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Digital Magazine Outlook 2010

Industry experts predict what's in store for the digi-mag category.



By Chandra Johnson-Greene
12/22/2009

At the AD Show in July, Popular Science publisher Gregg Hano gave attendees his view of the future of digital publishing—not just for 2010 but also for the next five years—some of which have already materialized. “Those of us in print and online [publishing] better figure out how to monetize it and work with the vendors, suppliers and hardware manufacturers to make sure our content is in front of as many people as possible,” he said during the session.

The slew of e-readers that have become available this year are steadily growing in popularity, prompting top consumer publishers to band together to create their own digital product (or storefront), while other companies are working in-house or with vendors to create “next-gen” digital magazines and offer multiple ways in which readers can access them, such as the iPhone.

So with all of the different options currently available (and simultaneously being created), which formats will audiences gravitate to and what will their experiences be like in 2010? And what will publishers have to do to attract and keep their digital subscribers?

DEI asked a few industry experts for their predictions of what the digital magazine category will look like next year.   

Brian Kelly
Editor
U.S. News and World Report


Two big things will happen in 2010: first, there will be much more reader experience when it comes to digital editions. People are starting to understand that a lot of what was in print is not coming back and that this form is a great way to read content.

Secondly, you’ll see much more advertiser acceptance. Towards the end of the year, we got a few advertisers to commit [to U.S. News Weekly] and it’s been working out really well. As far as our digital edition, the content will stay the same, but we’re going to work on ways to measure audience. Our goal is to spend more time on the metrics in 2010.


Andy Clurman
Chief Operating Officer
Active Interest Media


What we’ll see in the year ahead are many more companies large and small producing multimedia-enabled digital editions. The release of a slew of e-reading devices from big names (read Apple) will compel publishers to take digital magazines seriously and put more resources in to their development. Magazines on e-readers will gain momentum among early adopting readers and advertisers but the size and trajectory of the future market will come in to focus.


Sean Nolan
VP, Online Operations and External Online Marketing
Rodale


If you're looking for clear winners and losers in the digital magazine space in 2010, prepare to be disappointed. 2010 will see the mix of devices and formats getting more and more fragmented, not less. Look to 2011 for consumers to start definitively choosing, buying and rejecting.


Len Roberto
Audience Development Director
Canon Communications, LLC


I think the new tablets, etc will be incredible technology for consumer publications. B-to-b companies will desperately want to adopt it as well, and it might be terrific for some, but my experience tells me that business media customers do not have the time to play with a new technology. Someday? Sure—when they are ubiquitous like a cell phone. For now more effort [needs to be put] into finding out what people want from us and getting it to them simply, quickly, and in the format they want it in. That's more important.


Lou Ann Sabatier
Sabatier Consulting LLC


Experience

The consumer expectation bar is not going to come down. It will be even more important to balance audience/user experience with the uniqueness of the channel, e.g. conceptualization: real time versus completeness of an “issue”.
 
Platform
There is going to be heightened discussion among publishers about how digital platforms and e-readers fit/work together. Devices are key.
 
Promotion of digital editions, digital newsstand and Maghound

Okay, distribution is so much cheaper than print/mail, but hopefully we will see more publishers leveraging this format. What I have seen by many is digital editions are created but not promoted widely or smartly. They must engage readers, build brand and drive sales. Set metrics and measure.

By Chandra Johnson-Greene
12/22/2009







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