Monday, November 21, 2016

When it Comes to Digital Publishing, the Time for Change is Now

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative" 

                                                                                                          ~Oscar Wilde

For my eighth birthday, my parents bought me a subscription to Sports Illustrated for Kids. Every fourth Tuesday, I would run to the mailbox to check whether my new issue had arrived, eager to discover which athletes they'd included in the month's removable sports cards. It was like a monthly dose of sports-related pop culture, adorned with pull-out content, interactive activities, fun game ideas, thrilling photography, and a healthy dose of surprise. This was, of course, back in the days when the word 'tablet' was reserved for references to the Ten Commandments. Print magazines were cutting-edge technology.

Times have changed. What for so long made magazines unique - their ability to combine prosaic, visual, interactive, and other elements into a multidimensional, free-form collage - is being outpaced by advances in digital media. This presents a challenge. "Why should I pay for a magazine," ask many consumers, "when I can find all the content I want on the internet?"

Those of us who work in magazine publishing industry would not consider ourselves unimaginative. However, when it comes to adapting to the brave new digital world, the industry seems to have been marred by a hesitancy, perhaps even a reluctance, to change. We need to think about engaging our readers in new, more effective ways.

Why was I so excited to find out which sports cards were being included in my subscription each month? The core element was the surprise: it was like unwrapping a present each month.

Much like I did back then, digital readers today value novelty. And you can give it to them by continually developing new features, new forms of interesting content, and ultimately, new ways to engage them. You're not just competing against other magazines for your readers' time; you're competing against the plethora of other digital apps and media out there.

Another thing to keep in mind: tablets and e-readers are not pieces of paper. They have touch sensitivity and are capable of playing videos, producing sounds, and connecting to the internet. Why, then, are our magazine apps presenting content in a manner that is virtually indistinguishable from the print version?

Sure, it's convenient for consumers to read your content on a digital device. But is that really all they want?

Publishers who create an app simply for the sake of having one are missing the point. Your content should not simply be converted to fit the digital format, it should be re-purposed. I'm talking about making your content more interactive, with videos, slideshows, podcasts, and even hyperlinks (one of the great things about reading articles online is that one can quickly connect to other content by accessing hyperlinks within the article text).

The main point here is that reading on a digital device is a fundamentally different experience from reading a regular, print magazine, and thus readers expect your content to be different.

The ideas discussed above are just a start; in reality, digital media is so fluid and dynamic that the possibilities for creating a unique experience for your readers each time they open your app are limitless. As magazine publishers, we need to shift our perspective, and this should be our ultimate goal; if we can accomplish it, we will always be sure that we'll keep them coming back for more.

Interested in these ideas? At PixelEdge, we are continually working to bring digital publishing solutions to magazine publishers, no matter what their sizes are. We are your partners in mobile publishing, and we put our expertise and experience in the hands of each of our clients. Send me an email at for more information, and visit for examples of our current work. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

New Dynamics Create Uncertainty in the Publishing Industry

As digital media continues to play an increasingly larger role in our lives, publishers old and new are being forced to adapt at a much faster rate than the industry had previously been accustomed to. Of course, this has led to a great deal of uncertainty within the industry. Among the questions publishers are asking themselves are How can I monetize digital content?, Should I begin offering alternative forms of content to written articles?, and How can I leverage social media to increase the popularity and visibility of my content?

These are all important questions, and their answers continue to evolve. This article, published recently, does a good job of illustrating the buzz and uncertainty surrounding digital publishing solutions. I particularly liked its discussion of the threat posed to small publishers by large media aggregators such as Facebook. We published a post last year arguing that by giving their content to Facebook, publishers are ceding control and not maximizing the potential benefits to viral amplification of their content.

Because of the uncertainty in the publishing industry, it is important to have a solution that minimizes the technical barriers to having online content while also being adaptable, flexible, and scaleable. This is precisely the sort of solution we offer at PixelEdge, and we are excited to see where it takes us.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Advertising and the Future of Print Media

Social media and the pervasiveness of the internet have shifted the way companies advertise. Now, rather than paying for ad placements, more and more companies are creating and distributing their own content to gain access to prospective customers. The content they are generating is not focused on selling products or services. Rather, it closely resembles the content being created by the traditional media companies. It is designed to entertain and inform, and thus gain access to a receptive audience of consumers.

What does this mean for traditional media companies, namely magazine publishers?

First and foremost, it means that the competition for audiences is greater than ever before, simply because there are more players in the game. It also means that the ways the industry monetizes its content are going to change. In fact, they already are changing.

Take a look at these sponsored content statistics. We know that companies that distribute branded content are doing so online, where a large percentage of media engagement occurs. Engagement rates are particularly high on mobile phones and tablets. This is the kind of content you want to create: sponsors value your content's ability to spread far and wide via the internet and, more precisely, mobile devices.

