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Tips for Building a Digital Edition Audience

02 Jun 2010

Publishers over the years have had their plates full with managing print and Web products, thus relegating digital editions to the "stepchild" category. But with all of the new e-reader devices currently on the market and recent developments in smartphone technology, digital editions are now coming more to the forefront. But technology is just one part of the equation-you need an engaged audience to make focusing on a digital edition worth the effort.


As reported in Folio, during a recent AD Webinar, Josh Gordon, president of Smarter Media, and Raymond Roker, CEO/founder of URB magazine, offered attendees some strategies for actively building digital edition audiences:


Enhance the reader experience with "digital extras."


When interactive components such as video and flash are added to a digital edition, not only does it has the potential to spark readers' interest in opening the magazine in the first place, it might also get them to peruse an article that they might not have considered before.


According to Gordon's recently published report entitled "The Case for Advertising in Interactive Digital Magazines," 44.6 percent of readers say that video, flash, and other "digital extras" extend the time spent reading interactive magazines by motivating readers to read articles they would otherwise have skipped. "Also consider that the same can apply for ads in the magazine," he said. "The largest percent of readers in the survey saw a brand message that, at first, held no interest for them, but then saw the video prompted them look further at the message."


Age is nothing but a number.


One Webinar attendee was concerned that his audience wasn't going to be drawn to digital editions because the majority of them were part of an older demographic. That shouldn't really matter, according to Gordon. In fact, one of the digital magazines that he has consulted on is Grand, which was created specifically for grandparents.


"I don't think there's any age barrier when it comes to digital editions," he said. "It's a question of where you build constituency. A lot of older readers do prefer print, but digital editions are still doing well with this demo primarily because of the type size. Older readers tend to have a problem with the small font found in magazines, but with digital editions, they can adjust the size of the font."


Choose your digital edition vendors wisely.


The type of vendor you choose will ultimately determine the look, feel and intuitiveness of your digital edition, so choose wisely, according to Roker. "Look at each company, study the difference, play with their interfaces and get feedback," he said. "And be sure to partner with a [vendor] that has the largest share in the market that you're targeting. It really comes down to what works for your product and audience."


For URB specifically, Roker wanted a vendor that would work with the magazine's free model and that would have features such as comprehensive measurement and reporting, share tools and the ability to embed widgets on various sites that would lead back to the digital edition, which brings us to the final tip ...


Share and share alike.


Approaching a digital edition like a traditional print magazine is always a bad idea, according to Gordon. While print is about creating content and presenting it to a target audience, digital editions are more about building communities. "You want them to click, register, interact and participate," he said. "The first question you ask yourself when first creating a digital edition isn't ‘What kind of content should I send to my readers?' It should be ‘How can I get my readers involved?'"


An entire segment of Roker's presentation, which was entitled "Preach On Preacher," was dedicated to the idea of using social media to push out digital editions. "You definitely have to social media that sucker," he said. "Whether it's Facebook, Twitter or Digg, you want to make sure that you're there because that is how things are amplified today."


But social media, both panelists reminded attendees, isn't the only way to get audiences to notice your digital edition. According to Gordon, lists are a great way to gain some traction. "Rethink how you use them," he said. "Think about who else you can share the content with, including associations, regional groups and local groups. They're always great at sharing content."





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