Reading a magazine on an iPad

What should you consider when publishing a digital magazine?

by Dean Cook, May 18, 2020
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Digital delivery can be packaged in many forms, such as flip-mags, Apps, HTML, blogs, PDF, etc. However, Dean Cook is aware of a client concern: how do you effectively broadcast the quality content of an A4 magazine containing more than 80, 100, 120 pages or more through the small window of a digital device or tablet? Here, he considers publishing a title online from a reader behaviour point of view.

Although it is possible to make a publication available digitally, you can’t ideally simulate an A4 magazine and view it on a device a quarter of its page size without making navigation a tiresome and notorious task.

Also, as shown by statistics with magazines we’ve previously published online, typically only one-tenth of the time is spent reading a flip-mag compared to its paper counterpart – in short, it’s just two minutes. 

Invest in doing it right

With a lot of time, effort and money invested, it is easy to encounter low reader numbers once published. Besides, those who have turned the pages would read a fraction of the overall content. Okay, it doesn’t apply to all publications as other factors need to be considered such as demographic audience, the effectiveness of content delivery and the type of content on offer.

Appreciating that some do read magazines on their tablets and smartphones, our figures show attention span is a lot less; therefore, we would need to consider product optimisation. How do we maximise the number of pages to entertain the shorter attention time spent yet, balance the content to encourage the readers back, wanting to read more issues?

Many would have previously considered turning off after 20 pages, but when they see that there are only another ten or so pages can undoubtedly encourage readers to the end. It appears that a 32- to 40-page online magazine appears to be the sweet spot.

…why not consider publishing lesser pages on a more frequent basis, or create a topical ‘theme’ for the digital issue?

It’s natural human behaviour to expect to see a start, a middle and an end so, if you have a wealth of unique content purely to position online, then why not consider publishing lesser pages on a more frequent basis, or create a topical ‘theme’ for the digital issue?

As an example, we produce an airline maintenance magazine but, with a lot of content to broadcast, it’s split into two: MRO; and Operations. Primarily, with readers being airline engineers based all over the globe, they are continually on the move. It was essential to limit pagination length to work alongside the attention span but also optimise the size of the publication for device viewing to minimise navigation. As such, it has allowed for more directed marketing opportunities.

Combined with online marketing and identifying routes to the reader, the publisher would then have the ingredients to attract a good readership. Since its inception, each publication regularly attracts very respectable qualified readership with an average time spent exceeding 10 minutes.

Create a dedicated digital title

If you already publish a print title, why not think about releasing a light-weight digital derivative? The lesser-paginated digital-only magazine should contain additional unique content not found in your print title so you can cross-feed. Allowing to broadcast a compact digital version not only adds brand value, but it can also cast a net to explore to attract potential subscribers to its comprehensive printed counterpart containing more in-depth features. Don’t to forget further advertising opportunities can be applied here. You can add links and embed video too.

‘Print versus Digital’ is an outdated argument; simply put, digital will never replace print or vice versa. Both operate in entirely different environments…

Tablets have been available for many years now, and the ‘Print versus Digital’ is an outdated argument; simply put, digital will never replace print or vice versa. Both operate in entirely different environments, each possessing its own merits and benefits. Digital can complement your publishing armoury to increase awareness, adding value to your brand but, under its guise, is a signpost to attract subscribers.

We can look at options and assess which would be the most efficient route for you, your magazine, your advertisers and, more importantly, your readers. Just contact us for a free initial consultation.

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