredient in its new mobile app.

With audiences everywhere gorging on food-related digital video, the newly launched app features video tutorials, tricks, and even lifestyle content series, all updated on a daily basis, as part of a bid to move the app past its origins as a recipe and article repository. Epicurious is launching 10 new video series it expects will keep people coming back to the app. The videos will not be exclusive to the app, but they will be packaged and presented on the app in a way that’s distinct from the way they’re presented on Epicurious’s website, or on Facebook.

Epicurious is going to be publishing 10 recipe videos a day, and disseminating them as ads on social media. Those videos, which cover everything from DIY Twix bars to tequila shrimp, will end with a button that, when clicked, directs viewers directly to the app store to download the new version of the app.

Epicurious was one of the first food publishers with a mobile app space, which it it launched in 2009. Time Magazine called it one of the best apps of all time, and Serious Eats described it as the first great app for home cooks. It was also among the first to get real traction among readers, piling up over 10 million downloads during its first five years on the market, exclusively on iOS. It later became the first food publisher to find a way onto the Apple Watch by creating a recipe timer.

But as great as the app was for users looking for specific recipes, it had limited utility outside that context. As Eric Gillin, Epicurious’s executive director and head of product at Condé Nast’s Food Innovation Group, put it, the old app was like a hammer. “It was awesome when you were in front of a nail,” he said. “But when you weren’t, maybe you didn’t use it.”

In that time, food-focused publishing has experienced a sea change. A publisher like Tasty can go from experiment to juggernaut in a matter of months, and both publishers and advertisers now personalize and target audiences based on the kinds of food they like.

Epicurious’s new app responds to all those changes. In addition to display advertising and interruptive vertical video ads, it’s integrated sponsored content deeply into the experience of this new app, a reflection of a philosophical shift that puts advertising on the same plane as the content produced by its own editorial team.

“Anything editorial can do, the advertiser can do,” Gillin said.

Epicurious hasn’t neglected the functional side of its app, either. It added a toggle button to all the recipe pages so users can refer to the ingredient list without scrolling all the way back to the top of a page, a seasonal ingredients finder that tells users what’s freshest that moment based on their location, and a recipe timer that tells readers how long it will take to make something.

“We spent five months making sure this is something people use,” Gillin said. “Heavily.”

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