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What Makes A Successful Digital Edition?

When creating a digital publication from content originating as a print edition there are certain things to keep in mind, and it’s always good to learn from the mistakes of others if you can. Examples of failed attempts at going from print to digital can be found all over the Apple Newsstand. A magazine that is difficult to use, whether paper or electronic, will be picked up once and put down for good, which means that the reader won’t become a paid subscriber, and they probably won’t download your app in the first place. Losing readers means losing revenue on all sides, including advertising.

The most satisfied readers are those whose needs are being met. People are loyal to a brand or publication because the information that they get from it is easy to access, easy to understand and pertinent to their lives. Luckily it is easier than ever to really get the pulse of an audience. Social media allows readers to interact with publishers in real-time, and the conversation and feedback they provide can be used to modify and craft an offering that is truly of value to them.

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Surveys, moderated comments from Facebook and Twitter, and even email campaigns are all ways to reach out and start the dialogue with readers to find out exactly what it is they want. People will not hesitate to pay for something that is useful to them. A happy byproduct of reader feedback is that if the offering is good, positive testimonials can be used for marketing!

Advertisers are always looking to hone in on specific targets, and when the client base is well-defined it is easy for them to mold their message to align with yours and give readers access to information and products that they want and need. Inviting experts to write guest columns or editorials is a great way to get brand recognition and good search results.

A well thought out marketing plan is necessary for getting as many readers to find you as possible. It takes time for a new publication, or even an established publication changing formats, to gain traction and find its audience. Using other platforms to get the word out is important and using social media and websites to do cross-channel marketing will make a big difference. While there are many people looking through the Apple App Store and Android Market every day on their tablets, there are thousands of magazine titles out there, and you have to make noise in order to be found.

Digital Magazines are a Growth Industry

2013 showed notable growth in digital publishing, and the trend continues. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, digital edition circulations as a whole were up 61% year on year and the number of digital editions audited increased by 52%.

Reaching a large audience over multiple platforms is obviously the goal for most print and digital publishers. The growing diversity of touch-points and digital platforms is a great opportunity for publishers to identify new markets and target specific audiences.

The maturation of the tablet market and the constant development of new technologies that enable content to be created, managed and disseminated faster than ever, mean that magazines as they have always been known will not remain that way.

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One thing that’s particularly interesting about this newly emerging model is that it makes it much easier to build a strong relationship with a reader community.  Unfortunately, this advantage is neutralized by the fact that making money in magazine publishing is not as easy as it once was. It is thought that magazine margins used to be in the region of 40 to 60 percent.

Targeting a specific market makes it much easier to connect with a community that is passionate about the same things and that could be one of the biggest benefits of the entire digital model, but there is a lot of work ahead.

Content, Content, Content

It goes without saying that the success or failure of a magazine brand begins and ends with creating content that speaks to the specific interests and passions of its readers. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. Building a team of writers that is well versed in the subject matter and a cause espoused by the magazine is imperative to the success of the publication, including drawing compatible advertisers and loyal readers. Publishers must find writers with a point of view. People who will write about what they really believe in, and who can communicate this to their readers.
The very thing that makes magazines media create solid customer loyalty is that good publications offer content that speaks to the specific interests and passions of its constituents. Readers expect and want each publication they read to speak in a specific voice and style relevant to their brand. Digital publications fill a recently created but permanent need by delivering relevant content via the relevant platform to that particular demographic. Print and digital are not mutually exclusive.

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Publishers must use the power of their brand to entice their readers to interact via the numerous and various hardware out there, including smartphones, tablets, websites and print editions. The brand experience must be seamless through all formats, but the bottom line is that content is king. Give the people what they want and they will always come back for more.

It’s All About Ads

According to an article at techcrunch.com by Ingrid Lunden, digital advertising is on a healthy path upward. Her numbers come from a report published by ad agency ZenithOptimedia. Global ad spending for 2013 was predicted to have reached $503 billion, and digital will have accounted for 21.8% of all ad spending, which is $109.7 billion in real numbers.

Meanwhile, mobile remains a solid minority of activity: in the U.S., mobile ads will account for 3.7% of all ad spend ($6.2 billion) in 2013.

