Time scored a "digital IQ" of 140 -- "genius" level -- in the ranking, which is meant to reflect the quality of magazines' websites, digital marketing, social-media efforts and mobile presences. Time was cited for a Twitter feed with personality, subscriptions that bundle print with digital access on the iPad and online, a robust Facebook page, a range of apps for various devices and a drive to try new things.
The rest of the top 10 all scored in the "gifted" range, the most common classification, from No. 2 People to No. 10 Cosmopolitan.
Seven magazines at the bottom of the list were branded "feeble": Traditional Home, Muscle & Fitness, Elle Decor, Star, Men's Journal, Town & Country and In Touch Weekly.
Different magazines, of course, have different priorities. In Touch, for example, revolves around newsstand sales, putting less stock in magazines' traditional subscription strategy, which relies so heavily on advertisers' whims and efforts online, where ad rates are so much lower than in print.
Magazines with more money and resources, perhaps not surprisingly, seemed to score best for digital intelligence. "In aggregate, brands that belong to a larger parent company perform better than those associated with a smaller publication house or independent venture," L2 wrote. "Companies that manage 10 or more brands register an average Digital IQ 11% higher than their smaller counterparts."
But large print circulations don't necessarily mean much for digital traction. "There is a weak relationship between a magazine's circulation and its number of Facebook likes or Twitter followers," L2 said.
And the more fans a magazine has on Facebook, the more trouble it has keeping a good proportion of them actively engaged. "While much of the conversation regarding Facebook has been about the size of an organization's page, we believe that a more important metric is the percentage of the community interacting with brand content," L2 wrote. "Across magazines, interaction rates were negatively correlated with page size."
Notes: Scores reflect the effectiveness of the brand's site; its marketing efforts, off-site brand presence and visibility on search engines; its social media brand presence, community size, content and influence; and its compatibility and marketing on smartphones and other mobile devices