At Embedded World I was able to have a chat with a few publishers about digital magazines. Digital distribution is still a new technology, and it was great to get some hard facts that appear dispel a couple of myths about digital mags:

1: People only read a couple of pages of digital titles

The facts simply don’t bear this out. ElectronicSpecifier reports an average of 23 pages per visit, whilst EDN Europe generated an impressive average visit duration of 7 minutes 46 seconds for the February issue. Clearly readers are doing much more than simply flicking through the first couple of pages.

2: People don’t really want digital magazines

Elektronik i Norden has offered a digital version of the publication since 2007. Rather than trying to switch readers from print to digital distribution, the publication believes that the digital format enhances the experience for the reader, pointing to the increasing number of readers who have the publication sent to their home address. These readers say they browse the print edition at home, and then will download content they need for their job from the digital edition when at work. This approach has resulted in stunning stats: the February issue has received over 5600 unique visitors, and the January issue 6045 unique visitors and 17421 total visits, which probably makes Elektronik i Norden the most-read European digital magazine in our industry. Perhaps one of the best ways to promote your digital magazine is to distribute a print version!

3: Adverts don’t work in digital magazines

Adverts definitely work better than online banners! For example in the January edition of EDN Europe, one advert on page 7 has achieved 168 clicks. With 3512 total opens of the publication, this represents a click rate of almost 5% – about 20 times better than the average return from a banner or skyscraper.


Of course this doesn’t mean that everything is rosy in the world of digital magazines. Despite some titles such as Elektronik i Norden achieving impressive statistics, most tiles achieve between 10% and 20% open rates, and the large number of unopened digital copies is probably the biggest problem facing publishers that are attracted to the low cost of digital distribution. If the open rates could be increased to 30-40% then we’d start seeing some pretty respectable figures for readership. I’m optimistic that this will happen eventually, and am hopeful that better use of digital media’s capabilities, careful control of circulation and more convenient readers will drive higher open rates. If this doesn’t work, however, perhaps the inevitable decline in the availability of printed magazines might push engineers to adopt digital titles.