Lunden states “When it comes to what is driving the most growth in advertising at the moment, mobile continues to lead the way, growing by 81% this year in the U.S. market, with that rate slowing down to 61% in 2014 and 53% in 2015, when mobile will make up 8.4% of ad spend. Compare that to Internet advertising, which is growing by around 16% and will account for 27.8% of all U.S. ad spend by 2015.”

“ZenithOptimedia’s analysts say that mobile is growing seven times faster than desktop Internet spend, with mobile ads growing by 77% in 2013, 56% in 2014 and 48% in 2015., driven by the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets. Globally, internet advertising will grow at an average of 10% a year.”

According to Lunden, the rapid growth of mobile ads should come as no surprise. The trend seems to be that sales of tablets are set to overtake those of PCs in the near future, and smartphones are becoming the primary way that people go online.

The importance of mobile advertising will increase over the short-term, but “There is still a long way to go. Although we have all heard about the decline of print and how many old-school publishers are feeling the crunch, and how people are turning off the radio to listen to services like Spotify, the knock-on effect on advertising is taking longer to emerge. If you look at 2012, the combined ad spend for newspapers and magazines still outweighed that of Internet spend. If you add in radio to that, by 2015 they will still outweigh Internet spend.”

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Are Native Apps the Way to Go?

In the Alliance for Audited Media Digital Publishing Survey “How Media Companies are Innovating and Investing in Cross-Platform Opportunities”, they start by stating “In the past decade, digital publishing has become widespread thanks to expanding consumer adoption of tablets and other mobile devices. For traditional media companies, digital content has progressed from static replicas of a print edition and basic website content to dynamic, engaging smartphone and tablet apps. Meanwhile, new media companies and platforms are emerging that drive innovation, audience engagement and new business models.”

Digital publishing is becoming more and more widespread due to consumers’ love for their tablets and other mobile devices. From digital publishing’s beginnings as static replicas of print publications to today’s dynamic smartphone apps, publishers are always seeking ways to drive innovation and audience engagement.

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In 2012 The AAM polled its large membership of media brands to gather insight into how they were adopting and embracing mobile media. The numbers have changed for 2013, but the basic trends continue. This is what they learned:

  • More than ever, AAM media companies are distributing their content via mobile devices. When we conducted our first survey three years ago, 51 percent of respondents claimed a mobile presence. Today, it stands at 90 percent. Even more encouraging, the remaining 10 percent plan to develop mobile-optimized content in the next year.
  • In a market flooded with competing devices and operating systems, publishers are distributing their content on multiple platforms, eager to get in front of readers on their device of choice. Eighty-five percent have iPhone apps, 87 percent have iPad apps, 67 percent have Kindle apps, 57 percent have Nook apps and 75 have Android apps.
  • While Apple products still dominate the market, Kindle and Nook apps are growing at an astonishing pace. The number of publishers developing Kindle apps has grown two and a half times, up from 24 percent in 2011 to 67 percent in 2012. Nook apps have increased more than four times, from 14 percent in 2011 to 57 percent in 2012.
  • With regards to app publishing technology, our survey respondents were split. Seventy percent are producing native apps—downloadable programs built for specific operating systems—while 67 percent are producing Web apps, programs that use web browsers to deliver content and are optimized for specific screen sizes. When we dig deeper into the data, we note a difference between magazines and newspapers. Eighty percent of magazines are leveraging native development technologies for at least one app versus 50 percent using browser-based web apps.

Ask us about native apps and read more of the AAM survey at: www.auditedmedia.com/media/182933/aam2012survey.pdf

Mobile Apps are the Key Pieces to the Engagement Puzzle

According to a recent press release from Gartner: “By 2017, mobile apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times, generating revenue of more than $77 billion and making apps one of the most popular computing tools for users across the globe, according to Gartner, Inc. As a result, Gartner predicts that mobile users will provide personalized data streams to more than 100 apps and services every day.”

