A changing narrative for magazine media – backed by evidence

While true that print in general is in decline, faster in some segments than others (with some showing resilience and even growth) and faster in some markets than others, print alone cannot be held as the yardstick for magazine media’s health anymore.

This old narrative is not suited to today’s multi-platform brands, and, crucially, its cross-platform audiences. For if print-only is the perspective, one may well believe magazines are dying.

Today, consumers engage with magazine media brands across a wide range of platforms (and circumstances). Engagement happens online, via mobile, print and live platforms, throughout the whole purchase decision-making funnel and consists of brand-to-consumer, consumer-to-brand and consumer-to-consumer interactions around the brand. The strong perception that, or focus on, “magazines = print” masks this fact.

This is not the story anymore; neither is it one of playing off one platform against the other. The story today is about “natural” multiple platforms use, with magazine media brands engaging with consumers where it best fits, and doing so effectively.

MPA’s Magazine Media 360º

An important development in 2014 is the work from the folks at the MPA – the US association of magazine media.

In September 2014, the MPA launched Magazine Media 360º, which pulls together audience engagement across brand platforms to provide a fuller view of the magazine media audience universe.

MPA argued current measures – circulation and advertising pages – are incomplete and therefore inaccurate. Instead, consumer demand is the key indicator of the health of the industry.

Demand for magazine media includes brand interactions across multiple platforms and the first results are encouraging, showing growing demand.

The total Magazine Media 360º audience in September 2014 was 1,514,288, compared to 1,369,494 in September 2013, a year-on-year change of 10.6%.

While print and digital edition interactions grew 2.1% in the corresponding period, not bad in itself in a supposed period of declining demand, it is especially encouraging to see the growth – albeit from a low starting base – in mobile and video, two hot areas of development, both virtually doubling the number of engagements year-on-year.

Evidence of multi-platform magazine media advertising effectiveness

POP ()

In 2014, we also started seeing real evidence emerge of the effectiveness of multiplatform magazine media in delivering advertising ROI. FIPP’s Proof of Performance v2 (POP) report is packed with evidence-based research from around the world, demonstrating its continued positive impact.

Two such research studies were from Time Inc (UK) and Bauer Media. Briefly:

Time Inc (UK) interviewed 3,500 respondents across seven of their brands in a study dubbed “The Connected Consumer”.

It shows how multiplatform increases engagement opportunities throughout the day. And engagement matters. For example, LOOK already had a high satisfaction score of 8.3 among consumers of its print brand. This increased as more platforms were added, up to a score of 10.0 across five platforms – print, mobile, tablet, online and social. Affinity is pretty important, because it rubs off on advertising within these environments (consider this in conjunction with the findings in the Bauer Media study discussed below, and you’ll see how powerful it becomes).

Bauer Media’s – A journey into neuroscience – studied emotional responses by 180 participants to advertising in heat across platforms, using steady state topography, a technique measuring electrical activity in different regions of the brain.

One question studied, was whether using one common brand across platforms enhances an advertising message? To test this, they looked at advertising in heat in print, online, TV and radio versus advertising in different brands, one for print, one for online, another for TV and yet another for radio.

Bauer Media found that response to an ad across platforms is stronger when linked by a common brand (like heat in this case). In short, advertising in one brand across platforms work better than using different brands, one for each platform.

We know about the media multiplier effect when using magazines as part of the overall media mix, but what this demonstrates is that the multiplier effect can also be applied to advertising within a single brand, across multiple platforms.

These two studies alone provide powerful testament to the power of multi-platform magazine media to deliver an ROI.

There is more in POP and the POP toolkit (with various resources for you to use).

Growing sentiment

Visiting companies including Hearst, Rodale, Time Inc and Meredith in New York ahead of the FIPP management board meeting in October, the message was loud and clear: we need to stand together to make the case for magazine media loud and clear.

Proof of Performance is a tool to help you do just that.

It is available to download from FIPP.com, free of charge to all. We encourage you to use the report; slides provided alongside it as well as evidence from Magazine Media 360º to share the message:

Magazine media is multi-platform, and there is evidence that multi-platform works.

It is a message of careful optimism, one where – as our FIPP membership survey earlier in 2014 showed – we accept challenges remain, but are on the whole more confident of an industry moving in the right direction.

Talk about it.

About POP v2:

POP draws together from more than 150 evidence-based research studies from around the world, submitted each year for discussion at FIPP’s annual Research Forum and Awards (the next RF&A takes place in Amsterdam in the Netherlands in May 2014; contact Helen Bland for information and/or to submit research studies for consideration).

Authored by FIPP research consultant Guy Consterdine, the first edition was launched in 2012. POP v2 includes updated data and insights, and apart from looking at multi-platform evidence also includes chapters focused on specific platforms. 

Useful links:

Download the POP pdf free

Access the digital edition of POP free, powered by PressReader

Get slides and other resources from the POP toolkit

Watch a recording of the POP webinar, conducted on 4 November this year

Time Inc (UK): Insight

Bauer Media (heat): Research

MPA’s Magazine Media 360º

Get in touch!

As most of you have (hopefully!) noticed, we recently launched the new FIPP.com (in beta, while doing live testing and refinements). The relaunch is not only about look and feel, but more so about us providing a platform to further enable the sharing of ideas, insights and opinions within our global network. If you have a story to tell, or are interested in contributing to FIPP.com on a regular basis, simply get in touch with our communications manager Amy Duffin (Amy@fipp.com) to organise.

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