September 11, 2014 Last Updated 12:12 pm

Pixbi working with digital publishing platforms to make magazines more ‘shoppable’

The New York start-up is currently working with the Mag+ platform and is being used in several magazines from American Media

The digital publishing platforms are supposed to allow for more interactivity and interaction between the reader, the magazine and its advertisers. But the goal of a more ‘shoppable’ magazine has been difficult to achieve. Several attempts have been made to introduce QR codes, scannable material and other techniques to both print and digital magazines.

Pixbi-ad-iPadOne start-up company that is working directly with digital publishing platforms is Pixbi, which officially launched last month, though has been working with platforms for about a year (see press release from last month).

Pixbi’s solution is fairly simple: the publisher sends Pixbi a copy of their digital magazine file, Pixbi tags the ads and the returns the file back to the publisher. Simple, done.

(Pixbi is currently working with Mag+, so the file that would be sent is known as a MIB file.)

What the reader then sees inside the digital magazine is a small tag that signifies that the ad will show them ore information on how to buy the product when tapped, as can seen at right in the example from the latest issue of Shape from American Media.

The revenue opportunity for the publisher comes from affiliate programs from online retailers and brands that are also retailers. Pixbi passes through the affiliate payouts to publishers, and does a revenue share when products are saved or shared. Because of this, there is no charge to the magazine for using the system.

“It actually made a lot of sense for us to go into digital magazines and really focus on that first,” Pixbi CEO Ryan Jones told TNM.

Ryan found that many magazines simply don’t have the manpower necessary to add these kinds of reader/advertising services to their digital editions.

“Their monetization has been focused purely on advertising,” Ryan said. “We worked with a lot of digitizing platforms that these magazines are on to create a platform where these publishers don’t have to do any work – and because of the way that we’ve built it, they also don’t have to pay for the service. So it makes it very easy for them to integrate Pixbi and allows for a much better user interface for the individuals that are reading it.”

One of the first platforms Pixbi is working with is Mag+, which American Media is using for many of their titles.

“We began speaking with the team at Pixbi probably as much as a year ago,” Gregg Hano, CEO of Mag+ said. “Mike Haney (Chief Creative Officer at Mag+) worked with the guys at Pixbi on some of their initial thinking and ways they could interact with Mag+ and engage with Mag+.”

Pixbi-enabledmag-iPad“We just liked what they were doing, we thought it was so simple,” Hano said. “There was virtually no integration that we needed to do. That was a key issue for us. With some of our partners we’ve had to work through integration issues that are a bit of a challenge. With Pixbi there was virtually none of that.”

“We can cover over 90 percent of the magazine in terms of purchasable products,” Ryan said. “Before, it was just editorial, just 5 to 10 percent of the magazine that you could interact with, when it came to being able to interact with the products.”

Payouts to publishers vary from between two and 12 percent of the sale, depending on the retailer linked to.

One concern some publishers have when working with companies in this area is that they would be calling on their advertising customers. But this particular solution involves affiliate programs. One consequence of this is that many of the ads that feature the Pixbi bug go to Amazon.com in order to enable the reader to buy the product.

  • Nick Martin 3 years ago

    Very interesting! We are actually designing something similar at https://www.MagLoft.com as a widget that can be integrated by the publisher into any content part of their magazine issues. It’s still very early works, but the idea is to offer publishers much easier options to add affiliate products to their issues.

    We will reach out to TNM once something is more final.