5 reasons why you should publish your magazine as an app

Timo Lamour

The history of digital publishing spans, believe it or not, more than 30 years. During this time, publishers have experimented a lot, with numerous attempts failing. Not least because the technical equipment and readers' habits were not yet ready.

The history of digital publishing spans, believe it or not, more than 30 years.

During this time, publishers have experimented a lot, with numerous attempts failing. Not least because the technical equipment and readers' habits were not yet ready.

With the triumph of smartphones and apps, however, the general conditions changed fundamentally a few years ago. And media companies have responded to a profound change within the readership.

Figures also show a rapid increase in the consumption of digital magazines. In the UK, for example, consumption of digital magazines increased by as much as 80% with over 13 million magazines read.

In this blog, I'll show you five unbeatable reasons why publishers should launch your magazine as an app today.

  1. The distribution is lighter
  2. Apps save costs and resources
  3. Higher reader engagement through interactivity
  4. Apps open up new target groups and revenue sources
  5. New marketing options through apps

1 The distribution is lighter

A nationwide or global distribution of print magazines costs an enormous amount of time and money. This is because all content must first find its way physically to the reader. And that is no easy task, as we all know.

Moreover, the traditional distribution channel often requires the active involvement of the reader. Readers have to visit newsstands, bookstores or supermarkets to find out about the latest title.

In addition, print publications have a very limited print run. Production and mailing costs determine how many people you can ultimately reach. In contrast, the significantly higher number of potential people you can reach is a huge advantage of digital publishing.

In the digital world, you can reach your readership much more easily. For example, local magazines can reach readers from a distant region of the country digitally. Or national publications can expand their reach worldwide with little effort.

With the App Store for iPhone and iPad and Google's Play Store for Android devices, every potential reader has a newsstand literally in their pocket.

Decanter's Storefront in its Magazine App

Digitizing a print magazine in the form of an app thus simplifies distribution many times over.

An app is loaded at the touch of a finger, and readers can be informed about new issues by push messages if they wish. In addition, billing is handled directly via the store, whether as a single purchase or subscription. This is a convenience that should not be overlooked.

2 Apps save costs and resources

It's obvious that digital distribution via app costs significantly less than printed magazines.

After all, what is one of the most obvious big advantages of digital publishing? Cost savings, of course. The big plus here is that the money saved in print is now available elsewhere.

Just consider how much money is spent on producing print editions: For paper costs, printing and shipping your magazines. With digital publications, none of that matters.

But low print volume isn't just good for costs. Fewer printed copies also mean less use of resources.

In other words, you simply use tons less paper. This ecological aspect is now also an increasingly strong argument with readers. Younger generations are particularly open-minded in this respect. Brands are currently experiencing that young consumers increasingly want to know how companies deal with the issue of sustainability. And this has not just been the case since the Friday's for Future movement.

Publishers who offer their magazines as apps are thus also demonstrating a sustainable approach to scarce resources.

3 Higher reader retention through interactivity

However, the potential for cost savings is only one aspect. Digital formats also offer completely new technical possibilities. Possibilities that, in the best case, lead to an immersive experience of the brand.

Surprisingly, the Alliance of Audited Media (AAM) shows that not enough publishers have yet been able to benefit fully from this trend. That's because, according to an AAM study, 73% of publishers are still reproducing their print editions exactly.

But what exactly makes the difference when it comes to interactivity?

First and foremost, audio and video come to mind. These two options in particular have the potential to take articles to a completely different interactive level. What's more, Generation Z has come to expect interactive elements in an app.

The Empire Magazine is a great example for an interactive magazine

With the help of links and elements, such as votes or comments, reading the favorite magazine becomes an active experience for the reader.

For example, they can have a direct influence on the design of topics or rate content. For you as a publisher, on the other hand, this offers the opportunity to make direct contact with your readership. This strengthens the bond between brand and readers.

From this point of view, an app offers yet another invaluable advantage. Because while using it, readers reveal a lot about themselves.

This data and information, in turn, is virtually just waiting to be analyzed on a regular basis. They not only provide information about which articles have met with great interest. Among other things, app usage also reveals the time of day when readers most often pick up the offer. Where they are geographically located. Or how long articles are consumed.

