Of the 172 digital magazine brands tracked as part of Affinity's semi-annual scorecard, Dwell ranked No. 1, followed by Popular Science, Architectural Digest, Wired and, surprise, granola-crunching/planet-hugging Mother Earth News (see table below).
The study ranks digital magazines - including the digital editions of analogue titles as well as digital-only publications - based on a wide variety of criteria, including "Most Trusted" (WebMD ranks No. 1), "Most Entertaining" (Maxim), "Most Useful" (Cooking Light), "Most Believable" (Guideposts), "Most Topical" (The Atlantic), "Most Informative" (Diabetes Forecast), "Most Inspiring" (Guideposts), "Most Authoritative" (The Economist), "Most Enjoyable" (Playboy), and "Most Interesting" (Smithsonian). But Affinity Managing Director Tom Robinson considers "most innovative" to be an especially telling attribute in terms of looking at the prospects for digital magazines, because, "magazines are now competing with all of the content and advertising available in digital form, not just their traditional set of print competitors. Only those brands that leverage the latest technologies in creative ways and offer consumers interactive and meaningful experiences will stand out among digital users."
Next to innovation, Robinson says believability likely is a key attribute, because it is "a core strength that is traditionally associated with the content and advertising of many printed magazines, and one that they actively promote. The real question is: Does this perception among consumers transcend platforms and also exist for a magazine's digital offerings?
Most Innovative Digital Magazines
2. Popular Science
3. Architectural Digest
5. Mother Earth News
6. Fast Company
7. Organic Gardening
8. Elle Decor
9. Martha Stewart Living
10. Popular Mechanics
Source: American Magazine Study, Spring 2011; Digital platforms measured include magazine Websites, social networks, mobile magazine apps and other digital delivery; Online audience estimates provided by comScore, Inc.