Selling Digital Editions
Online versions showing promise as revenue generators.
Early versions of digital magazines got a bad rap, thanks to static facsimiles and awkward reader tools that did little to improve the reader experience over print. However, digital editions have been evolving, becoming more seamless with online and offering new opportunities with search and archiving.
They may even show some promise as revenue generators. Graham Kilshaw, publisher of 25,000 circ Interference Technology, has switched the digital edition of the magazine into revenue-mode, making it more than simply a cost-effective subscription builder. The magazine, published by $2 million b-to-b publisher ITEM Publications, launched the digital edition—in an agreement with NXTBook Media—in early 2005, and now produces a Japanese edition and will add a Chinese version this year.
Interference Technology Japan publishes six times per year with a 5,000 circulation. The model centers on a benefits package that advertisers get when they include their ads in the digital version. All ads are automatically included from the print version, whether they pay extra or not, saving the art director from the time and expense of extracting non-paid ads and filling the space with something else. The paid advertisers are charged a 12 percent premium from their print ad. In return, they get hyperlinks, monthly reader tracking and reporting metrics and, most importantly, inclusion in search results. Non-paying advertisers are not included in results from the digital edition’s search function. This is accomplished by creating a ‘ghost’ version of the digital edition, which only includes paid ads.
In 2007, ITEM Publications saw $180,000 in digital publishing revenue and $70,000 from optional digital ad revenues. “It’s not huge but it’s not a difficult sale to make and it comes with high margins,” says Kilshaw.