Mildly Interactive Digital Publications

Interactivity, as a buzz-word, certainly gets thrown around a lot. Maybe not as much as 10 years ago, but in the publishing industry I think it is starting to make a buzz-word bingo comeback (along with RIA, Sticky and App). I’m also under the impression that pseudo-interactive implementations are receiving full interactivity status just like learning applications and websites did 10 years ago.

Baby Steps, I guess.

Most digital publications are about as interactive as plain paper. By flipping over the page I’m interacting with the paper to see what’s on the other side; really this is just the same as physical manipulation. A few new services (Ceros, zmags) are adding a second medium to each digital page. By overlaying video, or even small flash .swf’s, each digital page has an increased opportunity for engagement. But very little data or knowledge is shared between the digital pub and the user. In a 400 x 400 pixel window there is only so much space to display interactive objects for the users to play with. Currently the best you could hope for is some sort of poll or short submission form.

So what opportunities are here?

Publishers usually don’t want to add too much extra composition/development time to release a digital publication. Increased production costs with limited opportunity for increased advertising sales are hardly attractive. Plus, publishing a digital edition should require every advertiser to pay extra for a second distribution method. This isn’t an easy sell. As I noted in my previous entry, internet users expect free content. Advertisers also expect some free inclusion online or at least minimal cost increases, because the ad is the same ‘just put’r on your site’.

(I’m currently investigating cost structures and should have meaningful data soon.)

This leaves interactive advertising as the sole opportunity for big dollar revenue generation. If simply adding video, a poll, or a flash interactive movie (you hope your client has already developed) can generate big dollars go for it…I’m not so optimistic. The interaction needs to provide measurable outcomes (instant feedback | identifiable sales for the advertiser | assurance of user return for the publisher).

My requirements for interactive publication success:

  • Blazing fast downloads – I don’t want to wait more than I would for a standard web page to display any type of information.
  • Measurable data from user interaction – I want to return ROI figures to my advertisers or even better have my advertisers return ROI figures to me
  • Addictive – I want the experience to hold their attention for more than five minutes so they come back next issue.
  • Socially engaging – Oddly enough people go to the internet to connect with people. Connecting people with similar interests instantly adds dimension and fresh content.
  • Viral – make sure they can share the experience in a way that compounds internet traffic numbers (respectfully).

In my next few entries I’ll cover each of these points in greater detail. For now I’d like to start by creating a collection of so-called interactive digital publications.

1. Wired

2. Horse Link

Please comment with examples and urls of publications claiming full interactive status and we can critique together.


1 Response to “Mildly Interactive Digital Publications”

  1. 1 Benjamin Edwards April 24, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Hi there,

    I am Marketing Manager at PageSuite, the leading provider of Digital Editions:, UK Tel: 01233 721030, US Toll Free Tel: 18775247763.

    You said you demanded speed from digital editions – ours are instantaneous, with servers in every country. PageSuite also offers an incredible reporting function, perfect for analysis on traffic, popularity & assessing ROI. Our new search functionality is incredibly addictive, highlighting keywords or phrases within any online edition. There are fantastic revenue generating opportunities with interative advertising space, landing pages for cross sales & enhanced subscription features. Our professional software allows high res video, audio, animated text & an enjoyable page turning read; all whilst being SEO friendly. I hope I covered all your digital edition wishes!

    Also I’d like to highlight just a few of our customers – from The Washington Examiner in the US, all Metro titles in Canada, The Guardian in the UK, & Zero Hora in Brazil.

    Please do get in touch if you are interested in a Demo or have any questions. Our software offers all of the above & more, exceptional support, & is extremely good value!!! (if I do say so myself!!!)

    Kind Regards,
    Benjamin Edwards

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