But you already knew that. Here's the challenge: how do you do it? You might still rely heavily on print advertising revenues and don't want to risk losing them by creating a digital version that cannibalizes your print readership. However, you can see where the market is heading, and know that you will ultimately need move with it. How do you balance these short- and long-term needs?

At PixelEdge, we believe the answer is straightforward: generate content that is unique for each platform.

'Going digital' does not imply that you are abandoning your print editions. It also doesn't mean that your digital edition should be a replica of your print editions. To put it simply, people don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for the latest digital devices if these devices are just doing the same things that pieces of paper can. Having a branded app enables you to frequently target vertical segments of your readership with content that is specific to their interests. By following this strategy, you not only avoid cannibalizing your print readership, you also increase the value of your brand by giving your readers a compelling reason to download your app and engage with your content online. Perhaps most importantly, sponsors value access to these targeted verticals of readers and are interested in having their brand associated with this highly targeted content. If you're interested in learning more, check out this blog post.

At PixelEdge, we believe that magazines are not going away. They have access to something that will always be of tremendous value: a loyal and engaged audience. But the manner in which audiences consume content is changing, and the magazines which continue to be successful will have to change with them. Helping magazines to make this change is the core of our business.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Gaining User Loyalty with Digital Publishing: Why you need an App

Today, with the veritable clamor of media companies competing for eyes and ears across content distribution channels, the phrase 'reader loyalty' might seem anachronistic. At PixelEdge, we know this isn't the case, and we leverage our digital magazine publishing expertise on a daily basis to help our clients engage valuable, loyal readers. The big debate these days for publishers is whether to adopt a mobile website or a mobile app. If you aren't sure what the distinction between apps and websites, check out this article. The honest answer to this dilemma is that you need both, but with limited resources that's not always an option. So it comes down to defining your goals. And if your goal is to generate an engaged, loyal audience, an app is the way to go. Here's why:

1. Digital Apps are your storefront on readers' mobile devices

How can you know, for sure, that your readers will see your brand each and every day? Well, it starts with having your logo plastered right onto their mobile phone and tablet screens. For digital magazine publishing, having an app is like having your own private corner within your readers' mobile devices. Most people are within six feet of their smartphones at any given time: they access these devices numerous times throughout the day and regularly engage with them to consume content, play games, and generally pass time. What could be more beneficial than having your brand featured, right there on their home screens? Now add in the capability to send them push notifications, deliver new content, connect with their social media accounts, and allow them to download certain content for offline consumption, and you've created an experience that has become a central part of their lives.

2. Digital Apps let you easily optimize content for specific devices

Cost efficiency is important in digital magazine publishing. If a solution is too expensive, time-consuming, or unwieldy, it will be of little benefit to you or your readers. The challenge with having a mobile website (aside from it not being as readily accessible as an app), is that you have to optimize the design of the website for a variety of web-browsers and screen sizes. This, ultimately, means that you will spend time configuring each piece of content so that it looks good on the variety of screens it will be viewed on. With digital magazine apps, you don't have to worry about varying web browsers or screen sizes. Your digital app is already optimized for the devices it will be seen on. And in terms of cost efficiency, our digital publishing solution enables you to seamlessly distribute content at a fraction of what it would cost to have and maintain a mobile website.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Are ad blockers hurting your digital revenues? It's time to get creative with your monetization strategy.

As a digital publisher, it's likely that you depend upon digital ad revenues for a large portion of your content monetization. Thus, you might feel threatened by the increasing prevalence of ad blocking softwares available for web browsers. Ad blocking softwares essentially work by analyzing your website's code and then instructing the web browser to not display elements it recognizes as advertisements. 

As a digital publisher, you're probably wondering how to make money if your website's ads are prevented from being displayed. I recently stumbled upon this article, in which a number of methods are discussed. The article is definitely worth the read, but I've summarized a few of the key points here:

  • Instead of relying so heavily upon display ads, adopt a sponsored content and native advertising strategy. Sponsored content and native advertising have grown in popularity over the past few years, largely due to the fact that they pose much less of a disruption to user experience on websites and mobile apps.
  • Offer high-quality content that's worth paying for. This one should be self-explanatory, but figuring out how to most effectively charge for your content can be more complex than it seems. Digital publishers are employing a number of strategies such as offering guests 10 free article views per month before asking them to pay, or by combining free content with premium content that users pay for.
  • Educate users about ad blocking ramifications. Users typically understand that, in order to view content for free, they might have to put up with some mild inconveniences such as display ads. You can create a notification on your website that displays whenever a user employs ad blocking software, letting them know that display ads help you to offer high quality content to users for free.
  • Offer online stores where users can buy products and additional content. Diversifying your revenue streams might mean it's time to start letting users make purchases from your website. This can be a great way to grow revenues and tap into wider markets for your content and products.
Are you concerned that you are not currently equipped to make any of the above changes to your website or digital apps? Our solution at PixelEdge allows you to do all of these things and, better yet, our technology team will take care of it for you.