Aviation Week's Digital Archive Taps Young, Global Audience & Opens Door to New Monetization Strategies
In February Penton announced the launch of the digital Aviation Week Archive in honor of the B2B magazine’s 100th anniversary. The archive content supports a multi-platform centennial celebration effort, providing content for an advertising-driven centennial site, a May anniversary issue, and special Aviation Week & Space Technology events. President of the Aviation Week Network Greg Hamilton anticipates that the archive will remain an invaluable resource for the magazine, engaging its audience with unique content on the history of aviation technology and attracting a younger and more global engineering audience. “It’s all about amazing content engaging our audience, which is elemental to our past, present and future business model,” says Hamilton.
The digital archive was built with the help of Bondi Digital Publishing, which has developed digital archive platforms for brands like Esquire, High Times, and Outdoor Life. The Aviation Week Archive allows subscribers to browse the past 100 years of Aviation Week articles, ads, and images by year or keyword search.
Boeing, also celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016, sponsored this project and is providing one year of free access to the archive for AviationWeek.com registrants. Hamilton says that in 2017 his team will pursue further monetization strategies through paid subscription, advertisements, and content marketing efforts.
Here Hamilton describes how the Aviation Week Archive was created and shares his plans for the Archive’s future.
What inspired the launch of the Aviation Week Archive?
It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a very long time. The history of aviation is well known, but viewing it through the lens of the publication that has documented every important moment is unique and fascinating. It’s all about amazing content engaging our audience, which is elemental to our past, present and future business model.
We also work very closely with the aerospace industry to inspire and attract the future high-technology workforce. The archive is a wonderful tool for STEM curriculum and research at high schools and universities. It complements our University Initiative through which we distribute digital Aviation Weeks to thousands of students at the top engineering universities.
How is this archive monetized?
We partnered with The Boeing Company to sponsor the digital archives. In 2016, Boeing is also celebrating its 100th anniversary and this project supports their anniversary celebration. Right now we are using the archives as a source of content for our sponsor- and advertising-driven Centennial website, a May special anniversary issue, a digital timeline, and to support special events. The archives are available free of charge to registrants on the Aviation Week website through year’s end.
In 2017 the archives will become a vehicle for ongoing revenue through subscriptions, advertisements, and for content marketers. Additionally, we have an opportunity to offer enterprise-type sales of the archive content via our Aviation Week Intelligence Network to corporations, government, and academia in the future.
How has Penton marketed this archive to its aviation audience? What has the reception been in terms of usage?
We’ve marketed the archive through all of our subscriber-marketing channels and we are deploying content-based marketing campaigns to attract new audiences that are younger and more global. For example, we are just about to complete a reader poll to pick their favorite covers of all time. That single initiative has attracted 11,000 voters and 2,000 unique leads for user-paid subscription marketing.
The archives are a very sticky environment. In the first two months we’ve attracted 45,000 unique visitors, 40% of whom are outside North America. The archive so far has averaged monthly pageviews of 145,000, from, on average, 33,000 visits from 22,000 unique visitors. And the average time spent is 10.7 minutes for each visit.
How did Penton digitize its old issues? Was this a costly or time-consuming effort?
We worked with Bondi Digital Publishing. Getting the old ads and other copy from aging print issues into a high-quality, searchable digital format was very challenging. Penton’s technical and art groups in conjunction with Bondi Digital Publishing worked at digitizing the issues for seven months. Aviation Week had a digital archive for the past 20 years only. Approximately, 80 of the 100 years of issues were in hard copy form only.
Has the archive revealed any interesting insights about the Aviation Week Network audience, in terms of the type of content they find compelling or the segment of the audience interested in the archive?
We haven’t drilled down into the demographics just yet. But the feedback we are receiving shows that many of our readers are immediately personalizing their searches. Because this is a professional audience, they can look back at the companies they have worked for, the famous aviators they have met, milestones they have been involved with, the aerospace programs they have worked on, etc. It seems almost everyone searches on their birthday or hire date to see what was happening in the industry at that time.
Has Penton launched similar archives in other verticals? Does it have plans to?
It’s something we are exploring, but the economics have to work. This project had the combined benefits of a committed sponsor, a large and highly-engaged user-paid audience, enterprise-sales potential, and riveting historical content. All of the planets were in alignment.
How might the Aviation Week archive evolve in the future?
We will continue to update the archive as each issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology is produced, so it will be shaped by history as it unfolds. Also, it is easy to customize and package the content, so we expect our content team and customers to find new and innovative ways to present their stories.