Magazines: Bridging the Physical-Digital Divide

By : SPHmagazines
August 23, 2018
Tags: , ,
Category: Industry Talk | Research

(This article first appeared on

Upon mentioning “magazines”, one can easily recall the colourful glossy books filling up the once-crowded stands in bookstores before Internet hit us – as they were one of the very few ways to access content back then.

Fast-forward to today: Mobile devices that follow wherever we go, together with fast Internet speeds, make it all too convenient for us to depend almost entirely on the web for content.

As a result, magazine stands are now almost always devoid of crowds, with some places even removing these stands altogether.

To follow where the crowds go, most legacy magazine publishers launched brand websites. However, on the vast digital space, they have to compete with many other content providers who are not confined by geography and most importantly, content expertise.  Most of them will converge on social platforms to jostle for audience attention.


Trust in platforms versus journalism

It is thus not surprising to hear Edelman’s latest Trust Barometer finding that the level of trust in online platforms (defined as social networking and microblogging sites, and online forums) have further declined globally, a trend observed since 2016. By publishing its content on social platforms, magazine thus faces a risk of diluting its trustworthiness.

At the same time, and perhaps not surprisingly, the same study found that trust in journalism (defined as mainstream media such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, online news sites and widely-followed blogs) registered an increase, and journalism is now more trusted than platforms in 21 out of 28 surveyed countries.


What can magazines make of this good news?

The answer: Bridge the physical-digital divide. Offer the convenience of having magazine content right on people’s devices, without diluting its value.

One way publishers have done so is by creating their own magazine apps or sharing their content with aggregator apps that pool together various publishers. However, apps are having a difficult time getting discovered in the app store and even when they are, chances of them being used are low as they compete with more popular apps such as Facebook.


Publishers need fresh ideas to market their digital magazines

How is this for an idea? Pocket-sized subscription cards mounted on magazine stands in bookstores! A return to their once-glorious position in the market but reinvented to fit into readers’ new lifestyles!

With these cards, readers will be able to access their favourite magazines anytime and anywhere on their devices. And unlike print issues that have short lifespans on the shelves, readers will get the latest issue of the magazine at the point of card activation (regardless of when the card was purchased)!

There is also the possibility of launching seasonal cards for special occasions such as Mother’s Day and Christmas – a perfect gift idea for loved ones to indulge in some me-time wherever they are.

These cards are currently available at all Times outlets in Singapore for all SPH Magazines titles. Talks are currently in place to distribute them in other retailers in Singapore and regional countries.  If you are interested to be a distributor, drop us a note and we’ll be in touch!


Read the press release here.

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