With an estimated 50% of the adult population expected to own tablets in the next three years, you’d think that digital magazines would be making up an ever more massive chunk of magazine circulation figures.
You’d think, but you’d be wrong. Lucia Moses ponders this and other intrigues of the magazine app world in her Adweek piece “Who Killed the Magazine App?”
Moses points out that tablet talk has been ubiquitous in the hallways of the publishing world, but hasn’t brought in the bacon as hoped, or expected.
As she sees it, “…with such relatively low readership numbers, there’s little motivation for advertisers to invest in specially tailored ads for digital editions—which is why so many digital ads simply replicate print ads and are a free add-on to print.”
And that is like comparing apps to, well, oranges. They just aren’t the same experience.
Why the disconnect?
For one, there is a barrier to purchase for many tablet-based magazines, says Moses.
“Maddeningly, app marketplaces don’t make it easy to find digital magazines, subscribe to them or gift them to others. And once a reader does go to buy an app, the download time can be a turn-off.”
Add to that a second problem, brought on by the numbers game. In order for a publisher to count readership of their digital edition in total circulation numbers, the editorial content must remain the same in both print and digital. Doing so, while it may indeed raise the base rate, robs the digital edition of its ability to actually use the technology to create more interactive and engaging experiences for digital readers.
Because let’s face it; just plain reading on a tablet is not nearly as much fun as thumbing through the glossy. Convenient, sure, but wildly, can’t-put-it-down engaging? Unlikely.