Publishing Digital Magazines: Ads, Audience, Algrorithms

Publishing digital magazines is not a “set it and forget it” enterprise, and monitoring the latest trends is a must

Our mission in life is to help you with publishing digital magazines, and we’re good at it. Hopefully we make it look easy, but of course it’s not. The sands of this industry are shifting rapidly, with new technologies, platforms, best practices, revenue strategies, metric acronyms popping up every other day.

Sites like help us stay on top of the trends. This week, we relay audience development news, data, and digital advertising. Let’s get started!

Are Digital Publishers Doing as Well as They Can With Audience Development?

Audience development is never done. You can’t press a few buttons, run a couple of programs, add up some numbers and call it a day, no matter how great your data looks. CTO and Co-Founder Andrea Montalenti shared some thoughts with about the audience aims for media companies going forward in advance of FUSE: The Convergence of Technology & Media conference.

“By 2020, I expect most media companies will have full control over their data in a way that they consider next-to-impossible right now. One accelerator here: traditionally, media companies produced a lot of data, but it was quite painful to analyze — even when you had analysts and software engineers on-staff. For analysts, there is a rise of open APIs, clean data exports, and cloud analytics engines. Each of these make it much easier to access and query audience data to learn interesting insights. For software engineers, there is a huge push in the open source software world to provide commodity analysis tools, which lowers the barrier to entry for custom analysis. Combined, I think the content strategists of the future will be much more empowered by audience data, which will lead to a better understanding of not just media consumers, but also a deeper understanding of how the web and its various connected devices influence the spread of information,” Montalenti tells Ellen Harvey.

“Media companies have to be taking stock of how their teams use data, and should question all assumptions about what a good data strategy entails. Within the last 2 years alone, we’ve introduced fundamentally new engagement metrics — such as engaged time and real-time social shares — that have completed shifted conversations around content strategy.”

But Data-Driven Publishing Isn’t Everything, Nomos Prez Says

There’s no doubt that data is a decidedly big slice of digital publishing’s future, but even the most dominant collectors and adept deployers of data still need a grasp of marketing fundamentals Nomos President Scott McDonald writes at

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“[I]t is striking that Facebook, the company at the apogee of Big Data, made extensive use of traditional research methods in studying users and informing the algorithm changes. For example, earlier this year it recruited samples of users and then showed them a series of A/B alternatives, asking them which they would most like to see in their news feed. They then compared their choices to what the algorithm would have given them. They even (gasp!) asked the participants direct questions probing the reasons for their preference — a very old-school approach!” McDonald writes.

“Similarly, Facebook used a traditional research approach — a five country survey of 2,000 users, conducted by Ipsos Mori — to understand the attitudes of those who use commercial ad blockers before making this week’s dramatic announcement that Facebook’s desktop version would henceforth defeat ad blockers.”

BoSacks on the ’21st Century Ad Wars’

In this business, is there anything better than a Bob Sacks think piece? This time around he takes on the rather daunting topic of publishing revenue politics at

“I see this as an unwinnable technological trench war with one and only one path to digital peace in our time. The solution is for content to be worth paying for. Here is my question. Is your content worth the consumer paying for its full and fair value? If not, why not? Did I hear you say they won’t pay enough for it and that you have to subsidize it with advertising? Yes, that was the path of the past and in an analog world was accepted by all — the publisher, the advertiser, and the mark. That is one of the reasons that print is still the best ROI. The rules are fully understood by all, and the ads aren’t bloated and ready to explode upon command,” Sacks writes.

“With all that being said, we are now entering a new phase in the ad wars. Facebook has constructed a digital tank to blast ads through the ad blocking barbed wire of the content trenches. I suppose next will be ad blocking bazookas to blast the digital permitting tanks into submission. You see what I mean? It’s a game of revenue yards – you push one way for a few feet and I push back a few feet even harder.”

Publishing digital magazines is a challenging but rewarding path to pursue. We can help you reach your destination, and beyond. Start with a free download of our Multiplatform Publishing Strategy Handbook

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