Print and Digital Living In Harmony

Matt Clement

Written by Matt Clement

November 22, 2016

When I think about digital publications and what it takes to create them, I often steer the conversation towards television advertising. Back in the day when television was becoming popular, the first paid TV ad ran on July 1st of 1941. It was given to Bulova watch as an added value to a very lucrative radio advertising contract. It was a graphic with a simple reading. A reading just like you would do on the radio.

Radio style advertising remained on television briefly in those early years but soon advertisers started to use the medium as it would make the most sense and play to the strengths of the television.

Print Is Not Dying

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of the print is dying digital guys. I believe in the peaceful coexistence of print and digital. I also take it a step further and say that as magazine publishers you should be using both. Each medium is important in getting your content and messaging out to readers because as we know more and more readers are deciding how they want to read content and this helps you reach more people. After Nxtbook’s 13+ years in the space, the biggest reason for reading digital publications still remains to be “environmentally friendly”. Those readers are strong advocates for digital.

As a person in the digital space, I wish it was more noble and normal to want to be in digital because it plays to the strengths of the internet and the electronic firepower that we all have at our disposal in computers, tablets, and phones. But unfortunately, many advertisers and publishers don’t take the necessary steps to make the digital product different and more supportive of a magazine’s long-term strategies. Too often publishers are just making a replica version of a print magazine and saying that it’s ok just that way.

There is a reason you don’t see radio ads on TV anymore.

People got smarter and used the technology the way it was meant to be used. We in the digital space are patiently waiting for the market to realize how digital can be different and let the words we bring to the relationship sink in and be embraced.

We love what we do and believe that we have a great deal to offer when it comes to what can be done in a digital world but often we are left with a lack of readership and low interest in digital. (The list goes on.) Imagine if television had remained a person sitting in a studio reading to an audience. It would not have worked well for television and all the people that worked in the industry. Fortunately, it went in a different direction and is widely successful today.
old black and white photo of a family around a tv
Learning from Television

I realize there is a vast difference in what we do versus my comparison to early television. All I hope to accomplish is to spur some publishers on to exploring the opportunities that exist in digital and making digital publications the best they can be. My hope over the coming months will be to talk about some digital successes and challenge the thinking in this digital space to make it better for everyone. We want publishers to succeed in all they do. That’s why, at Nxtbook, we have such a large commitment to the software we create, the product knowledge that we have, industry education that we perform, along with the customer service that we provide.

When you look at the biggest knock against digital publications that we hear, it is our readership numbers are low. When you investigate the reasons, time and time again it’s because the print edition and digital edition are the very same thing. Why would anyone read something that is exactly the same as the other product, regardless of what it is? Think about that. Usually, what happens when the first issue of a digital version of a magazine is explored the reader determines if they will read print or digital. If they pick print it’s because digital is the exact same version and they usually don’t go back to it. Why would they? It’s usually harder to read on the screen with all of that pesky pinching, zooming, and scrolling. It’s a lot of work for a mediocre experience.

But it doesn’t have to be a mediocre experience.

You can spend some time and energy to make the digital edition more memorable and turn it around. It just takes a bit more of a commitment to digital and making the experience different. You need to align the messaging and content with your other properties, print, and the web. After that, start promoting the difference with the readers. Show them what is going on that is new, different, and exciting.

When you launched your first print magazine, people didn’t come right away.  The audience built over time because there was a great deal of thought and energy put into the print publication. I believe digital deserves the same attention. I truly believe if you build it, they will come.

My first tip for making your digital magazine different than print is adding additional content to articles. Digital has a much cheaper per page cost to it and therefore much easier to make a four or six-page extended article when the print magazine can only support two pages because of the cost structure. You can also put in unique content that can only exist in digital. Maybe a video that shows topics in more detail, again supporting the print side. How about an author interview, either in video or audio?

Look for more ways to make digital different in the coming weeks and together we can make your own television content different than your radio content. After all, your viewers…I mean readers, deserve it.

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