Optimism and progress at Research Forum

Guy Consterdine, FIPP’s research consultant, gives a personal view of FIPP’s Research Forum held in Hamburg earlier this week.
I felt there was a tone of optimism and progress at FIPP’s Research Forum in Hamburg on 16 & 17 June. Fifty marketing, insight and advertising executives in the magazine business met in the ultra-modern offices of Gruner + Jahr in Hamburg, Germany, to discuss the latest magazine research developments and ideas from around the world. 
G+J’s impressive conference auditorium, curved and steeply raked in amphitheatre style, lent an atmosphere of intimacy which encouraged active participation, discussion, and a sense of fellowship between professionals co-operating towards common goals. One delegate remarked that we all have similar issues across the different countries, in spite of all the market dissimilarities, and delegates from as far away from Hamburg as Australia, Taiwan, South Africa and the USA agreed.
Publishers’ digital + print properties
One of the principal themes concerned magazine publishers’ digital properties, and how consumers combine them and their print counterparts.
Two of the papers showed, in contrasting ways, how the deep reader-engagement for which printed magazines are renowned transfers across to magazine brands’ digital platforms too. Amanda Wigginton of IPC Media, UK, described how the Connected Consumers study showed consumers seamlessly mixing old and new platforms. Consumers still “memory bank”, draw inspiration from magazine brand content and pass on recommendations to friends and family, but the new element is that magazines now offer consumers more opportunities to do this across a number of platforms. Ultimately this reinforces the power of magazine brands, irrespective of platform. 
A radically different way of looking at connected consumers was provided by Martin Diamond of Bauer Media UK, using neuroscience to study the emotional responses to Bauer’s magazine brand Heat. When survey respondents wore brain scanners to measure electrical activity in the brain, emotional response was traced for both editorial content and advertisements, appearing on multiple platforms. The Heat brand elicited a strong and positive emotional state, and this rubbed off onto the advertising displayed in the context of the brand. Responses to advertising messages shown across platforms linked consistently by the Heat brand were stronger than advertising messages without that link. Moreover the advertising content evoked very similar strength of emotion to the editorial content. 
Measuring publishers’ cross-media audiences
Another stream of discussion was the need to measure the total coverage of a magazine brand across all its digital platforms, in order to convince marketers of the value of advertising in them. There is some progress here, though the task is technically problematic and takes time to develop. A growing number of national surveys now include print media’s digital audiences – such as the One survey in France and UK’s NRS Print And Digital Database (PADD). Several other countries are about to release such data – Germany, for instance, where the Media Analyse Intermedia database is to be launched in the autumn.
Sam Tomlinson of PricewaterhouseCoopers, UK, gave a paper describing the PwC method of tackling the problem. Subsequent discussion underlined the fact that the difficulty of combining print and digital currencies is that they are measured in such different ways: print audiences typically measured by recall while digital audiences are best measured by passive metering. This makes the ideal of single-source measurement more or less impossible. The main alternatives in use are various forms of fusion or ascription, none of which can be guaranteed to yield accurate duplication patterns. It’s more a matter of making the best use of the best available data, making sensible approximations where necessary – on the basis that it’s better to have “best available” estimates of cross-media audiences rather than no data at all.
Ad tracking in printed magazines
There seems to be increasing use of ad tracking through reading and noting studies of print magazines, including measures of action taken as a result of reading the magazine, and other key performance indicators (KPIs). In Germany the Ad Impact Monitor (AIM) project has been using this technique for several years to assess the impact of print ads’ creative work, and in a paper by Michael Hallemann of G+J and Tanja Seiter of Hubert Burda Media the Research Forum learned that in 2014 this is being extended to online advertisements and online videos. AIM’s tracking of media strategy for individual brands is also being considerably extended, across multiple media beyond magazines.
Campaign effectiveness: magazines on their own
Another major theme of the conference was “Proving the cost-efficiency of magazine media”. The Meredith Sales Guarantee is an example of a project which is primarily print-only. Meredith’s Britta Cleveland revealed that 30 print-only campaigns have now been researched, and in all 30 cases the magazine advertising produced sales uplifts (averaging +9%) and positive returns on investment (ROI) which averaged US$7.68 of sales per US$1 of advertising investment.
In a neat twist, one of Britta’s case studies was about magazines driving TV viewing. A new American primetime situation comedy was promoted solely in monthly magazines. The result was that, among the target 18-49 year olds, viewing of the first episode was higher among those who had seen the magazine advertising than among the control group who had little or no exposure, and much higher for the second episode. 
