Is Time Curation the Next Big Thing?



Almost seven years after the release of the first iPad — a digital publisher game changer — publishers still find themselves in a transitional landscape, straddling print and digital. In the last few years, we’ve seen some print publications shifting to digital only, and some reduce their print runs and increase the frequency of digital issues, Teen Vogue, being a recent example.

The big problem (still) is how to get content in front of users in a way that increases downloads and therefore ad sales. Advertisers won’t be convinced that digital magazines are a solid investment until the metrics get better.

Matt Cokeley, Executive Creative Director here at mag+, has been watching this evolution carefully and is espousing a shift in thinking about the entire concept of curation. “Publishers are convinced they must sell cover to cover,” Cokeley says, referring to publishers’ tendency to make their digital versions just like their print versions, but with a few virtual bells and whistles. “I don’t believe that’s the requirement,” says Cokeley.

Cokeley thinks instead of just curating content, publishers should be curating time.  

For example, Mondays could mean the release of Front of Book components; snackable content suitable for the morning commute to the office. The feature well could be dribbled out over the week, with Friday evenings being a great time for long-read articles.

These slow drip content releases could be announced via enticing push notifications, and advertising content could play into the tone and timing.

This time-curation approach could dramatically improve digital reader engagement, as well as solving the “28 day problem” in publishing, where your community of readers forget all about your magazine a few days after the print version is published. Advertisers would be keener sign on with publishers who can keep eyeballs on their ads throughout the entire month.

There’s a big disruption to come. Publishers willing to walk away from the cover-to-cover approach might well reap untold benefits.