Digital Innovation Digital Publishing
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Digital editions are one answer for publishers struggling with C-19

OPINION

The ripple effects of coronavirus are playing havoc with the publishing industry. For very good reasons, many are veering towards digital editions and away from print. If there is such a thing as a triple-whammy, that’s what publishers are facing right now.

Whammy 1: On the face of it these are boom times for newspapers and magazines. Brits are obsessed with the news, constantly searching for the latest updates on coronavirus. BBC News is reporting a surge in viewers by sometimes as much as fifty percent. But for publishers there’s a problem, because while coronavirus may be driving up readership, it’s also driving away advertisers.

Advertisers use keywords to block their campaigns from appearing next to undesirable events and what could be more undesirable than Covid-19? In the past, blacklisted words included ‘bomb’ or ‘terrorist’ and now ‘coronavirus’ is the word you don’t want your product anywhere near.

All of which is incredibly frustrating as it means publishers are unable to monetize their surge in readership. It’s been estimated that UK newspapers could lose as much as £50m in advertising revenue. The industry is urging advertisers to remove C-19 words and references from their blacklists.

Whammy 2: Working our way over to another part of the publishing food chain we come to the smaller publications such as trade magazines and free sheets. Their problem is both straightforward and alarming – they too are losing advertising, but to make matters worse, many are completely unable to get their product printed or distributed.

‘Time Out’, now styling itself as ‘Time in’, usually thrives on news vendors handing copies to commuters. With virtually everyone still in work, working from home, the age of the commuter is currently on pause. Time Out has a digital edition that contains plenty of advertising, although how many people will want to read a lifestyle magazine when the only lifestyle currently on offer is lazing around in pyjamas is a moot point.

Whammy 3: Picture this – you produce an excellent trade magazine, full of informative articles about how your industry is doing battle with C-19, complete with targeted advertising and, better still, you are continuing to get it printed and distributed. Perfect except for one detail. Your magazine, lovingly produced and written, is being delivered to empty buildings – your mag is either returned to sender or gathering dust on a carpet tile. No one’s home, or rather they’re all at home.

Digital makes sense

Businesses must adapt to survive. For publishers to reach their audiences right now involves finding a way to reach them via smartphone, iPad, laptop or desktop and the best way to achieve that is via a high-quality digital edition.

The Financial Times has now switched five of its titles to digital and CorpComms has done the same. Stylist magazine which up until recently had a print distribution of more than 400k, has gone the same route.

A Stylist spokesperson said: ‘Alongside the digital edition, we have a highly engaged digital and social audience of over 3m women, a direct email brand, (and) a new timely franchise Working from Home.’

Digital editions typically have advanced tools needed to control distribution, gather GDPR-compliant data, review engagement statistics and ensure the audience has an excellent interactive reading and watching experience.

In short, to combat the triple-whammy there’s a good case to be made for using digital editions, both during coronavirus and beyond.

Jim Preen
Director, YUDU

About: With a digital publishing system that’s straight-forward and easy, YUDU provides publishers with the tools to deliver the best version of their publications to the widest audience, fully mobile-ready, with full statistics on their use, and advanced integration options with statistics services like Google Analytics ready to go.

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