Donald duck

went digital

Libelle acquired a brand-new website and app in 2021, the year in which DPG Media also launched the Donald Duck app. Sanne Linssen supervises the digital transformations of magazine brands. ‘’Giving the reader just that little bit extra.’’

Director of Magazines Joyce Nieuwenhuijs set the bar high in the previous annual report when she put the biggest challenge for 2021 into words. “We’re going to do something that no other magazine brand in the world has done before: create digital content in a form that is so unique and relevant that consumers will be happy to pay for it.” Sanne Linssen, Manager of Digital Transformation, Magazines, takes stock of the past year.

Sanne Linssen (31)


How far did you get in 2021?

“We have really only just begun but, after a year of development from idea to product, we launched the brand-new Libelle website and app in July, containing the digital magazine. In doing so, we have embarked on a new course: an optimal mix of design, interactivity, content and inspiration. By the end of 2021, the app had already been downloaded more than 52,000 times. Barely two months later we also launched the Donald Duck app. It contains not only the latest edition of the weekly publication but also more than a thousand stories, jokes and extra strips. The app already has more than 80,000 downloads.”

How does Libelle distinguish itself from other digital magazines?

“Most digital versions of magazines restrict themselves to a browsable PDF. It was time for a change; the digital version needed to offer the feeling of print plus all the possibilities of online. That makes it a dynamic digital magazine that is easy to navigate and has retained the look and feel of the print version. The digital editions that the editors publish week after week are also being supplemented daily with extra content, from articles to videos, so you genuinely get more for your money. And every day you have a good reason to go back to the app.”

How do you ensure that the content has sufficient urgency?

“Primarily through the frequency with which new content appears online and in the app. It’s a mix of easily digestible content and long reads. Some of the popular columns from the magazine are followed up online, for which visitors log in every week. Such recurrent use can be further boosted by publishing a series or a complete book in parts, such as the erotic thriller of which subscribers have been able to read one chapter a week since the end of 2021. And by making smart use of our own channels, such as via our newsletter ‘Beter slapen met Libelle’ [‘Sleeping better with Libelle, eds.]. There were 5,000 registrations for it in no time. A loyal audience with a high click-through rate.”

Is Libelle managing to reach a new generation of women online?

“Libelle already appeals to a very wide audience online. While with the print version the focus is on the 45+ age group, nearly half the audience for our online version are 20 to 49-year-olds. Our main aim is to strengthen the bond with the younger audience and get them to return more often to our platforms, thereby securing more loyal readers who will ultimately be prepared to pay for our unique content. That is also the aim for our 50+ target group, which since COVID-19 has become more digital than before.”

“The media habits of our audience, inlcuding the very youngest, are changing rapidly.”

What is the strategy behind the Donald Duck app?

“The media habits of our audience, including the very youngest, are changing rapidly. We continually have to respond to that. With the new app we offer subscribers added value in comparison with the print subscription, so we hope they will continue to subscribe even longer. In addition, with the digital only proposition we are attracting a new target group for whom the full subscription might be too expensive or might not match their needs. So we are making our entire subscriber base more sustainable.”

“We developed the app in close cooperation with a panel of 500 ‘DuckThinkers’, who tested the product enthusiastically and gave us feedback. In conjunction with them, we have developed a comic strip that provides a unique reading experience, so you can now read Donald Duck online with the same enjoyment and ease as offline. The app enables us to give the reader that little bit extra. For instance, you can find strips of your favourite characters easily and save your favourite strips in your own collection.”

How will the app be developed further?

“By maintaining a dialogue with the target group. We already know what features we need to add in order to make users even more fond of the app. The user is at the forefront. If users embrace the product, the results will follow. Features that are still on the agenda are interactive strips, recommended strips based on reading habits and gamification. This includes earning points that you can use to unlock strips.”

What is jour role in this process?

“Together with my team, which comprises the likes of project managers and content analysts, I supervise the digital transformation of our brands. For that purpose we cooperate with marketing, IT, sales and of course the editorial teams. I’m involved in product development and the transition of the editorial teams to a new way of working. So, my role is, on the one hand, to support, and on the other hand, to motivate. I think it’s important that we challenge one another to maintain an outward focus with re- spect to digital innovation. Developments are con- tinuing apace. We need to learn from what is already happening in the world and in particular from our users themselves.”