A new development for the Meredith Sales Guarantee is that it now includes campaigns running only on magazine websites, or in print plus related websites. Among the ten digital-only campaigns studied, all ten showed sales uplifts (averaging +8%) and produced positive ROIs (averaging US$ 5.31.)
Campaign effectiveness: magazines, TV, other media
Most of the effectiveness studies discussed at the Research Forum dealt with mixed media campaigns.
Florian Thielecke of The Nielsen Company, Germany, showed how adding a single TV guide magazine – Burda’s TV Spielfilm – to a TV-only campaign significantly raised product recall, brand image and likeability, for the ten product campaigns studied. It is striking that this is achieved by transferring only 1%-2% of the TV budget into the magazine. Usually publishers argue for a larger slice of the budget – 10% or more – but it is valuable to see proof of such a small proportion as 1%-2% working. In the discussion groups someone remarked that an advantage of only going for 1%-2% of the TV budget, rather than say 10%, is that TV-only advertisers and agencies are often risk-averse regarding reducing the TV budget, when competitors are maintaining their TV spending, hence a smaller re-allocation was more likely to be granted.
Two videos were shown from Magazines Canada, based on their Media Connections Study, one demonstrating that magazine media have a role to play through all stages of consumers’ path to purchase, and the other showing that magazine advertising generates the strongest impact on purchase per media dollar spent.
A study from The Netherlands, presented by Nancy Detrixhe of NUV, the Dutch magazines association, used data from the GfK panels to demonstrate that TV campaigns generally overspend in the medium, and it put the case for shifting some of the TV money into magazines. The results were very similar to comparable studies in Germany and Belgium, and with a number of different approaches used in other countries producing the same result, it is clear that this is a generalisable conclusion: most TV-heavy campaigns over-spend in TV (beyond the point of severe diminishing returns), and better campaign results would be achieved by reallocating a portion of the budget to magazines.
Mapping accountability
Miriam Condon of Pacific Magazines, on behalf of Magazine Publishers of Australia, described their Magazine Audience Performance Predictor (mapp). Mapp forecasts how advertising messages in magazines will be spread through time, issue by issue. In addition to using readership accumulation curves (a necessary but often neglected step in assessing magazine campaigns), mapp uses weekly scan data of magazine sales to predict the final total audience of each printed issue of each magazine brand. This is then built into a campaign evaluation tool which publishers and media agencies can use.
I think mapp is a fine example of the benefit of learning from earlier work in other parts of the world, before developing one’s own new solution – something FIPP is keen to facilitate through its events, Awards scheme, newsletters, website, reports and so on. Mapp acknowledged, in particular, inspiration from the UK’s Magonomics project, presented by PPA’s Marius Cloete at last year’s Research Forum in Barcelona.
Mapp was developed because advertisers now tend to see accountability in terms of having real-time data. Magazines are at a severe disadvantage in this respect, since magazine audience data are not in the same form as that of other media. For instance, TV has minute by minute ratings published overnight, while magazines have readership of average issues, not individual issues, and the data are published at very long intervals such as quarterly or half yearly.
Miriam Condon stated “mapp has changed the way we talk to media agencies”. It delivers magazine audience data in a form which can be incorporated directly into agencies’ media mix models. 
The greater precision promised by this development should mean that the link between magazine advertising and advertisers’ product sales will be measured more efficiently, resulting in more accurate – and higher – estimates of magazines’ return on investment. Miriam felt that when a few major case studies are available (which takes time) it is hoped that it will change agencies’ and advertisers’ perception of magazines.
Future ambitions for mapp include: building repeat reading of magazines into the model; incorporating ad impact data; covering magazines’ digital properties; and expanding the modelling to use it for planning ahead, rather than just retrospective post-evaluation.
Research Awards
One of the highlights of the two days in Hamburg was the Research Awards Dinner, at which Chris Llewellyn, President & CEO of FIPP, presented the 2014 Gold and Silver Awards. 
The optimism
The optimism I referred to at the beginning was due in part to a conviction that we are in the midst of an excitingly evolving era of research which will give us a deeper understanding of how consumers are using magazine media’s various platforms, and will help us to better demonstrate to advertisers the value of the medium. There was a feeling that we are on the threshold of new discoveries – discoveries both in methodologies and in findings.
The growing evidence of the power of printed magazines and their digital counterparts encouraged us all to go home with confidence about the future. And there was a sense of unity engendered by spending two days working together to compare experiences and ideas, and it induced a desire to come back again next year.
If you have any comments on this article, please email me at guy@consterdine.com
All FIPP members can access the full presentations from the FIPP Research Awards. Contact Amy Duffin at FIPP for the link.  

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