How publishers can profit from digital media

Digital editions, e-readers, ipads, mobile, video…for print-based publishers are they all a way to get sucked into creating expensive content for a small audience that is reluctant to pay?  Or have some pioneering publishers found a clever route through the hype to drive real value?  I chaired a meeting earlier this week with a cross-section of specialist media owners and digital media gurus that made me think there were some potentially profitable options available.  I was planning the “profiting from digital media” session at the Specialist Media Show conference.  Our host was Ben Greenish, MD of the Spectator, and we were joined by Graeme Gourlay, MD of Circle Publishing, Peter Houston of Advanstar, Mark Stubbs of Pixel Mags, Graham Duffill of the Digital Publishing Company, and Fiona Ryder of Stream Exchange.  You can hear them all speak at greater length at the Specialist Media Show on 25 May 2010, and even question them youself, but here’s a taste of how they feel small specialist media owners can use digital media to advantage:

1. Reach new audiences

The marketplaces for digital editions, mobile apps and e-readers, let alone the power of search and social media, open up new audiences for smaller publishers who have been previously limited to the UK newsstand and international distributors.  The apple app store reaches many people worldwide who don’t frequent WH Smiths on a Saturday morning.  The Spectator has found a new US audience through its Kindle version.  The challenge is then finding ways to promote your website and print subs to this audience.

2. Lower costs for secondary audiences

A simple PDF-based digital edition provides low-cost international reach for Dive magazine, enabling remote dive shops in the Pacific to get their copy.  They are also valuable for association or affiliate audiences, or for extra distribution for commercial supplements.

3. Extend ad proposition

Advanstar have found that providing a digital edition incarnation of their print/web publications has added significant value to advertisers, making free circulation digital editions profitable. See my previous post on digital editions for more tips.

4. Engage audiences

Digital editions can include web links, competitions and video, engaging audiences beyond pure content, and enabling publishers to collect data.

5. Grow print sales

The extra reach, awareness, visibility, PR, word of mouth – call it what you like – associated with digital media can remind people of your core print product.  The Spectator are convinced that their digital edition, iphone app and Kindle versions have helped their newsstand sales grow as well as generate more print subs.

So perhaps there is a glimmer of profit out there after all.  Find out more about profiting from digital media and other hot topics for specialist media owners at the Specialist Media Conference, and join senior directors from Time Out, Incisive, Econsultancy, Centaur, RBI, MyHobbystore, Emap, Archant, IPC, BPG, Factory Media, Magicalia, Intent, Signature, Warners and many other specialist media owners.

About the author: Carolyn Morgan runs Penmaen Media, a consultancy advising media owners on how to profit from digital media and marketing.  She is also content director for the Specialist Media Show.  If you’d like an informal discussion about how you can create a profitable digital media strategy please contact us for a chat.