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Well, you can’t blame them for trying…Hearst‘s UK division Natmags has axed its digital-only magazine Jellyfish after a five-month trial, citing distribution challenges. The celebrity/fashion title had been sent out via email, but spam filters and corporate firewalls blocked a portion of its distribution, according to the Guardian. First aimed at the teen market, in June Jellyfish was repositioned to focus on 18-25 year-olds after the U.K. edition of CosmoGIRL folded, amid a series of other teen magazine closures in the UK. Jellyfish had been slated for an official launch this September.
Chief exec Duncan Edwards, quoted in MarketingWeek: “The 20-week trial period has been extremely valuable but we could not see a sustainable business model emerging. We have learnt a great deal about digital and email marketing, which will prove to be useful for our core business and specialist digital company Hearst Digital Network.”
The business model that could not be sustained: A typical issue of Jellyfish didn’t contain any display ads they way a magazine or web site would, but it featured lots of interactivity, including options to buy the various items appearing in the fashion pages. Subscriptions to the magazine itself were free, so this meant that the only source of funding for the publication were presumably commissions on the product click-throughs. Even with the high cost of print and snail-mail distribution wiped out, though, there would still have been production costs involved with the digital edition — Flash isn’t free, you know.
The other high-profile consumer digital magazine launch in the UK, Monkey from Dennis Publishing, is still in business.