Survey: Digital Magazines Still Not a Break-Out Platform
Responses point to moderate interaction, but reader monetization and advertising still have a lot of catching up to do.
Digital publishing consultancy Mequoda Group has released the results of its third Digital Magazine Market Study. This year, the firm tripled its sample size to 3,642 U.S. adults and backed off the tablet-specific demo they used for the previous studies, which negates year-over-year comparisons, but there are still more than a few highlights.
Respondents are fairly active readers of digital magazines, but not overly so. According to the survey, about 63 percent had not read a digital magazine in the last 30 days. The remaining 37 percent read an average of 2.37 issues during that period, however.
Interestingly, that metric almost flips when Mequoda asked about print magazine readership. About 70 percent of respondents said they read an average of 2.91 print issues in the last 30 days while 30 percent did not read a print magazine at all.
Either publishers are de-emphasizing monetization of subscriptions and single copy sales or most consumers simply aren't buying. The study notes that 58 percent of respondents spent no money on digital magazine single copies or subscriptions in the last 12 months, and of those that did, they averaged $17.20.
As for functionality, 79 percent of respondents say readable text is very important, while 56 percent say scrollable text is very important.
Those may be harder to deliver, if at all, in basic PDF versions of a magazine, but beyond those two, responses on other more dynamic content features become more fractured. Only 10 percent of respondents say embedded video is very important and 22 percent say it's not important, for example.
Nevertheless, Mequoda notes that readable and scrollable text are features common in native and responsive web versions of digital magazines, which point to a reader preference for those formats.
Advertising is way down on the functionality list, unfortunately. Nine percent said relevant advertising is '"very important" and 12 percent said it's "important." Thirty-seven percent said it's "not important" and 17 percent said "slightly important."
General advertising was a tick worse: Six percent said very important, 9 percent thought it was important, 21 percent said slightly important and 45 percent deemed it not important.
Even so, advertising may not be viewed by readers as being part of a digital magazine's functionality, but those low numbers indicate that readers are not seeing the value of advertising as part of a digital magazine experience.
Meanwhile, digital magazines don't stand out as a singular preference when readers consider how they prefer to access magazine content. Yet, they're holding their own against the print edition and web edition. Each format captured about a third of responses.
For the full study, including digital magazine best practices, click here.