I love to walk into Business Depot and smell all that fresh, unused paper just waiting for my pen. I also love my print magazines. But what I saw at the Adobe Summit last week was enough to make me consider the alternative -- digital magazines -- as almost too enticing to ignore.

Digital Publishing Insights

We know tablets are popular. People line up at Apple stores just to get the newest version of the iPad. They are a great replacement for laptops and desktops in so many situations, including sales as a recent Adobe research report indicated.

While at the Adobe Summit, I had the opportunity to see some examples of how publishers are taking advantage of Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) to not only provide a great tablet experience for customers, but also make money through subscriptions and advertising sales.

There are now over 1500 DPS applications live and 16 million downloads in the last ten months alone. And consumers aren't just reading once and walking away, they spend more time reading and come back to a title more than once.

Content read in Digital Issues

But the thing is, a digital magazine is not like a print magazine, the opportunities for interactivity are wide and DPS enables organizations to incorporate a lot of interactive features. According to Adobe's research, 48% of interactive elements are played one or more times. The most popular types?


Breakdown of interactivity elements used in apps

Advertising Refreshed

In addition to interactively for purely engaging the reader, interactive elements for ads are also very popular. Adobe's research shows that 20% of content views in DPS apps are for ads and that 55% of digital readers saw or read an ad (almost identical to those of print readers). 

HTML5 is paving the way to create great users experiences in advertising as well. I saw examples of interactive ads, inline content and custom storefronts -- all within the pages of a digital magazine.

If you haven't had the opportunity to see some of this in action yet, just imagine this. You are flipping through a print magazine at the doctors office and you read an article or see an ad about a new product that you think would be great to have. Now you have to remember the name of that product, the brand that sells it and then when you have time, go to that store (online or off-line) and buy the product. I've done this so many times.

But if you had your tablet there and you were reading that same magazine, when you read about that great product you now have the ability to click directly out to the product website for more information, or view an inline shopping cart and add that product, then click out to make the purchase. Obviously this is assuming you have internet access when you are viewing your digital magazine, but there aren't too many who don't either have 3G/4G access or access to wifi.

Adobe's research shows that the majority of interactive ads are web view (68%) -- meaning the ads include dynamic content from the web. The breakdown is as follows:


Interactive Advertising in Magazines

Users Will Pay For Tablet Content

I think Apple helped pave the road for making it reasonable to pay for online content. Magazine or newspaper subscriptions built on the web aren't exactly a hit, but with the tablet came a new engaging experience that users seem much more willing to pay for.

According to Adobe, 68% of DPS content is "paid-for" and subscriptions are almost double that of single issues (26% vs 15% respectively). It's also interesting to note that 27% of digital readers are also print subscribers (a bundled package).

The Future of Publishing is Digital

For some magazines, I will never let go of my print version. But I would definitely be open to a bundled option that included both print and digital. For other mags, like home design, health and beauty -- I would move to digital in a heart beat if I could also do my online shopping directly within the pages.

It's clear that Adobe is working hard to help publishers improve customer experiences and drive sales revenue at the same time. And while most publishers aren't quite ready to drop their print versions, and marketers are still advertising in these print versions, these new opportunities open a number of doors into the digital world that might not have existed without the tablet.

Now I have to go grab my iPad away from my 5 year old and subscribe to a magazine. Excuse me please.