Don’t Tell Me About Digital Dimes
Written by Joy Beachy
The cornerstone of magazine revenue has been advertising for quite some time, with CPM’s and promises of fulfillment ruling a lot of publishing decisions with regards to subscription prices as well as ad sales. Understandably, as publishers started moving to digital, the industry wanted to know how they could possibly charge advertisers or readers the same amounts for a digital product.
This article in The Wall Street Journal turns the whole concept on its head in a single quote: " By contrast, magazine publishers have guaranteed advertisers their titles will reach a minimum number of readers and, to fulfill that pledge, they have long cut prices sharply for promotional subscriptions. And such guarantees have reduced the magazine publishers’ ability to raise print subscription prices. Digital pricing gives magazine companies a tool to begin training consumers to pay more for content, and some of these new prices have even made their way into print."
Publishers found themselves beholden to advertisers in print, and the measly $6, $7, and $8 subscriptions were born. Digital is providing publishers with a chance to reset that number. Publishers like Hearst and Bonnier are charging more for their digital subscriptions, with Hearst sometimes charging double for the digital edition what they would the print. Condé Nast, who also raised their prices, even noted, "print subscribers who chose to sign up for digital subscriptions renewed at a 25% higher rate than those who didn’t."
It’s tempting to think the digital is worth less than print, as it actually saves publishers money on print and distribution costs. But the content is what you’re selling, not how difficult it was for you to produce it. And as some of the major publishers are proving, people pay for good content.