And magazine publishers attending an industry conference in Rome today were showered with examples of innovation from across the industry.
In a presentation to the FIPP Congress in Rome today, senior director at Innovations Media Consulting John Wilpers, took delegates through a plethora of examples from across the industry, highlighting the different ways magazine publishers are maximising advertising and new product opportunities, in print and on digital platforms.
Below are broad examples, based on just some of the case studies shared by Wilpers.
One of the first examples shared was personalisation. Journalism.co.uk has previously looked at how this is being harnessed by news outlets, and there are also a number of examples where magazines have personalised the print product for their readers, in this case focused on within advertising.
Wilpers used the example of Harper's Bazaar, which published a personalised wrap-around last year.
As described by AdAge at the time, the personalisation was used to invite each subscriber "to visit specific Neiman Marcus stores within 50 miles".
AdAge adds this was a "collaboration between their parent company, Hearst, and HP, which has developed printing technology to enable faster, higher-quality personalised printing".
2. Bringing advertising to life using tablet technology
A number of innovations referred to by Wilpers illustrated the ways interactive advertising on tablets is being used to bring both digital and print content to life.
For example, CinePrint, which uses the tablet screen to act as a backlight to a printed advert, and offer an enhanced visual experience. Below is an example featuring advertising for Lexus:
Interactive advertising is also a key feature of the tablet platform on its own. Wilpers shared a particularly clever example of "surprise" tablet advertising from Brazil which, as he explains, "takes advantage of the natural action on a tablet" – the swipe.
Wilpers also referred to "near field communication", such as the below example in Wired, showing how a Lexus advert was able to be enhanced by offering readers an additional experience via their mobile device.
In a later presentation, publisher of Top Gear magazine Simon Carrington said an "early example of an interactive advert" the title ran for Porsche, found that 25 per cent of readers were spending time on the advertisment. He also reported a 77 second 'dwell time' and a click-through rate of 4 per cent.
3. Shoppable content
Many publishers – be they in the magazine or news sector – are already understanding the opportunities, where appropriate, to make content 'shoppable'. Not just enhancing the experience for readers, who are able to seamlessly move from the role of reader to buyer, but also offering new advertising opportunities.
Technology such as ThingLink or Taggstar enables publishers to make still images online 'clickable', while platforms such as Zentrick and wireWAX offers similar solutions for video.
Wilpers said research has shown that 70 per cent of tablet owners "say they want to shop". And magazine publishers are responding to this.
For example, Time Inc title Real Simple launched a mobile gift guide, while Elle magazine last year offered a "shoppable trend guide" on Facebook, as reported by Mashable.
This included buttons where readers could say they "want" or "own" products, with purchase links.
Just like the news industry, magazine publishers are also finding opportunities to offer existing content in a new format, becoming their own digital products in the form of an e-single and building new revenue streams as a results.
Wilpers referred to examples at magazine publishers from Playboy to The Economist. Cosmopolitan's e-single, Sexiest Stories Ever, "sold 40,000 copies", he added, each one priced at $1.99. The content was "already published", he explained, meaning "no additional cost" in terms of content production.
Similarly, Playboy produces an e-single of its 'Top 50 interviews' for $0.99, again re-purposing existing content for digital audiences.
5. Social media insight and opportunity
From listening to reader feedback to sharing content, magazine publishers are increasingly using social media platforms to engage with their online communities.
Wilpers used one example of a children's magazine which had closed, but was relaunched for its past readers in mind, after "taking a clue from social media".
He told delegates that on social media, 59 per cent of users have taken part in a competition and 56 per cent "follow a magazine writer or editor". A slightly smaller percentage of 51 per cent actively engage with them via Twitter.
Magazine publishers can foster such conversations, using hashtags such as Playboy's #friskyfriday, or bring them back into the 'real-world' by inviting readers to events via social media.
From video to audio, magazine publishers can use digital technology to bring more than the written word to their readers.
Back in 2009 Entertainment Weekly offered readers a video screen within the printed magazine.
Today, magazine publishers are largely looking to digital editions as the places to really experiment with multimedia – although there are also examples of print and digital working together to bring multimedia to readers, through augmented reality.
For audiences looking for a lean-back experience on tablet platforms, video can fit the bill and work hand-in-hand with the immersive experience of a magazine. Those who own iPad "watch seven videos per session", Wilpers said, adding that video "is going crazy" within the magazine industry.
As well as launching video channels on their websites and offering both short and long-form video content on their own tablet apps, video is also being used in advertising and to cross-promote print.
Esquire, for example, produces trailers for its issues, while Elle offers 'behind the scenes' video of their photoshoots.
See this Journalism.co.uk feature for more on the different video strategies being adopted by magazine publishers.
7. Spin-off apps
As well as producing digital editions based around specific content, magazine publishers have also found new revenue streams by seeking out opportunities for spin-off apps.
Wilpers referred to examples such as Men's Fitness, which offers a £1.59 Cover Model Body Plan app. According to the app's description, the app features a four-week long "workout programme", including "a video of every move".
IPC Media magazine InStyle also launched a free app dedicated to its Best Beauty Buys, which also offers the ability to purchase the items in question.