Digital Publishing Payment Options

Post by Zeke Koch, Director of Product Management, Digital Publishing

For those of you headed to the IFRA Expo in Vienna next week, join us at workshops on topics relevant to magazine publishers, including subscriptions, merchandising, and monetization. In addition, some of our customers will describe their digital publishing strategies. The following story by Zeke Koch is a sampling of what you’ll hear.

I recently got back from visiting customers in London and New York to learn more about how they’re using the Digital Publishing Suite and to get feedback on our roadmap.  As always, it was a delight to learn more about their experiences and see the beautiful publications they’re creating.  During my trips I received a lot of questions about In-App Payments, Direct Entitlement and other mechanisms publishers are using to monetize their content.  I thought that it would be useful to explain your options here through some stories of how customers shaped our payment systems.

Moving From Single-Folio to Multi-Folio
Digital Publishing Suite began its life as a collaboration between Adobe and Condé Nast to build a platform that enabled them to release Wired each month on digital tablets.  The core of the solution was built out rapidly over a few months in the spring of 2010 and then enhanced in a pre-release which grew to over 6000 customers by the time we launched commercially in March of 2011.

The June 2010 issue of Wired sold for $4.99 as a single application in Apple’s App Store.  However, publishers want the tablet experience to mirror the print experience, and we soon enabled readers to purchase new issues of Wired from within a single application, similar to visiting a newsstand.  In July, the Wired Magazine Viewer was converted from a Single Folio application to a Multiple Folio application. The Wired Viewer was free and the issues inside of the viewer were $3.99.  Initial sales of Wired folios were strong, but we kept getting feedback that customers wanted to be able to subscribe to the magazine digitally.  As we all know, a subscription saves the customer money and publishing companies have the opportunity to build a longer term relationship with their customers.

Daily Delivery
In the summer of 2010 Bonnier’s Newspaper group approached us with a proposal to launch its daily newspapers using our Digital Publishing Suite.  Bonnier is a privately held media group that houses 175 companies operating in 17 countries. Digital Publishing Suite was originally designed to support weekly and monthly publications only, but Bonnier’s incredible design and vision inspired us to add extensions to support daily publications.  We love it when our customers help shape the solution in ways we hadn’t planned. A small team of folks from Bonnier flew to San Francisco and showed me a prototype of Dagens Nyheter (Swedish: “Today’s News”) built using our prerelease tools.  I was blown away by both the quality of their designs and the vision of their team and we immediately began collaborating on daily publication capabilities.

In App Payments and Direct Entitlement
Bonnier’s customers wanted to download the newspaper on a daily basis and subscribe on a quarterly or annual basis.  After a lot of negotiation between Apple, Bonnier and Adobe, we settled on a scheme whereby individual issues would be purchased through In App payments, but readers would be able to subscribe from within the application using Bonnier’s payment method.  Bonnier now had a branded Entitlement Banner embedded in the Viewer that allowed new customers to purchase a subscription once they had downloaded the Viewer, and Direct Entitlement which allowed its loyal print subscribers to use their existing subscription login to access digital versions of the publication. In November of 2010 Bonnier was not only the first Digital Publishing Suite customer to launch with support for subscriptions but it was also the first Daily newspaper.

How Does Direct Entitlement Work?
Direct Entitlement is a system that allows magazine and newspaper subscribers instant access to their print publications. Digital Publishing Suite integrates with third party entitlement systems like CDS, which validate current subscribers and allow them to quickly download digital versions of their print subscriptions. From the subscriber point of view, the experience is completely seamless and only requires the reader to click on a banner at the top of the application, which then begins the sign in and authentication process. Through our alliance with CDS Global, publishers can now use their existing print subscriber base to grow their digital downloads, offer print‐digital bundles and cross-promote related titles.