People will use over 100 apps a day by 2017. Not only will more consumers be downloading apps, but they’ll be using more of them

The shift has already started: According to Flurry Analytics, app use increased by 115 percent in 2013 year-over-year. Messaging and social apps alone improved by 203 percent.

It’s time for your business to use mobile apps to engage your user base and prepare for the trend towards the integration of various platforms, including wearable devices, home electronics and even automobiles.

For brands, apps will represent the primary vehicle to directly reach out to and engage with consumers. And as more apps debut and adoption increases, businesses will be able to capture even more data about consumers and then use it to improve content and app experiences.

Digital publishers are already using mobile apps for smartphones and tablets to reach out to the consumer, but they should soon be prepared for consumers cycling through a multitude of apps across a number of devices on a daily basis.

Gartner states that “Mobile apps have become the official channel to drive content and services to consumers. From entertainment content to productivity services, from quantified-self to home automation, there is an app for practically anything a connected consumer may want to achieve,” said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. “This connection to consumer services means users are constantly funneling data through mobile apps. As users continue to adopt and interact with apps, it is their data — what they say, what they do, where they go — that is transforming the app interaction paradigm.”

Having access to analytics and user trends over a multitude of devices will allow digital publishers to customize their offerings to reflect what their readers are actually doing, using and buying, thereby allowing for an efficient use of resources and target marketing.

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Mobile Usage – An Interesting, Fast Ride

2013 saw the exponential growth of smartphone and tablet adoption — and marketers didn’t fail to notice. As might be expected, US mobile-ad spending increased in a big way too, as more and more traffic moved from the desktop to the mobile web and apps.

Here are some interesting statistics about mobile usage in 2013, according to business2community.com:

  • In 2014, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage.
  • Smartphones and tablets have driven a 93% increase in internet use since 2010, according to comScore.
  • By the end of 2013, there were more mobile devices on earth than people.
  • 56% of US adults own a smartphone.
  • 91% of adults “have their mobile phone within arm’s reach 24/7.”
  • In Q2 of 2013, 62% of emails were opened on a mobile device. (48% of emails were opened on a smartphone, and 14% of emails were opened on a tablet.)
  • Mobile accounted for 48% of all online traffic this past holiday season, a 28.3% increase over last year.
  • In 2013, mobile sales approached 29% of all online sales, up 40% over 2012.
  • 91% of mobile internet access is for social activities, versus just 79% on desktop.
  • 53% of American consumers use their smartphones to access search engines at least once a day.
  • 4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop.
  • 71% of tablet owners make purchases from their tablets each week.

Jodi Ordover at b2c says, “There’s no doubt that smartphones have transformed our daily lives. We’re living in an always-on, always-connected world, and mobile has changed the way we interact with each other — and with brands. Our experiences can be shared anywhere, at any time. Consumer content, including brand experiences and recommendations, is shared and engaged more frequently than ever. Consumers routinely use mobile to provide brands with real-time feedback and to search for on-the-spot consumer recommendations and reviews when making purchase decisions.”

Mobile apps will continue to grow for at least the next few years, and the leveling-off point cannot yet be determined. In order to take advantage of changing buying habits and the ways in which consumers get and use information, the publishing industry must provide consumers with the right tools to create a seamless user experience across devices. Ask us about how we can help you get there.

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Better Times Are Coming

In recent years publishers have often beenfaced with doomsday scenarios and forecasts of their industry’s future. But as we move into 2014 there is a growing sense that a change for the better is in the air. For one, MPA-The Association of Magazine Media says 2013 showed growth for magazine media across platforms and the latest PIB report shows ad losses moderating for consumer publishers.

2013 was actually a pretty good year. In the United Kingdom for example, The Digital Publishers Revenue Index Report (DPRI) revealed digital revenues were up 18% and the North American industry is seeing similar gains. The MPA-The Association of Magazine Media said today that final numbers for 2013 will show that it was an up year for consumer magazine publishers in the U.S. It’s definitely a positive sign on the direction of the industry.

