Media: Double Standards - 'In this climate, mags are a very affordable treat'

Despite consumer mags branching out into the likes of social media and apps, neither publishers nor readers are abandoning the paper format, two experts reveal.

MATT TEEMAN - DIRECTOR OF AD SALES, BBC MAGAZINES

- What general lessons can we learn from the latest round of ABCs?

Overall, magazines performed well with many titles seeing stability after a difficult period of trading. Although some sectors are still finding their feet, it's encouraging to see that consumers still have an appetite for the printed product and are still prepared to put their hand in their pocket for their favourite magazine(s) despite the explosion of media choice and recent economic pressures. It's also encouraging to see subscriptions on the rise from many publishers - and as the market leader in this area, we see it as the critical foundation to stability and growth.

- What are your best recent innovations for advertisers?

Two examples spring to mind. First, BBC Magazines' Brand Impact Panel, an online panel of more than 6,000 readers that enables us to accurately measure and review attitudes and awareness of campaigns carried in our titles. Second, with the steep rise in numbers of people accessing our brands via social media networks, we have started to capitalise on this, selling commercial opportunities around the content as an extension to our already sizeable and successful online proposition. We are, of course, very careful in how we commercialise this social space so as not to alienate our fans, but it's a real opportunity.

- What is the significance of online activity in the overall picture of what you do?

Online has become very important in the overall mix - 25 per cent of our revenues now come from the portfolio of sites we sell and the vast majority of print proposals that leave the building have some online element. We're seeing more agencies requesting and buying this type of print/online package now, which is hardly surprising given the "client hub" structure most have adopted or started to adopt in the past 12 to 18 months.

- How well is the magazine industry marketing itself to advertisers?

The PPA, under Barry McIlheney, has started to reconnect with the market, which is the most important thing. The recent overhaul of the website has been well received, with research and case studies far more accessible than on its previous incarnation. Coupled with plans to have more regular dialogue with agencies and clients, showcasing new content and features via a fortnightly e-mail, these are simple but positive steps forward. Look out for the forthcoming piece on "The Future of Magazines", due to start in the autumn. Plans to run sector forums to coincide with this, involving editors and other senior publishing figures, will hopefully signify the start of a return to the sort of marketing presence it needs.

- What impressive new products or stories will you have for advertisers in the autumn?

We're putting the final touches to a "digital futures" presentation, which we'll be out with from October.

Given the rapid evolution and expansion in the way various audiences are accessing our brands, there's an exciting story to tell, and, importantly, a host of new commercial opportunities to promote. As part of this, we'll be taking our mobile apps proposition to market too, which should see the arrival of some great new products.

JUDITH SECOMBE - DIRECTOR OF SALES, HACHETTE FILIPACCHI UK

- What general lessons can we learn from the latest round of ABCs?

Overall, they showed the magazine business to be in good shape. Bearing in mind the recession has meant no significant launches of paid-for titles, there is still growth from some of the most established magazines, which are continuing to demonstrate flair and creativity. Like most markets, we have to work harder to encourage consumers to part with their money. Subscriber numbers continue to increase, which shows reader loyalty and commitment, while favourite magazines remain the most trusted source for ideas and inspiration. With the economic outlook unlikely to improve, they are a very affordable treat.

- What are your best recent innovations for advertisers?

Some of our most innovative work in the past year has been on ELLEuk.com, where we are using the full creative power of the magazine brand to produce original bespoke content for advertisers that is fully integrated across print and online. This has allowed us to work with brands to create advocates. Involving the site users as we do makes the communication very compelling and credible. We were also proud to debut the first 3D edition of Sugar, which featured 3D advertising.

- What is the significance of online activity in the overall picture of what you do?

Online is key to our business. We have a mixture of cross-platform brands with Elle and Sugar, as well as standalone digital businesses such as Digital Spy. Meanwhile, the launch of Red Online in the autumn will allow us to offer a portfolio of print and digital properties giving advertisers access to a highly engaged audience across a range of markets including fashion, beauty, retail and entertainment. We anticipate digital contributing about a quarter of our total ad revenues in 2011.

- How well is the magazine industry marketing itself to advertisers?

After a well-publicised hiatus following staff changes at the PPA, we are now back on track under the chief executive, Barry McIlheney. Our task in the short term is to reinforce the case for magazines, encouraging planners and clients to tap into the resources available. There is an abundance of evidence that the relationship between readers and good content helps advertising work harder. Individually, we are all producing research and promoting ourselves based on a really deep understanding of our products and how our readers behave, something the magazine industry is very good at, but we need to harness our collective strength.

- What impressive new products or stories will you have for advertisers in the autumn?

The launch of Red Online is scheduled for Q4. The site will set a new standard for women's content sites both through its design and the very active nature of its relationship with visitors. We are offering an API to advertisers to stream their messages directly to the audience. We are launching new channels on ELLEuk.com due to increasing demand from users and advertising partners. On Sugarscape, we have been working with advertisers on their approach to social networking and this will be developed further. We also have a series of activities and events in celebration of Elle's 25th birthday. Psychologies has been refocused under its new editor, Louise Chunn, and we will be talking to advertisers about what the mobile version of the Digital Spy site will be able to offer.

Topics