Mag Bag: Digital Magazine Circ Rises

Ipad-Wired-MagazineDigital Magazine Circ Rises

The total digital circulation of consumer magazines tracked by the Audit Bureau of Circulations has jumped from 1.4 million in the second half of 2010 to nearly 3.3 million in the second half of 2011, according to ABC figures cited by Ad Age. That’s a 125% jump in one year, reflecting the growing interest in online editions and the increasing penetration of tablet devices like the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle.

Despite these impressive figures, Ad Age also reports that digital circulation remains just 1% of total paid and verified circulation, with sponsored circulation (generally sold in large packages to businesses) making up a much larger proportion of the digital than the print circulation. By contrast, individual paid circulation was just 24% of Maxim’s digital circulation, and 25% of Seventeen’s.

Earlier this month, ABC announced it is introducing a new report format that will offer significantly more detail on consumer magazines’ digital publications. Principally, when a publication’s digital editions constitute over 2% of its total circulation (and average at least 3,000 copies), the publisher must report net digital circ by platform type -- including Web, apps and multiplatform offer.

The new report format requires publishers to report several key metrics for digital magazine consumption via tablet apps and Web browsers, including the number of unique browsers or devices, total visits and average visit duration.

Some big magazine publishers are already moving to offer advertisers and media buyers more insight into their growing digital circulation. For example, Conde Nast revealed that it will begin sharing information with advertisers, including the number of tablet subscriptions and single-copy sales, open rates for the tablet edition and the amount of time spent with the digital magazine by readers. Advertisers that pay extra for premium ads can get more information, including how many readers accessed the ad, the number of times it was displayed, and average time spent with the ad.

Variety On Auction Block

Variety, the venerable purveyor of entertainment business trade news, has been put up for sale by owner Reed Business Information -- the latest in a series of magazine sales by RBI, which has divested a number of print properties in recent years. RBI CEO Mark Kelsey was quoted as saying: “With RBI's increasing focus on data services, and the sale of our other US print magazines, it now makes sense for us to sell the business. ... I have no doubt the business will continue to thrive under new ownership." The report noted that Variety has expanded into events and launched a number of new products, including the Variety Insight data wing (following the acquisition of TVtracker), Flixtracker and the Variety Archives.

Ziff Davis Unveils PC Mag for iPad

PC Magazine is now available for purchase at the iPad App Store and Apple Newsstand, according to publisher Ziff Davis, which said the monthly iPad edition will contain more than 40 articles, reviews and features, along with interactive elements like 360-degree views of products. It is also relatively small in terms of memory, at just 70 MB -- meaning it should be an easy download.

The digital edition for the iPad contains “no advertising whatsoever,” Ziff Davis said. Editor in Chief Dan Costa stated: “Because we ceased the print publication a few years ago and shifted purely to the Web, we were able to design an iPad edition from scratch with the iPad consumer in mind.” The magazine’s other digital editions -- available on Zinio, Nook, Kindle and the Sony Reader -- have a total paid circ of over 50,000. The PC Magazine app for the iPad will be free to download and will include a free sample issue. The April issue is available for $3.99 and consumers can also choose two subscription options: monthly at $1.99 or annually at $19.99.

Billboard Appoints Levy Editor

Joe Levy has been named editor of Billboard. Levy previously served as chief content officer at Maxim, where he oversaw editorial strategy and brand direction. He also served as editor in chief of music mag Blender, and executive editor of Rolling Stone. His resume also includes a stint as senior editor at Details, editor at the Village Voice and Spin.

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