New study: Interactivity is the Core Reason Marketers Advertise in “iPad style” Interactive Digital Magazines

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A new survey on digital magazine advertising success stories reveals why some win advertisers where many fail.

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Engaging readers in interactive experiences, not just click-throughs, is the main reason marketers advertise in interactive digital magazines, according to the findings of a new survey conducted by publishing industry consultant Josh Gordon.

The study, “The Case for Advertising in Interactive Digital Magazines,” is the first to survey only the readers of interactive digital magazines, and not include digital replicas of print magazines, which are the majority of digital magazines today.

According to Gordon, “The publishers of the interactive digital magazines we studied have retooled the magazine format and magazine advertising into a form perfect for the iPad and other e-reading devices.” When the ads in these interactive digital magazines were compared to ads in other media, they showed much higher levels of interactivity because they combine three characteristics: the active reading of a magazine-style experience, much larger ad sizes, and an interactive digital environment. Says Gary Strauss, publisher of the interactive digital magazine, Sporting News Today, “Your ad is seen as a full page digital ad facing a full page of digital editorial. It lays out like a print magazine, but with all of the advantages of digital. When full page edit faces a full page advertisement, the ad is going to be seen.”
The result is an environment where advertisers can present ads with a much higher level of interactivity compared with other online advertising media. The survey found:

•When interactive digital magazine readers were asked to compare their reading experience with “websites of similar content,” 83% picked interactive magazines as being “more engaging,” compared with 17% who picked websites.

•When asked which media they were more likely to ignore ads on, 30% picked the ads in interactive digital magazines, while 70% picked the ads in “websites of similar content.”

•Even though the ads in interactive digital magazines are much larger, they are better received by media users. When asked which electronic media had ads that were “helpful or interesting,” the top score went to interactive digital magazines at 63.2%. After that came television at 53.8%, radio at 34.8%, e-mail advertising at 22.4%, ads on e-mail newsletters at 20.6%, website banner ads at 16.4%, and website pop-up ads at 2.4%.

One reason the ads are so well received is that advertisers who use them to greatest advantage are creating interactive ads that combine video, Flash animation, opt-ins for more content, contests, special offers, and links to e-commerce landing pages. A recent ad for a new motion picture in the digital interactive magazine VIVmag had a click-to-play video from the movie, a link to buy a theater ticket, and an offer to join a club for future ticket sales.

The study also found that highly interactive editorial leads readers to interact with a publication's advertising. As they become accustomed to clicking to view editorial videos or extra content, readers will also click to view an advertiser’s video or content. The publications in this study included articles offering multiple interactive opportunities. For example, a recent issue of Grand magazine featured an article on a country singer that contained a performance video, social media sharing tools, and links to a schedule of the artist’s concert tours.

The study, which pooled the circulations of eight different interactive digital magazines, is based on 5,612 completed questionnaires. The publications included: PopSci Genius Guide, VIVmag, Premier Guitar, Winding Road, Grand, HipCompass Escapes, HorseLink, and Outside’s Go!
The study was sponsored by Nxtbook Media, a digital magazine service company, and VIVmag, the first all digital women’s lifestyle magazine.

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JOSH GORDON
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