Media Morph: Zinio Reader

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Every week MediaWorks' Media Morph looks at how emerging technology is changing the way consumers get their information and media companies and advertisers present their messages.This week: Zinio Reader.

WHAT IT IS: A way to read exact digital replicas of magazines, downloadable with every element as it appears in the print versions, from the small print in the mastheads to full gatefold ads right down to blow-in subscription-offer cards. Readers can click on links in the table of contents to skip to particular articles or links in the ads that open advertisers’ Web sites.

In short, it presents magazines in electronic form without changing the layout in anyway; all that’s missing are scent-strips from perfume ads. Users can also archive, search, highlight and make notes on their digital editions. Publishers can include animated ads or video, too.

WHO’S OFFERING IT: Zinio Systems, which was established in San Francisco in 2000, is the player to beat, but it is hardly alone. Other companies offering similar products include iPagez and Texterity.

HOW IT’S BEEN USED: Over 300 magazines use Zinio to give readers another delivery option, including Business Week, Popular Science, U.S. News and World Report and, among recent entries, Playboy. (Full disclosure: Advertising Age is also available on Zinio.) Zinio is in the process of adding all Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. titles. A start-up magazine, Citizen Culture, has elected to go all-electronic and deliver only through Zinio (unless subscribers care to pay extra to receive a print copy). Zinio says about 2.3 million subscribers receive magazines via its system.

WHAT THE BUYERS SAY: Publishers can use systems like Zinio’s to gain some circulation and add a cheap distribution channel, said Andrew Swinand, group client leader, Starcom USA. But that doesn’t mean much to advertisers, he said. “It’s like, why not?” he said. “Is it going to fundamentally change the print industry? No.”

THE BIG WHAT IF: Should advertisers covet Zinio readers more than the rest? To find out, the company last month entered into a five-year partnership with Mediamark Research Inc. to study and compare digital readers to print readers. “The digital reader is more affluent, more tech savvy,” said David Zinman, senior VP-operations and marketing, Zinio Systems. “It’s going to be an attractive audience.”

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