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What Sells the Digital Magazine?

  |  April 27, 2012   |  Comments

Is it the cover or the contents?

A magazine is a pretty amazing work of art. It consists of a collection of the most incredible curated insights, editorial opinions, and photographs for a specific genre. In the print world, everyone knows that the cover of a magazine needs to be very carefully crafted in order to compel you to purchase it at the newsstand. Anywhere from 10 to 45 percent of a print magazine's sales can come from single copy sales (aka, at the traditional newsstand). With this heavy reliance on sales by cover, I wondered…is the same true for success on the digital newsstand?

A few weeks ago I noticed that three digital publishing apps changed their icon on the iPad from a static image representing their company to a dynamic image showcasing their "cover news" for the day. If you haven't seen them yet, check out how The New York Times, The New York Post, and The Daily all showcase their app. In it, each day you see a very clear cover line and image that is meant to be compelling enough for you to stop and download/buy the app.

Interestingly, at my company, we have been seeing a different phenomenon where it isn't just the cover but the content inside of the issue that is driving a digital reader to discover a magazine they never knew they couldn't live without. Recently we posted a collection on the Titanic. In this collection the visitor was exposed to free articles about the Titanic. Quietly in the corner of the article was a reference to the name of the magazine the article came from. In this case, magazines like Town and Country and Popular Science were successfully able to engage new potential subscribers through the content locked under the cover by sharing it to an audience who followed a common theme.

Take both of those stories and consider the significant increase in brand engagement that tools and sites like Pinterest, Facebook's Open Graph, and even Twitter have made. These successes pose an interesting question.

Does this mean the world of consumer acquisition in publishing will see a significant shift in the way they merchandise content? Will the cover remain relevant, or will the guts of the magazine make their way to the front of the line in attracting new subscribers? What do you think?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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