Creating and Marketing One-Off Digital Editions
One-offs can be a simple way to attract new readers as well as advertisers.
For a few years now, publishers have been utilizing digital editions as an alternative way of reaching their core print subscribers, whether itâ€™s for economical or environmental reasons. But more companies are using the format to target specific groups, attract new readers and advertisers, or as a way to offer exclusive content that canâ€™t be found anywhere else. This is where one-off (or custom) digital editions can come into play.
Last summer, Spin commemorated the 25th anniversary of pop star Princeâ€™s debut album release with a print issue chock full of articles and images about the singer, plus an album featuring bands doing covers of Princeâ€™s music. It wasnâ€™t until the end of pulling the issue together that the staff thought of bringing a digital element into the mix.
â€śThis was a really big package for us,â€ť Nick Pandolfi, digital edition manager, Spin, told DEI. â€śBecause we put all of this effort into the feature and the album, we wanted to give it as much mileage as we possibly could. We wanted to add another piece to the puzzle.â€ť
That puzzle piece was found in Spinâ€™s archives. The title had numerous articles about Prince dating back to the early 1980â€™s. â€śWe figured that since we had all of these archived articles, why not put them into a digital format and send it out to those superfans?â€ť Pandolfi said. â€śPrinceâ€™s fans are ravenous. Theyâ€™re always looking as much info about him as they can get their hands on.â€ť
The staff agreed that the most appropriate format to put these articles in was digital, so they chopped up the content they had and pieced it together to make one issue that would be sold on Zinioâ€™s newsstand for $4.99. Spin did some in-book promotions for the digital edition as well as marketing on Spin.com. Promotions were also sent to specific Prince fan groups.
Pandolfi declined to provide specific information on how the issue performed, but said that because of the nature of the projectâ€”it featured specific content and was marketed to a highly target audienceâ€”the open rates were â€śreally good.â€ť
The issue didnâ€™t feature any advertising, according to Pandolfi, since it was pieced together at the last minute, but he said that the Spin does have plans to further explore what digital custom publishing has to offer. â€śGoing forward, I think weâ€™ll continue to do one-off issues that will be tied to specific events,â€ť Pandolfi said. â€śOur 25th anniversary is coming up, so an opportunity to do a one-off might be there. And Iâ€™d like to have the sales team go out and get some advertisers.â€ť
He added that whether youâ€™re trying to sell advertising in a one-off digital edition or a monthly one, there are still challenges. â€śBut once advertisers become savvy enough and understand the model, theyâ€™ll start measuring digital editions the way they measure online advertising instead of comparing it to print advertising.â€ť
Yoga Journalâ€™s Custom â€śEarth Dayâ€ť Issue
In honor of Earth Day, Active Interest Mediaâ€™s Yoga Journal has published a one-off digital edition for the past two years, both as a way to show its support of the environment and as a marketing tool to attract new readers and advertisers.
â€śFor Earth Day, we wanted to expand the opportunity of receiving a digital edition of Yoga Journal to those that are not familiar with it, plus express our support of cutting down fewer trees to make paper,â€ť Bill Walker, VP/ group publisher, AIMâ€™s Healthy Living Group told DEI.
The issue features video profiles of well-known yoga instructors, music downloads and a full range of tracking capabilities. And for every 15 clicks on an ad, Yoga Journal will plant one tree through a partnership with TreePals. The model is also be utililized for subscribers of Vegetarian Times.
One million copies of the digital edition, which is a duplicate of Aprilâ€™s print issue, will be sent to â€ślikeminded peopleâ€ť this year, according to Walker, including approximately 600,000 of YJâ€™s e-newsletter subscribers and 200,000 people identified by Zinio as â€śgreenâ€ť and having an interest in digital magazines.
The digital edition is supported by advertisers, Walker said, and includes a mixture of those already buying ads in the print and digital editions of YJ and new advertisers attracted by the Earth Day theme. In fact, the company saw a 10-15 percent boost in pages for last yearâ€™s issue. â€śThis issue is a great tool to get advertisers on board because weâ€™re adding another 1 million to our existing rate base,â€ť Walker said. â€śThey view it as a better value. Weâ€™ve also been able to sell print/digital ad combos and sponsorships with this issue.â€ť
A sub order form is included in the digital edition, which makes it easy for new readers to subscribe, Walker added, and this year, YJ will be able to take advantage of Zinioâ€™s presence on the iPhone. â€śWith us being available on more formats, I think the issue this year will do even better.â€ť