With most Covid restrictions lifting in time for the school holidays and (despite the cruelty of penalties) an amazing run in the Euros, it feels like we have more reasons to be optimistic and cheerful for the first time in 18 months.
In economic terms, the back half of the year is likely to bring a boom in what is being called "revenge spending", as people seek to treat themselves with the savings that have been built up during lockdown. I don’t think I’ve ever known so many friends get new kitchens in one six-month period.
This is as much the case for media as it is for the country as a whole: the summer and the beginnings of a return to office working are a boon for outdoor, the first real blockbuster of the summer in Black Widow is upon us – promising the revitalisation of cinema – while this long period of home working has proved the effectiveness of subscriptions and direct mail.
For magazine brands, the picture also looks rosy. Revenge spending or pent-up demand, centres on consumers chasing their passions, an area well catered for by magazine media. Additionally as the pandemic accelerated changes for all media, magazine media is, arguably, coming out of lockdown in many ways in better shape than it went in.
Publishers have been investing in their data capabilities for years to increase reader engagement and drive loyalty. Long before proposed changes to cookies, they have been able to leverage first-party data about their passionate and highly engaged audiences for the benefit of brands. This will only increase in value to agencies and clients with the demise of the cookie.
Meanwhile, the launch of Ipsos iris is the springboard into a new era for online audience measurement in the UK. Its data on reach for digital brands released on 7 June shows that the top UK consumer magazine publishers reach 35.6 million people. Magazine websites, meanwhile, over-index for users with earnings of more than £70,000, demonstrating that magazines online offer access to high-value consumers.
PAMCo’s data collection, with its new "online-first" methodology, resumed at the end of March. Based on good progress to date, PAMCo is on track to achieve the number of interviews required to update print estimates for the next data release, currently planned for autumn 2021. This will incorporate a significant amount of "fresh" print data and Ipsos iris digital data.
Magazine media’s ability to tap into consumers' passions and interests continues to power effectiveness. Our Pay Attention study found that magazine print environments deliver high-quality attention for advertisers because of the trusted and relevant context, passionate audiences and positive, non-interruptive advertising experience.
We recently released a study using Lumen eye-tracking technology to see whether this was also true of magazine brands' online environments. It was not surprising but pleasing to see that advertising on magazine websites is noticed by more people for longer than equivalent ads on close comparator sites.
As well as the industry having more aligned, better-quality and more transparent data to help advertisers and publishers develop effective campaigns, there are new insights into how consumer mentality influences advertising engagement. Hearst has just published research into the benefits of reaching people in a positive mindset, with favourability towards brands and consideration of them higher among this more optimistic cohort.
There’s more good news to come, with new innovations powering brand partnerships across publishers, as more magazine brands are using technology-enabled, shoppable content. The wealth of first party-data that publishers have about their highly engaged, financially resilient audiences will be a boost to advertisers when cookies go.
Magazine media is coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic in a strong position to boost brands with financially resilient audiences ready to spend. So while we all pack away our England flags until next year, I can now get back to Elle Decoration and BBC Gardeners' World for some inspiration to give Todd Towers a makeover before my shabby chic kitchen starts to look plain old shabby.
Sue Todd is chief executive of Magnetic