Magazine Technology

While pulp-based paper is not that expensive and a lot of Pacific Northwest lumber is shipped overseas to developing economies, print has gotten rather pricey and not just for advertisers. And, with new(er) media in play, this opens up a largely untapped digital space for consumers to get information about your products and services. NPR had mentioned today that direct mail catalog publishers are making their content friendlier to tablets and other mobile devices. HTML5 is on the right track but it is hardly the end destination to how digital content consumers will be viewing the Internet in the near future.

Beyond all the pretty pictures and color-rich graphics, what remains the constant is the requirement of increased bandwidth and storage. For consumers to readily adopt such a technology and use it in their daily lives, content has to stream as fast as a plain text email. 

There are a few approaches to how customers can view catalogs:
  • as a physical mailer (pros: can customize pre-filled order forms with a customer's past purchases or giftees; cons: ultra-old school circa 1774, seen as junk mail, customers who shop online don't actually want a printed catalog since the catalog is the merchant's website, lead time requires a lot of planning and all your publishing components being on-time)
  • with a web-friendly viewer (html or Flash, pros: a content standard; cons: limited to bandwidth contracts, Flash content can't be shared in the same way of just clipping out the content that a user wants to share rather than sending the entire presentation, requires specialized knowledge and software to look good)
  • as a PDF (delivered as a web download or email attachment; pros: easy to use, many complementary "PDF" services to Adobe's standard from 3rd party vendors; cons: device manufacturers are slow to bring PDF-compatibility on-board due to licensing, software, and privacy concerns, limited or nil tracking capabilities for links embedded within PDFs)
  • served up as email or web content (old school method circa 1995, pros/cons: easy to use, anyone can do it, an industry standard, not all email service providers allow rich-content to be served within an email, bandwidth/hosting limitations)
  • within a rich-media, portable device-friendly reader (iPad, e-reader, smartphone, tablet, etc.; pros: new digital space, no standards for how or how much ad content should display; cons: closed ad networks with exorbitant pricing, few established software content builders, dual-payment system for advertisers and consumers--advertisers pay for ad content to be hosted/delivered to portable devices, consumers pay for the device, bandwidth, and hosting fees to get content, consumer mobile devices are not ad-free)
What is surprising is that all these methods still survive in conjunction with each other. Although, advertisers and publishers of different media standards will tell you that global revenue share has shifted from print to digital to 24/7 streaming.

Here are a few examples of sites using online magazine technology:

Edible Portland
Visit Vancouver USA - 2011 Regional Visitor's Guide
eDrive Magazine (an industry publication for electric motor and drive technology)
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