While a number of publishers have spoken of solutions to growing losses in readership and advertising revenue without widespread success, Next Issue Media is placing a rather large bet on the future.
The joint venture, which includes Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc, has shown to be methodical in its approach to creating its digital product. When Next Issue Media was established nearly 18 months ago, the company provided few details about its business strategy.
Next Issue Media's recent unveiling of its digital newsstand - although merely a preview, according to the company - shed more light on the joint venture's business strategy, as well as its outlook on the future of publishing.
But some rather large questions remain. Next Issue Media is not the first company to bill its product as a solution for publishers, yet print publications still struggle to regain profitability.
The challenge for Next Issue Media will be to reverse that trend.
As a joint venture, the company's business strategy currently rests largely on the member publications. The preview of Next Issue Media's digital newsstand includes only seven publications at launch, while CEO Morgan Guenther said the company plans on adding more publications during the summer.
It was also announced that the company plans on creating a single application that readers can use to purchase any available publication.
When compared to other applications and digital stores, the actual sales strategy does not appear all that different on the surface. It has become common for publishers to create applications for tablets and smartphones in order to reach consumers who seek mobile content.
Next Issue Media's goal is to stand out among digital stores by simplifying the process of purchasing digital content.
Next Issue Media and its publishing partners wanted to create a new, unified digital newsstand where readers could have the best possible user experience while engaging with their favorite titles, Guenther said in an email.
The goal was to eliminate many of the pain points users currently experience, such as difficult discoverability, lack of search and share-ability, and to provide high-definition, customized content. Next Issue Media offers readers an additional option for consuming their favorite titles digitally.
The biggest draw could be the company's various partners. Next Issue Media's digital newsstand is being billed as a one-stop shop for digital content.
It will be important for the joint venture to attract more publishers, something that may only be possible if Next Issue Media shows signs of progress. Many other publishers already have embarked on their own digital strategies.
We are speaking with other companies about including their titles, and the plan is to expand beyond the current publishing partners, said Guenther.
While we cannot discuss specifics at this time, Next Issue Media does plan to be available on a variety of devices and platforms, including computers. Over the coming months Next Issue Media plans to expand their offering on other platforms and devices.
In addition to the magazines currently offered as part of the preview, Next Issue Media anticipates offering newspapers by the first quarter of 2012, Guenther said.
For now, the company hopes their product will give publishers added profitability.
We're confident that Next Issue Media will increase revenue for publishers since over time the digital offering will add new customers for them. There will also be incremental ad revenue once we scale, Guenther said.
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