It's the question asked by publishers no matter their size, "Can I really monetize digital magazines?"
The short answer is yes - but it depends on the digital publishing revenue model you choose.
Thanks to the reduced cost of creating and distributing digital versions of print publications, digital editions have become an attractive compliment and revenue source for magazine publishers looking to offset declines in print circulation & advertising.
Here are three ways publishers can make money with digital magazines:
1. Digital edition access with print subscription
For print publications, one of the quickest and easiest ways to start making money from digital editions is to include them in your subscription offers. Subscriptions make up the majority of circulation revenues for most news and consumer magazines, so up-selling digital access can increase margins while appealing to a more mobile audience.
Digital access adds value by giving your subscribers another way to access your publication, but it also gives you prime real estate on their mobile device, enabling you to gather analytic data and engage your most loyal customer segment.
Full stack digital publishing platforms like Paperlit allow you to manage subscriber access by integrating with your database, authorizing access to digital replicas according to the start and end date of their subscription. Subscribers simply download your app and login to access their mobile-friendly issues.
2. Single issues and/or subscriptions as in-app purchases
Magazine publishers can also generate significant revenues selling directly to digital consumers. Selling single issues and renewable subscriptions on Apple's App Store and Google Play with in-app purchase can help publishers get in front of new audiences and increase digital-only sales. In 2016, digital is set to account for up to 11% of total circulation for consumer magazines worldwide, with many titles far exceeding that projection. For example, 30% of Rolling Stone’s newsstand sales are now in digital format, while digital accounts for almost 8% of subscriptions at The New Yorker.
With an in-app purchase revenue model, it's important to invest in campaigns that will get people to download your app. After all, once your magazine app is on someones device, buying the latest copy or becoming a subscriber is just a tap away.
In addition to promoting your app offline and on your website, a great way to convert new readers is through sampling. People often want to test the digital magazine experience before making a purchase. Offering people a single issue for free can lead them towards a future purchase.
To set up sampling, you can designate a free issue to download from your archive, or you can run a coupon or voucher code campaign to redeem your latest issue for free. Codes can be sent to people offline or online, via direct mail, email or social media campaigns, and can be redeemed directly in your app.
3. Monetize traffic with in-app advertising
Finally, if your revenue model isn't circulation-based, then the answer for you is advertising. Global digital magazine advertising revenue is set to grow to $13.4bn in 2016, making up more than a quarter of publishers' total advertising revenue.
Since a significant amount of traffic is required to make money with programmatic in-app advertising, many digital edition publishers use direct ad sales as a gateway to monetization. Advertising can be placed directly in your digital edition via your ad server in the form of banner or interstitial ads, linking to advertiser websites.
While these digital publishing revenue models are sure to help magazine publishers make money, distributing digital replicas via a native app does bring additional business benefits, like increased brand visibility, engagement and retention thanks to mobile marketing tools like push notifications and analytics. Digital magazines help publishers take advantage of new revenue opportunities and get closer to readers by leveraging the power of mobile apps.
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