New Year, New Survey. Print, Digital, or Print + Digital?
Happy New Year! As part of my New Year’s Resolution, I resolved to review what was going on with digital pricing strategies for magazines. I did not look at Apple or Android devices, only at websites. Look at what I found:
BUST magazine: BUST takes an old model and turns it on its ear. It, like most titles surveyed, leads with Print + Digital on its subscription page. But the lion’s share of the cost, $14.95, is attributed to the content, with $5 added for the print version. BUST does not offer a print-only version, and its digital is $14.95.
The Economist, which sells over 71,000 digital subscriptions (replica and non-replica), promotes its magazines starting with Print + Digital and a per week price, then moves to a more expensive premium subscription. It does not distinguish between the print and digital -- the price for both is the same, a 25% discount over Print + Digital pricing.
Vanity Fair does it a bit differently. On its website, it only offers print + digital access, and it offers only a half-year subscription for $6. Interestingly, Vanity Fair is connecting you directly to payment (much as you would when you go to Apple) via Amazon. That is very smart, since many of us access the web on our smartphones as we travel, and we don’t want to be pulling out our credit cards on that bus or train. And, many of us have Amazon accounts.
Oh, and here’s another promotion, a day later. The magazine is banking on you paying more for Brad Pitt.
The New Yorker gives Print + Digital its own special name: Total Experience. It also wins for most different platforms shown, as it includes an archive to the tablet, phone, print trio. Like most other magazines, that sell both the print and digital separately, The New Yorker is not lowering the price on digital, but keeping it equal to the print.
Tricycle magazine uses a membership model, and adds $5 to its print plus digital first choice, termed a “Sustaining Member.” The Supporting member is everything the Sustaining member is, less the print version of the magazine. Tricycle does not offer print by itself.
The Sun magazine: Bucking the trend, The Sun starts by offering up the traditional print subscription at $39. Keeping with the trend, it offers the digital subscription at the same price as the print ($39), and it then adds $10 for the "bundle."
So, what’s the right way to do this?
- Digital=Print for price: For 5/6 magazines surveyed, the price did not change from print or digital format.
- Charge more when you are offering digital + print. 6/6 magazines surveyed did.
- Make a clean landing page for subscriptions so people can understand what you offer and why.
Hopefully you got some ideas on what you could do on your own sites from this survey. For a more succinct look at this, please see the below chart. What are you seeing out there? Any great digital pricing strategies? Let us know!
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.