Magazines: What’s it all about?

I’ve already looked into advertising on TV and in press, so this week I thought I would investigate magazines. As with all advertising mediums, the magazine industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. The recession and advancements in technology have transformed the industry, both positively and negatively (depending on which magazines we are talking about).

The shelves in newsagents (or any other magazine retailer) are filled with a huge selection of magazine titles. There seems to be a magazine for almost every hobby or interest, from fishing to music or cooking to cars. Magazines aren’t limited to the consumer market; there is a wide selection of trade magazines available. One trade magazine we may all be familiar with is Marketing Week.

As I have mentioned, the magazine industry has been suffering of late. Recently the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) released the magazine circulation figures for January to June 2012 (they only covered consumer titles). The figures weren’t great; circulation of women’s weekly magazines fell by 10.8%, one of the largest drops in the declining market. Other magazines that suffered were celebrity and men’s lifestyle magazines. There were positive results for some, specialist and news sectors performed well. The magazine Style at Home experienced an increase of over 50%.

In the UK, the number of magazines distributed declined by an estimated 28% between 2006 and 2011. There were further concerns over the traditionally stable area of online subscriptions. They saw a mixed bag of results, with several companies posting significant declines.

To get a real picture of how the magazine market is faring, we need to look further than hard copy circulation figure. Magazines are now a multi touchpoint experience; the bigger picture now includes tablet and mobile applications and digital editions to name a few. Digital applications are attractive for publishers as well as advertisers. It has opened up new audiences and targeting opportunities.

Consumer magazines report their paid for digital sales separately from their print sales. For Jan – June 2012 60 magazines chose to report their figures compared to 16 the previous year. The number of paid for digital sales increased by 92% compared to the previous period.

The printed market looks like it will continue to decline, whilst other channels will grow. One title that is adapting to the changing times is Heat; the magazine is aimed at young females. Their circulation decreased to 326,677, but their overall brand reach was last updated at roughly 2.8 million. This looks set to increase again with the launch of Heat TV and Heat mobile.

Generally speaking trade titles have been harder hit than consumer magazines. Up until five years ago trade magazines made the majority of their profit from paid for weekly magazines – most of that came from the recruitment classifieds. When broadband was introduced advertisers started listing their recruitment opportunities online (not necessarily in an online trade title) – withdrawing the profit from hard copy editions.

Now many trade titles generate their profit from their online presence, conferences and events. Some publications such as Media Week and Press Gazette no longer publish hard copies and only publish their content digitally.

I’ve briefly touched upon how the internet has affected the market, but it’s not just about magazines going online. Social media has played its part in the decline of printed titles, whether it is a consumer or trade title. Magazines no longer offer exclusivity in terms of content; a recent example is the Katherine Jenkins and David Beckham rumour. Katherine Jenkins took to Twitter to deny rumours that she was having an affair with Becks, within minutes it was a talking point around the office. It wasn’t that long ago that we would have to have waited until the following week to read the story in one of the glossies.

Essentially, individuals on a consumer or corporate basis are reluctant to pay for information that can be accessed on the internet for free. Online and digital media has opened up other opportunities for advertisers at a lower cost. With tablet ownership expected to increase and the number of publishers moving towards digital channels, the future reporting of these channels will make for an interesting read.

The Little Nuggets

(Welsh average)

  • 19% almost always read magazines
  • 51% are very interested in magazine topics
  • 16% say newspaper and magazine articles on holiday and travel influence their holiday choice
  • 32% magazines give me ideas for how to improve my home

(Source: GB TGI Radio+ 2012 Quarter 2, Kantar Media)

As always please leave a comment below or email me or tweet me @realradiojodi

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