Digital Editions – Do They Count?

United Business Media announced Thursday that four issues of Information Week this year will be available solely as downloadable interactive PDFs.

The publication is calling these four PDFsInformationWeek Green Issues.” and said it will plant a tree for each of the first 5,000 downloads of each of the four issues in conjunction with American Forests.

Whilst I applaud the efforts to reforest the planet, I’d personally like to see a more significant move coming from publishers who would like us to take digital magazine more seriously – get us genuine performance data!

Over the years, publishers have dodged major questions about digital versions of magazines, almost never giving details of download numbers, open numbers, pages consumed, advertisements clicked or unsubscribe rates. Many have hidden behind the “well when we send out a print magazine we can’t tell you how many people actually read them either” line, which whilst true hardly is comparable. Digital versions are, by there nature, able to provide stats. I know this by having had “private” discussions with publishers, so it’s obvious to me that if data is not forthcoming it’s probably because it’s not that impressive.

Result – As a rule the agency does not encourage support of this format. We are strong advocates for print (our own research proves that magazines DO still get read) and obviously we do a boat load of web advertising.

Personally I’m frustrated – I really do want to support digital formats and think the industry as a whole would benefit enormously if we have data to help us understand them and evaluate sensibly. Perhaps these special issues will provide us with more data…I will keep you posted.

Dick Reed
Just Media, Inc.

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