Digital-Only Magazines Can Bring New Life and a New Strategy to Print Brands that No Longer Thrive
But is the loss of print as an impediment to understanding the opportunities?
Digital-only magazines are not common. Many of those that are popping up are custom publications or special sponsored issues that are produced as brand extensions of their print equivalentsâoften replacing promotional e-mail newsletters. Hachetteâs Elle partnered with Project Runway, for example, to publish custom, digital-only mini-magazines focused on each episode of the show. And Yoga Journal is publishing a sponsored, digital-only spa guide.
Existing magazines that convert entirely from print to digital-only delivery are rarer still. Physiciansâ Travel & Meeting Guide, a Quadrant HealthCom Inc. publication, moved from print to all-digital delivery effective with its January 2008 issue. âWeâre a primary care journal,â explains Tom Cooney, director of multimedia strategy for Physiciansâ Travel & Meeting Network. âIn 2007, advertising revenue in the primary-care market dropped off significantlyâto the point where five primary care journals went out of business. Physiciansâ Travel & Meeting Guide was one of the five.â
Since the brand had been around for 25 years, Cooney didnât want simply to cease publishing. âThe economies werenât there to print and mail 166,000 copies each month,â he says. âDigital delivery is a cost-efficient format and a way to keep the brand alive.â
Because thereâs no print version anymore and, therefore, no expensive conversion required, Cooney can completely redesign the magazine in a full-screen landscape format and change the fonts to create a truly user-friendly experience. âIf we had to redesign every issue to make it user-friendly,â he suggests, âthat would also be a cost-prohibitive solution.â
The other huge conceptual change for the magazine is to change it from a monthly to several single-sponsor specialty issues that limit the contentâand the circulationâto the therapeutic category that the advertiser wants to reach [see sidebar, below]. Cooney acknowledges that the new concept is still in its infancy, but advertiser reaction so far has been very positive. âWeâre starting to sell the single-sponsor issues, offering full-screen advertising opportunities with video and flash animation. The jury is still out,â he says, âbut Iâm very hopeful.â
Reed Business Information took its Housing Giants, a trade magazine for high-volume builders that publishes 21 times a year, to the digital-only format. âLast year, Housing Giantsâwith a circulation of 50,000âwas a print magazine that was only marginally profitable,â says John Blanchard, Reedâs VP of operations, âso, going forward, weâre pursuing a digital-only model. Weâve redesigned the magazine with digital technology in mind, using appropriate font sizes and optimizing the format for screen display. Weâre loading each issue with rich mediaâstreaming video, flash ads, animation, and so forth. Itâs a brand-new product.â
âClearly, the decision to convert the magazine to digital-only was to significantly reduce overhead,â adds Blanchard. âWe also see it as an opportunity to sell a unique product to advertisers.â
Despite the financial headaches that convinced these two publishers to convert their magazines from print to digital-only, they can take heart from a comment made by Nxtbookâs Marcus Grimm. âNot one of the handful of our clients who have converted to all digital has failed,â he says. âItâs all or nothing. So through focus and dedication, theyâve been extremely successful.â
Post Comment / Discuss This Story - Info/Rulesblog comments powered by Disqus