All entries for Sunday 06 May 2007
May 06, 2007
Below I have reprinted a short article from a recent Finnish survey on the International Federation of the Periodical Press which gives a reasonably upbeat future for many magazines arguing that those who use the internet are likely to read magazines and vice versa. The article argues that from the perspective of the advertiser it is worth using both media forms. with further research on this site is is apparent that unsurprisingly there has been great concern amongst magazine publishers about the effects of the internet and the development of associated electronic media. The results from the various surveys are upbeat showing that provided publishers adapt they can exert a valuable influnece on internet development. Whilst these findings are hardly cast iron guarantees of the future they show that in the current period magazine publishing is still alive and kicking.
Finnish Survey: Magazines and internet have natural affinity
Magazines and the internet have a natural affinity which makes them complementary, but their diverse characteristics also mean that they are not alternatives. Consequently it is valuable to use both media for marketing communications. This is the conclusion of a survey in Finland commissioned by the Finnish Periodical Publishers Association.
The Connection 2005 report is based on the Finnish Intermedia Study 2004, conducted by TNS Gallup Oy. It found that people who read magazines are more likely than non-readers to also use the internet. Conversely, internet users are more likely than non-users to read magazines.
This is particularly marked among people who are involved in specialist interests such as cars and hobbies. For example, readers of car magazines are a third more likely to use the internet daily than is the population as a whole. They also tend to spend longer on the internet.
When the study examined motives for using magazines and the internet, the strongest types of motive for both media were to obtain information and to be entertained. Ten motives were listed, and the six most important ones for both media were:
- Information and ideas for hobbies
- To learn new things
- Background information on new things and phenomena
- To spend some time
- To enhance your all-round education
- Ideas for spending free time
When people have a particular interest, it is natural for them to turn to both magazines and the internet for more about that interest. The specialisation of magazines is matched by the specialisation of the internet. In other words, both are excellent for targeting (from an advertiser’s point of view). Moreover both require active input from users – screening what is available, selecting what to pay attention to, and in effect becoming their own editors.
The profile of people who use both the internet and magazines is that they tend to be young, slightly more male than female, educated better than average, and in ‘upper white collar’ occupations or still studying.
TNS Gallup Oy interviewed 1351 Finnish-speaking people aged 12-69 years. A daily diary was used which recorded exposure to 36 media subgroups. The diaries were spread evenly across a four-week period.
Despite this rather upbeat finding present on the webpages was a link to ABC Electronic which has developed a range of services for auditing websites to provide potential advertisers with information. Below an earlier report complied by the Henley Centre argues that magazines by evolving have an important role to play in the age of the internet
FIPP‘s research consultant Guy Consterdine, gives his assessment of the findings
- There is a eightened importance of a medium‘s ability to create involvement and ‘engagement‘ rather than merely attract attention. Gaining attention is no longer enough - and magazines are superb at inducing engagement.
- Consumers are changing too, and keen magazine readers are more aspirational, sociable and interested in using technology than heavy users of other media. Technology and magazines go together as a neat pair
- The new role for magazines is to act as a bridge to interactivity.
- This must be closely linked-in to magazines‘ long-established roles, which The Henley Centre classifies into two categories:
- Accessing personal networks of trust, and providing a source of guidance and status.
- Their analysis focused particularly on core magazine readers - enthusiasts who can‘t resist buying magazines. It was felt this vanguard group would best show the future opportunities and trends for the industry
- People are now more ambitious about what they can discover for themselves. If they want to know something, they expect to be able to find it out, and more or less instantly. They feel more in control of information than previously. It‘s less of a mass-media world than it was, and more of a personalised-media world. This means more involvement and engagement
- The internet user is even more in control of the medium than the magazine or newspaper reader. Whereas the reader can only react to what is printed in the publication, the internet surfer can choose any topic at all and will expect to find something on it
- The internet is such a wide open, bottomless, uncharted and invisible world that the editing function which magazines can provide - reviewing a topic and suggesting avenues for further exploration - is a very valuable one. Magazines‘ own websites can be a useful part of such referrals, but in most cases they won‘t be the main online sources
- Core magazine readers are techno-savvy (see table). For example, they are more than twice as likely as the population as a whole to have their own website homepage. And they are twice as likely to take part in online discussion/chat groups
- People need trusted influences to guide them through the mass of information. Magazines‘ traditional position as trusted sources is invaluable here. Magazines are companions which are consumed in ‘me‘ time, making a private personal experience
- They pass on recommendations of things to do or buy, including websites and other sources to look at. Their suggestions can have the power of word-of-mouth recommendations
- The Henley Centre reported that this rubs off onto the advertising. Endorsements by trusted magazines can help create trust in a brand. Advertisers benefit from magazines‘ environment of word-of-mouth referrals.
