Friday, November 18, 2011

Two new research studies show the growth and fragmentation of the digital publishing market

Two new research reports issued this week offer publishers some valuable information that can be used to construct their mobile and tablet publishing strategies.

comScore issued a report entitled Digital Omnivores: How Tablets, Smartphones and Connected Devices are Changing U.S. Digital Media Consumption Habits which explores "the increasingly fragmented digital media landscape shaped by the widespread adoption of smartphones and entry of tablets and other web-enabled connected devices."

Of particular interest would be comScores' own market share analysis which shows Apple's iOS still dominating web traffic from mobile and tablet devices, despite the growth in sales of Android powered smartphones. Part of the reason for this, of course, is the continued dominance of the iPad in the tablet market.

comScore then gives publishers some advice:

While a multi-platform environment may seem chaotic, complex and difficult to navigate, it is actually presenting opportunities never before thought possible. Each platform represents a unique canvas for media engagement, which provides new opportunities for creativity in advertising. Brands that carry their message effectively across these media touchpoints are best positioned to create long term loyalty and high engagement with their audiences.

GfK MRI's study of magazine readers I find a bit confusing and poorly expressed. The study, released yesterday, states that the total grow magazine audience worldwide is now at 1.580 billion, with just over 80 percent of readers still reading their magazines only in their print versions.

The report also claims, though, that 11 percent of readers are reading their publications only in their digital form. GfK MRI throws out the term "digital-only" rather loosely (not to mention the term "exposure".)

"A profile of digital-only magazine readers shows they are more likely to be well-educated, affluent young men, a demographic group much sought after by marketers," the announcement for the study states.

But the report is not referring to the magazines but to the readers; that is, readers who are reading magazines only in their digital versions.

While 11 percent is an impressive number, the report lumps into digital all electronic devices such as desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, eReaders and smartphones. It would be interesting to see the detailed breakout of these various devices.

As you can see by the chart above, readers of digital magazines continue to skew male and young – probably no surprise, but without a breakdown by device it is hard to know if these male readers are coming in from eReaders, tablets or from personal computers.

My guess is that tablet readers continue to skew male, while ereaders skew female – and since most ereaders are not providing attractive forms of digital magazines these female readers are tending to read books more often on their devices rather than magazines. Do I have proof of this? No, which is why we need better studies.