Does Your Digital Magazine Software Support Contrast Pricing?

If you’re looking for digital magazine software that allows more control over pricing and distribution, then a web magazine is for you

Attention publishers: digital magazine apps for tablets and mobile phones are leaving money on the table.

We recommend having a magazine app, because, who can beat the marketing that comes from the online marketplace that Google, Amazon and Apple provide? However the drawback to magazine apps keep you from having complete control over how you price your products.

Meanwhile, you’re fully aware of other costs … like the fees for digital magazine software, development and distribution. And the fees you’re paying Google and Apple (among others) every time you sell an issue or subscription in their digital newsstands.


And with all these prices you’re paying, you don’t have the freedom to test your own pricing. Worse, you can’t benefit from contrast pricing and bundling (more on this later.)

We believe web magazines are the way to the future.

This isn’t to say we think publishers shouldn’t have magazine apps. It’s just that any publisher who has both types of digital editions will tell you that the web edition is the winner on all counts. Thus the real conundrum is the fact that while more than 5,000 magazines are now available as apps, less than 500 produce web-based magazines. We simply encourage publishers to embrace print, apps, AND web.

A great reason to do so: You control the price. You decide how to sell it. You can change it when you want and test the results. You can update the content on the fly.

How it works: a quick web magazine refresher

Before we jump into how web magazines leverage contrast pricing, let’s first establish the makeup of a web magazine. Unlike a digital app, a web magazine is developed in HTML format and resides behind a paywall within your subscription website. It’s unique qualities are as follows:

  • Though it looks and behaves like an application, there is nothing to download.
  • A web magazine is hosted on your website, rather than a digital newsstand or app store.
  • The magazine is accessible through a web browser, which means it’s compatible with all devices.
  • It can be flipped through in a linear or non-linear fashion and has a table of contents present on each page.
  • A web magazine’s content can be searchable online, when select content is not behind the magazine website paywall.

But perhaps the largest benefit of this digital magazine software is the authority you have over it. After being designed and properly implemented within your website, you decide how to offer a web magazine to your subscribers. Better yet, you can test your pricing with measurable results and adapt as you see fit.

How your web magazine leverages contrast pricing

Let’s assume that you are a magazine publisher. You have a monthly print magazine and a subscription-based website. Depending on the subscription, your website offers an HTML-based web magazine and access to an online archive of all your back issues, among other features.

Here’s how a typical publisher will bundle its subscription packages:

  • Web magazine (one issue): $19.99
  • Online archives (all issues except current): $29.99
  • Both products bundled: $44.99

The logic here suggests that customers will see how the first two products added together is five dollars more than the bundled price, giving the third option the greatest value. Not a bad deal, right?

However, our research suggests that many consumers don’t perceive the value of the bundled offer as well as publishers think they do. Their focus is placed on the price difference between offers two and three, which will often make them choose the cheapest version.

When you lower the bundled price closer to the middle price, the contrast effect starts to show. When our clients lowered the bundled price down to $34.99, our research showed that sales of the bundled offer rose from 30 to 70%. There was also an overall increase of subscription orders as well.

Contrast pricing suggests that when you shorten the pricing gap between your bundle and your middle-priced product, the more perceived value your bundled offer receives. This dramatically increases the number of bundle purchases, as well as your revenue.

Now your subscription packages may look more like this:

  • Web magazine: $19.99
  • Online archives: $29.99
  • Both products together: $34.99


  • Web magazine: $19.99
  • Print magazine: $29.99
  • Both products together: $34.99

But why does it matter which digital magazine software you use?

As we stated earlier, a web magazine gives you a unique amount of control. When you develop an app edition of your magazine, customers have to go through a separate vendor to purchase and download it. That makes offering the digital app with contrast pricing nearly impossible since you have to go to the app store to get it.

With a web magazine, you have the power to test different pricing as you see fit. You can offer it alongside a print magazine, an online archive, premium content (videos, newsletters, webinars, etc.), and then figure out ways to bundle them together utilizing the contrast effect.

Just remember: perceived value is more important than logical value. Don’t count on customers to see the benefits unless you’re willing to make your offer irresistible. If you do it right, your bundled offers will outperform every subscription package available.

What’s your take contrast pricing? Do you have any questions about web magazines and how they can benefit your publication? Let’s discuss! 


Leave a Reply