Many of you may know Top Gear from the TV show, showcasing cars and vehicles to an audience of approximately 350 million motor-lovers worldwide. Twenty years ago, Top Gear UK also launched a magazine, the best-selling car magazine in the UK. Their first digital version of the magazine was simply a PDF replica of the print edition. It was missing what car aficionados love best about the cars—the sounds and the movement.
With new ownership, the franchise decided to launch a fully interactive version and tapped a UK design agency to do it. The interactive version launched in December 2012 with a custom app. A typical issue includes videos, animations, and HTML widgets. Instead of seeing a picture of a car, users can run their finger over a car and open doors; open a side panel or the hood. You can spin the car around and turn it upside-down.
Since launching its interactive counterpart, the magazine has some impressive statistics to boast:
- Total downloads rose by 200%
- Readers spent triple the amount of time on the publication
- Ad revenue jumped 130%
- Readers spend an average of 53 seconds on an interactive ad, as opposed to 17 seconds on non-interactive ads
For nearly a decade, traditional publishing brands have been struggling to bolster print revenues, but success stories like Top Gear’s show that magazines aren’t dead, they’ve simply changed as we have changed. Consumers crave the mobile-first, interactive elements possible through digital media, and smart publishers are capitalizing. Other publications creating top-notch interactive versions include Wired, Real Simple, Al-Jazeera magazine and Sports Illustrated.
So, what does this mean for savvy brands seeking access to and engagement with these audiences?
For one, there are expanded media buying options for advertisers, with interactive ads options such as video or animation with sophisticated tracking and ROI technology not available through print. PR professionals also have new opportunities for media placements, with shorter lead times than print magazines and new avenues to pitch visual and video content.
However, the biggest marketing change from the advent of the interactive magazine is the opportunity for content marketing, with the possibility for brands to create their own magazines to directly reach consumers. Removing the printing and distribution costs makes content marketing through interactive magazines much more affordable, feasible, and flexible, with brands being able to push out content directly to consumers’ mobile devices.
Take a look at what we’ve created for SAVI, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit. Bohlsen Group’s creative and nonprofit teams produce a quarterly interactive magazine that highlights client successes, embeds videos, and provides data visualization through infographics. The Fall 2015 edition is themed around education; take a look here.
Interactive magazine formats aren’t just for information and entertainment purposes; brands are beginning to use them for newsletters, event programs, internal communications, sales tools, and annual reports.
Are your communications reaching their interactive potential? We’d love to discuss it with you.
by Mandy Bray