Research underlines continuing health and strength of magazine media

Guy Consterdine (pictured), FIPP’s research consultant, gives a roundup of recent research including GfK MRI, Time Inc and the Print & Digital Research Forum.
One thing which magazine media do not lack is a stream of new research. Much of it concerns tablets, smartphones, websites, social media and other digital forms. What strikes me most about these digital studies is the host of opportunities for publishers which they indicate – both for building audiences and for attracting advertising.
For example, interactive print is one of the most positive recent developments for magazine publishers. It strengthens the original product – print on paper – by linking it to the digital world and all its opportunities, and thereby provides extra value both for readers and for advertisers. This has been demonstrated by research agency GfK MRI in the USA, which has measured the impact of more than 14,000 ads in tablet editions of magazines in its report Delving into the opportunity for tablet magazine advertising (Michal Galin, Jana Slaten, Valerie Veith (all GfK MRI) and Britta Cleveland (Meredith), 2013).

It was found that readers recall tablet ads as strongly as they recall print ads, but the interactivity available with tablet ads opens the possibility of extending the message, tends to induce deeper engagement, and makes it easier for readers to take action as a result of seeing the ads. At the same time readers’ appreciation of the interactivity – for editorial as well as the advertising – implies that the number of readers will grow rapidly.

A case study commissioned by Time Inc. in the USA, Cross platform sales impact: cracking the code on single source (Caryn Klein (Time Inc) and Leslie Wood (Nielsen Catalina Solutions), 2013), showed how an ad campaign using a combination of a publisher’s digital and print platforms, plus television, can prove more effective than any of the media on their own. For two food brands, econometric analysis isolated the return on investment (ROI) for each medium – that is, the extra sales generated by each dollar spent on advertising. For Time Inc magazines and their associated digital properties there was an average ROI of US$3.14. For TV the equivalent figure was $3.89 per dollar spent. But best value was obtained by combining the media: for TV plus Time Inc print and digital properties the ROI rose to $5.10. It is a clear demonstration of the value of adding the special attributes of magazine media (print + digital) to television campaigns. The communication and persuasion achieved is markedly better when the messages are experienced in a varied range of media.
I found the same conclusion when examining other studies which assess magazines’ contribution within multi-media campaigns.

For example, in Germany Gruner + Jahr has developed a research tool called the Success Barometer which measures advertising effect across multiple media. Read more about the G+J Success Barometer. A paper on the Success Barometer will be given at FIPP’s Research Forum in Hamburg, taking place 16-17 June 2014.

There are also plenty of recent studies into the effectiveness of advertising in printed magazines on their own. One of the most striking is from Meredith Corporation in the USA, and its Sales Guarantee (Magazines drive efficient sales – guaranteed, Britta Cleveland, Meredith Corp, and Leslie Wood and Jeff Bickel, Nielsen Catalina Solutions, 2013). The method quantifies the additional sales generated by advertising in Meredith consumer magazines. During the first four years 25 brands were studied, and in all 25 cases a positive return on investment was shown. On average, for every dollar spent in the magazines, $7.81 of additional sales were generated, representing a nine per cent sales lift.
I participated in the Print and Digital Research Forum (PDRF Symposium) held in Nice, France, in October 2013, and found it underlined the health and strength of magazine media. More than 50 papers discussed the measurement of print media (including newspapers) and their digital properties, and their effectiveness for marketers. All the papers are downloadable from These papers are a rich source of information, displaying the vitality with which we research practitioners are adapting our methods in order to deal with fast-moving new requirements, and coming up with fresh evidence about consumers’ use of the evolving magazine medium.
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