One year on from Magnetic’s launch and the 30th-birthday issue of Media Week feels a good time to be back in print, proving that some trends aren’t as clear-cut and predictable as they first seem.
Physical book sales have shown greater resilience than expected. The latest ABC audit for magazines, released in January, shows that year-on-year total average cir-culation is flat at -0.2 per cent, while the latest comScore release for Magnetic members shows growth of 17.3 per cent year on year.
So, despite many forecasts to the contrary, demand for magazine content is growing.
In product terms, there has been a stream of new entrants and brand extensions. In print, we have Dennis Publishing’s Coach and The Week Junior, Bauer Media’s Modern Gardens, Immediate Media’s Lego Nexo Knights and The Economist’s 1843. In terms of brand extensions, we’ll soon witness the next generation of events in Empire Live, a three-day experience at The O2. And global expansion continues, with Haymarket taking Campaign and FourFourTwo stateside.
Smart ways to engage
The second big sign of innovation is in new distribution models.
Cosmopolitan recently proved that the debate isn’t just about freemium versus paid-for. Its new coverprice and strategy of taking distribution to where its audience lives – in bars, cinemas, gyms and shopping centres – have resulted in a sizeable circulation increase. NME showed that the freemium market is by no means saturated, with a reignited brand and strong growth.
And being engaged is not just about editorial content. Time and time again, in survey after survey, we hear how welcome ads are as part of the magazine experience. Given concerns around declining advertising receptivity, this is important. Publishers have built environments that cater for audience needs – and brands are bene-fiting. It’s vital that greater consideration is given to environments where an audience chooses to spend its time and where advertising is welcomed.
UK Vogue recorded the highest number of ad pages in its history in March and, in the past 12 months, there have been countless examples of partnerships that have reaped great results, from Samsung’s first branded cover for Harper’s Bazaar to Time Out’s native drone campaign for Nescafé to NME’s music partnership with Topman.
To support the drive for greater integration and more powerful marketing solutions, publishers have made significant investments to ensure that the technology and ideas offered to brands are even more effective. These range from Hearst’s Shared Spaces, a digital advertising product that integrates commercial and editorial content, to Time Inc’s new creative division The Foundry to video production services such as Dennis Film.
Original, curated content
It has become clear that audiences value original, professional, edited content. Though user-generated content plays a part in many magazine brands’ ecosystems, it’s undeniable that audiences value the presence of an expert curator.
These audiences prize original content because it provides the basis for more engaged reading and viewing. Our own research last year showed that there is a clear role for content that makes people happy
by offering pleasurable rewards or purposeful information. Magazine brands uniquely do both.
A bright future
Media innovation will only accelerate. Media Week’s continued appearance in print this year shows the resilience and capacity for change in the sector. And it underlines the greatest untold story: that legacy media brands – and, in particular, magazine brands – are rewriting the rules and defying expectations.
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Sue Todd is the chief executive of Magnetic