ePaper: How digital news is becoming a revenue driver

Gundel Henke

The publishing industry has always been characterized by groundbreaking innovations. From the invention of printing to the emergence and proliferation of social media platforms. Publishers have had to respond to technological innovations and rapid changes in business models.

The publishing industry has always been characterized by groundbreaking innovations. From the invention of printing to the emergence and proliferation of social media platforms. Publishers have had to respond to technological innovations and rapid changes in business models.

This is especially true today. Digital disruption has caused considerable pain for "traditional" publishers, who have relied primarily on print sales. For years, publishers could rely on ad and other advertising revenue. In recent years, however, publishers have found that these revenue sources are drying up. With fewer and fewer readers consuming printed newspapers, both small and large publishers have had to find new sources of revenue to sustain their business.

Fortunately, publishers can turn to ePaper to increase their revenues. From the smallest local newspapers to the largest and best-known publications in the industry, publishers have an excellent opportunity to generate more revenue and offer their readers an alternative reading experience.

What is an ePaper?

When discussing ePaper and its benefits, it is important to take a step back and clarify what an ePaper is. You can think of an ePaper as the electronic edition of a physical newspaper. It's as if the reader is consuming a physical newspaper, but in digital form. The German Informationsgemeinschaft zur Feststellung der Verbreitung von Werbeträgern (IVW) goes one step further and describes ePaper as "the digital edition of a press publication that is identical in content and layout to its printed counterpart."

ePapers are usually a PDF version of a print edition. This is self-explanatory, as publishers create optimized PDF versions and then distribute these ePapers as they see fit. Readers can access ePaper from their desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones. Although the exact design depends on the device the reader is using, ePaper essentially attempts to replicate a physical newspaper, but in digital form.

ePaper and its advantages

With this understanding in mind, you can probably imagine several benefits that ePaper offers.

First of all, ePaper offers an additional distribution channel for publishers. This represents another opportunity to deliver high-quality journalism in a different format. The impact is significant. Publishers are picking up readers where they are. The smartphone has become the most important device for news consumption, and publishers who ignore this fact are missing out on additional readers (and revenue).

ePaper can increase a publisher's revenue and profit. We'll go into more detail about revenue benefits, but the general principle is that ePaper can open up new audiences and monetization opportunities that drive revenue. As for the bottom line, ePaper can help publishers cut costs. While creating and distributing printed copies is relatively costly, publishers can create ePapers at a relatively low cost. This is an important point, especially in this day and age when the creation and distribution of print products has become enormously expensive due to drastic increases in paper and gas prices.

For readers, the ePaper offers many advantages. On the one hand, readers always have their newspaper with them, even on vacation. On the other hand, the ePaper impresses with its faster availability. It also saves space, is environmentally friendly and reduces waste production.

After all, ePapers have limited content. Simply put, many people in our society are news weary. The sheer flood of news that hits us all every day is too much for many readers. The limited content of an ePaper is actually an advantage under these circumstances, as it gives readers a concise overview of the news they want to consume.

Who reads ePaper at all?

ePaper is not just a theoretical concept that can add value for publishers around the world. In recent years, ePaper has become increasingly popular. This is especially true in the DACH region. In Germany, for example, studies have shown that 86% of respondents want digital content from their region. As for ePapers themselves, 92% of German respondents believe their local ePaper is an integral part of their community. After reading this ePaper, 82 % believe they are well informed.

In general, ePaper readers tend to be younger. Younger people tend to prefer digital content to paper content. This can be seen in the data. According to a Reuters study, 47% of under-35s turn to their mobile device first to read news. That compares to 28% of 35- to 64-year-olds. Simply put, younger readers expect to consume news on their own terms, and these readers grew up in an era when they could access all types of news with one click. They didn't have to wait for physical delivery of a morning newspaper to catch up on the news. Instead, they could access and consume virtually any media content from the time they woke up until the time they went to bed.

Ultimately, publishers that invest in ePaper can appeal to both older and younger readers. Whether it's older readers who are more tech-savvy than their peers, or younger readers who want to consume news no matter where they are, ePaper can offer great value to all types of readers and target groups.

How ePaper can increase sales

With this understanding of ePapers in mind, let's now turn to the question of how publishers can use ePapers to generate additional revenue.

First of all, ePaper offers the opportunity to generate more revenue through subscriptions. We are already seeing a clear trend in Europe. Germany is one of the countries where publishers have started to take advantage of this monetization opportunity. In the second quarter of 2021, German ePaper subscriptions increased by just over 18% compared to the second quarter of 2020. This resulted in a total ePaper circulation of more than two million copies per publication day. More than 1.2 million of these ePaper copies were obtained via subscription.

Revenue from ePaper subscriptions is particularly attractive because marginal costs are extremely low. Publishers simply need to find a way to design their ePaper and distribute it. While design may involve some costs, distribution is essentially free. With millions of individuals in Germany and the DACH region already subscribing to ePaper, there is a promising development ahead.

In addition to subscription revenue, ePaper also offers publishers another opportunity to place ads. These ads can come from customers who already buy ads in a print edition or from customers who want to buy ads exclusively in ePaper. Either way, you create a digital platform that you can monetize in the short and long term.

Finally, an ePaper can be an opportunity to gain additional exposure for your other revenue streams. For example, if you are hosting a conference or event, you can use an ePaper to draw attention to that event. The ePaper is basically a free marketing tool that you can use to generate revenue in your other business areas.

Seize the opportunity

ePapers offer a tremendous opportunity for the smallest publishers to the largest publications in the world. If you want to capitalize on ePapers, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, don't think of your ePaper as a backup or contingency plan. If you treat your ePaper stepmotherly, you run the risk of providing an inferior experience for your readers. If, on the other hand, you prioritize the ePaper, your chances of success increase significantly.

Don't hesitate to hire professional designers. Even though you may already have your own design talents, you should find someone who can create a beautiful ePaper for your readers. Also, the ePaper needs to be error-free and easy to consume. If you pay attention to detail here, it will definitely pay off.

Finally, don't be afraid to be innovative. Your ePaper doesn't have to look exactly like your print edition. You can experiment and present your content in many different formats. Who knows, you might create an ePaper that is more compelling or popular than your print edition?!

Ultimately, every publisher should pay close attention to the rise of ePapers. They are on the rise and have what it takes to increase your company's revenue. The best time to take advantage of them is right now.

Do you have questions about ePaper or how you can publish your print editions in the form of an ePaper? We will be happy to help you and show you how to use the ePaper as a sales driver.

Not sure if Purple suits you?

Or you have individual requirements?
We will be happy to advise you.
Kevin Kallenbach
Head of Sales