Magazines go mobile

Viewpoints Innovating and integrating technology

Image: Innovating and integrating technologyPreviously in View, we looked at the ways that advertisers, Web portals, news organizations, and many others are scrambling to provide mobile-friendly outlets for their consumers. However, magazine publishers that produce content digitally for smart phones could be undermining their customer bases by competing with print subscriptions. And in a related issue, as mobile advertising becomes more advanced and as more consumers subscribe to mobile Internet, publishers are wondering where companies will place their magazine advertising dollars.

It isn’t surprising that magazines have become able to reconfigure their content for the Web because customers are used to surfing online for magazine content. According to a recent survey on magazine publishing, 60 percent of respondents would like to access content online in addition to purchasing print versions of their favorite magazines.¹ Magazines for mobile devices, however, represent a recent development. The data on how popular those digital magazines are is not out yet. Most respondents did indicate, however, that they were willing to pay only 35 percent of the hard-copy price for a digital version on their mobile device.

Publishing companies have been refocusing their energy on the Web and other digital outlets because print circulation and advertising rates are stagnant and could potentially fall in an economic downturn. Digital advertising is becoming a lucrative business; advertising in both online and mobile versions of magazines is expected to increase over the next five years.²

Image: How much will consumers pay for magazines?

And with 135 million people subscribing to mobile Internet in that same period, consumers will certainly become more aware of digital advertisements on their smart phones. The survey found that most magazine consumers don’t mind digital advertising along with their content as long as it’s not delivered intrusively by, for example, pop-up ads. In fact, 60 percent said they’d be willing to buy goods and services via the digital platform. Currently, most of the magazines available on the mobile platform are free and are accompanied by banner ads or video ads.

Recognizing this growing mobile market, many publishers have begun capitalizing on the potential surge of digital advertising investment and are selling their print ads in conjunction with digital ads as a way of attracting print advertisers. As more magazines are launched for the smart phone, digital advertising is expected to become a norm for every mobile device, and essentially another way companies can use these tools to reach consumers away from home.

¹PwC, The medium is the message: Outlook for magazine publishing in the digital age, August 2008.
²PwC, Global entertainment and media outlook: 2008–2012, June 2008.