Gregg Hano on digital magazine publishers and advertising for 2013

2012 was a year that digital magazines captured the attention of marketers. According to the Custom Content Council and ContentWise, branded content nabbed 39% of marketing budgets last year – a 12% increase on 2011. Digital magazine publishers are making the transition and starting to monetize content across multiple mediums. For brand advertisers, however, the opportunity to deliver compelling content is only just opening up.

Portrait Greg Hano

In 2013, marketers will want to capture more of the opportunities available in interactive advertising. Tablets and smartphones give brands an opening to revive truly great bespoke advertising – making it as engaging as any memorable TV program or magazine article. Ads on these new platforms can invite interaction and reaction from readers, allowing the audience to control the way they consume branded content.

At mag+ we’re seeing advertising content that points to what can be achieved. The British Journal of Photography and Popular Science’s recent digital ‘bellyband’ created in HTML, to an engaging and fun Avis rent-a-car ad that urges the user to ‘Shake Me’. These companies are re-inventing ads for a new borderless magazine canvas, to blend seamlessly and convincingly with editorial.

Engagement metrics are high for digital magazines. More importantly two-thirds of readers say they want to be able to purchase products and services directly through their digital magazines. Advanced digital publishing platforms, like mag+, offer unique tracking capabilities through Flurry, Localytics and Omniture – making it possible for agencies and in-house teams to prove how engaging the new content and advertising really is.

Brand advertising clients, very reasonably, are asking questions about who sees the ads, how many eyeballs do they reach, and how is engagement leading to increased brand awareness and purchase intent? In order for more brands to break down the barriers between beautiful content and effective advertising, consistent metrics must be delivered to our agency partners and their clients. Advertising in digital magazines still lacks basic definition, like what counts as an ad view, a swipe, a click through, a pause?

It’s time for brands, publishers and agencies to work together to come up with mutually acceptable metrics.  In 2013, digital advertising will come of age.