Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO) is the latest publisher to offer of a digital subscription plan for the iPad editions of its magazines. The company, which is currently exploring the possibility of selling itself or seeking investment, has seen its digital revenue growth slow this year, so any incremental gains from digital subscriptions would represent a welcome sign. In addition, the company is also hoping for a digital revenue boost from an online video series its created with Frigidaire.
Starting with the September 2011 issues of Martha Stewart Living and Everyday Food, annual and monthly subscriptions for digital editions of the magazines will be available for $12 to $20 per year through in-app purchase on the App Store and on Marthastewart.com.
Similar to the digital mag offerings from publishers like Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX), Hearst and Condé Nast, MSLO’s current print subs will be able to access iPad editions for no extra charge. New print subscriptions sold on marthastewart.com will also be bundled with free access to iPad editions for the duration of their print subscription.
While MSLO has been aggressive in selling a variety of mobile apps for Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) devices over the past two years, including Martha Stewart Makes Cookies, Martha Stewart Cocktails and Egg Dyeing 101, it held off on bring its mag titles to the iPad until last November.
Video Strategy evolves: That relatively patient approach to digitized versions of its magazines, which tends to involve a lot of experimentation, has also been present in the company’s evolving online video strategy.
MSLO is currently in the middle of running a video series in collaboration with Frigidaire. Aimed at moms, there will be nine videos altogether, each focusing on a different Frigidiare product. Each one will run about 90-seconds, enough time for a “digestible” look. In terms of distribution, MSLO and Frigidaire run the videos on Martha Stewart’s YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) page and Frigidaire’s Facebook page, among other places.
The video series MSLO is doing with Frigidiare is part of a larger marketing relationship MSLO has with the appliance maker’s parent Electrolux, which is doing a separate ad program across the publisher’s print and app offerings.
In general, despite an extensive library of video from Martha’s TV programming, video has proved a little tricky for the company. Although Marthastewart.com’s traffic was up 7 percent in July to 2.6 million uniques, according to comScore (NSDQ: SCOR), video views were down about 14 percent to 382,000.
For the most part, video series like the one with Frigidiare is more about driving revenues than traffic. And although online video is one of the fastest growing segments within digital advertising, the lack of premium video has kept CPMs low. As media companies look to refine their video strategies, it might make more sense to go with the custom video as MSLO is doing and wait until CPMs, along with marketer and viewer interest in supporting original, non-advertorial content emerges.
How long will that be? Well, eMarketer has projected that by 2015, 76 percent of internet users, or 195.5 million people will be watching online video each month. In the same period, it predicts online video advertising spending will surge from $1.97 billion to $5.71 billion in that period. In the meantime, as video and TV draw closer together through various over-the-top and streaming services, expect the advertorial model of online video to be a more attractive option for media companies looking for more bang for the buck.