After a decade of losing readership to the web, print media is now hemorrhaging revenue and profit at a much faster and unsustainable pace. As cited in the article “News Magazines: Embracing Their Digital Future”1, according to the Pew Research Center study on six prominent news magazines, like TIME, ECONOMIST, etc, for 2012, Ad page revenue fell an average of 10.4 % and single issue copy sales were down by 16%. In 2010, with the advent of the iPad and the tablet category, the iPad as the new savior for print was announced. Print was repackaged and sold as apps on the iPad and this new digital wrapper to the same print content, also known as digital replicas, were to usher in a new era of growth and profitability. After 3 years of the iPad, the facts are settling in. iPad revenues have not been able to replace the regional-centric print media businesses with their large legacy and distribution costs.
Hard To Rebrand A Long Established Brand Experience
Print brands have established user bases and have been providing their readers with a highly defined inculcated experience. This antiquated media experience is hard to rebrand as a new experience to the digital audience. As stand alone media brands, they have already gathered a majority of their potential readership. Incremental dollars spent for reaching a new digital reader is an inefficient and wasted resource.This new era of digital buyers of content expect a vibrant and multilayered new experience from their paid digital media on their new tablet media platform. At the best, digital replicas can only replace the physical print for a segment of the existing print user. According to the article “Digital magazine sales still tiny overall, but titles like Reader’s Digest see huge growth”2, 65% of U.S. magazines now have digital replicas but these digital replicas have only managed to garner less than 3% of their overall circulation, which as added revenue is still a miniscule portion of losses from print.
New Experiences For A New Digital Platform
With over 170 Million iPads sold, the iPad is for now becoming the defacto personal digital media platform, and this new touch based platform is becoming a repository of media content, from music, tv, movies, online content and now to content that is replacing the print magazine. Here, replacing the print brands are 3 genres of tablet brands. The first is Flipboard, a browser for the tablet that allows online media to be presented in a magazine like full screen tablet format, where the user initiates the collection and neat exhibition of personalized feeds mixing and matching content from a plethora of existing online 3rd party sites and media brands. With over 50 million downloads of this free browser, Flipboard recently raised a round of financing valuing it at $800 million4. The potential for revenue includes, Full Page Ad Inserts between the pages, and potentially special paid sections with enhanced content. Like streaming audio and video, Flipboard needs a persistent WIFI connection to keep the content pages streaming in. The second, a downloadable more immersive media experience with editorial media developed specifically for the Tablet. Here in the paid download category the leader is the EDITION29 platform with several editorial properties created for sale just for the tablet and available in over 110 countries. In 2010, the year the iPad was launched, even with massive marketing support from Apple the print brands did not shine as predicted, according to the Financial Post5, EDITION29 now a $300 million brand, was in the top 10 of newspapers and magazines section of the Apple iPad App Store. In 2010, along with Flipboard, Apple then started showcasing EDITION29 on the front of the iTunes Store and the Apple App Store, thus bringing into focus these two new tablet properties as new media experiences specific to the new tablet, the Flipboard as the new tablet browser and EDITION29 in the paid category as the new collectable multilayered editorial experience.
1. “News Magazines: Embracing Their Digital Future” authors (Jane Sasseen, Katerina-Eva Matsa and Amy Mitchell of the Pew Research Center)
2. “Digital magazine sales still tiny overall, but titles like Reader’s Digest see huge growth” author (Laura Hazard Owen of Paid Content)
3. “Apple: 170 million iPads sold to date” author (Marc Perton of Engadget)
4. “Confirmed: Flipboard Raises Another $50 Million To Close Out Its Series C Round” author (Ryan Lawler of Tech Crunch)
5. “FP Tech Desk: Apple unveils top iPhone, iPad apps of 2010” author (Jameson Berkow of Financial Post)