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[Congress Q&A] Axel Springer's special interest magazines are booming in Germany

Hans Hamer ()

In recent years, magazine launches have exploded in the special interest and niche sector. In Germany, special interest is flourishing, according to Dr. Hans Hamer, the publishing and managing director of the Axel Springer publishing group for automotive, sports and computer/consumer electronics in Germany.

Hamer says in the last couple of years, Axel Springer launched magazines in the Auto Bild family, focusing on special interests including Auto Bild Reisemobil launched in 2014, Auto Bild Klassik launched in 2007 and Bike Bild in 2016.

Hans will be one of the speakers at the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October in London, the United Kingdom. Sign up here.

 

"For example, the old VW bus is becoming popular again. It's a boom market. It meant we explored a new market niche,” Hamer explained.  “For the last three or four years, the market of classic car magazines has been booming. Two years ago we had two or three magazines, now we have seven or eight."

Auto Bild 3 ()

"In the German market, there are many positive business options," he said. 

Special interest magazines are highly-focused publications that cater to targeted groups. As audiences drown in a sea of content and information, special interest magazines provide an authoritative, trusted voice.

“The world these days is so complex. People look for someone to guide them, a trusted brand who takes them by the hand and helps orient them,” Hamer said. “The more specialised you are, with a clear focus on your target group, it's hard to imitate. The same if you produce your own content and original stories, it's hard to replicate.”

Hamer suggests that unlike news, the internet can't replicate what special interest magazines do. “It’s about the lean back experience. We have known this for more than 10 years, but these days it is getting more and more important. It's a kind of escapism. This is one thing that Facebook can't offer you.”

Hamer suggests special interest magazines offer readers high quality journalism and they’re appealing to a highly-engaged albeit smaller audience.

Auto Bild 2 ()

"The USP of the special interest magazines is to give you orientation, guidance, advice, and these days if you have complex and complicated topics (or decisions to be made), this is the one advantage special interest magazines have,” he said.

Print has become a premium product with stylishly-printed, visually-driven content and narratives. Hamer outlined that Axel Springer is investing in print with an upgrade, with special colour and paper quality, to make the special interest magazines more valuable to readers.“There's a kind of upgrade of magazines, which means we have a kind of upgrades in paper which means paper quality,” he said. “We invested in the quality of magazines and that was very successful. ”

Investing in paper quality and colour is one of the biggest mega-trends coming up on the European market, Hamer said.

Special interest magazines, with their upgraded paper stock, high quality content and highly-targeted audiences, can ask ask for a higher copy price, and often do.

Auto Bild 1 ()

"In my opinion, we are not only working in the media business, we are working in an entertainment business, we have to entertain only our readers but also our advertising clients who want to publish ads in a special environment."

In Germany, Axel Springer’s magazines reach 6.5 million readers a month, Hamer told FIPP in 2015. Auto Bild is the largest car magazine in the world, with over 33 million readers in 33 countries.

Axel Springer is a member of FIPP.

Hear more from Hans at the 41st FIPP World Congress, 9-11 October in London, the United Kingdom. Sign up here.

 

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