The Economist’s digital strategy explained

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The Economist explains its digital strategy in a new post on its website by Oscar Grut.

Grut writes, “The web provides a completely different experience from print. Yes, visitors to Economist.com do read content there, but the web offers an interactive, snacking, lean-forward and, increasingly, a social and shared experience. That realization has taken us in a completely different direction online, where we now focus on giving readers the opportunity to read our journalism but also to engage with our journalists and with each other, not just on Economist.com but on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere too. Happily, therefore, the web has been additive to the business rather than replacing print, and it has given us the ability to reach millions more people with our distinctive journalism and to begin to build a community among our readers.

“What is revolutionary for magazines like The Economist, however, is the reinvention of long-form reading triggered by Amazon when it launched Kindle in 2007 and fuelled dramatically by Apple’s iPad. We are fortunate because tablets, e-readers and smartphones allow our readers to enjoy the ritual, lean-back, immersive experience of reading The Economist that they love in print. Many of our readers tell us that this experience is, in fact, even better than print, because as well as being lean-back, digital editions are delivered immediately and reliably (much more so than via the postal service); the backlit screens display images, maps and charts beautifully; and the devices offer opportunities to innovate and deliver more functionality — so, for example, our tablet and smartphone apps also deliver the full newspaper in audio each week. (That said, we continue to proceed cautiously with extras, in terms of both functionality — we are always conscious of the importance of keeping the reading experience free from distractions — and content, because the weekly, finishable package is so important to our readers and no one ever complains that The Economist is too short!)

“Digital reading is likely to grow fast. Forrester predicts that by 2016 there will be 760m tablets and 1 billion smartphones in use. Last year, in a study we carried out among our subscribers in America, the vast majority of respondents told us that while at the time of the study their preferred way of reading The Economist was in print, over 60% expected that by 2013 their preference would be for a digital format.”

Read more here.