The rapid changes in magazine media during the last two years have been echoed in research; especially about the way digital platforms have been incorporated into consumers’ lives and the implications for advertisers. It’s perfect time for a new edition of FIPP’s Proof of Performance: Making the case for magazine media (POP) report, says editor Guy Consterdine.
It is two years since I wrote the first edition of POP, and the second edition is due to be launched in late September.
POP’s objectives are to review research-based evidence on how consumers are using printed and digital magazine content around the world; to demonstrate the effectiveness of the advertising these media carry; and to present a narrative of the full case that may be put to advertisers and their media agencies about the medium.
This article gives a taste of what’s to come in the new edition, by looking at a few examples of the fresh research which emerged during the last two years, with an emphasis on digital platforms.
Connected consumers and the 24/7 medium
Much of the new research is about multi-platform usage – how consumers are using print in combination with many digital manifestations of magazines such as digital editions, websites, apps and social media, accessed by a range of devices including laptops, PCs, tablets, e-readers and smartphones.
This choice of platforms amplifies the strength of the relationship between reader and the magazine brand. (It also amplifies receptiveness to the advertising, but that is another story.) It has turned magazine content into even more of a 24/7 ‘always on’ medium. Of course it was always possible to read a printed magazine at any time, but now the medium also offers content presented in different ways, accessible via additional devices. This has extended the use of magazine editorial and advertising content at work (through all the digital devices), while travelling or on holiday (through smartphones and tablets) and in the home.
This was underlined by the Connected Consumers study published by IPC Media in the UK in 2013. It interviewed more than 3,500 consumers about their experience of using seven of IPC’s core multi-platform brands. One of the most striking findings was the depth to which the deep reader-engagement for which printed magazines are renowned transfers across to magazine brands’ digital platforms too.
Consumers seamlessly mix old and new platforms. People still draw inspiration from what they read in their magazines, pass on recommendations to friends and family, and so on. But what has changed is that magazines now offer consumers more opportunities to do this across a range of platforms. This reinforces the power of magazine brands, irrespective of platform. The result is that all the platforms and devices – print, websites, apps, tablets, smartphones and social media – can play significant roles in influencing consumers throughout all stages of decision-making, including decisions about purchases.
Consumers turn to magazine brands at multiple times throughout the day, for a variety of purposes, and using a range of platforms.
The Connected Consumers study found that there are three states of mind in which consumers use magazine brands:
- Catch-up time. Typically (though not only) in the morning when catching up on happenings. Critical in this mind-state is ease of access and the ability to get reliable and trusted updates to bring them up to speed quickly. Magazine apps, websites and social media are particularly relevant here.
- Focus time. Typically during the day when consumers tend to be more time-deprived. They know what information they want and they know how to get it. Magazine apps, websites, social media and print all fulfil this need.
- Down time. It’s for escapism, and is when consumers are at their most receptive to advertising. Typically in the evening, when people are relaxing or the children are in bed. Content is accessed across all platforms.
Connected Consumers found high satisfaction levels among readers who only access a magazine brand through one platform, but even higher levels of satisfaction among those who accessed more than one platform. Essentially, the more platforms used, the higher the satisfaction with the brand.
Surveys in several countries have found very positive attitudes among readers of digital editions. One example in 2013 comes from Brazil where publisher Abril and research agency Ipsos released their study Measuring the Level of Engagement of Digital Magazine Readers.
It interviewed 897 readers of digital editions of magazines, and found that the average reading time was more than two hours, an indication of deep engagement. Some 47 per cent read the whole magazine, many picked it up several times, and 9 out of 10 who read more than once did so on different days.
Brazilian readers of digital editions readily shared information from the magazine with other people and made recommendations; they often sought more magazine content from other sources such as the title’s website or social networks and showed high levels of satisfaction.
Some 56 per cent of readers had commented on the contents of digital editions with friends or family; 45 per cent of readers had done so in person, 15 per cent in blogs or social networks and 12 per cent by email.
A significant 75 per cent of readers had visited the magazines’ websites, and 30 per cent had sought further information from other online sources or social media. The net effect was that 81 per cent had sought more magazine content after reading a digital edition.
Furthermore, 89 per cent had read advertisements and 77 per cent had interacted with them.
