An Online Success Story: The Role of an Online Service in a Magazine Publisher's Business Model
Olli Kuivalainen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland), Hanna-Kaisa Ellonen (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland) and Liisa-Maija Sainio (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland)
Copyright: © 2009
The aim of this article is to provide a holistic exploration of the development of the business model of a magazine Web site, and of the factors behind its success. The discussion is based on an explorative case study of a successful Finnish magazine publisher and its Web site. We use triangulated data (interviews, observation, statistical data, customer feedback, newspaper articles) to describe and analyze the development of the Web site and the subsequent changes in the e-business model of the magazine from the Web site foundation in 1998 to the situation in fall 2004. Our case illustrates that a magazine’s Web site is linked to all of its functions (editorial, circulation, and advertising), and to the business-model elements that are vital to its success. We suggest that the discussion forums in question, one type of virtual community, benefited from the positive feedback that resulted in positive network effects, and led to the adoption of the service. Moreover, community activities have enhanced customer loyalty and added a more lifelike dimension to the magazine concept. As such, the Web site now complements rather than substitutes the print magazine. Interestingly, although it does not independently fulfill the requirements of a successful business model (e.g., Magretta, 2002), it enhances the customer experience and adds new dimensions to the magazine’s business model.