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Why Europe is Ahead of the U.S. in Auditing Digital Magazines

An open rate that means something.

Josh Gordon By Josh Gordon
05/08/2009 -14:36 PM

A digital magazine story making the rounds on the Web is about a subject some publishers dread and media buyers have suspicion: digital magazine open rates. Napier News asked a few European digital magazines what their open rates were. The admittedly informal query yielded the following:

Four titles had open rates of 11-12 percent
One title had an open rate of 16 percent
One title had an open rate of 19 percent

A media buyer hearing these numbers might conclude that digital editions are useless for advertising.

But there's a huge difference between digital magazines created as replicas of print magazines for the convenience of readers to archive and search their print publications and those "designed for digital" publications created to fight for audiences in competitive online environments.

"Designed for digital" publications have much higher open rates, so much so that many are making their case with advertisers without discussing open rates.    

In Europe, the recent ABCe audit for digital only publications makes its core metric copies delivered and opened. By design, this audit does not mention how many copies/invites are originally sent out to achieve this. In other words, if an ABCe audit for digital only magazines confirms a 100,000 monthly circulation, it means 100,000 copies sent are opened by readers that month. The audit will not share how many copies/invites were originally sent out to achieve that 100,000 number.  

If advertisers are not told how many issues are originally sent out, they cannot calculate an open rate. I think this is terrific, because it shifts the question "What is your open rate?" to "What can we achieve for this advertiser with these delivered and opened copies of this digital magazine?"

I have not heard of an audit for digital-only magazines in North America that verifies open rates. Please post a reply if you know of one.

If none exist, I would encourage North American publishers to press their audit organizations to create an appropriate audit for digital only editions



Josh Gordon By Josh Gordon -- Josh Gordon is president of Smarter Media where he works with publishers to maximize their online and print revenue through training, consulting, and representation.

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