When the early metrics surrounding user engagement with digital magazines first came in nearly two years ago, they struck many of us as hard to believe. But there they were. After all, we had witnessed a decade and a half of digitized media fragmenting not focusing user attention. In many cases the early research was showing that readers of enhanced magazines in apps were spending almost as much time per issue as print readers spent with their analog copies. This was especially surprising given the notoriously short attention spans readers demonstrated with media brands online. In many cases print media had gotten used to having a loyal reader for a good hour or more a month with a given issue, while many branded media sites "bragged" of cumulative hang times of only 12 to 15 minutes a month from a user. Was it the natural clickiness of the Web, the LCD screen, the desktop setting? Who knew? But media companies were frustrated with digital fragmentation and once-loyal readers diffusing their media consumption across many sites.
And yet here on the tablet – still an LCD, still interactive, still connected to the Internet – we saw evidence of the return of user focus. The early stats I saw from publishers like Conde Nast showed per-issue engagement very close to print. Could it get any better than this? Digital interactivity, lower-cost distribution and long attention spans too?
It might get even better suggests Adobe, whose Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) drives many of these magazine apps from Conde Nast, Newsweek, and others. According to Lynly Schambers-Lenox, group product marketing manager, digital publishing, Adobe, the latest metrics across hundreds of magazine apps shows that tablet media may be edging out analog. “People are reading this content on tablets potentially more than they are in print,” she tells minonline. Across publishers, titles and content types Adobe has seen time spent in apps rise 70% in just the last 6 months. “56% of readers spend between 25 and 150 minutes per month consuming content in an application,” she says.
Actually if you drill into those broad stats a bit more you find a range of engagements on a per session basis. The largest share of app sessions (35%) are only 1-5 minutes, so people still are doing drive-bys. 27% are in the app for 5 to 10 minutes, Another 29% are lingering 10-30 minutes. But cumulatively over the course of the month we are seeing an impressive encounter with each monthly issue of digital magazines.