Add the Ad that Counts: Cover Wraps

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The decline of ad revenue is one of the magazine industry’s greatest concerns. It is also one of the reasons that the whole “print is dead” concept came about; if you are not making ad dollars, and subscriptions are harder to come by, how does a magazine make money?

The answer to the question lies in resolving a huge industry assumption. Traditional ad dollars, meaning the sale of ad spaces in a magazine, are lower. They are not gone. Further, internal ads are not the only ads available for a print magazine. Cover wraps, for example, are a great alternative, and also one of the few sources of print advertising revenue that has increased in recent years.

What is a cover wrap?

Cover wraps differ from traditional magazine ads, so not everyone knows what a cover wrap is. Think of it as a 4-page cover, completely composed of ads, that runs over the actual cover. For saddle-stitch magazines, this means a 4-page signature placed on top of the regular cover. For perfect bound magazines, the cover would be the cover and spine, and the “real” cover would be two inserts placed inside of the cover wrap.

In most cases, a single advertiser purchases the whole 4-page wrap, or two advertisers split the wrap. In the case of two buyers, one usually buys the front and cover, the other buys the back cover.

There is also the option for a front-only cover wrap, where an additional sheet, sometimes made from a different paper, is placed on top of the front cover. This is more complicated to produce, but still a viable option.

Why are cover wraps working when other ads are not?

The first thing to address is that print ads are working, just not as well as they used to. Cover wraps happen to be performing well at this time, more so than other print ads. With that said, why are they working when other print ads are not?

  1. Not every print for an issue needs a cover wrap. A publisher can sell a cover to a specific segment of the readership. Publishers can sell multiple cover wraps for the same print issue. If an advertiser wants to target a specific list within a readership, that is a premium opportunity. Sell it as such.
  2. A magazine’s value to the reader is not its ads, but its content. So rather than disrupting the reader, cover wraps immediately affiliate the ad with the content, and give the reader the chance to experience the ad prior to consuming the content. This also affiliates the ad with the brand more than an internal ad, because of the magazine branding and cover page elements, and almost hides the ad in the form of editorial content.
  3. They can be used for self-promotion. By directly affiliating with the content and brand of the magazine, the chance of engagement is much higher. Using cover wraps for subscription renewals, corporate updates, or to promote the release of new titles through existing titles are all functional options.
  4. Cover wraps can be an alternative to an internal ad, or an upsell opportunity. If an advertiser is already buying a cover ad, it is easier to sell a discounted internal ad to them as well. It may not be as large of margins, but selling two ads helps offset that.
  5. An advertiser can run a campaign across multiple publications at once using cover wraps. Advertisers want the most bang for their buck, so being able to generate one main campaign cover wrap, and work with multiple titles would allow them to run the same ad to multiple markets and readerships at the same time.

What are the limitations of cover wraps?

Cover wraps are additional pages being added to a publication. Regardless of how many issues include a cover wrap, there are additional print costs associated with cover wraps. The weight of each print with a cover wrap also increases, thus increasing shipping costs. The ads sold in a cover wraps often offset these costs, but the publisher needs to do research and price the ads appropriately to ensure an ROI.

Branding also comes into play. Even though there is still a real cover underneath the cover wrap, what readers see first is the wrap. A magazine’s brand must be strong enough to ensure the reader knows, even with the ad on the cover, what magazine it is. The wrap is unsuccessful otherwise, and hurt the magazine’s brand in general.

Lastly, cover wraps, when used for targeted segments of a readership, reach only general groups. Digital advertising gives advertisers the means to define incredibly specific audiences, like “farm owners in Indiana with a preference for comic books.” In comparison to those digital audiences, print audiences target generic groups. That applies to the struggles of print versus digital advertising in general though, not just cover wraps.

Further Information

To learn more about cover wraps, click hereTo see more information on functions and examples of cover wraps, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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9 Types of “Digital” Publishers Can Monetize

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Print is not going anywhere! Publishers have had advertisements in their titles long enough to prove that ad profits mostly come from print. In today’s market, where ads are how publishers make their margins, print needs to be the focus. That said, making additional revenue by incorporating digital is key in today’s blended media market.

Digital content is versatile. First, digital allows publishers to create more editorial and imagery. Second, publishers can use digital to help drive subscriptions and distribution. Lastly, publishers can incorporate new types of content. However, most publishers are still skeptical about digital because their focus is print. Publishers feel they have to sacrifice time, energy, and money from print to make digital feasible.

