AdAge reports that digital circulation is tiny compared to print, at least among titles audited by the ABC. Here are some likely reasons for this:
1) The fact that the titles are audited by the ABC means that we’re looking at mostly paid, B2C, titles. Since the dawn of digital editions, the B2B titles have outperformed their sexier counterparts, generating 15% or more of digital readership in most cases, or 7 times what many B2C titles have.
2) The fact that the titles are audited by the ABC says something about the titles, too. Audited titles – and I’m generalizing here – often seem stuck on proving metrics that don’t make sense anymore (circulation over readership being a prime example). Until magazines begin to chase the right carrot, the bunny’s won’t look as fuzzy.
3) The fact that so many magazines have hitched their wagon to native apps to drive readership. Listen, we love native apps, but our most successful publishers still get more than half of their readership through the Internet browser digital edition. The app road is a pretty road; it’s just also pretty narrow.
4) Magazine titles that get audited are also between a rock and a hard place. Don’t optimize your content enough for screen reading, and readers won’t be interested. Optimize it too much and it won’t count as the same title. It’s yet another issue the ABC has struggled to define in this new era.
Your take-aways? Make sure you’re optimizing your content and publishing to the browser. And, of course, if you’re truly focusing on circulation, you might want to look at analytics a bit differently.
April 2nd, 2012 by Marcus Grimm