E-Media Strategist: A Controlled-Circ App Strategy
• Market your magazine as a print product, Web-based digital magazine, or app to your target audience and existing readers. Let them decide how they want to receive it.
• Do not allow anyone who visits your website to access all of your content as a digital magazine. Instead, allow anonymous visitors to view only the cover through the editor's letter, and then ask them to log in or subscribe to see the rest. Enabling anonymous access to the entire digital magazine does you no good. You've already sold the advertising in the magazine and aren't making another dime by letting an anonymous visitor in. This tactic helps build circulation. But if they don't subscribe, you're better off letting an anonymous visitor view content on your website … at least there you're making additional advertising dollars.
• Similarly, do not allow anyone who downloads your app to access all of your content. Give full access only if they log in/subscribe within the app (and make it easy to do so). You won't run afoul of any Apple restrictions since you're a controlled-circulation publication, not a paid publication.
• Sell against the combined circulation of all three distribution channels. It's simple and straightforward. And if you develop enough circulation in your Web-based/app distribution that you can sell some add-on sponsorships or interactive ads, that's all the better!
This may sound like heresy to app purists who believe you have to develop a unique product for each medium. While I do understand the point and agree to some extent, I'm also a realist. Most publishers simply aren't in a position to spend a ton of extra money, time and human resources—or take on the risk—to go after an all-out app strategy. And frankly, even many of those who have committed to all-out app strategies have spent a lot more money than they are actually making.
Eric Shanfelt is the founding partner of Nearview Media, a consulting firm that helps publishers with their digital revenue, audience and platform development. Eric is a 25-year digital media veteran and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several large publishing companies. You can reach Eric at email@example.com.