So how can publishers feel more comfortable dedicating time, energy, and money into a digital strategy? The best way is to look at how other publishers are monetizing digital successfully. Each publisher may be unique, but trends and concepts cross over the entire market, and there are plenty of publishers marrying print and digital well. These 9 types of digital are tried and true examples of this.

A. Website Related “Digital”

1. Digital Editions

Digital editions provide instantaneous access to the printed content through mobile and electronic devices. For that ease of access, publishers can easily apply a premium or upsell existing subscriptions. Also, the final print file and the file for a digital edition can be identical. Publishers upload their file, add additional links, pages, or other added media, and a digital edition is ready in as fast as 5 minutes.

Great example: 805 Living

2. Paywalls and Web Gates

Not every publication uses a paid content or subscription model for their print titles. That does not mean the digital content has to follow that same model. Websites provide ease of access and the opportunity to include additional content. That ease and extra content extend beyond the traditional offerings of a print publication, so charging for that luxury is normal. A publisher could use digital subscriptions or micro-transactions to monetize accessing exactly what the reader wants.

Great example: Albuquerque the Magazine

3. Applications

Applications combine the best of a website and digital edition, and are customized for a mobile device. It offers the ideal delivery of all content by a publisher to their audience. Apps deliver all formats of content, ads, and notifications in a controlled and branded environment. Apps also deliver in a free, freemium (it is free for some features but paid for others), or paid (costs money to download or has a monthly subscription) capacity, based on the publisher’s choice.

Great example: National Geographic

B. Connection-Related “Digital”

4. Social Media

Originally designed for recreational connection online, social media platforms have become the largest hubs of online traffic. They are the place with the largest amount of content consumption in the world. That means publishers should be using social media. Distribution of content is the obvious use, linking to the website and original editorial. The other option is to actually sell ad space on social. Creating posts for advertisers is very similar to selling sponsored content. Another option is selling ads on social media ad networks. These ads are not limited to social media, but can extend across the internet to find the relevant audience. Also, since these ads do not show up as a post, a publisher’s editorial posting is not muddled by ads.

Great example: BUILD Magazine – Big Sky

5. Email

Emails are still highly effective, and email platforms are easy to monetize and make profitable. Emails also are versatile (birthdays, holidays, events, special sales, etc.). If a publisher is doing subscriptions with email part of their required information, it is easy to build an initial mailing list. For monetization, it is easy to sell sponsorships of newsletters, put ads in a sidebar of an email, and use email to distribute offers and calls-to-action.

Great example: 5280 Magazine

C. Content-Related “Digital”

6. Video Content

As an alternative content format, video is one of the more-easily monetized forms of digital. Videos can supplement a print or web story. They can provide exclusive, additional content (upsold if done well). They can be used for education in the form of “how-to” videos. Also, they can be used as ads or promotional content. Publishers can even curate 3rd-party video related to their audience or stories, skipping the cost of making video content altogether.

Great example: Thrasher Magazine

7. Podcasts

Like video, podcasts are another type of content to leverage. On a podcast, everything is pre-recorded, giving publishers full editorial control. Podcasts are also streamable online or downloadable for offline consumption. They are affordable to produce, averaging $200 an episode. They are also easy to upsell to advertisers for two reasons. First, audio ads, like radio, get a lot of attention. Second, publishers can sell to an advertiser the option of being the podcast story; the publisher interviews the advertiser and lets them promote themselves.

Great example: Discover Magazine

8. Sponsored Content

Thought leaders, influencers, and other content generators are everywhere and seeking opportunities to be published. Externally-produced content can be tailored to any audience upon request. Also, publishers can sell sponsored content spaces for “advertorial” purposes. The sponsor would pay to have their promotional copy included amongst the editorial content. Publishers publish it for a profit.

Great example: GPS World and North Coast Media

9. Augmented Reality

Whoever said print itself does not have the power to be digital is wrong. Augmented reality provides the ability to turn any print publication into a multimedia powerhouse by overlaying other content formats (video, podcasts, imagery, etc.) over the print. It is invisible to the eye, but with a mobile device, all that additional content comes to life. The easiest way to monetize it is to sell it to an advertiser. Now the print ad can link to a website, direct straight to online products, or have virtual tours and examples. Publishers can also use it to provide additional content that could not fit in the print.

Great example: USA Today

Further Information

For more information on how publishers can monetize digital, click here and here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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Ideal Ways Publishers Can Monetize Video

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In today’s multimedia world, there is an argument that content should be moving towards digital platforms. This includes, podcasts, blogs, and video. This really is not the case. The reality for most publishers is that the money is in the print. Thus, print is here to stay so long as that is the case. That said, it does not mean digital cannot provide further profits and additional touchpoints.

