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The future of digital magazines: continuous publishing

Luca Filigheddu

The future of digital magazines continuous publishing-700706-edited.jpg

Editions have been the traditional model of publishing since the invention of the printing press: the time when periodicals first took off. However, there can be little doubt in today’s publishing world that the market has changed. Not only has there been a shift from traditional printing and distribution to digital formats, but now there is a decreasing reliance on the edition model.

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What is taking its place is a move toward continuous publishing. News media is now highly engaged with continuous publishing where the rush to get stories out first is taking advantage of the digitisation.

Moreover, magazines and other press businesses where features and more reflective pieces are to be found are now catching up, too. How can this publishing model improve business communication models in an ever-changing media landscape?

Continuous publishing explained

Digital media takes many forms these days. Although a good deal of the internet is still accessed by browsers running on computers, vast numbers of articles, listicles, news stories and marketing copy are read on mobile devices via apps. Smartphones, tablets and e-readers are all extremely convenient tools for reading digital content and purchasing print media to consume written content often seems old-fashioned by comparison.

As such, edition-based publishing – where an array of articles are brought together within a single edition, as you might see on the shelves of a newsagent – no longer makes the sense that it did. Because publishing a single article or a whole series of them costs basically the same in the digital world, due to zero print or distribution costs, there is no economy of scale to be found in making editions. Continuous publishing takes advantage of this by simply publishing as and when content is produced.

This means consumers can get to the content they want much sooner than they would if they had to wait for the edition that contains it to come out. For publishers, marketers and content creators, this immediacy means their content can be relevant, up-to-the-minute and one step ahead of the competition without needing to spend any additional time or effort.

How does it benefit businesses?

There are many benefits that come about if continuous publishing is adopted. As mentioned, relevant content that is produced in a timely way offers a distinct improvement over edition-based publishing where consumers have to wait for what they want to read.

It can make the difference between readers choosing your site to read content or not. If you have a story on the issue of the day, then readers are more likely to turn to your site. With continuous publishing, you can increase your readership, augment your market share and lessen the likelihood that readers will go elsewhere for their content.

Secondly, this publishing model is a multi-media platform which is designed for the digital age. Suited to both web browsers and smart devices, adopting it is a statement of intent that says your business is forward-thinking and able to adapt to a changing world. Even if your readerships’ demographics means they are not particularly technology-savvy, continuous publishing still conveys a sense of modern thinking and, ultimately, of progress.

Another key factor to consider is the way that written content is monetized these days. Internet publishing is often, although not exclusively, funded by advertising. If you are publishing continuously, then there is little doubt that advertisers will favour this. After all, you are simply more likely to attract readers looking for relevant content. Third-party internet advertising tends to like two things: up-to-date content and lots of people accessing it.

Developing your message is another benefit that continuous publishing makes more effective than traditional models. With continuous publishing, content can be localised and made relevant to recent events. For example, marketing material that might want to extol the virtues of a particular range of building materials might do well by being published to coincide with the announcement of a large project thereby attracting readers interested in the latest news.

Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that edition-based publishing is not necessarily read in full, despite the designers’ and writers’ best efforts. Nearly all content – printed and digital – is skimmed over with readers looking for the bits they think will interest them most.

Shorter articles, as tend to be the norm in continuous publishing platforms, are easier to engage with and for readers to take in at a glance. Entire editions simply seem too wordy for many, these days. Therefore, continuous publishers tend to do better at putting their key messages across – so long as they get to the point, that is!