This is all important information that you can use as a basis for optimizing strategies or creating new content and formats.

4 Apps open up new target groups and revenue sources

Many people now take their smartphones for granted. If you succeed in maintaining a constant presence with your content on this device, you have the opportunity to reach new reader groups. Target groups that you cannot or can no longer reach with a print magazine.

In addition, interactive elements in an app offer the opportunity to open up new revenue channels. With print, you as a publisher traditionally generate the greatest revenue through the sale of ads. App publishing helps you expand that horizon.

According to a study by Digital Market Outlook, revenue from ePaper and eMagazines will continue to grow in 2020 to $5.9 billion and $3.3 billion, respectively.

Global ePublishing revenue forecast for 2017 to 2023
Forecast of ePublishing Sales Worldwide from 2017 to 2023

Another growth opportunity is to offer mentioned products directly at the tap of a finger. The publisher thus becomes an affiliate. Not so long ago, the New York Times acquired the product review website The Wirecutter for 30 million US dollars. For what purpose? In the hope of benefiting from the niche reach and revenue of the affiliate website, of course.

New York Times' product review site The Wirecutter

For the sake of completeness, you can of course also make additional information available for a fee. And you can also market additional ad space in your app to advertisers.

The New York Times was able to significantly expand its web and app business in the past year. Digital ad revenue at the NYT overtook print advertising for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2018. More specifically, digital ad revenue increased 23% in Q4 to $103 million, while print advertising declined 10% to $88 million.

"We ended 2018 with total digital revenue of $709 million. That means after just three years, we've already achieved three-quarters of our five-year goal of doubling digital revenue to $800 million by 2020."

Mark Thompson, CEO of The New York Times

5 New marketing options through apps

An app is embedded in the respective ecosystem of an operating system with all its possibilities.

Share an article from the app with friends on digital networks like Facebook or Twitter? That, too, works with a swipe. This automatically increases the opportunities to be profitably represented on social media platforms.

This, in turn, also boosts the ranking in search engine results. Reviews of the app by blogs and users, for example, also contribute to this. After all, every app can also be accessed in the web version of the app stores.

How do you recognize strong articles? The best articles are usually those that readers can also find. And here, Google and Facebook are the gatekeepers. Being visible there is still essential for any publisher. An app also contributes to this.

Last but not least, the app icon on the smartphone screen permanently reminds the user of the magazine brand. The app is thus more than just another digital touchpoint in the reader's journey. Ideally, it creates a deeper connection with the reader and thus engraves the brand in the user's consciousness.

Furthermore, from a marketing point of view, an app offers another, not so obvious advantage. App users represent a clearly defined segment among readers. And as such, they can even be addressed directly. Be it through niche newsletters with optimized content or personalized push messages on devices. This even gives you the opportunity to create your own community of app readers and address them specifically.

By the way, a certain niche newsletter called Obsession by Quartz claims to have an open rate of over 78%. This would be significantly higher than the average open rate for media newsletters, which is about 22% according to MailChimp.

Also interesting in this context: according to Niche Media, the five must-send emails for trade magazines are weekly summaries, mini-series, announcements, birthday clubs and breaking news alerts.

Magazine as an app: A great newsletter example: "Obsession" by Quartz


What remains to be said? Are print magazines dead? Certainly not.

What we do know, however, is that digital magazines continue to grow in popularity. Both in Europe and in the USA. Because, and this is obvious, migrating your print magazine to an app opens up many new opportunities.

It is precisely these opportunities that make a decisive difference compared to the early days of digital publishing. Just a few years ago, the technical possibilities of today were unimaginable. Bulky data carriers were necessary. Readers had to sit rigidly in front of a computer or install software.

So why is it worth integrating app publishing into your content strategy again? Firstly, reading habits have changed drastically. Secondly, the advantages of digital publishing now clearly outweigh the disadvantages.

As you know, an app is just a valuable distribution channel for your content. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter, your website or Apple News, there are numerous other possibilities. With our Purple DS Hub, you create content once and distribute and monetize it across all your channels. Find out more about our Multichannel Content Hub here.

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Kevin Kallenbach
Head of Sales