Most marketing managers view the breathless excitement when some publishers talk about digital magazines with cynicism: “They just want to cut their cost of distribution,” is a common response. I’m more enthusiastic – of course publishers are being driven towards digital publication, but if digital publication is the only way to save the magazine format then I’m very grateful to the new format.

Recently I saw an article on the Folio website about a new survey called "The Case of Advertising in Interactive Digital Magazines," by Josh Gordon, founder of Smarter Media Sales. The research, which had a respectable sample of more than 5000 respondents suggests that digital magazines may be a better vehicle for advertising than websites. Some of the key findings include:

  • 70% were less likely to ignore display ads in digital editions than on Web sites
  • 71% said ads on digital editions were “less intrusive” than Web sites
  • 79% said ads in digital editions were “more credible” than on Web sites
  • 82% believed that digital magazines were "more engaging" than Web sites with similar content
  • 71% said that digital titles were “more trustworthy” than websites
  • 85% said digital magazines were more easy to read than websites

Although I don’t see any publishers throwing away their website to concentrate on digital magazines. Although digital magazines typically hold the readers attention for 3 to 4 x the average time spent on a single website, in most markets websites generate more impressions. It will also be interesting to see if the results are due to a honeymoon effect, with readers excited about the new format. Despite these reservations, I believe that the results are a real endorsement of digital magazines and hope that it encourages publishes to sell digital titles with confidence.