There were high scores for intimacy (“I like my digital magazine very much”, “It is my moment of choice”, “It makes me feel good” and “It’s important for me”), influence (recommending reading the magazine and leading opinion on content topics) and satisfaction (high ratings for satisfaction and intention to continue reading in the digital format).
The Atenea Digital project in Spain, commissioned by a consortium of publishers (Hearst, RBA, & G+J Motor Press, with the Asociación de Revistas de Informacion: ARI), has revealed some valuable insights about publishers’ websites.
Atenea Digital is a campaign tracking system in which, within each brand’s defined target audience, two matched samples are compared, differing only in that one sample has been exposed to the relevant websites and/or magazines and the other has not.
Among the case studies examined by Atenea Digital in 2013 was Pantene haircare products, which used advertising on television, print magazines, magazine websites, and non-magazine websites, to reach a target audience of women.
The study segmented the total audience into groups according to their exposure or non-exposure to the various combinations of websites and print magazines. In other respects the compared groups were carefully matched.
Recall of the online advertisement was much higher (more than double) among those who had seen it exclusively on magazine websites than among those who had seen it exclusively on non-magazine websites. Similarly, brand recognition was much higher (again more than double) when seen on magazine websites. Not only that, recall and brand recognition of the print magazine advertisement was much higher among the magazine website visitors than among visitors to non-magazine websites.
There is evidence of a multiplier effect: the print and web platforms of magazine media working together to create a larger effect than either on its own. When exposure to magazine websites was combined with exposure to print magazines, the recall and brand recognition associated with magazine websites were higher (54 per cent and 53 per cent respectively) than when the magazine websites were not accompanied by exposure to print (44 per cent and 41 per cent).
The visitors to magazine websites were more likely to generate word of mouth communication than the visitors to the non-magazine websites.
The project also examined attitudes to websites. Attitudes were far more positive on magazine publishers’ websites than on websites from other sources, in terms of the advertising they carry.
Among consumers who visited magazine websites, high proportions thought the advertising on them is relevant to them, is (therefore) usually more interesting than advertising on other websites, and is more trustworthy than advertising on other types of website. The results echo the same well-established characteristics of print magazines: they are chosen by readers and, therefore, highly relevant and interesting, and also trustworthy. Again echoing the print titles, many visitors to magazine websites thought that the editorial content and the advertising were complementary.
It makes sense, therefore, that a high proportion of magazine website visitors thought these websites are a good place for brands to advertise and that brands advertised there tend to be easier to remember.
It is striking how much more positive were the attitudes to magazine websites among their visitors than the attitudes to non-magazine websites visitors. For example, the score for relevance was three times greater for magazine websites (among their visitors) than for other types of website (among their visitors). For all of the other attitude statements the scores were also between twice and three times as great for magazine websites as for the other types of website.
It is evident that magazine websites are being perceived in ways which are similar to print magazines, in terms of relevance, interest, trust and so on, and that these attitudes carry over to the advertising, to the benefit of the advertisers. The positive values so strongly associated with the print titles are rubbing off onto their associated websites.
Ads on magazine websites drive sales
These conclusions have been reinforced by work in the USA through the Meredith Sales Guarantee project. It quantifies the impact of magazine media advertising investment on actual brand sales, by using Nielsen’s HomeScan consumer panel to examine week-by-week sales of each product before, during and after the campaign periods.
Ten of the campaigns examined in 2013 and 2014 appeared exclusively in Meredith Corporation’s branded websites. Households were classified into those which had been exposed to the magazine website advertising and those which had not (the matched control group).
For all ten brands, there was a sales increase attributable to the magazine website advertising. The sales uplifts ranged from 1 per cent to 22 per cent, and the average was an impressive 8 per cent rise in sales among those exposed to the websites advertising, compared with the unexposed control group.
The average return on investment (ROI) of the ten digital campaigns was US$5.31 of sales per $1 of advertising investment – a handsome result.
Ads in print magazines: 10 per cent sales uplift
The results were just as impressive for Meredith’s print magazines. In the period up to 2014 the Meredith Sales Guarantee has covered 31 brands using Meredith’s print magazines only. As with the digital campaigns, the print campaigns compare consumers exposed to the print advertising with a control group matched in every measurable way except for not having been exposed to the advertising. The Nielsen HomeScan panel measures actual week-by-week sales among both groups.