The online publishing world has found its feet in many ways. When digital publishing first became main stream, many publishers used a model based on solely copying their product. Paywalls replicated the historic practice of buying a magazine at a brick-and-mortar news stand. The first forays into advertising within digital publications for the most part replicated the print advertising sales model. The results at first were less than stellar. But today, publishers are increasingly beginning to embrace digital media, taking advantage of the different formats available and making the most of new opportunities. With less and less use of old offline models in 2014, the industry is finding itself increasingly at ease with the digital landscape.

IDC (International Data Corporation) estimated that 190 million tablets would be sold in 2013. While there may have been a decline of print magazine and newspaper readership, more people than ever before pick up their tablets and read their favorite publications online. 2014 offers the opportunity for publishers to take advantage of the mobile boom, expand their audiences and earn more from dynamic advertising programs.

At the same time, online ad spending is increasing and the trend is likely to continue as publishers incorporate online advertising into their customary ad spend. More ad dollars means more revenue for media owners and looking ahead to 2014 the odds are in the publishing industry’s favor. With more brands fighting over premium ad placements, power is increasingly returning to the hands of publishers.

Here’s to 2014.

Content IS Marketing

The digital revolution has made a number of things clear, including the fact that consumers don’t want to read advertising – they want interesting, engaging content.

The newest use of digital publishing technology is in custom publishing – also more commonly known as “content marketing”. It is becoming a major part of the communications strategy of many big brands from a variety of industries. In every genre the aim is the same: to find and retain customers by engaging them with relevant, interesting reading.

In this multi-platform environment, digital publications don’t just compete with other magazines, but with any media that take up consumers’ time. Content has to be top-notch and must not feel like advertising. What’s important for digital publishers to focus on is that their content is made available wherever customers want to engage, which is most often within the context of a multi-platform strategy, including digital, print, and websites.

The line between digital and print is blurring, but any digital strategy must include content that is created and customized for each part of a multi-platform strategy. While print magazines continue to be the anchor of most content marketing strategies, at this point in the digital revolution readers still want print magazines. For now, brands that don’t embrace both platforms are at a disadvantage.

It is becoming increasingly understood that custom magazines, those that focus on reader-driven content, increase brand engagement. The beauty inherent in content marketing is about the customer experience. It’s about immersing the consumer in the brand. Content marketing lends itself really well to this. The difference between a brochure that pushes products and a magazine that gives your client lifestyle inspiration is the way it makes the client feel. The consumer mustn’t feel sold-to; they must feel engaged. It’s all about storytelling.

For many brands, an investment in content marketing may seem expensive. But as consumers are exposed to more and more content, quality stories can help these brands stand out. And even in an increasingly online world, magazines are still the lynchpin of a wider strategy.

Mobile Apps are the Way Forward

The numbers don’t lie, and the statistics are incredible.

According to a recent IDC (International Data Corporation) report sponsored by IBM, more than half of Internet users use a mobile device to access it. That’s about 1.4 billion users worldwide. By 2017, nearly two-thirds of the global population will access the Internet using their mobile devices. That is almost two and a half BILLION people!

IDC estimates that mobile Internet users will have spent approximately 14 hours each month online in 2013, increasing to 27.7 hours per month by 2017. Mobile ecommerce also continues to expand. IDC estimates that 16% of mobile Internet users will buy products online in 2013, and up to 22% in 2017.

Absorb this…36% of the world’s population will use the Internet by 2017, and this will increase to 3.5 billion people, or 46% of the population on the planet, in short order.

Internet users are continuing to spend more of their time online. It’s currently about 99 hours each month, and IDC expects this to increase to 109 hours per month by 2017. Internet users will generate $13.6 trillion in ecommerce transactions in 2013 and $23.6 trillion in 2017, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.8%.

Mobile apps are no longer a luxury or “extra” line item in a marketing strategy or digital publishing program. They are necessary tools. Digital magazine downloads are nearing 2 million per week, and readers of digital publications are also highly engaged with this content, spending more time with the digital content than with similar print publications.

The growth of audience share and engagement times bodes very well for the transition from print-only publishing to a digital option.  Consumers are eager to immerse themselves in the interactive experience provided by digital publications, and publishers must be ready to exceed their expectations with a digital print solution that delivers a fulfilling experience.

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