Mar 18, 2010, From strategyeye.com
Written by Jasper Jackson
New rules for counting US digital circulation figures could help magazine publishers boost ad revenues on iPad versions of their publications. The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), which measures US print circulation, has scrapped rules which stipulated that digital editions must have an identical layout to count as "replicas". This threatened to penalise publishers trying to develop effective new formats for e-readers such as the iPad.
"The changes announced today, combined with the move toward a ‘total circulation model' that has already been approved, will provide our advertising customers with more transparency and more market data than ever before," says Newspaper Association of America president and CEO John Sturm. The NAA worked with ABC to revise the guidelines.
Magazines have struggled to convince advertisers that online editions are as carefully targeted as their print editions. Advertisers will pay more to reach readers who have bought a whole product rather than dipped in to a few articles found through a Google search. However, selling full digital editions for devices such as the iPad may help boost digital ad rates as well as open up new ways to measure readerships.
The rule change comes as newspaper publishers in the UK express pessimism about the iPad. Members of the UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) say too few people will buy iPads to significantly increase revenues this year. They also claim the device currently lacks the capability to render all content to a high enough standard.
"I want to be at the top of the queue to buy one and play with it. But we're talking about a very, very narrow subsection of society that will have these in 2010," says Daily Mail online MD James Bromley, talking to AOP. "This is the time that we learn about these devices - ‘11, ‘12, ‘13 is when these might become slightly more mainstream."
The comments were recorded as part of the AOP's annual survey, which predicted online revenue growth of just 10%. The figure comes after far more positive outlooks in previous years, including a forecast 31% rise in digital revenues in 2008 and 16% in 2009. However, publishers are still clearly dedicated to digital with 75% saying they plan more investment in online this year and 60% saying they will pursue new technology partnerships.
The iPad is being hailed by many as a potential saviour of publishing. Its supporters argue the Apple app model proves users will pay for content and note that, unlike most e-readers currently available, the iPad is full colour and can display advertising. Others counter that the iPad is unlikely to be anything other than a high-end product, and claim it will take a product with a bigger user base to create a digital readership large enough to support mass media.