Q & A 

Digital magazines: 5 minutes with… Maria Hedengren

Publishers are increasingly competing, not with each other, but with all the other calls on people’s precious time. We ask Readly CEO Maria Hedengren where she thinks the opportunities lie.

By Maria Hedengren

Digital magazines: 5 minutes with… Maria Hedengren
Maria Hedengren: “I think quality content with a heart will always win in the long run.” Photograph: Magnus Glans

Q: What are the main challenges facing magazine publishers?

A: Evolving tastes and media consumption behaviours in a fragmented marketplace make it challenging to keep customers loyal to your title. Consumers no longer just read one title, they read many, dipping in and out, so it’s important to offer great content that makes them want to come back and read over and over again. Moreover, the competition is not only with other titles, magazines are competing for audience time which is increasingly spent on mobile devices and tablets. Understanding consumers’ ‘snack reading behaviour’, reading on the move as well as reading long form content is key.

Consumer confidence and loyalty is also at a low. Publishers must provide quality curated content in a time of fake news and scepticism.

Sustainability is of increasing importance to the audience. The publishing industry’s carbon footprint can be reduced through digital strategies and turned into a competitive advantage.

Digital was previously seen as a challenge (digital versus print) but we’re seeing that publishers have realised the opportunities with digital and that it cannot be ignored. More and more publishers now embrace it as something that will enhance their offering and bring new eyeballs to their titles.

Q: You've previously worked in the gaming sector. What can publishers learn from them?

A: The gaming industry is renowned for fast moving technology, highly innovative and interactive. It builds brands that consumers want to engage with every day and this is key for the publishing industry too. Understanding consumer preferences and marketing efficiency through advanced data analytics is key.

Q: How is the digital magazine experience evolving?

A: It incorporates video and audio as well as more traditional text and photos. Print is still a key part of the mix, but so are social platforms and live events. The one thing they all have in common is that they focus on readers’ passion points. As long as people feel passionately about things, there will always be magazines, but with an increasing preference to interact digitally.

There is a very strong preference in today’s society to consume entertainment through on demand all-you-can-read / watch / listen subscriptions. We see this trend also in the magazine segment. Consumers expect to and prefer aggregated content from many sources into one, in order to reduce touchpoints.

We’re seeing more titles than ever before being offering digitally; some publications are digital only.

There is currently very little overlap between subscribers of offline titles and the readership online, thus magazine content online increases reach, not cannibalises it.

Q: How can publishers make best use of reader-usage data to improve their content and marketing?

A: Data analytics and intelligence on their customer readership behaviour are really insightful and can give publishers detailed understanding on reader engagement such as which articles readers are spending time on, which issues are the most opened, what consumers are searching for and what covers attracted what type of audience. The insights allow publishers to use it to create content that the readers actually crave. This may also be a way to expand your readership and test new angles.

Q: How do magazine reading habits vary across the international markets you serve?

A: Trends on what readers prefer are fairly similar across the board but there is a difference in gender balance among the readers in different countries. There is more time spent on Readly by male subscribers in Germany, for example, whereas in Sweden, there is a little bit more female than male readers.

Q: What top tips would you give a publisher who wants to get the most out of their presence on a subscription platform like Readly?

A: I think quality content with a heart will always win in the long run, and sticking to the vision, but using the data analytics that subscription platforms offer to understand what their readers appreciate and read the most is an invaluable source of truth and direct feedback from the readers. Readly also supports their advertising revenue both indirectly through increased circulation but also directly by sharing dynamic advertising revenue with them.

"A powerful, risk-free route to market."

About us

Readly is a digital subscription service that lets customers have unlimited, “all-you-can-read” access to thousands of national and international magazines in one app – both streamed and downloaded. Readly was founded in Sweden in 2012 and the app is available globally but is currently actively marketed in Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States, Ireland and Italy. The service is ultra-fast, easy-to-use and convenient – each subscriber can access magazines on up to five devices. In addition to all the consumer benefits, we offer a powerful, risk-free route to market for publishers who can also track and analyse how their content is being consumed.

www.readly.com