Digital Content Game Changers: Webtrends and Zinio Share Insights with Brand Marketers

Originally published November 11, 2011.

Brands are continually looking for ways to engage their audiences in the digital world we live in today. Two companies that are leading the charge, from a consumer insights and a consumer engagement perspective, joined together to share what they have learned. Hope Frank, CMO of Webtrends and Jeanniey Mullen, CMO of Zinio, a global marketplace for magazine content from around the world, recently presented at a three-city series of The CMO Club’s dinners for heads of marketing in San Francisco, LA and Chicago. They led roundtable discussions in each city on “The Digital Magazine Explosion – What’s Here, What’s Coming, and How Brands Can Win.”

Frank kicked off the San Francisco event at the Palomino restaurant by introducing Mullen to the crowd of CMOs, which included Cognizant, HP and Wells Fargo.

Zinio is a leader in digital content, connection and media consumption – taking print media and making it digital in a cloud-based strategy. Zinio has quickly become the world’s largest newsstand, delivering digital magazines to readers around the globe right on iPads and Android tablets, smartphones, PCs, Macs and laptops.

Mullen delighted the crowd by passing around several iPads showcasing Zinio’s interactive articles and magazines for all to experience firsthand. She shared her learnings on the three things that change the game around digital content and media consumption:

Behavioral Insights

Zinio works with Webtrends to analyze consumer behavior on its site and apps to monitor consumer behavior. They’ve found that the four different generations of readers enjoy consuming digital content very differently. While baby boomers enjoy convenience based interactivity, like interactive table of contents and live links, the digital natives enjoy a custom designed digital experience which includes many variations and layers of engagement. Zinio uses these insights on a regular basis to tweak their offering to best meet their customer’s needs.

Customer Relevance

People like to connect with content based on categories, as much as, if not more than brands. If you like fashion, you are inclined to check out all the fashion titles and select articles, photo spreads, information from a variety of titles. So Zinio aggregates categorical content each day in its “Explore” section that its users can enjoy for free: Over 300 free articles are available every day from a variety of different magazines for its iPad and Android tablet users. Consumers can read content in their area of interest across multiple titles. This app has been the #1 news app in over 64 countries the iTunes store since July, and recently earned this same recognition in the Android Market.

Competition – It’s Not What You Think

Rather than competing with other magazine or news aggregators, Zinio positions itself in the mix with other forms of digital entertainment, including games and video aggregators. So Zinio offers content that entertains and engages people, including the highly interactive and all-digital women’s luxury lifestyle VIVMag, their own original title that boasts 350,000 subscribers.

What are the findings that jump out as far as engagement?

Mullen: Digital content is new to the consumer, but we’ve found that convenience is king for the average American – to be able to access content on any device, and a multitude of content at once.

For example, frequent business travelers will subscribe to six to seven digital business magazines on Zinio, but would never carry that many onboard.. And many women will use their iPad in nail salons to read celebrity titles – less messy and easier to manipulate than print! You can also read on an iPad in portrait or landscape view. We found that while brand fans will come over to digital from print, 85% of people who subscribe to digital content have never subscribed in print. People are excited by content shared in the cloud.

How are print magazines partnering with you differently?

Mullen: Certain publishers have chosen to innovate and make their digital content on Zinio as rich and engaging as possible. For example, National Geographic might put two gorgeous photos in a print article but put 15 in their digital edition – it’s more dynamic. Zinio works with publishers to make the conversion to digital easy – we even provide templates to help publishers design and layer their digital content.

What about production and distribution?

Mullen: There is an approximate 40 percent savings from print to publish content digitally (if the online mag is a straight replica of the print product). This means the funds can be reinvested in creating targeted or more enhanced issues. Some publishers share the cost savings with their consumers; others charge more for digital because it holds more content. Whatever the approach, one thing is for sure, all publishers appreciate the ability to have a ubiquitous and agnostic device reach for their consumers. On average, Zinio is adding 100 new titles to its newsstand each month.

Is advertising different than online display ads?

Mullen: Yes, it can be very rich and innovative. For example: The Emmys ran an ad that, upon clicking, live-streamed the awards show right to your iPad, providing value across channels to their own advertisers. Other pluses: there are no online ad units as big as an iPad or tablet so a full page ad on Zinio is quite compelling; and interactivity– for example, you can click on an ad to buy an outfit in real time, or see a 360 degree view of a product.

What type of publishers go digital?

Mullen: Every publisher these days realizes the need for a digital strategy. Highly visual magazines translate extremely well – cooking, fashion, photography etc. News, tech, business and celebrity also do extremely well. It’s a growing market.

What are your metrics of measurement? Analytics?

Mullen: We look at everything, and with Webtrends we look at even more

  1. Consumer behavior- which magazines and articles consumers are interacting with, both by demographic and regional categories, and as a whole
  2. Consumer purchase habits
  3. Brand strength in Social – Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs, are just a few

Publishers measure how many issues are sold as single issues, or subscriptions. They are also interested in how many times you read an issue, how much time you spend in an issue, and how often you click on a link or reference an older article. We use Webtrends for tracking all of this. Thanks to Webtrends, we know where people are going, what they are reading. We can see who from which countries are interested in a publisher’s content (50% of purchases for any title from someone outside of the title’s country of publication.) We have found that demographics depend a lot on content – for example, Consumer Reports trends older, Seventeen Magazine, younger. We also have a partnership with Affinity Research and leverage their Vista studies for ad recall. Results indicate that ad recall is higher in digital versions of most magazine issues.