Video is the ideal example of this. The medium is the antithesis of print, which is why they are a perfect pairing for publishers. Content that print can cover video can, and visa versa. The same content covered in both forms has different feels and reaches audiences in different ways. Most important of all: they are the most versatile forms of content. They can both be distributed in numerous digital formats. Both can also be transformed into other formats, including having the audio stripped for podcasts and radio or text for blurbs and blogs.

Now print is already in a publisher’s wheelhouse, but video is not, especially when it comes to magazines. That means using video, let alone monetizing it, takes a lot of research and energy and trial-and-error. That said, there are some general ways to monetize video that publishers can take from other industries.

Creating subscriber-only videos

Many publications already use a subscription model to help increase revenue. Those that do not still understand the concept. Create unique editorial content, then tell audiences that if they want it, pay for it. Video is simply another form of content, so creating a gateway on a website or using private, subscriber groups on social media to make that content exclusive to subscribers is an easy jump for a publisher to make.

There are two ways to approach subscription-only videos. The first way is to tether the video into your existing subscription setup, meaning the videos would complement the editorial and be a part of your standard offerings to any subscriber. The other way is to make the videos under their own subscription, which is ideal if the publication is free or if the video content is 100% original and distinct from the editorial.

Bring editorial to life with live-stream

Video is not limited to the pre-record, edit, and distribute method. News coverage has done live coverage for decades, but it is now available to the average persona and organization, including publishers. Live-stream allows for instant coverage of a story, which can be great for timely pieces, as well as a round-up session where a publisher talks about the newest issue and top stories and so forth. It can also be used to add uniqueness to editorial and keep it active, even after the piece is publishers. Simply keep hosting new live-streams on that story’s page, and traffic will keep coming.

Publishers can also leverage live-stream on a subscription-boosting basis by putting access to the live coverage behind the subscription paywall. For example, you create this great editorial on an athlete, but you are doing a live interview with them too. The story goes up for free, but to access the interview live, or even the recordings afterward, you have to be a subscriber.

Educate the audience with video

Video courses are one of the most consumed things on the internet, and publishers have the opportunity to take control of that market. Publishers are constantly generating useful content that has an educational or recreational value to audiences. Changing that format slightly, or reformatting after publishing, to provide even more insight and education is easy with video. Better yet, let your advertisers do it. Then you get the benefits of video content related to your editorial, you didn’t have to create it, and you got paid for it.

Digital offers or partially-gated videos that offer educational value also help drive subscriptions. If the video is captivating and useful, and the audience can only access the first 3 minutes without a subscription, you’re likely to get people subscribing.

Further Information

For more information on how publishers can leverage and monetize videos, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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It’s a niche magazine market

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Large, national titles continue to struggle

The question of “is print dead” is still circulating around the magazine industry. However, it is the larger, more general-topic titles that are finding themselves truly pinched and struggling. Smaller, more specific titles, commonly called “niche,” are actually growing and expanding. Dedicated, specific audiences are the driving force behind this. They aren’t just consumers of content, but advocates that actively promote and support these titles. Titles that cover a wider demographic and geographic spread do not have that same buy-in from their audiences.

Titles that rely on their longstanding brands are having difficulty retaining audiences against the targeted content of niche publications. In fact, new niche titles are being created to fill the gaps being left by the larger titles. The other major component as to why larger titles are having issues: profits. The brand loyalty issue results in fewer subscriptions, which when combined with paper cost increases and shipping difficulty, all lead to struggles balancing profits and overhead.

Niche titles can skate some of these issues due to the audience buy-in, which helps bring in subscription and ad dollars. Also, smaller circulations means less print and fulfillment cost. Being niche doesn’t resolve the issues, but it helps in today’s market. Difficulty for all titles will likely continue unless industry-wide changes occur. In the meantime, niche publications will continue to expand their reach.

The Playboy Magazine Example

Playboy magazine is an example of this. Still one of the most recognizable titles in the US, it’s once 5.6 million circulation has now dwindled to below 500,000, and what was once a monthly will be a quarterly in 2019. Much of the change happening at Playboy can be attributed to a decrease in brand loyalty over the last 10 years.

The Chief Creative Officer of Playboy, Cooper Hefner, has even expressed that he plans to put more focus into online content, in an effort to “shift away from putting a lot of effort into the magazine” because of a lack of profits from the print publication.

Further Information

For more information regarding the success of niche publications, click here. To learn more about the changes to Playboy magazine, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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