Magazine ABCs: look beyond old habits to understand sector's growing influence

The appetite for high quality, original and inspiring content remains strong, argues the chief executive of Magnetic, the magazine industry's marketing body.

Sue Todd: Magazines are one of the few media experiences that enable such an immersive moment
Sue Todd: Magazines are one of the few media experiences that enable such an immersive moment

Measurement and analysis of magazine media’s power and influence moved beyond the ABC numbers alone some time ago; however old habits die hard, so it remains a point at which we often reflect on and try to understand the evolving nature of the sector.

The latest data released last week shows that total demand for magazines in both print and digital editions remains strong, with a -0.2 per cent change compared to a year ago.

At a headline level, consumers bought 3.4 per cent fewer print copies, yet the scale and importance of magazine brands in print remains significant with more than £1.2 billion spent by UK adults over the course of a year. That’s four times more than consumers spent on Netflix content in a comparable period and significantly more than Frozen has taken at the box office worldwide.

In an era where free content is available 24/7, it is encouraging to see that the appetite for high quality, original and inspiring content remains strong.

So why are 75 per cent of adults in the UK still reading magazine content every month and what still makes this such a compelling business and advertising opportunity?

Immersive and influential
We know that when it comes to media experiences, which command people’s full and undivided attention, there are few left that enable such an immersive and deeply pleasurable moment as that offered by magazine media.

And when it comes to understanding what this means for advertisers, research from the likes of Adobe concludes time and time again that magazine brands are the most welcoming and receptive environments for messages. In an age when it seems cutting through the clutter is more difficult and ad avoidance is high, the value for brands of media experiences where minds are open and positive shouldn’t be underestimated.

Innovative campaigns
Print continues to power many of the life-enhancing relationships that readers have with their favourite brands, but these important connections are increasingly strengthened by magazine content’s availability in other online and offline spaces such as events, apps and of course desktop.

We know that advertising creativity in magazine media is soaring as advertisers take advantage of these multiple channels with new, bold approaches for advertisers.

The August issue of Harper’s Bazaar features the new Samsung Galaxy S6 edge on its front cover, showcasing the fusion of fashion and technology. Now magazine created an "unzippable cover" to promote Warner Bros. film Magic Mike XXL, with readers tearing off a strip to reveal a secret special edition cover and 16 pages of exclusive content. Grazia’s team worked with Office to create the first ever "shoespaper", and recently Vogue teamed up with Bonpoint to launch Mini Vogue, an online portal to meet the demand for childrenswear content.

Dynamic business moves
High-profile magazine launches in the last 12 months from brands such as Net-A-Porter, Airbnb, Sports Direct and Uber prove that the demand for magazine media content is still huge. Both Minecraft and LEGO Star Wars have launched print magazines this year and the launch of independent magazines is at a ten-year high.

The vitality of the sector doesn’t stop there, with magazine publishers exploring ambitious new business initiatives with increasing confidence. Time Inc UK this week invested in visual search business Snap Fashion, which allows readers to search, browse and purchase fashion items in photos. Dennis Publishing recently created the technology website Alphr, with a £1.5 million investment, providing a new platform for coverage of technologies that are changing lives. Condé Nast recently launched dedicated video channels, and Time Inc.’s Wallpaper* announced an e-commerce partnership with The Level Group.

Power and influence
All these factors point to the vitality, diversity and confidence in a sector that recognises and values the power that print and digital both play.

The ABCs give us a sense of the value still placed in print and digital editions by consumers, but add in the multiple touchpoints created by magazine media events, mobile engagement, online video, social media interaction and e-commerce activity, and you start to get the full view of a sector whose power and influence is as strong as ever.

Sue Todd is the chief executive of Magnetic, the marketing body for the magazine industry

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