An average uplift in sales of 10 per cent was achieved across the 31 brands. Moreover for all 31 brands there was a sales increase attributable to the magazine advertising. The increases ranged from 2 per cent to 36 per cent for individual brands.
Figure two illustrates the overall results, using sales trends data based on the average of the 31 brands. In the 12 months before the magazine campaign starts, sales among the exposed ‘test’ group closely match sales among the control group, but as soon as the magazine campaign launches, the two lines diverge. Those seeing the magazine ads record higher sales than those who do not, for every month of the campaign.
For each brand Nielsen calculated the return on investment (ROI) for the magazine advertising. ROI was defined as the incremental (gross) sales generated per advertising dollar. The average ROI across the 31 brands was a very healthy $7.54 for every dollar spent on advertising in magazines.
Influencers making other media work harder
Magazines multiply their effects by generating responses in other forms of media too. There has long been research showing how TV advertising works harder if accompanied by print magazine advertising (the print ads make viewers perceive, understand and remember more of the TV commercial’s message). There is now a growing body of evidence about the ability of magazine media to generate word of mouth communication.
In Canada, for example, the 2013 Media Connections Study from Magazines Canada and BrandSpark International demonstrated this very point. Magazine audiences contained a higher proportion of product influencers in a range of product categories than the audiences of other media.
Magazines work across the consumer journey
Canada’s Media Connections Study also showed how magazines work for advertisers across every stage of the consumer journey towards purchase.
The Canadians framed the consumer journey in three stages: consideration (what is available?), evaluation (how do they compare?) and purchase (which is right for me?). A sample of 3,000 consumers active in purchasing food, beauty products or automobiles was asked how important each of 13 media were in influencing their decision-making at each of the three stages. The 13 media were TV, radio, print magazines, magazine websites, magazine apps, paid-for newspapers, free newspapers, online, web search, social media, online games, out of home, and direct mail.
For all three product categories, magazines in two or all three of their platforms frequently ranked among the top two media. To summarise this, Figure 3 shows the outcome for all three stages for, in turn, automotive, food and beauty products.
The 2013 Connected Consumers study from UK’s IPC Media was another project to look at this. IPC identified four stages of the consumer journey among its magazines’ multi-platform readers: sparking an idea, searching for information, generating word of mouth, and purchasing.
- Sparking an idea: magazines spark ideas across all their platforms: 89 per cent of consumers get ideas from print, 85 per cent get ideas from digital editions, 81 per cent from online, 77 per cent from apps and 72 per cent from social media.
- Searching for information: one in two visit the advertised brand’s website for further information. Four in five search for inspiration for decorating their home.
- Generating word of mouth: More than half have recommended something seen in the magazine brands.
- Purchasing: two in five have bought something online or in-store as a direct result of something they have seen in the magazine brands.
Evolving into multi-platform content providers, magazine publishers are finding that their digital output, as well as printed magazines, is yielding attractive audiences for advertisers – audiences who respond positively to the advertising.
Much more in POP’s second edition
The second edition of POP will contain many more examples of the power and cost-efficiency of magazine media. Around 150 different studies will be cited, from more than 25 countries. As well as looking at the newer digital channels, it will not neglect printed magazines, where the old truths about print still hold good and the market needs reminding of them.
In Germany, for example, the publisher TV Spielfilm Verlag and Nielsen have shown how transferring a small portion of a TV budget into print magazines can improve a campaign’s effectiveness. The TV AdLift! study compared a TV-only strategy with using TV plus two insertions in TV Spielfilm magazine. Ten campaigns were studied. Aggregating results across the ten campaigns, among consumers who saw the two magazine ads, all the performance indicators were higher.
Consumers exposed to the two magazine advertisements showed distinct increases: 20 per cent higher ad recall, 15 per cent higher brand recall, 42 per cent higher ‘efficiency’, 5 per cent higher recall of message, and 56 per cent higher likeability.
Moreover, the two magazine insertions delivered these increases at a reduced cost per percentage point. The price in euros per percentage point of ad recall was 15 per cent lower, the price per percentage point of brand recall was 28 per cent lower and the cost per percentage point of message recall was also 28 per cent lower.
Shifting even very small portions of a TV budget towards TV+magazines cross-media can have a strong impact on campaign efficiency.
This article first appeared in Magazine World.