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How Three Publishers Leverage a Web Magazine for More Profit

In 2017, all major publishers and most independents have a website portal. What 95% don’t have is a web magazine. But those who do are flourishing.

In today’s Strategy Spotlight, Don Nicholas, Chairman & CEO of Mequoda explains why he thinks the web edition is the best edition.


nl-donQuick Strategy Tip of the Day from Don

What makes a web magazine a web magazine, versus a free content Portal?

A magazine on any platform, is most importantly linear and finite, just a like a print magazine—but do users know the difference between your Portal and your premium web magazine? It certainly gets confusing for some sites that mix the content together in one place, typically news outlets, where premium and paid content can be found in the same place.

I was talking to a client about this recently, and I told him that of all the characteristics of a magazine, the thing the user likes most about a magazine is that there is a package of content that can be consumed and experience the zen of completeness.

You can never say that you finished the Forbes website. There are millions of pages of content, and even indie publishers have thousands. Web portals are designed so that the consumer never feels like they’ve finished.

Human beings have a desire to finish things, and books, magazines, and movies give them that sense of completion. When you receive a magazine there’s a table of contents, a cover, a page one and a last page. It’s familiar, and there’s a human intellectual principle that humans are uncomfortable by things that are infinite, and web Portals are infinite.

So if you’re wondering why people come to your web Portal and people only spend 1 or 2 minutes per visit, that’s why. And it’s normal. People don’t spend a lot of time when they visit your site because they don’t try to. There’s no “end” or goal to reach, so they come and they leave.

But according to MPA’s Magazine Media Factbook 2017/18, readers of a magazine’s digital edition spent 49.2 minutes on each issue (and 51.7 minutes with the print issue). So if that isn’t a reason to create a digital edition, I don’t know what is. Especially now that you can offer advertisers more advanced analytics on usage, which is what they’re craving.

A great example of a publisher who is getting this right is Countryside Network. Countryside’s website network includes three core online business models: a free website portal, two web magazines (two of their four print magazines), and an online bookstore. The website Portal is very much like a daily newspaper, but you can see from the grid below, how each content model has its own characteristics that serve consumers in different ways. 

MEDIUM WEB PORTAL WEB MAGAZINE WEB
BOOKSTORE
Relationship Visitor Subscriber Buyer
Minutes 2 60 300
Length of Content Infinite Finite Finite
Fidelity Low Moderate Moderate
Convenience High Moderate Moderate
Ownership Low High High
Posture Forward Back Back
Cost Free Low Low

Regional New England magazine Yankee, is another example, created a similar experience after unleashing their old magazine archives and bringing them online through recycled content in the web portal, and paid content in a new online magazine library.

A final example is I Like Crochet, who successfully diversified their revenue streams from being 100% advertising driven to a business model that now includes a significant amount of subscription revenue that is generated by their premium subscription online magazine, and is branded completely independently of their advertising-driven website Portals.

Having two or all three business models completes a multisensory experience for consumers. And the modern multiplatform publisher uses their website Portal to create an initial low friction relationship with the customer. From there they will upsell them to premium content like the online magazine or a book in the bookstore.

And the best part? Having multiple digital products to sell allows you to be creative with pricing and bundling with almost always increases profits.

The digital upgrade process is reasonably seamless, as links from free content, search and social can lead to a real-time purchase experience which grants the user immediate access and gratification when compared to a process that requires a physical magazine or book to be shipped, or even the more complex process of selling premium access to a digital magazine or book that requires a separate application.

The simple truth is that a browser-based website Portal creates the perfect path to a browser-based online magazine or book that can be read on any device, including tablets and mobile phones.


Consider the power of your existing free web Portal, and how it may be able to create new revenue streams that are subscription-based and completely independent of advertisers and sponsors. A web magazine offers publishers who already possesses a web Portal the opportunity to diversify their revenue mix, leverage their brand and create a highly profitable continuity revenue stream. If you want to learn how we can help you do that, like we did for Countryside, Yankee and I Like Crochet, let’s chat.

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