Flipboard’s brand magazines are doing well — users are actually subscribing to them

When Flipboard launched its custom magazines tool in March, the idea was that anybody — regular users or brands — could curate content and rack up subscribers. But would anybody really read a Flipboard magazine created by an advertiser?

Turns out they will: Flipboard says that its “top” brand magazines — created by brands like Levi’s and Cisco — are seeing readers access anywhere from 20 to 40 pages per visit. “For the top performers we also see that 10 to 20 percent of the readers like the content so much they subscribe to that brand magazine, meaning they add it to their Flipboard for later reading,” Flipboard marketing exec Marci McCue told me.

Brands are using different strategies with the magazines. Levi’s Flipboard magazine is really just a catalog, with images of Levi’s products and links to the Levi’s website to buy them. Cisco’s “The Futurist Feed,” meanwhile, aggregates articles from around the web.

Cisco futurist feed Flipboard

Users typically encounter a brand magazine for the first time when they see a brand’s full-page ad on Flipboard. They then click through to the magazine and can read it or subscribe from there. On average, Flipboard’s click-through rate for these magazines after a reader sees an ad for them is 3 percent, CEO Mike McCue told me. That’s really good since average click-through rates on digital ads are generally estimated at less than 0.1 percent.

If users really like an ad, they can flip it into their personal Flipboard magazines. For now, there’s no monetary incentive for them to do that. But the company “would like to figure out a way that really awesome [user magazines] could get ad revenue,” Mike McCue told me. “That’s another level of technology and capability that we haven’t yet enabled, but I would love to be able to make that happen.”