Print still reigns supreme at evolving Bauer Media

Abby Carvosso loves magazines. Recently promoted to lead Bauer Media UK’s London Lifestyle division, which includes Grazia, Closer, Heat and Empire, she is planning to demonstrate their worth using research, trial and error and old-fashioned instinct.

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Her approach is partly being formed by research such as Heat – A Journey Into Neuroscience. Published by Bauer in September 2013, the study used brain scans to establish the effectiveness of running a campaign across a single multiplatform brand.

“Our challenge is understanding what our different platforms do for an advertiser, and proving that all the time,” Carvosso says. “We’re investing a huge amount in research to help planners understand [that although] newsstand sales are declining, we are extending our reach on different platforms.”

Bauer, which owns 21 titles in the UK, reported a 24 per cent drop in operating profit to £38.2m last year. The biggest faller was the lads’ mag Zoo, sales of which plummeted 23 per cent year on year to 35,596. The magazine’s plight will only be exacerbated by its disappearance from The Co-operative, a result of Bauer rejecting orders by the retailer to use “modesty bags”. In reality, only a few sales will be lost, but it is clearly a point of tension.

“We believe our product is delivering an appropriate cover,” Carvosso says. “What we can’t do is change the commercial gain of publishing the magazine by putting it in a bag, because clearly that’s no advantage to us whatsoever. The fact is that the Zoo reader is a twenty-something, early thirty-something guy and the content is entertaining.”

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