Consumer demand and ad revenues are driving video adoption by magazines

According to the 2015 Magazine Media 360 Brand Audience Report, the magazine audience for video grew by five million additional viewers last year – an increase of 13.8 per cent. “What’s astounding is the sheer volume of consumers engaging with magazine media brands across platforms and formats, and how readers continue to diversify the ways in which they trust and enjoy our content,” said Linda Thomas Brooks, CEO of MPA, which publishes this report.

According to BI Intelligence, digital video ad revenue will reach almost US$5bn in 2016, up from $2.8bn in 2013. While there remains hesitation amongst many towards investing in video, the most innovative publishers have shown that concerns over cost are offset by improvements in CPM, audience data and readership.

Publishers who are embracing video

Cosmopolitan/Hearst Corporation

Cosmopolitan video page ()

In addition to publishing video on their own site, which is intended to serve as a companion guide for readers, Cosmopolitan magazine posts videos to their YouTube channel, including a recent video of men asking a group of little girls for texting advice, which has been seen more than half a million times. The magazine’s YouTube channel is an expression of Hearst’s strategy of building large audiences on the free web and then monetising the traffic.

Another key driver of video consumption is Cosmo’s presence on Snapchat’s Discover, which includes a mix of articles, video and original animations. In October, Kate Lewis, Vice President and editorial director of digital at Hearst Magazines revealed that Cosmo’s Discover channel is averaging three million viewers a day. ‘This is a natural partnership and extension of the Cosmo brand, our readers live on Snapchat,’ said Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles.

And at the end of last year, Hearst Magazines was one of a handful of publishers to partner with Wibbitz, a startup that helps online publishers create video summaries of their articles. Wibbitz analyses the text of a story, creating a summary that’s turned into a voiceover accompanied by photos, graphics and other content from the publisher.

Motor Trend/The Enthusiast Network

Motor Trend video page ()

With over 3.7 million subscribers to its YouTube channel and a large library of video content on its own site, Motor Trends, the magazine for car enthusiasts, has been steadily building its video audience. In fact, in December 2015, the magazine’s video audience grew by more than 2,000 per cent over December the year before.

To capitalise on this momentum, late last year, the publication launched Motor Trend OnDemand, the first streaming video on demand service for automotive enthusiasts. For $USD 5.99 per month, subscribers get exclusive access to more than 1,000 hours of automotive programming, including premier motorsport racing, original episodic series, event coverage, historical archives, films, documentaries, and television series serving the entire spectrum of automotive and motorcycle enthusiasts.

‘The digital video segment is experiencing explosive growth, and TEN is in an ideal position to become the Netflix for Gearheads, a community that is currently underserved and starved for premium video content,’ said Scott Dickey, CEO of Motor Trend parent company TEN.

The New Yorker/Conde Nast

New Yorker video page ()

According to Digiday, the New Yorker’s video team has grown from two to four employees recently which includes new senior editor of video, Cath Spangler who came from The New York Times. The magazine has a schedule for publishing video to its site which allows the team to create quality content around topics their audiences are interested in. 

While the content is varied and ranges from scripted short films and documentaries, there is one common theme: New York City. Video is either produced by The New Yorker or acquired from the festival circuit through its partnership with sister company Condé Nast Entertainment. Unlike many other publications who only use video as a companion to print articles, The New Yorker is instead focusing its video efforts on original ideas and original series which include ‘A Reporter at Large’ which offers in-depth reported pieces about domestic affairs and global issues, ‘Comma Queen’ in which Mary Norris talks about language in all its facets and, Sketchbook which reveals cartoonists and illustrators at work.

‘Video is going to be an important part of how we tell stories and present information, so let’s get going on this,’ said editor Nicholas Thompson.

People/Time Inc.

People video page ()

For one of the largest publications in the US, People has been making a significant effort over the past year to increase the size of its digital footprint. Video is central to this strategy. According to People’s editorial director Jess Cagle, ‘Web video and mobile are our big priorities for People right now.’ In addition to launching a daily live web news show called ‘People Now’, the online version of the magazine has a dedicated video channel which is prominently featured in their navigation menu, after News.

Parent company, Time Inc. now has a 60-person video team and is producing around 200 videos each week across Time’s its 25 titles. However, it can be challenging for a traditional print publisher to position itself as an online video destination. ‘We have great brands that have been around for a century but haven’t been looked at as video sources by consumers and advertisers,’ he said. To turn that around, he explained, Time Inc. has to produce content on a regular basis and push further into live programming, which over time trains viewers to keep coming back.

It is undeniable that video has become a must-have for magazine publishers – whether readers traditionally associate video with the publication or not. This is especially true considering that adults in the US will spend an average of five hours, 31 minutes consuming video each day this year. Smart publishers will ensure that some of that time is spent watching video on their sites.

More like this

Unruly launches new video lab to help advertisers survive ad blocking phenomenon

Using video, images and more to make the most of the mobile, social, visual web

Quartz editor-in-chief on engaging advertising, videos and charts

Your first step to joining FIPP's global community of media leaders

Sign up to FIPP World x