Direct Entitlement: Connecting Enterprise Publishers to Their Readers

How can you extend digital versions of your publication to your current print subscribers, maintain a relationship with your readers through your app, and provide them with special offers? The answer is direct entitlement. The Digital Publishing Suite team here at Adobe has developed materials to help you better understand direct entitlement, both what it is and how it works. In his video on direct entitlement, Colin Fleming outlines the challenges and the opportunities of extending digital subscriptions to existing print readers, describes the solution provided by Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, Enterprise Edition, and provides background on how to set up direct entitlement. The whitepaper on direct entitlement goes into detail on the strategic advantage of direct entitlement and provides background information on how it works.

Challenge: Offering Print Subscribers Convenient Access to Digital Issues 

A Comprehensive Subscriber Database Drives Business
As many readers of this blog realize, print subscriptions allow a publisher to develop a database of readers in order to collect information that aids in targeted upselling and cross selling to those readers. Subscriptions also offer publishers a consistent and renewable revenue stream across a 12 to 24 month period. To maintain a subscriber base, publishers go to great lengths to offer benefits to readers such as special editions and free gifts. Maintaining a database of loyal subscribers and knowing one’s reader demographics is essential to attracting advertising dollars and driving revenue through targeted marketing.

Business Limitations of the App Marketplaces
Publishers can use Digital Publishing Suite, Professional and Enterprise Editions, to sell subscriptions through leading application stores. However, selling subscriptions and single issues through app stores carries some limitations. On the business side, device stores only provide the publisher with an email address, and not extensive contact information, limiting the ability to both communicate with customers and build an accurate profile of its readership.  This makes it more difficult to market to the end consumer of the digital issue or subscription over the long term. Publishers have spent many years building up a print subscriber base, and the goal of the Digital Publishing Suite team is to help publishers easily maintain this relationship when transitioning to digital distribution.  Digital strategists at publishing companies are very focused on quickly accelerating digital readership in order to generate digital subscription and advertising revenue. As you know, advertising dollars depend on the accuracy and extensiveness of a reader database.

Consumer Limitations of the App Marketplaces
On the consumer side, an increasing number of print subscribers want to have access to digital content on all their devices.  If a reader has already purchased a print subscription, she does not want to purchase digital issues through the application store on her device.  If she purchases the subscription through the app store, she will not have access to back issues in digital format even if she has the print versions at home. Compounding the problem, if this user has multiple devices, she then needs to purchase a digital subscription through the application stores on each device.  All this leads to massive inconvenience for the print subscriber who simply wants to access digital issues that she has already paid for.  It is also in the publisher’s best interest to ensure that this high value print subscriber can access digital issues in order to keep this customer happy and simultaneously drive readership of digital content.

Solution: Direct Entitlement
Direct entitlement refers to the mechanism that allows publishers, member organizations, or corporations to make specific .folio files available to certain readers based on login credentials. In the case of magazines, it allows publishers to provide digital content to existing subscribers in one click. Business publishers can use direct entitlement to make specific content available to employees or members of an organization based on login credentials. A feature of Enterprise Edition of Digital Publishing Suite, direct entitlement strengthens the digital relationship between a publisher and reader by providing the publisher with user data. Digital Publishing Suite integrates with a publisher’s third-party or proprietary fulfillment system to make tablet content available to existing subscribers. The publisher knows which titles the reader subscribes to and the period of time the subscription has lasted. With access to user data, the publisher can provide special offers to each segment of its readership.

How Does It Work?
Adobe Digital Publishing Suite has created an API that works with entitlement services such as CDS Global, Time Customer Service (TCS), or Palm Coast Data (PCD). These subscription services allow publishers to house customer data with minimal coding. When a subscriber goes through a publisher’s website and sets up an ID, the fulfillment server, rather than the application store, houses the user data.

There are three basic stages of direct entitlement: Authentication, Entitlement, and Fulfillment.

  • Authentication occurs when the reader taps on a banner in the viewer library that is designed for existing magazine subscribers. (See “Current Magazine Subscribers: Tap Here for Access” in the Reader’s Digest example below.) This is the “entitlement banner,” which is built with HTML5 and takes the user to an in-app view of the publisher’s web page. In the authentication process, the user creates an ID based on a print or web subscription. Then the user uses this new ID to sign in to the application.

  • Entitlement: A publisher’s entitlement service provides a list of publications that a reader is entitled to, including special editions and back issues. When a user logs into the app, the entitlement service provides this list of publications to the device.
  • Fulfillment: When a user chooses to download a publication, the app requests the publication from the fulfillment service, which is housed on Adobe servers. The fulfillment service confirms the user is entitled to the publication.

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