Seven Years of Digital Publishing: What Have We Learned?

Aquafadas Tablet Samples

The Digital Landscape

Seven years after the launch of the iPod touch and the opportunities for interactivity it brought to digital publishers, what have magazine publishers learned? We know that app consumption is continuing to rise and that time spent with mobile apps now exceeds desktop web access. According to Gartner, 800 million tablets will be sold in 2015. It’s not unlikely that emerging countries will go directly to tablets, bypassing desktop computers and even laptops entirely.

Making content available on tablets has become as important as having a website. That need is increasing worldwide. Tablets’ and smartphones’ market share is not the only important factor: technology adoption is a key point, too. Some countries show a widespread use of smartphones but not a lot of app downloads. When choosing the platform they want to distribute on, publishers have to determine where consumers are the most active and if they buy content or only access what is available for free. That’s why Apple represents an important platform: iTunes is one of the first places to distribute digital content. If it’s not necessarily the distribution platform with the most important or largest volume, it is the most profitable one. And for media publishers, this is a key point – but not the only one to take into consideration.

Digital is a fast-changing market, and publishers have to accelerate their process. New versions of tablets and smartphones appear every six months, so publishers need to be up-to-date and ready to evolve to the next important platform. The adoption rate of digital reading is growing so as the benefits from additional platforms such as Android, Kobo and Amazon. That’s why it’s necessary for publishers to go multi-platform. But how can you go digital and multi-platform amongst the challenges many magazine publishers now face, and without increasing costs?

Lessons From Successful Publishers

As a technology provider for digital publishing since the beginning, we, at Aquafadas, have seen successful magazine publishers that are leading the way. They start by analyzing their market as well as the general public. They want to know who their target audience is, when they are connected, what kind of information they are looking for, what level of enrichments they enjoy. Based on that information, they plan a digital strategy, taking into account not only year one, but also year two. That means that they don’t publish one single amazing and super-expensive app – they develop a plan to publish on an industrial scale.

These publishers keep cost recovery in mind; they want to build a wealthy digital market for themselves. Because digital publishing is less expensive than print, this part is not as tricky as it may sound. Some publishers were able to recover their costs simply by offering the digital version for one more dollar to their current print subscribers or by sourcing one single sponsor. Because those publishers want to sell their digital content and therefore benefit from it, they are attentive to the reading experience and to how they can add enrichments and further enhance the app in the future.

The marketing of the app is the other important part of many publishers’ success. Communication around the launch of the app is key. Building a digital community is also a factor of longevity. The most successful publishers make community development a big part of their digital publishing strategy. They leverage digital publishing technology to interact with the community on a regular basis and in a clever way. Features like account creation, push notifications, profiling and more allow them to understand digital readers’habits and form better relationships by delivering the right content when and where they want it.

Whats next?

As technology progresses, we can see boundaries between the various media blur even further; it’s vital that we are ready for these changes. TV, radio, mobile and web will eventually converge, and asset-centric tools will leverage associated metadata (content, video, audio, still image) to create incredible user experiences with no limits. At Aquafadas, we are witnessing an exciting change in our market, and it’s thrilling to be part of it.

Allison Reber (1 Posts)

Allison Reber studied philosophy at the Sorbonne and has a higher education diploma in publishing and writing. In 2005, she began writing for BoDoï, an online magazine dedicated to comics, and became editor in 2007. Intrigued by the platform used to create digital comics, Reber joined AveComics, a subsidiary of Aquafadas, in 2009 as communications manager. Shortly after, she became responsible for all communications at Aquafadas, particularly for the Aquafadas Digital Publishing System. These solutions allow press groups, advertising agencies and companies to easily publish their content on tablets and smartphones. Today, eight million users read a digital publication created with Aquafadas.

  • Andrew Waite

    But everyone seems to be stuck on the media aspect of magazine content…..has anybody thought about the business processes that publishers are privy to and essential to make magazines. Changing the publishing model from essentially passive content to context based publishing is proving to be a winning strategy. Go look at The Home Depot RenoWalk application where publishing models were used to organize a very specific rental home renovation process. This is the next generation of mobile publishing technology where business process, content publishing and retail planograms merge, based on the process not the physical placement. Andrew Waite – publisher Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine