Daily Deals Boosting Magazine Subscription Rates

by Jodi Jae 28. February 2012 11:39

It’s no secret that the publishing industry is in turmoil. Publishing houses don’t seem to know what to do with the invention of the eBook, and newspaper and magazine sales have been lagging for years as more and more readers jump online for the latest headlines. In a bit of good news, it seems the daily deal market may be able to salvage plummeting newsstand sales and give frugal minded consumers another way to stretch their dollars at the same time.

Digital sales not impressing many

It was once thought that digital, downloadable magazines and newspapers would be the ticket to helping the print industry bounce back. The introduction of the eReaders, like Amazon’s Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook, gave readers a new and intuitive way to view their favorite magazines, plus allowed them to carry hundreds (or even thousands) of magazines around on a tiny, portable device.

Then came the iPad and other tablet computers, all of which turned magazines back into glossy spreads. At first, this seemed to be the answer for both newshounds and publishing companies. And then magazine sales again began to dwindle. Ask anyone who’s tried to read the latest Reader’s Digest or Sports Illustrated on their iPhone or iPad, and they’ll tell you it’s not yet what it’s cracked up to be. “I want to like the new medium,” says iOS developer Bryant Humple, “but it’s frankly pretty boring.”

Magazines come to daily deals

Publishers on the hunt for subscribers have now turned to daily deal websites to market and sell their print magazine subscriptions. Liberta Abbondante, senior vice president of consumer marketing at Hearst Magazine, one of the largest and most successful magazine publishers in the United States, says that the magazine industry is now testing the daily deal waters. "We're dabbling with deals sites to see if they are a scalable and sustainable business," said Abbondante.

Daily Deal sites have recently sold monthly subscriptions at a discount to popular magazines like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, The Economist, Esquire, US Weekly, Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan, Lucky, Allure, Men's Health, Washingtonian, Bazaar, New York magazine and Crain's.

Preliminary evidence suggests that the partnership between publishers and the daily deal market has been more successful than it has for other industries. Daily deal sites have proven a challenge for some restaurants, for example, where flash sales can quickly put any restaurant out of business when customers begin redeeming daily deal vouchers all at once. Publishing companies, however, are built to scale their audience as needed.


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