The Henley Centre concluded that magazines have a head start in responding to the rapidly evolving post-mass-media world. Provided publishers give readers good reasons to engage with their magazines, and know how to harness that engagement, the medium has a great long-term future.
Magazine ads spark net searches
According to a study by the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) and BIGresearch, almost 50 per cent of consumers said they were most motivated to begin an online search after viewing a magazine ad.
47.2% said it was a magazine ad that sparked a search, while 42.8% cited television ads and 42.3% said newspaper ads. Respondents were allowed to select more than one medium.
Shoppers continue to use the web as a resource before determining which items to buy and where. According to the survey, 92.5% of adults said they regularly or occasionally research products online before buying them in a store.
The study surveyed more than 15,000 consumers
Fipp of course is very concerned about the Weaknesses and opportunities which can either enhance traditional magazine publishing or bring about its demise. Below is an example of a recent online survey requesting members to report on the success and development of their online presences in relation to their standard magazines:
Be part of FIPP's magazine website survey
Do you publish a successful consumer magazine website? Is the website attacting new audience or advertisers, making you money, building a community, developing your brands, creating successful online products – or proving successful in any other vital respect?
If so, tell us as part of FIPPs ‘Routes To Success For Consumer Magazine Websites’ survey. FIPP is updating the series, previoulsy published in 2003 and 2005. The objective is to examine good practice online among successful websites operated by consumer magazine publishers around the world, and to study trends.
The websites we are looking to include are those which the publisher considers to be successful. Success can be defined in whatever terms the publisher chooses to define it.If you feel that you have such a website, we would be most grateful if you would participate in the survey by spending a few minutes completing our online questionnaire HERE.
Fipp is developing a lot of careful research into magazine markets and their relationship to the growing intermedia world. Below extracts of the FIPP annual research forum held in Amsterdam in February 2007 highlights these issues:
Emap the UKs second largest magazine publisher came out with the following report in
Magazine researchers are responding to the increasingly complex media world by creating new studies of how people are using media today, and by demonstrating the continuing value of magazine advertising – included in a mix with the web and television.
Forty-five research professionals from magazine publishing companies in 14 countries gathered for two days to discuss ongoing research studies and issues. Five of the major issues discussed were:
- The increase in a media mix – especially among young people
- The need for more studies of how marketing campaigns benefit from using magazines in combination with the internet (and other media)
- The arrival of multimedia mega-databases for planning marketing campaigns across many platforms, including digital media
- Using the internet as a data collection method and showing how magazines and websites can complement each other in offering improved functionality to consumers
- New methods for tracking how readers' eye movements reveal how they consume magazine ads
October of 2006:
Time spent reading magazines and newspapers has remained stable over the past two years despite the growing use of the Internet, concludes a recent European survey from Jupiter Research.
Based on interviews with 5,000 people in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy, the report finds the average European in these countries spends three hours a week reading magazines and newspapers, the same as two years ago.
This is despite time spent online doubling from two hours to an average four hours per week.
Broadband makes a huge difference to internet activity, with those who have it spending seven hours a week online, compared with two hours by those with dial-up internet access.
European web usage remains much lower than in the USA, with Americans spending 14 hours online, the same amount of time as watching TV.
Jupiter research director Mark Mulligan believes, reassuringly, that there are more market opportunities for ‘old media’ companies than ever, but says that the successful organisations will be the ones who can offer rich media content such as video and podcasts as well as more traditional content.
Multi-platform media brands work harder than single-platform media: Emap's 'Engagement Squared' study
Media brands which extend onto several platforms – such as magazines, online, mobiles, radio and so on – work even harder for the advertiser than brands which are only on one platform.
Emap Advertising conducted a study in the UK called Engagement Squared. It was based on interviewing over 3,000 consumers about their multi-platform media consumption and their response to advertising campaigns. This was supplemented by parallel qualitative research.
Consumers who use a media brand on more than one platform spend more time with that brand, and have a deeper connection with it, than consumers who only experience the brand on a single platform. For example Kerrang, which began life as a magazine only, now spans many platforms. Among Kerrang users who only use one platform (e.g. read only the magazine) 52% agreed it is a ‘cool’ brand, whereas 72% of those who interact with Kerrang on more than one platform agreed it was ‘cool’.
Similarly among FHM consumers, 66% of those who only read the magazine thought it was ‘funny’, compared with 74% of those who read the magazine and visit the website. 76% of magazine-only readers thought the brand is ‘sexy’, compared with 87% of those using both magazine and website.
