Stern, Germany’s leading picture and news weekly magazine, published by Hamburg-based Gruner + Jahr, has dedicated a small team of employees to a new project: designing Stern’s first e-Magazine of the future. It is to be a digital magazine that can be continuously updated at will, not just a PDF version of the current issue on sale.
The business model for the Stern e-Magazine is apparently based on three pillars, as Stern CEO Thomas Linder recently told German media trade magazine Horizont in an interview. The first one is paid content / services, combined in the copy price between 2.60 and 3 euros to start and something like 2.99 per issue at the end most likely. Prior to that, there will be several weeks of introduction. The Stern e-Magazine’s price will be cheaper than the print issue (currently at 3.20 euros, with an option to be upped to 3,50 euros). With flexible terms (down to four weeks) and shorter periods of notice are subscription-binding fears are minimized. The Stern inventors are currently working on integrating some kind of micro-payment systems like Clickandbuy. And by mid-2011, CEO Lindner hopes to have seduced about 10 000 paying users.
The second pillar is advertising. The ads in the printed Stern won’t automatically appear in the e-magazine – this will be marketed independently with cross-media entries possible.
The right price to charge for an insertion in the e-magazine is still being figured out based on the duration of exposure. They hope to command a higher price than usual for interactive and moving forms of advertising on Stern’s e-mag. Performance-oriented solutions could also be provided down the road but only conditionally: But the premium Stern environment should mostly attract companies looking to do some brand advertising though.
Sales and advertising could each account for about 45 percent of the overall revenue, estimates Lindner. And the remaining 10 percent shall come from the licensing business. G+J already commissioned the Berlin-based IT company Neofonie to develop a publishing program for the Stern e-Magazine that would automatically convert data entries into additional content and tools (eg search).G+J is hoping to sell the software (in a blank version) to other publishers once perfected on its magazine.
Stern’s e-Mag and all the publisher software that will ensue will be based on Adobe Air and should run on desktops and laptops running Windows, Mac, Linux, or Android. Neofonie is working on a solution for G+J so that the e-mag can be displayed on all platforms including closed one like Apple’s iPads. Lindner wants to ensure that he can retain control its customer relationships, as well as set his own prices, display his own advertising and feature his own content, without being censored by Apple. Its software partner Neofonie however will be competing with the iPad directly with its own tablet computer, the WePad, and this promises tough hardware competition.
Stern’s e-Mag should be the first one of its kind offering real multimedia content in Germany. So far, publishers have pretty much only offered PDF or Flash versions of their print magazine, that’s all.