To promote the medium's value, engagement needs to be proven.
BY JOSH GORDON
05/19/2010 -02:40 PM
For those who read my last post on the Audience Development blog which raised questions about the proposed BPA rules for digital magazines, take heart. What started as a conversation on this blog with BPA Worldwide President & CEO Glenn Hansen continued off-line and has resulted in some extremely productive activities.
During our off-line conversation, I shared the core finding from the study, "The Case for Advertising in Interactive Digital Magazines" documenting that the prime reason marketers advertise in digital magazines is to take advantage of the interactive experience the ads can deliver to readers.
This is no small point. No digital magazine can compete for advertising strictly on a cost basis against the page views or click throughs offered by other online media. Every online media buyer knows they can buy more clicks per dollar by simply buying search, which now accounts for about half of all online ad dollars spent. They also know they can buy far more page views per dollar buying Web banners which they are far more familiar with.
But when it comes to delivering an interactive online experience, digital magazines have a big advantage. Why? Here are two reasons from the study:
• Larger ad sizes: A full-page ad in a digital magazine takes up half the screen; a Web site banner ad is typically placed on the periphery of the screen and delivers less impact. Also, a half-screen ad gives an advertiser the ability to deliver a full message instead of just invitation to view one. For example, a Web banner ad could invite a reader to “click to read about our contest.” But a full-page digital magazine ad can have a “click to play” video explaining the contest, photographs of the prizes, contest details, and a click to enter form.
• The active reading style of a magazine experience creates more involvement than the "surfing" or "searching" style of a Web site.
If an audit for digital magazines is to be effective in motivating advertisers, it needs to verify aspects of the medium’s interactivity that will help media buyers see value in advertising.
Right now, BPA is gathering usage data to identify and test metrics that could be included. Hansen and his team are definitely on the right track. Pending the test results, these are his thoughts on what should be included:
• Unique User: An identified and un-duplicated individual user who accesses the paginated content or advertising of an issue.
• User Duration: The average time visitors remained on the issue.
• Page Impressions: Recorded each time an issue’s page is displayed in a platform screen/window.
Publishers who have digital replicas with low open rates may resist this kind of scrutiny. But while it is possible to make some money operating with low open rates, most publishers making significant money in digital magazine advertising have added interactive features to their editions that raise open rates. Honestly, if your open rate is 5 percent, what real value are you delivering to an advertiser? There is potential if you invest in your digital edition. Don’t blame an audit on this.
Finally, I greatly appreciate the support BPA Worldwide has shown to the study. Especially Glenn Hansen’s letter to BPA members encouraging them to read it and featuring the study on the BPA Web site.