Advertising and Magazines
Advertising and Circulation
As has been noted elsewhere one of the main sources of income for a magazine is through its advertising. Advertisers will pay advertising rates based upon the size and nature of the readership and sales of a magazine. Most magazines belong to the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) system of assessing the circulation of magazines. The ABC are an independent not-for profit organisation for the publishing industry. The BBC who are now a big producer of magazines produced this press report in August 2004 reviewing how well their magazines were doing set against the rest on figures provided by the ABC.
ABC explanation of their funding:
The whole concept and structure of ABC is based upon objectivity and integrity. As a tripartite association, ABC is funded by dues and service fees paid by the three groups it serves: advertisers, advertising agencies, and publishers.
As you would expect from a publicly accountable body information about the BBC magazines is easy to research. Below is a clear statement of how the BBC magazine arm is placed in the organisation as a whole. The extract also emphasises that the magazines are totally ring-fenced from the licence fee. This means they must survive on thier own merits as fully commercial publications. Naturally they have the advantage of a global brand but also play a role in extending that brand thus making an ovrall contribution to the licence payers as a whole.
BBC Magazines is a division of BBC Worldwide Ltd, the commercial consumer arm of the BBC. It is the UK's third largest consumer magazines publisher, with a portfolio of over 35 regular titles for adults, teenagers and children, and also owns Origin Publishing, which publishes a further range of contract titles and specialist consumer magazines.BBC Worldwide does not use licence fee income for its activities and re-invests in public service programming. In 2003/2004 BBC Worldwide returned £141 million to the BBC.
Circulation management is extremly important to the life and success of a magazine. Any serious decline in a magazine's circulation will lead to a decline in advertising revenue. This combination can quickly lead to a spiral of decline. Magazines managers will have a range of marketing tools at thier disposal to try and turnaround any flagging figures but firstly they need to know what their problems are and how they have arisen. If there is a general downturn in magazine circulation as a whole because of national economic decline for example then a magazine can benchmark its expectations against the competition in a falling market. There are several comapnies in existence which provide specialist services to magazines such as Mediatel and the Circulation Management Magazine.
Mediatel Reports on ABC circulation figures
Mediatel is a company which does number crunching for advertisers and media production companies. As soon as the raw data on circulation is released from ABC the infromation is produced for subscribers. This information is particualrly important for media buyers who are the people who reserve space for advertisements in magazines. If you go to the Mediatel figures on Men's Lifestyle magazines for example you will see that there has been a huge drop in circulation from 2005 - 2006 for the magazine 'Loaded' of nearly 25%. It is these figures rather than the direct content which concerns advertisers and which will dictate how much they are prepared to pay for advertising space. This graph giving the February sales figures is revealing of a downward trend in this market place.
Circulation Management Magazine
Although aimed at the American market-place this magazine was investigating an important conundrum which has emerged in the magazine market place which applies equally to the UK industry and also to Europe.
Baird Davis in Circ Levels Remain Precariously High in Second Half 2006
Monday, April 30, 2007 poses a fundamental issue:
In this article we’ll address the conundrum of how consumer magazine publishers are sustaining lofty circ levels in the face of stiff Internet competition and an apparent decline in magazine readership. We’ll explore the market trends that influence publisher’s high circ level behavior and conclude by taking an in-depth look at the mysterious alternative circulation sources (described in paragraph 6 of ABC Publisher’s Statements) that publishers are deploying to help sustain elevated circ levels. (My emphasis).
Circulators have been exceedingly creative in adjusting to an ever more advertising-centric environment, one resistant to lowering circ levels.
In the article Davis explores the methods which are used to verify circulation figures. Obviously this is an important issue which is fundamental for those buying advertising space to be certain of. With more and more advertising being attracted to the internet it appears as though anomolies are beginning to creep into the system.
As one enthusiastic blogger John Fine has noted in his US based blog posting "Circulation Bummer's List":
Magazines sell ads based on rate base. Rate base is circulation you guarantee to advertisers. If you miss rate base, your advertisers sort of have carte blanche to make your life miserable--demand cash or free ads; hammer you for future discounts because your circ is weak, etc.
How Far is a Magazinejust a Vehicle for Advertising?
Now we have established the importance of circulation to magazines it seems clear that advertisers have a powerful relationship to magazines it is clear that there is a direct relationship between advertising and profits however it is important to distinguish between different types of magazine before one jumps to an overhasty conclusion that all magazines are just there to provide adverts to willing consumer victims.
