Exact Editions has been developed as a platform for searching and consulting consumer magazines through the web. Our vision has been for a reader-friendly service through which a subscriber to several magazines gets all her magazines in the same place, cross-searchable, straight web-pages, with the exact content of the print edition. In many cases consumer magazines will be limited to their paid subscribers or to their controlled circulation so they will be web pages that are open only to the subscribers. However there are plenty of magazines which are free to anyone, perhaps because they are entirely supported by advertising. So it will be interesting to see how they fare in a platform such as the Exact Editions service.
We may begin to find some answers from this through our trialling of two of the PLoS magazines in the service: PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine. The PLoS content is, in the main, highly specialist and technical. The content of these technical pages can be processed by a system such as Google Adwords and strikingly focussed and appropriate advertisements are produced. Of course Google doesnt serve the same ads to the same pages on a predictable basis, but we have found the ads appearing on some of the most specific pages to be highly relevant. So the pages on HIV/AIDs get ads that are relevant to that topic:
It will be interesting to see whether the advertisers find the traffic to their liking. Of course, if the magazines attract advertising on the web they begin to reclaim their share of the advertising budgets that Google, Yahoo etc are pulling away from conventional media. Is there a lesson here?