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Digital editions: 5 minutes with… Blake Pollard

What is the optimum balance between print and digital editions is a question that keeps many publishers awake at night. We grab five minutes with eMagazines’ Blake Pollard to talk about the key considerations for publishers.

By Blake Pollard

Digital editions: 5 minutes with… Blake Pollard

Q: How is reader behaviour and the way they consume content changing?

A: Print is still considered a premium experience, and many are still willing to pay for print. Websites need to offer a different experience and include more content that consumers can snack on, like audio and video. Understanding your audience is more important now than ever.

For websites, consumers expect the experience to be organised, fast, and not cluttered with adverts. With many consumers using platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and others, publishers must narrow their focus to their specific niche and offer the most premium content.

For native magazine apps and digital editions, the content must be optimised and or re-imagined across all platforms for traditional print magazines. As I mentioned in InPublishing’s recent ‘content production & UX’ special feature, flipbooks of magazines do not work and should be banned!

Other areas of growth include audio narrations with natural and AI voice technology. Consumers need this option across all platforms.

Q: What will be the mix between print and digital in five years' time?

A: Traditional print readers will continue to want print but will also expect to have premium digital experiences tied to their subscription. These premium experiences will be across digital editions, native apps (when applicable), websites, newsletters, video, audio, and other “experiences”.

The right balance and mix will be key to maintaining and growing a premium audience around traditional magazine brands. Publishers that listen to and reach their audiences across all touchpoints will succeed. A narrower focus for most magazine publishers will be extremely important. The user experience and journey will have to be optimised for all platforms and distribution points.

We are already seeing a major shift from print to digital with our clients. The important thing to remember with this is that publishers will need to work with the right partners to ensure that the digital experience is as good or better than print.

Over the next five years, publishers that have a laser focus on their audience and niche will continue to see print thrive as a premium part of a larger membership or subscription.

Q: What impact will AI have on magazine publishing?

A: AI is already making magazine publishers rethink their workflows and strategy. That said, consumers will expect premium magazine content to be well vetted, fact checked and edited by a journalist. AI can help make this more efficient but will not replace top journalists in the next five years.

AI will allow for more personalised experiences in both editorial and advertising, and likely cause a massive shift in basic digital advertising. The existing digital advertising model is broken, and AI can help fix it where it shifts back to the creative being the most important aspect of any ad campaign.

Magazine publishers that narrow their focus on their audience have an advantage. Their audiences will want more of what they already provide as long as it is delivered to them in the way they want – across all platforms (web, apps, digital editions, social, audio and video).

Q: What will the digital edition look like in five years’ time?

A: More interactive and personalised with a massive focus on mobile. We are already working with clients to add live covers, interactive graphics, video, and other elements to their digital editions. eMagazines is now an Apple News preferred provider. Apple is pushing the industry in the same direction we have been for the last 5+ years. Premium digital magazines should offer an amazing experience and include additional elements that are unique to a digital magazine. We strongly feel that digital magazines will play an even more important role in the product mix for magazine publishers over the next five years.

Q: How do you see the commercial model for digital editions, in respect of both reader and commercial revenues, evolving?

A: Our clients have really warmed to the idea of offering digital-only subscriptions in addition to bundling digital editions with a print subscription. Apple News+ is the clear leader in the markets it is available in as far as 3rd party newsstands go. Their model is all about engagement and creating the best digital magazine experience.

Most premium magazine publishers will start to think of ways to repurpose and license access to their existing print assets (articles, images, covers etc). For us, this all starts with digital editions. Magazine publishers are rewarded for great design and user experiences.

Q: Where should magazine publishers be investing their time and resources now to prepare themselves for the future?

A: In user experience, understanding their audiences more, and their staff.

Magazine publishers need to focus on this across all platforms that are tied to their specific audience. Consumers expect a premium experience when they pay for content.

AI will play a role, but we feel strongly that consumers will demand that premium content is vetted and created by top journalists that they can trust. Magazine publishers will need to invest even more in top journalism where new tech like AI is leveraged to support journalists, not replace them.

Q: What’s in the pipeline from eMagazines?

A: eMagazines continues to create and innovate smart digital publishing solutions. Digital editions will continue to be the core focus – we want to continue to work with clients and partners to make the experience even more compelling for consumers. We help magazine publishers further monetise their premium magazine content and will continue to build technology and form partnerships to support them.

About us

eMagazines provides magazine publishers with the technology and services needed to produce and deliver their premium digital magazine content. eMagazines’ proprietary software solutions quickly reformat (or “reflow”) a publisher’s print-version PDF into a beautiful, easy-to-navigate mobile device experience so publishers can expand monetisation opportunities of their magazine content.

  • Readers appreciate beautiful mobile-first digital editions
  • Publishers appreciate our fully managed services
  • Partners appreciate how easy it is to license magazine content from premium brands
  • Journalists and designers appreciate when their content is shown off in a beautiful, digital format.