One useful way of beginning to assess a magazine is to analyse its target market. It seems clear that generically GQ is a men's lifestyle magazine which seems to be targeted at a more aspirant type of man in terms of thier clothing and how they spend their leasure time. The fact that its circulation is little over 120,000 out of a population of over 60 million tells us it is only reaching a very narrow target audience. Advertisers obviously pay attention to this.
GQ a Lifestyle Magazine Case Study
In GQ there is a noticeable lack of car adverts aimed at 'boy-racers' for example which one might have expected. In fact there are very few car adverts at all although there is a regular motoring column. Car advertising buyers clearly recognise that this isn't a sensible place to sell their products and concentrate on Car magazines or magazines in more upmarket newspares which clearly reach the advertisers target audience. Having analysed GQ advertising for the run up to two Xmases in a row it can quickly be seen that they run a special watches section which attracts watchmaking advertisers. Many of these watches advertised are several thousand pounds such as Breitlings and unlikely to be in the financial reach of most of the readership. As the adverts are the same as ones which appear in magazines such as the Financial Times monthly 'How to Spend It' colour supplement there is a clear discrepancy. The reality is that buying space in the Financial Times will be very expensive whilst in GQ it will be realtively cheap. for these advertisers it allows fantasies about high status items such as Swiss watches to enter into the lives of aspirants.
A useful exercise is to count up the pages devoted to advertising in GQ. We quickly find that in a typical issue over 50% of the magazine is made up of direct advertising. This is before we get to such things as advertorials in which the magazine has made a special deal with say a clothes company like Diesel to run an advertising shoot which will only be featured in GQ. This is mutually beneficial to both companies and reinforces the notion that some magazines seem to be clearly constructed as a vehicle for adverts. when one adds into the equation the fact that many pages are little more than a set of images of consumer items set out as a sort of 'swatch' we rapidly reach the conclusion that this 'lifestyle magazine at least is merely a vehicle for advertising. This is quickly confirmed when flicking though what passes for editorial content. Almost all the GQs I looked at with my students were often well over 70% advertising. Conceived of as a sort of catalogue is money on the cover price well spent? The ABC 2004 Sectors breakdown of magazine sales placed the Men's lifestyle sales sector at 5:
- Top 30 dominated by Women’s magazines - 10 different sectors
- Women’s interests rank 1, 2, 4 and 9 in top 10
- TV listings still high – ranking 3
- Men’s magazines rank at 5
Classical Music Magazines
Let us take a radically different marketplace such as the world of classical music. It is noticeable that the Mediatel page analysing music magazines includes no classical, jazz, folk or World music magazines at all. This tells us that they are trying to attract advertisers making products and services such as concerts for a youth market. This market is perceived as having high disposable income and willing to spend it easily without much concern for 'value for money'. These are magazines which can be analysed separately. The ABC 2004 figures for the sector "Music Rock" showed this was the 14th best selling sector.
The classical music market is rather different. The consumers are more likely to be middle-class and are likely to have a very discerning core of people who are able to play instruments themselves and will have familiarity with the what is usually called the classical canon, in other words those pieces of music generslly deemed to be the most important ones historically.
The classical music magazine market is comprised of a growing number of magazines. In the 1980s the only magazine regularly serving this market was Gramophone which was started in the 1920s and was aimed at providing an interface between the growing market of recorded music and potential consumers providing serious reviews and comparisons of recorded music by recognised experts within the specialist fields of the genre. During the 1990s the market started to grow. Interestingly the 1990 Broadcasting Act laid the basis for this expansion. The BBC was forced to become more competitive and enterprising so it established BBC Music Magazine which primarily deals with classical music with a little jazz and world music. The Broadcasting Act also opened the doors to commerce and Classic FM started broadcasting. Aimed at a target audience less familiar with classical music and played less challenging music from the repertoire they too brought out a magazine to complement their broadcasting and to help build thier brand.
BBC Music Magazine
The 2001 sales figures for the magazine showed it to be the World's top selling classical music magazine as it celebrated its 10th anniversary:
BBC Music Magazine is the world's best-selling monthly classical music magazine, with a monthly circulation of 78,707 (ABC: Jan to Dec 2001) and is published by BBC Magazines - a division of BBC Worldwide Ltd, the main commercial arm of the BBC. BBC Worldwide does not use licence fee income for its activities and re-invests in public service programming. In 2001/2002 BBC Worldwide returned £106 million to the BBC.
The sales circulation figures are lower than GQs for example. Looking through the May 2007 edition I found 37.5 pages of direct advertising out of 133 pages including back and front covers. clearly this is a magazine for a specialist interest market which probably remains at a fairly constant level. It is unlikely that this target audience would put up with magazines largely devoid of editorial content comprising mainly of adverts. This compares with the Male lifestyle market which appears to be very volatile.
