Special Report: Magazines

Magazines are the Rocky Balboa medium, bouncing back off the canvas time and again to emerge triumphant.

Fighting media fragmentation, recession and the rise of digital media, the magazine industry has proved there is nothing like readers' relationship with, and affection for, their favourite title.

Already this year, consumer publishers have launched exciting products; some, such as Conde Nast's Easy Living, are even good advertising environments.

Most of the major players have shown confidence, reinvesting in market-leading products and research to keep the ad revenues coming in. Another major issue is the rise of the customer magazine (page 30). Most customer publishers are doing well, with major new advertisers convinced of its benefits.

The agenda of the PPA Magazines 2005 conference reveals the key issues facing the industry. Supply chain concerns, especially the rising power of the supermarkets and potential changes to the distribution system for competition reasons, loomed large. On the more creative side, development of interactive products and long-term new product development were top of mind.

Advertisers do have some concerns with consumer magazines, especially a perception in some quarters that cover-price revenues take priority over offering a strong environment for advertisers.

The Office of Fair Trading's decision to investigate the Future/Highbury House merger may also concern publishers. However, joint ventures and licensing deals with overseas publishers could be a model for the future.

It will be interesting to see if the PPA's plan to hire a marketer to represent magazines can secure a greater slice of ad revenue but, for now, magazines are in rude health.