For publishers chasing the growing cadre of mobile-device-toting, app-happy consumers, digital publishing service providers offer a tempting partnership. While the service providers are creating affordable, engaging storefronts offering a level of reader interactivity not possible in traditional print format, these companies are also asserting their value to a growing list of publisher partners through the delivery of real-time, detailed usage data. This in turn allows publishers to examine targeted advertising opportunities and additional revenue streams with a previously unprecedented level of precision. Hallmark Data Systems, an EBSCO company, recently announced the launch of Mozaic, its publishing service that includes digital magazine production, hosting and subscriber management, along with an impressive analytics package.
By employing metadata tagging to deliver a clearer understanding of reader behavior, Mozaic delivers extensive usage data that can be used to populate prospect databases for lead generation and sales conversion. Rather than touting page-number-based reporting alone, Mozaic can tie page usage to page-specific content.
Contrasting this to the old model of tracking usability solely at the PDF-level, vice president, chief strategist and director of research at EBSCO’s MetaPress, Gary Coker says, “In that world, all we could know usage-wise was which PDF files the user downloaded—we had no way of knowing whether they read it at all, much less which pages they viewed and how much time they spent reading it. The new model allows us to provide extremely detailed usage data back to publishers, which helps them understand how users are actually using their content at a much more granular level.”
This slice of analytical detail will no doubt become a vital component of data for publishers executing targeted marketing practices in pursuit of additional advertising strategies.
Mozaic also emphasizes a streamlined user experience, with features such as the “SuperTOC,” which aggregates Tables of Contents from all digitized issues, greatly simplifying the process for readers to quickly locate specific content.
The timing of Mozaic’s launch is fortuitous, as it offers a solution to stem the flow of lost print subscription revenue at a time when tech gadget sales are soaring. Not surprisingly, Mozaic is joined by more than 30 other digital publishing service providers, each looking to capitalize on this watershed moment within the industry.
When shopping for a partner to digitize your content, search for a provider that can deliver full service hosting, design, and support, including the ability to handle transactions in various languages and currencies, and also offer tactics to increase site discoverability, ultimately driving circulation retention and growth. Also consider taking advantage of the marketing consultation services offered by many digital service providers; these supplemental strategies can work in concert with digitized media activity to further aid publishers in realizing their digital growth goals.
Your best bet for a digital publishing service provider depends largely on your business model. Even in this relatively new niche market, major players are already carving out their areas of expertise. Read on to learn about a few of the digital publishing service providers, in addition to Mozaic, that are currently making headlines.
Counting both Conde Nast’s The New Yorker and WIRED magazine among its digitized magazine success stories, Adobe’s Digital Magazine Solution offers publishers tight integration with the Adobe Creative Suite and rich interactive features including 360 degree rotation of content, click through to websites, interactive photo galleries, slideshows, and video.
According to Lynly Schambers-Lenox, senior product marketing manager at Adobe, WIRED magazine has seen a significant increase in its advertising pages, sponsorship packages, and overall advertising base since partnering with Adobe. WIRED also reported more than 90,000 downloads at a cost of $4.99 each during the first month its digital content was made available in June 2010.
Configured now for integration with mobile devices including the iPad, enhancements to Digital Magazine Solution’s analytics component are slated for late 2010.
With Cambridge University Press, Taylor & Francis and Wiley Blackwell among its clients, Semantico is well-established within the realm of STM publishing. Through its SIPP platform (Semantico Information Publishing Platform), Semantico specializes in customized online publishing solutions. It also boasts an impressive array of admin services via an intuitive central repository.
“Our recent project with Semantico has been about attracting new customers and new markets for our products, as well as increasing usage within existing ones,” says Andrea Powell, executive director, CABI Publishing. “Semantico has helped us to adapt our CAB Direct platform (which delivers our world-leading bibliographic databases) so that subscribers and non-subscribers alike can find our content through a Google search. Usage levels on CAB Direct have already more than doubled, and we expect that we will shortly see an increase in subscriptions. Semantico deals in technical solutions, but the effects are more wide-ranging: in this case, we have both improved the end-user experience and potentially increased our sales.”
As the self-described “world’s largest newsstand,” Zinio brings to bear considerable expertise in the magazine space, representing more than 125 titles. Zinio also leads the way in integration of digitized content for mobile devices, working seamlessly with iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac, and PC.
Through its multichannel e-commerce platform, which includes an expansive global network, Zinio can deliver competitive economies of scale for its publisher partners while providing an intuitive usability experience for subscribers.
Calling attention to the notion of whether or not the “digital comfort factor” can spell business success in the realm of digitized magazines, Zinio takes its cue from the rapid progression of communications advancements over the last 80 years:
- It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million users.
- It took television 13 years to reach 50 million users.
- It took the internet 4 years to reach 50 million users.
- It took the iPod 3 years to reach 50 million users.
- Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.
- iPhone application downloads hit 1 billion in 9 months.
- The number of Ashton Kutcher’s and Ellen DeGeneres’ Twitter followers now exceeds the entire population of Ireland, Norway, and Panama.
-Source: Zinio, LLC
Interesting food for thought.
Quickly establishing itself as a major player in the book space, iPublishCentral, from Impelsys, counts MIT Press and ACP Press among its list of clients, and emphasizes a complete online content delivery solution.
With pay-as-you-go pricing, self-service tools, sophisticated analytics, and reporting, iPublishCentral focuses on helping book publishers warehouse, distribute, market, and deliver content online and to mobile devices with minimal capital and time investment, thanks to its Software as a Service (SaaS) infrastructure.
Its Publisher Console provides an intuitive interface and rich feature set, easily enabling iPublishCentral’s publisher partners to centrally manage their digital assets.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As digital magazine solutions become more sophisticated, publishers will increasingly transition to more of a business to consumer model, with greater emphasis on publishers forming interactive relationships directly with their readers.
This encompasses several shifts in strategy, namely how publishers can respond to digital content attitudes of consumption (quickly meeting the need for smaller, specific pieces of data—not necessarily a chapter or an individual article anymore). It will also necessitate that publishers thoughtfully consider how to incorporate the influential nature of social media into their digitization business plans.
Perhaps most importantly, digital service providers seeking to make a successful entrée into this niche market must demonstrate seamless integration across the expansive space of mobile devices. No longer a point of distinction, this is simply now the price of entry for survival in the digital publishing world. And there’s no rest for the weary. While tablets and smart phones rule the day, for now, they will inevitably be unseated by the next crop of “gotta have it” tech gadgets.
Consumers are impatient, and the publishers that are most nimble and quickest to stay one step ahead of this technological curve, will be first in line to realize additional monetization opportunities.
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