In the table below you can see the average monthly figures for the music magazine sector as a whole. Of course the actual readership of these magazines is likely to be much wider however it gives an idea of the size of the relative markets as a whole. These figures can be compared with the women' magazines sections with the women's weekly magazines market being huge by comparison.
Music Magazine Market Sales July - Dec 2004
Q – 162,574 – up 0.6%
Uncut – 114,034 – up 2.6%
Mojo – 111,815 – up 7.1%
The Fly – 107,943 – up 1.3%
NME – 70,017 – down 3.5%
Kerrang! – 61,844 – down 10.7%
BBC Music – 56,096 – down 8.1%
Classic FM – 43,077 – up 5.5%
Gramophone – 42,791 – down 4.5%
Classic Rock – 42,030 – up 4.2%
Womens' Magazines Overall
- Top 30 dominated by Women’s magazines - 10 different sectors
- Women’s interests rank 1, 2, 4 and 9 in top 10
Women's monthly magazine Sales July - Dec 2004
Debenham’s Desire – 973,116 – n/a
Glamour – 620,391 – up 6.5%
Cosmopolitan – 478,394 – up 3.9%
Yours – 438,872 – up 8.7%
Good Housekeeping – 435,076 – up 4.7%
Marie Claire – 384,502 – up 6.6%
Woman & Home – 332,646 – up 12.6%
Company – 332.603 – up 0.6%
Candis – 321,050 – up 4.7%
Prima – 317,308 – down 3.9%
New Woman – 280,448 – down 3.5%
More – 274,635 – up 5.8%
Red – 210,027 – up 6.8%
Vogue – 206,834 – up 0.8%
Elle – 202,074 – up 0.4%
Real – 197,031 – down 4.2%
Instyle UK – 191,001 – up 2%
She – 180,160 – down 5.2%
B – 166,145 – up 0.3%
Eve – 160,210 – up 12.5%
Family Circle – 140,305 – down 13.5%
During this period it was the top sector for magazines it was the TOP Sector by circulation
Take A Break – 1,222,774 – down 0.4%
Chat – 636,310 – up 5.2%
Now – 619,186 – up 4.6%
That’s Life – 601,806 – up 0.7%
Heat – 552,215 – down 2.6%
Ok! – 529,492 – down 7.3%
Woman – 527,764 – down 6.7%
Closer – 504,350 – up 31%
Woman’s Own – 449,688 – down 6.1%
Woman’s Weekly – 447,696 – down 1.2%
Bella – 428,028 – down 0.3%
Best – 411,060 – down 2.2%
New! – 396,079 – up 18%
Hello! – 382,391 – up 9.1%
Peoples Friend – 372,743 – down 1%
One can see from these figures that the women's magazine market was very variegated in the last six months of 2004 with a wide range of both monthly and weekly magazines on offer. The target markets for these magazines are fairly specific with age and class being the key factors in deciding the target market. the fact that the women's weekly was the top selling sector may be explained by the fact that women still tend to be more responsible for domestic affairs and shopping. Many of these magazines provide tips and tricks for hosehold and child management and are conveniently and temptingly placed in supermarkets near checkouts.
Reviewing the various sectors it is easy to see that gender plays a huge part in the division of sales. As well as all the magazines specifically targeted at women the separate Health and Beauty section is primarily aimed at women. Magazines like 'Hair' for example have a few pages aimed at men.
Health & Beauty
Boots Health and Beauty – 1,766,893 – down 2%
Healthy – 280,075 – up 31.8%
Slimming World – 261,426 – up 2.8%
Weight Watchers – 243,010 – up 10.1%
Top Sante Healthy & Beauty – 141,191 – up 8.5%
Hair – 131,735 – down 16.4%
Zest – 110,764 – up 5.4%
Toni & Guy Magazine – 90,000 – n/a
Slimming – 64,587 – down 5.3%
Hair Ideas – 53,900 – n/a
The full range of sectors can't be covered here however it should be clear that the magazine sector is primarily driven by advertising. Age, class / status / communities of interest / lifestyle / consumer products magazines (computers / motors) dominate this sector comprise the main range of magazines. Interestingly the figures don't show anything about political or economical magazines sush as the New Statesman or the Economist. The Economist is covered in a separate section about news magazines. As it has a clear global market without different editions this makes it different to many of the other magazinse such as Vogwhich will come out in a wide range of country editions which makes it more difficult to assess the size and influence of the magazines as a whole.