by Mark Walsh
Bottom of Form
It may seem like the digital newsstand appeared in the last two years,
but Zinio has been at it since 2001. After launching on PCs, it now
offers some 5,000 magazine titles across major tablet and smartphone
platforms like iOS, Android and BlackBerry. Users can buy single issues
and subscriptions, as well as sample free content through Zinio.
With an explosion of rival newsstand and reader apps, Zinio has to
ensure it doesn’t get bypassed by everyone from Amazon to Zite. Online
Media Daily sat down with Zinio CMO Jeanniey Mullen to talk about how
the company is responding to the new landscape.
Online Media Daily: Given Zinio’s decade-long history, what’s it like
seeing so many new competitors emerge and grab attention in this space?
Mullen: It’s frustrating to see the press talk about them as if this
concept has never existed before. We see any news about digital reading,
digital magazines, digital distribution, and publication sales as
positive for us because it helps to increase consumer awareness and
education. There are millions of consumers out there that don’t even
know they can read magazines digitally.
Online Media Daily: That said, did it take the arrival of the iPad to
ignite wider interest?
Mullen: We really see April 3, 2010 — the day the iPad came out — to
be the start of the digital magazine publishing groundswell, for two
reasons. The iPad is the perfect device built for magazines, and it
really helped customers see what could be done. But it also helped to
get the publishers to focus on development. Publishers started working
with us because they knew they needed to have a digital presence; it
wasn’t necessarily a priority for them before the iPad.
Online Media Daily: With the wave of publishers launching individual
digital editions last year, were you concerned about the impact on your
Mullen: Early on, we realized the majority of people subscribing to
digital editions are brand-new people to the title. We saw that amplify
itself almost 100-fold when the iPad came out and magazines started
doing their own apps. If you go to Zinio to get your Rolling Stone,
you’ll be able to explore other articles and titles in that category. We
see up to 85% of digital subscriptions through Zinio are people that
have never had a print subscription with that company. We don’t see it
Online Media Daily: What about Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple all
launching competing newsstands last year?
Mullen: The key thing publishers are starting to focus on now is on
renewal rates. You can get a mass number of people to sign up for a free
30-day or 90-day subscriptions, but as the market is rolling into a full
first year for a lot of these different devices, we’re starting to see
renewal rates. And that’s where a lot of the truth is going to come out
– not only which devices are best for consuming content, but which
devices and which [newsstands] offerings are really gathering consumers’
interest on an ongoing basis.
Online Media Daily: What differences in usage are you seeing across the
three screens: PCs, tablets and smartphones?
Mullen: The iPad subscribers tend to be older — in the 40s-50s
demographic, men more than women — but a lot of householding of the
purchases. It might be the father’s credit card, but the wife and
children are using it. For Android, since it’s more smartphones than
tablets in the marketplace, it skews a little more women, a bit younger.
For PCs, it’s close to 50/50. People who come in through Facebook or
other social channels are definitely younger, so it’s completely
differentiated, based on who you are and where you’re coming from.
Online Media Daily: How has Zinio gone about getting distribution
besides the various app stores?
Mullen: Two years ago we made the decision strategically to do a lot of
pre-install deals with Android devices. Zinio is pre-installed on 25
Android tablets and 37 Android smartphones type around the world. We
also have deals directly with Motorola, Samsung, LG, and Pan Digital and
Kobo. At the same time we have distribution deals with AT&T and T-Mobile
and other mobile networks as well. So the app is on millions of Android
Online Media Daily: Do you have any plans to promote Zinio more as a
Mullen: We have a series of pretty big enhancements and product releases
coming out over the summer, so we have been holding off on doing a big
Zinio push until some of those are live. We’re changing the entire
structure of our site to build as a foundation for some other very large
changes that we’re working on this summer relating to HTML5 and some
business model changes. As those hit the market toward end of
summer/early fall, you’ll see a whole lot about that.
BY DOUG DRINKWATER
London, England – The World e-Reading Congress drew a number of
influential speakers in London today, including Duncan Edwards, CEO of
Hearst Magazines International, who highlighted the striking rise of
Hearst is of the largest magazine publishers in the world and has pushed
magazines like Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire and Marie Claire, onto the
iPad and Android tablets of late, moves which would seem to illustrate
just how seriously Hearst is taking tablet publishing.
“At Hearst, we see the arrival of the tablet, and the scale of the
tablet market, as a significant media opportunity. There is a huge
opportunity through a new distribution market”, said Edwards, when
speaking in London.
Hearst sells 600,000 tablet magazines a month
Edwards went on to assert that Hearst is looking to reach one million
paid digital sales on tablets a month for the US by the end of the year,
but said that monthly tablet magazine sales currently stand at around
Despite the disparity in sales between digital and print (Hearst sells
22 million print magazines each month), it is clear that Hearst has
spent some time configuring its tablet editions. The firm first
established the Hearst App Lab – a laboratory for testing different
tablets and software, after the launch of the first iPad, and has
clearly spent some time figuring out how to bring its world-renowned
print magazines onto the tablet.
Edwards explained that the tablet versions of Cosmopolitan, Country
Living and Good Housekeeping are identical to the printed versions, but
said that the publisher completely redesigned the likes of Elle, Esquire
and O, The Oprah Magazine for the iPad. Despite some clamour for new
tablet versions in the industry, Edwards stressed that most readers
actually prefer their tablet editions to be ripped straight from print,
and admitted that this was an easier process than having to redesign the
“People thought we’d reimagine the magazines to take advantage of the
technology behind the device, but consumers prefer this replica version,
and in reality we’re much better at doing this.”
Hearst’s tablet magazine sales are evenly split between Apple’s
Newsstand and Barnes & Noble’s Nook
Far from being reliant on Apple’s Newsstand, Edwards’ presentation
indicated a pretty even split for Hearst’s tablet magazine sales between
Apple (35%) and Barnes & Noble’s Nook (30%), with Zinio (20%) and Amazon
(15%) not too far behind.
“You have to admire Apple for a brilliant conceived strategy, and when
we first saw the iPad, it was clear it was going to be a success”, said
the Hearst Magazine International CEO.
“But in the US at least, it’s by no means the only player. Barnes and
Noble’s Nook has made a significant entrance to the market, and Amazon
is also making significant investments with the Kindle and Kindle Fire.
Google is going to make an impact, and Microsoft is testing the market
with the $300 million investment in Nook.”
“I think readers are prepared to pay more for tablet editions”
“There is a question of tablet versus the print edition, in terms of
pricing. There’s quite a lot of evidence that people are prepared to pay
as much, or even more, for a digital copy. We’re charging $19.99 for
some of our [digital] magazines and as you can see our sales are pretty
Edwards was less euphoric on Apple throttling the ability to set
different tablet magazine prices across the globe. “Apple doesn’t make
it easy to make geographical pricing. Apple needs to change that because
it doesn’t charge the same for its product overseas