Man with iPad
Credit: C. Regina on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Future plc announced a group-wide offer of free access to a digital edition once a reader has bought the print copy in September, a move enabled by having access to its own in-house publishing software, according to Paul Layte, head of consumer revenues.

He said such an offer across all titles was a first for the publishing industry in the UK, and it was possible at Future because the group was making use of its "unique assets".

"We are capable of putting on this promotion as a result of using our own digital publishing software, which other publishers don't use. We've built that in-house, so it's about us using all of our assets to create something a bit different."

Layte said having access to an in-house digital publishing software meant Future had greater control over how it operated and developed.

"By owning the software we can develop in a way that suits our business, and ultimately the way it suits our business is the way customers want to consume our content. I think it gives us a bit of an edge over our competition in that regard."

Readers of a print title in September in the UK receive a code that enables them to download the digital version of the magazine at no extra cost. Layte told the idea for the offer came from readers' feedback.

"Lots of customers like to consume our content in print magazines, but also a lot like the convenience of digital as well," he said.

"More often than not, you don't necessarily carry around the print magazine with you to finish reading articles... The customer can download the same magazine in digital format on their phone or tablet and read it on the bus or read it on the train as well."

Layte said the promotion was aimed at all of their print customers as a way of providing additional value, as some digital editions would also include more visual and interactive features.

He said the group regularly conducted interviews with customer panels, and would ask for comments again at the end of the current promotion.

"They get the best of both worlds," he said. "They get a great print product and they also get a digital version if they want to use that as well. We'll see how many people use it and what the feedback is."

The message behind the offer, he said, was that readers had already bought the content, and could choose whether to read it in the magazine, or on their smartphones or tablets. In addition to giving readers such added value, Layte told The Media Briefing the "immediate priority" behind the initiative was to "drive print sales".

Future sold 14 million printed editions of its titles and five million digital versions in 2013. Its brands include Total Film, SFX, T3, and Xbox: The Official Magazine.

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