Data from the second half of 2011 from the Audit Bureau of Circulations shows that U.S. magazines have more than doubled their paid, digital circulation, according to a story in Ad Age. But digital still represents about 1% of total paid and verified circulation, which means that print will remain the core business for some time to come. (There is good reason to believe that the experience for Canadian magazines measured by ABC is the same.)
The recent announcements by ABC that it will offer a blended audit report indicates the importance that publishers (and advertisers) are placing on the growth of digital editions.
Some magazines' digital circulation is inflated by sponsored circulation, paid for by businesses for promotional purposes. But Hearst magazines, for instance, are predicting that they'll top 1 million monthly digital circulation by year's end, without plumping up the numbers with sponsored sales.
"Part of the good news here is that paid digital for us is growing very quickly," said John Loughlin, exec VP and general manager at Hearst Magazines, which publishes titles including Seventeen, Esquire and Cosmopolitan.Seventeen magazine, for instance, has 38,167 paid digital circulation in the 2nd half, slightly less than 3% of its paid circulation of 1.3 million.