Magazines have not fully embraced the potential of the web, a study by the Bivings Report has concluded.

The study reviewed the websites of the top 50 most-circulated magazines in the US and evaluated them on the basis of their use or otherwise of various Web 2.0 features.

The report found that overall there had been a failure to adopt the latest web features.

It did, however, recognise that US magazines had taken on a more effective strategy than newspapers on the internet by publishing web-specific, easily digestible content and by focusing on pushing customers to purchase printed subscriptions.

Bivings Report key findings:

• The most common online feature offered by magazines is RSS feeds (offered by 48 per cent). All of the RSS feeds offered by magazine websites are partial feeds. In addition, none of the magazines are including advertisements in their RSS feeds, while just 28 per cent of magazines divide their RSS feeds into different sections.

• Message boards/forums are offered by 46 per cent of magazine websites. This seemingly old-fashioned form of communication is extremely popular on magazine websites, particularly on the sites of women's magazines.

• Thirty-eight per cent of the magazines require registration to view all of the site's content. While this feature is only present on 23 per cent of the nation's top 100 newspaper sites, it seems that magazines are still heavily reliant on website registration.

It must be noted, however, that newspaper and magazine online registration is very different. The large majority of the magazines investigated allow users to view article content free of registration.

However, to participate in forums, registration is required. This seems to serve as a mechanism for monitoring content that people post on message boards rather than to collect demographic information, as is the case with newspapers.

Thus, this 38 per cent figure largely represents magazines that require forum registration, not registration for the purpose of reading articles.

• Thirty-eight per cent of the magazines offer at least one reporter blog. Readers can comment on 16 of the 19 magazine blogs, while eight reporter blogs offer blogrolls, or external links to other blogs.

• Video is an offering on 34 per cent of websites.

• Just 14 per cent of websites use podcasts and bookmarking; eight per cent allow comments on articles; and six per cent use tags.

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