Digital Magazine Dashboard 3: 10 Take-Aways from Biannual Survey
A few weeks ago, my firm Next Steps Marketing put out its third bi-annual Digital Magazine Dashboard. Two major titles we've been following since their entrance on the top Digital titles scene had not yet filed -- Reader's Digest and Taste of Home. Now that they are in, here's 10 take-aways from this year's Dashboard. To see the entire Digital Magazine Dashboard, please click here.
1. From Top Titles, almost 1 in every 7 copies sold is digital. Or, put another way, 13.5% of total circulation is digital for these titles.
2. In the past year, Top Digital titles have gained 1.2M digital subs, and lost 2.1M print subs and 763 print single copy sales. This is a steady increase in digital as a portion of total sales.
3. Over the last year, Top Digital titles have grown their digital sales by 29%.
4. Over the last six months, however, these Top Digital titles only inched up .5%.
As one astute commenter noted, this could be the real story. Why the slowdown? Is there something we are not getting about digital?
This story may well have an advertising background. As one large publisher told me yesterday, advertisers remain skeptical about paying for digital circulation. They are still at the point of considering digital to be online/web, and therefore tracked with clicks and impressions and paid for the same way. They are not yet convinced, even though the advertising is placed in a magazine like setting, that they should be paying for the digital magazine advertising as they pay for print, based on circulation. The aforesaid publisher also admitted to keeping their thriving digital sales off the pink sheet until advertisers are willing to pay for it.
5. Two mainstream titles--Working Mother and Star Magazine--have bumped more "digital-friendly" titles out of the top spots. Wired, one of the first titles to go digital and Maxim, a men's magazine with a built in online audience, have now slipped out of the top 5 titles.
6. 2013: Number of titles with digital circulation over 20%: 4 2012: Number of titles with digital circulation over 20%: 2
Below is the percentage of digital circulation for the Top Titles.
7. Apple Newsstand now has over 12,000 titles. That's 10X bigger than its largest competitor, Google Play.
8. The largest categories for Apple are: Business & Investing, 1,079; Sports & Leisure, 1,022; News & Politics, 970.
9. The top 5 largest growth categories, however, are Science, Health, History, Pets, and Parenting & Family.
10. Conclusion: We are moving slowly in the direction of digital circulation. But, we may be slowed by at least two things:
- Agreement between media and advertisers on how to track and pay for digital circulation.
- Apple Newsstand, which certainly sells the most magazines of any other newsstand platform out there, has not made it substantially easier for publishers to sell or consumers to buy magazines.
Once these two problems are overcome, we may see the sluggish growth skyrocket again.
To see the entire Digital Magazine Dashboard, please click here.
M. Thea Selby is a Principal in Next Steps Marketing, a San Francisco boutique firm that solves audience-building challenges in creative, customized way using practical "call-to-action" marketing techniques where the return is clearly measurable by clicks, online sign-ups, responses to direct mail, orders from partners, or sales at newsstand.
She was the 2010 Women's Leadership Conference Chair, is a co-founder and board member of Exceptional Women in Publishing—a national organization dedicated to supporting women in and through the power of online and print media—and is the former CEO and Publisher of Light Green Media, a digital publishing company.