Print magazines have a start and an end: they are edition-based. It makes sense doesn’t it, there are physical constraints to printing and distribution, so by bundling and delivering issues publishers benefit from economies of scale. Now however, magazines have gone digital and these physical constraints no longer exist. Publishing, like many other industries is evolving, and the way in which audiences engage with content is changing. So how do you decide which publishing model suits your digital product? Should you choose a continuously updating model or an edition based format?
On Thursday Jonny Kaldor, CEO and Co-founder of Kaldor, will be chairing a panel session at the Publishing and Media Expo on just this, here are some of the questions that we think are key to helping you decide what approach to take.
What is the nature of your content?
Is your content fast moving or long form? Does it have a long shelf life? Is the idea of finishability key to your readers? A publisher will have to ask themselves these questions before they can define what is the best route for them. The Week for example, publish editions in line with their intention to present a definitive “all you need to know about everything that matters”. Evo on the other hand, use a hybrid model. Through a continuous style of publishing, they release content as soon as it’s ready but then have a ‘finished’ edition once all the content has been published. Readers can then choose to consume as it is published, or wait until the end of the month to read the edition cover to cover.
How often do you want customers to engage and for how long?
Do you want users to come back multiple times a week? Would you prefer to your readers’ attention less often but for longer periods of time? To answer these questions you need to think about your audience base. A traditional audience may expect edition based content, whereas newer (more radical) audiences could be more open to the continuously updating concept. Reading content from cover to cover can be argued as being more rewarding than reading from a continuous newsfeed. The Economist value this concept; their aim is to create content which sustains the reader’s interest from cover to cover and gives them that satisfying feeling of being ‘finished’, something which can’t be achieved with a continuous publishing model. However, if you’d rather increase the frequency of users coming to your app, then a continuous publishing model could be perfect for you. Health Service Journal for example, has seen the number of monthly subscriber visits to their app triple since it re-launched in October 2014 using Pugpig for Continuous Publishing.
How do you intend to make money and what do your advertisers want?
Do you intend to offer subscriptions or charge for single editions? What advertising opportunities do you want to offer? Do your advertisers want editorially placed full page interstitials, or would an algorithmic model suit them more? These might not be easy questions to answer, but they will help you decide which publishing model is best for you. Subscriptions can be applied on either model, charging for single editions however clearly can’t exist in continuous publishing. Advertising models are another factor to take into consideration. If you’re a magazine like Stylist, editorially placed interstitials are important for the look and feel of a magazine. Retail Week however, uses a continuous publishing model and relies upon MPUs and algorithmic interstitials to support advertisements and give a different user experience.
So what’s the answer?
There is no right or wrong answer, it’s simply whatever suits you and your business. By reading through these questions, and thinking about your answers, you should be able to see one model that suits your publication more than the other.
Can I find out more?
Of course. Come and find us at the Publishing and Media Expo event over the next two days. Jonny will be chairing this panel session at 3pm on Thursday in the Production Theatre, with The Economist and Incisive Media talking about their publishing models. We’re going to be on stand A40 for the whole event and are happy to have a chat and discuss any questions you may have about digital publishing.