Publishers will reinvent their digital magazines across platforms and newsstands in 2016
This year print magazines saw a sharp downturn in newsstand sales, with a 10.3% drop year-over-year in single issue retail and a 9.8% drop in dollar value during that same time period, MediaPost reports. Time Inc., Hearst, and Meredith all saw plunges. Meanwhile, The New Yorker, which recently instituted a metered paywall, has seen web traffic increase 35% year over year, Folio: reports, and subscriptions are up 61%. In the midst of all this movement, here’s what we’re predicting for 2016.
1. Publishers will realize that replicas are not enough.
We’ve been predicting this year after year, so lets keep it on this list until it actually happens. We’ve been known to be a little ahead of the curve on occasion. According to our Digital Magazine Study 79% of digital magazine readers say readable text is very important to them in a digital magazine, and with 56% saying scrollable text is very important.
But the reality is that in a world of moving pictures, clickable links and apps, magazine readers don’t simply want a print magazine as a PDF uploaded to their device. If Cosmo has an article on french braids, readers expect a how-to video embedded, and advertisers expect video and clickable ads for their shampoo surrounding it.
2. There will be a surge of web editions.
Unfortunately, 90% of publishers who create tablet magazines ignore what consumers are looking for, so we predict publishers will be playing catchup on the tablet, while more and more adapt to native web editions like TIME and I Like Crochet that give the user an appropriate experience on any platform.
These web editions will be developed in HTML5 and are served through the form of a magazine subscription website. They’ll be natively designed and capably viewed on any internet-connected device. For customers who prefer the app-feel of digital magazines, publishers will accommodate both tablet and web editions, but continue to cringe when they give up 30%+ of their revenue to the digital newsstands.
3. Publishers will diversify across newsstands.
Tablet editions and web magazines have very specific advantages, as do the newsstands out there with built-in audiences. Our prediction for 2016 is that publishers who were only on Apple before will now start developing for other newsstands like Google, Kindle and Flipboard.
We knew Apple Newsstand had its issues, no pun intended, but we also believed that its 70% remit and reach to hundreds of millions of tablets made it well worth the discoverability challenges if you could maximize your visibility with the right design, nomenclature, and software – best practices that were crucial to a multiplatform strategy, anyway.
Heck, we still think it’s worth the effort to create digital magazine apps for Apple, and those best practices aren’t going anywhere, but Apple Newsstand did. As you know, it went away. Now, enter Apple News, an aggregator app that offers publishers some attractive features when it comes to traffic and digital ad revenue.
But Apple News isn’t at the top of publisher’s minds because according to Digiday, publishers are underwhelmed thus far and Lucia Moses even goes as far as to say she, “wouldn’t be surprised if Apple stops updating/supporting it by end of next year. News aggregation is tough, and while they don’t necessarily need the revenue, it’s not a good business.”
What are your predictions for the realm of digital magazine publishing in 2016?