Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Time to Get a Grip on Digital Magazine Publishing

This headline, from Advertising Age last week, says all that needs to be said about the current state of digital magazine publishing: "Major Ad Buyer Tells Magazines It Won't Buy Tablet Circ Like It's Print Any More". For those who think this is just a hollow negotiating tactic on the part of ad buyers, think again. This tactic's got teeth: it works because digital magazine publishing, as it is currently being done, doesn't.

Should we even be surprised? An industry expert recently told me that "at this point, many publishers view digital versions as a non-strategic platform. The bias is toward easy, fast and cheap." Does that sound like a compelling value proposition for advertisers?

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Guys, listen: the experiment has run its course. We gave it a shot, but the results are in: digital replica 'flipbooks' do not work. We're going to have to try a little harder if we want to compete with the other digital media that are threatening to run us out of business. Honestly, who wants to thumb through one of these flipbooks on their smartphone? They are cumbersome, poorly laid-out, and unengaging. It's time the industry gets serious about digital magazine publishing. Announcements like the one above are just the tip of the iceberg. If we continue to regard new, expensive, and powerful digital devices as glorified .pdf viewers, our readers are going to take their eyeballs elsewhere. If we continue to indiscriminately replicate our print content on electronic devices and insist on calling it a 'digital edition', we will soon find ourselves on the wrong side of a large-scale advertising exodus. And, if we continue to disregard the predominance of smartphones in the consumer market, the media industry will leave us behind.

These things are all different sides of the same coin, and we've been talking about them for a while. Perhaps it will take more major announcements like the one above before we start getting taken seriously. But that time will come, and when it does, you'll want to be ahead of the curve.

PixelEdge is your turnkey solution for digital magazine publishing. Our digital apps come with full support, maintenance, guidance, and content-delivery. To you, this means that you don't have to devote any of your own resources and at a fraction of what it would cost elsewhere. Find us on the web at, or email us at today!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Paper versus Digital: Why Most Magazine Apps Don't Cut It

I'm going to let you in on a little secret that seems to have eluded many of today's magazine publishers:

Paper and digital are not the same!

If this seems obvious to you, then you should ask yourself the following question: why are the majority of digital magazine apps simply taking print content and replicating it in digital versions? 

If you don't know what I mean, scroll through the Apple newsstand or download the Next Issue app. The majority of digital magazine apps are simply carbon-copies of publishers' print versions. Now, I don't know about you, but I didn't pay $400 for a new iPad only to have it deliver me the same functionality as a simple piece of paper. It's no wonder digital magazine apps are getting such bad press lately.

You may have seen another post of ours, where we talk about the importance of doing something unique with your branded digital magazine apps. The idea is to craft a universe around your brand by leveraging multiple points of engagement with your readers, each point offering something of unique value.

Here are some unique ways you can leverage your digital magazine app:

- Audio & video content with the ability to cache files for offline access
- Navigable resource guides
- Social media feeds and social sharing capabilities
- Personalized user interfaces and exclusive content targeted to specific reader interests
- Targeted push notifications
- Forums and user-generated content
- Interactive activities and guides
- Fully scrollable articles (ditch the 'digital flipbook')

Publishers need to scrap the "I need an app because everyone else is doing it" mentality. Simply having an app without thinking about the role that it will play within your larger brand structure will more than likely result in disappointment. Moreover, publishers need to get out of the print-production cycle mindset. If you want your brand to stand out, you need to be engaging your readers frequently with high-quality content over a variety of channels. Done the right way, a unique, branded digital magazine app can play an important role in this strategy.